The region called Camargue in the south of France is generally well known for its delta of the River Rhone and its backwaters, nature reserve (and UNESCO biosphere), pastures and herds full of grazing horses and bulls and the plague of mosquitoes. This paradise-like part of France was also where the “Camargue” camp for the interned “Gitani, Tsiganes and Roma” * operated during the World War II.
Although the concentration camps in France did not resemble those in the Reich and in Eastern Europe, the conditions in the “internment camps” and widespread famine during World War II meant that the prisoners were sick and dying. The situation was no different in the camp near the village of Saliers. Cottages with thatched roofs made of the reed collected in the area (backwaters of the Rhone), assembled from materials found in the vicinity would probably be an attraction for modern tourists. And yet the lack of heating in autumn and winter, the plague of mosquitoes and vermin in the summer, dirt, hunger – marked the everyday lives of prisoners.
The Camargue internment camp for the Gypsies appears in the sources as the Arles or Saliers camp (the village nearest to him).
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Description of commemoration
The memorial is located next to the D37 road, approx. 20 km from the Sanctuary of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which for Gypsies / Roma from around the world is a special pilgrimage site because of Kali Sara (‘Black Sarah’ – Saint Sarah, see https://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9Awi%C4%99ta_Sara ).
At a distance of 3.5 km from the village of Saliers, close to the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, there is a parking bay and a small car park, as well as a very interesting memorial made of Corten steel.
On the white concrete pedestal, which is about half a meter high, the author placed two blocks / columns of sheet steel. Standing in front of the memorial, they look like solid walls / columns, but looking from the back, you can see that the sheet steel is wrapped and supported (welded) to a steel structure. Between those walls, from inside the camp, a group of symbolically depicted people try to squeeze through to the outside – you can see their faces, the outlines of their mouths and noses, but they are only pieces of molten steel …
There are two small plaques engraved with inscriptions in French mounted to the pedestal. The plaque in the front informs us what is commemorated by the monument. The plaque on the right side of the pedestal contains the date of the unveiling of the memorial (February 2, 2006) and the name of its author (Jean Claude Guerri).
Camp de Gitans de Saliers / Juin 1942 – Août 1944 / Ici sous l’autorité du régime / de Vichy furent internes / 700 nomades.
The Saliers camp for the Gypsies. June 1942 – August 1944. Here, under the Vichy regime, 700 nomades were interned.
Date of the unveiling
February 6, 2006
Approx. 20 km north of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, next to the D37 road
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https://saliersuncamppourlestsiganes.blogspot.com/ [BLOG NIE ISTNIEJE]
List of all the names of the interned French Gypsies: http://memorialdesnomadesdefrance.fr/
List of camps for the Gypsies in France: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_des_camps_d%27internement_de_%C2%AB_nomades_%C2%BB_en_France
Henriette Asséo, Marie-Christine Hubert, “Un camp pour les bohémiens: Mémoires du camp d’internement pour nomades de Saliers”, Mathieu Pernot (Illustr.), Actes-sud, 2001, p. 110.