Beaudésert, a small internment camp in the Mérignac commune, was opened in 1939 and existed until August 1944. Initially it was intended for communists, but 319 nomads were interned there in autumn 1940, and soon it was enlarged to accommodate detained Spanish refugees and Jews – a total of 500-600 people. The camp was built in a location close to Bordeaux-Mérignac airport, originally, i.e. before the war, intended for the construction of the Olympic stadium.
From the Mérignac camp, the Gypsies were quickly transferred to Civray Poitiers in the Haute-Vienne district, from where some were deported to Sachsenhausen (January 13, 1943), and some were transported to Montreuil-Bellay (Maine-et-Loire). At the beginning of December 1940, there were no more Roma in Beaudésert.
Description of commemoration
At the roundabout on the corner of Rue des Chataigners and Avenue Jean Perrin, there is a memorial – a high wall made of yellow-brown stone, mounted on a rectangular pedestal. The upper part of the wall features diagonally embedded concrete elements resembling three lines of barbed wire.
A black granite plaque with sandblasted and gilded inscriptions in French is mounted on the wall. The plaque has the shape of a flame and is additionally decorated with sandblasted and gilded flames which surround the inscription. The plaque looks three-dimensional board, as the top layer, the one with inscriptions, is mounted on two layers of ”flame” gradually increasing in size, which gives the impression of smoke rising above the flame of fire.
Originally, the inscription on the plaque read: “Camp d’internement de Mérignac Beaudésert. 1941-1944. Plus de douze cents Résistants internés Politiques Juifs, réfractaires au STO ont séjourné dans ce camp avant d’être dirigés vers Drancy et les camps de la mort ou d’être exécutés comme otages au camp de Souge, which means: ‘Internment camp Mérignac Bea . 1941-1944. More than two hundred prisoners: members of the resistance movement, politicians, Jews, citizens resisting STO (Service du travail obligatoire, i.e. compulsory labour service – a note by NG), were detained in this camp before being sent to the Drancy camp and death camps or to the place of execution in the camp Soug.”
Camp de / MERIGNAC BEAUDESERT / 1940-1944 // Tsiganes, Internés politiques, Etrangers, / Républicains Espagnols, Juifs, Résistance / et Réfractailes au travail forcé / ont séjourné dans ce camp. // Certains furent transférés vers / Poitiers, Drancy ou Compiègne / puis déportés vers les camps de la mort; / d’autres furent exécutés comme otages / au camp de Souge. // Nous, générations de la Mémoire, / n’oublierons jamais // 24 Avril 2016
The Mérignac Beaudésert camp. 1940-44. This camp was the place of detention for Gypsies, political prisoners, foreigners, Spanish republicans, Jews, members of the resistance movement and those evading forced labour. Some were transferred to Poitiers, Drancy or Compiègne and then to death camps, others were executed as prisoners of Camp Souge. We, the Memory Generation, will never forget. April 24, 2016.
Date of the unveiling
December 24, 1985 – stele
April 24, 2016 – the new plaque
The closest address:
1 Rue des Chataigners
33700 Mérignac, France
<iframe src=”https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d1308.291449921388!2d-0.6718378517103525!3d44.84165199476975!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x0%3A0x0!2zNDTCsDUwJzMwLjAiTiAwwrA0MCcxNC43Ilc!5e1!3m2!1spl!2spl!4v1537305158555″ width=”600″ height=”450″ frameborder=”0″ style=”border:0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
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