The Drancy Camp

20 November, 2007
Laffitte Michel


The Cité de la Muette (the La Muette complex, a housing development) was situated in the district of Drancy, 12 kilometers northeast of , and served as an internment camp for 67,000 of the 75,000 mostly foreign Jews deported from France during the Second World War, before they were sent to death camps in Poland. The land for this development had been acquired in 1925 by the Seine Low Cost Housing Office (Les Habitations bon marché de la Seine). By 1935, the complex comprised five fourteen-story towers (which were torn down after the Second World War), some four-story buildings that were built perpendicular to the towers, and a U-shaped construction which formed the camp itself. A total of 925 housing units had been planned, though they were never occupied before the war, except by the gardes mobiles (soldiers). As a matter of fact, the Drancy Gendarmerie (local headquarters of the gendarmes, a military corps of policemen) remained at La Muette until 1976. The whole complex was located near three train stations, of which two had big eastbound switching yards. Nevertheless, the Drancy camp had not originally been designed as a central element in the implementation of the processes of internment, deportation and finally, of destruction of the Jews of France.

Used to detain Communists during the “Phony War” (September 1939 - May 1940), the La Muette complex then became a “camp for interned British civilians,” known as Frontstalag 111. British and Canadian civilians were brought there, as well as around one thousand French civilians repatriated from Germany. From August 20, 1941, the La Muette complex received 4,232 Jews who had been rounded up in the eastern neighborhoods of , particularly the 11th arrondissement (district), during a three-day operation ordered by the Germans and instigated by Theodor Dannecker, the SS Judenreferent (a Nazi intelligence officer in charge of a special unit responsible for deporting Jews). These detainees were men between the ages of 18 and 50, including Poles, Romanians and Italians, as well as many Frenchmen, 40 of whom were lawyers.

Instigators and Perpetrators

Charles Magny, the Préfet of the Seine (the civil servant responsible for administering this region), had his men carry out the arrests under the supervision of the German military, without prior authorization from the Vichy government. Magny had only been notified of the internment operation the day before, and so it was totally improvised. As of August 26, Vice-Admiral François Bard, the Préfet de Police (head of the police service for the area), and General Guilbert, in charge of the Gendarmerie for the area, organized military discipline within the camp, forbidding the detainees from communicating with the outside world. The following day, a German counselor, Lippert, arrived at the Drancy camp. He met his first commander, Lombard, a Gendarmerie captain, and police captain Jean François, who was Deputy Director of the Prefecture of Police. Lippert gave the latter responsibility for supplies and maintenance of the camp. Jean François authorized detainees to receive or send one letter, written on a card, per fortnight, and to receive one bundle of clean clothes and 50 Francs per month.

More than a year after the Drancy camp had become a hub for the deportation of Jews from France, its management was completely reorganized. This comprehensive change in camp life was fully established when SS Captain Aloïs Brunner ’s Sonderkommando (literally, "special unit"; a term generally used to designate a work unit of Nazi death camp prisoners forced to facilitate the killing process) took charge of it on June 18, 1943. Brunner was amongst the few men who took their orders directly from Adolf Eichmann. As of July 2, the role of the French gendarmes was reduced to guarding the La Muette complex from the outside. From then on, it was officially called a “concentration camp.”

Unlike the management of an exceptional situation, running an established concentration camp called for actual political will (Peschanski, 2002). Camps generated a separate society, with its own laws, which constitute a system of its own. Following its own, specific dynamics, the new administration of the Drancy camp signaled the end of the earlier “internment” experiment, from July 1943 onwards. Dannecker had already made the General Union of Jews in France (Union générale des Israélites de France or UGIF, a grouping of all Jewish assistance initiatives imposed by the Vichy Government and the German occupying forces) responsible for providing supplies to deportation convoys, when Aloïs Brunner forced it to take on the role of sole supplier of the Drancy camp. The UGIF was made the camp’s exclusive supplier of foodstuffs, which were paid for by the Prefecture of the Seine region, based on a daily count of the detainees (Laffitte, 2003). Previously, supplies had been brought in by the Secours national (National Aid), and the UGIF was only responsible for a complementary contribution. Under the new system, the deportees no longer had their heads shaved, they were allowed to smoke, Jewish religious services and instruction were authorized within the camp, and the infirmary was repainted.

Brunner ordered 5,000 yellow armbands bearing a bilingual inscription, Service d’ordre juifJüdischer Ordnungsdienst (“Jewish Order Service”) from the UGIF. This internal police force was descended from the M.S., or “Surveillance Members”, a service the detainees had been allowed to organize in August 1942 in order to keep order themselves, and thus, to avoid suffering the brutality and thievery of the Jewish Affairs Police and the French gendarmes during searches. The searching of luggage and clothing took place upon arrival at the camp, or before the detainees were deported from it. Aloïs Brunner entrusted the new Jewish Order Service with the search inventory register books, of which the stubs served as receipts for the valuables confiscated from detainees. Brunner had forbidden the use of money within the camp, and he had the prisoners issued receipts redeemable in zlotys, the Polish currency, before they were deported. This strategy to fool the victims had already been tested on the Jews of Thessaloniki, in Greece.

A headcount bureau, composed of detainee cadres, continued drawing up lists of the deportees. Since a large number of the bureau members were French ex-combatants and had previously been interned in the Royallieu camp, near Compiègne, they were referred to as the “Compiègnois.” Abraham Drucker, who had been head doctor at the Compiègne camp, continued to hold the same position at the Drancy infirmary.

Nevertheless, the detainee cadres remained separate from the UGIF, which had been given the task of providing equipment to level and restore the 8,000 square meters of the inside courtyard, according to the plans of the original architect, Fernand Bloch. The UGIF entered into a contract with André Lainé, a public works company. Between two and three hundred laborers were chosen amongst the detainees. In accordance with the May 29, 1942 German ordinance, setting restrictions upon Jews in contact with a non-Jewish public, the detainee laborers were forced to wear a yellow star, which the UGIF was obliged to supply them with. Failure to obey the rule was punishable by immediate deportation. A circular track, surrounding an oval-shaped lawn fitted with two sprinklers, was completed in October. A barnyard, a pigsty and a rabbit hutch were planned for the Germans, as was a garage, which was constructed near the camp entrance, where the barbed wire was replaced by a monumental gate.

The arrangements that Aloïs Brunner had made were designed to bypass the French State administration and to develop direct connections between Jewish leaders and the SS. It was as if the UGIF itself had been destined to become an appendage of part of the concentration system devised by the SS, in order to rationalize the process leading to extermination of a captive community. As early as July 3, 1942, André Baur, Vice-President of UGIF, defined a resistance policy in a letter to his uncle Albert Manuel, who was Secretary-General of the Central Consistory (a body in charge of deliberating on the Jewish community’s affairs), which had taken shelter in Lyon (which was in the Zone Libre, the non-occupied part of France until 1943). This policy toward the Germans was “…to maneuver in such a way as to accept certain things and to avoid others skillfully, without systematically refusing squarely, which could be used as a pretext for a further crackdown.”

André Baur was put in charge of turning the UGIF into a police apparatus intended to convince the families of detainees to give themselves up, but he refused to be dragged into anything beyond providing aid to the detainees. He protested against SS brutality before the Vichy regime authorities, and even requested an interview with Pierre Laval, who was Président du Conseil (Prime Minister) at the time. This led to his arrest on July 21, 1943 and his detainment at the Drancy camp, under the pretext that one of his cousins had escaped from it. Finally, he was deported to the Auschwitz gas chambers in December, along with his wife and children.

The Victims

Up until the liberation of France in August 1944, a total of 80,000 persons categorized as Jewish were held at the Drancy camp. As early as September 1941, the situation in the camp was alarming: many cases of tuberculosis were recorded and some detainees were literally beginning to starve to death. The Chateau rouge (“Red Castle”) building, which comprised the camp toilets, was one of the few areas where the detainees could go freely from their buildings, in groups of four, so it was a place of communication between camp blocks. This latrine building became a hub of rumors, which crystallized hopes of liberation, and consequently became known as “Toilet Radio” (“Radio chiottes”). When Judenreferent Dannecker went to Berlin for his wedding, the German military command took advantage of his absence to allow Dr. Tisné, the Prefecture of Police doctor, to select 870 detainees to be released from the Drancy camp. Nevertheless, by the end of the year, 3,000 Jews were still detained there. From then on, the buildings were heated and detainees were allowed to receive food parcels – without tobacco, however, as it was one of the main goods sold on the black market, which the French gendarmes had frequently initiated.

Until the great round-ups and mass arrests of summer 1942, Drancy was used as a pool of hostages, and at intervals, some were taken away and shot at Mont-Valérien in retaliation for anti-German Resistance activities. This spirit of retribution for Résistance attacks was behind the organization of the first convoy of Jewish deportees from France, which left the Le Bourget-Drancy railway station on March 27, 1942; half of the deportees in the convoy had been held in the Compiègne camp. It was the only time a convoy of Jews was deported from France in third-class passenger cars. All subsequent convoys were made up of stock cars, and the deportees were crammed into them, made to stand on the bare floorboards.

The “rafle du Vel’ d’hiv’ ” (Winter Velodrome Round-up) on July 16-17, 1942 was the beginning of a second phase of life at the Drancy internment camp. Between July 31 and August 26, a total of 4,000 children from the Pithiviers and Beaune-la-Rolande camps passed through Drancy, and stayed there for a few hours before they were deported to the Auschwitz gas chambers. The camp had become a transit zone, where masses of detainees mingled and stayed various lengths of time. Between July 19 and November 11, 1942, 29,878 detainees left the camp in 31 convoys. The deportations began again the following year, and some 8,000 deportees left the camp in 8 convoys between February 9 and March 25, 1943.

Within detainee society, Aloïs Brunner implemented the model that he had already experimented with upon the Jewish community of Thessaloniki. On July 4, Robert Blum was appointed to the position of head of the camp administration bureau. He was to replace Georges Kohn, who was a “conjoint d’Aryenne” (he had an “Aryan” wife, which the Nazis considered reprehensible). Georges Schmitt, a detainee, became the head of the bureau des missions (“Mission Office”) a unit responsible for finding detainees’ relatives who were still free and bringing them to the camp. From then on, the recruitment of CIs, camp administrators chosen from the detainee community, changed dramatically. They were no longer necessarily selected from the categories of “spared” persons, such as detainees with “Aryan” spouses; this group was deported en masse to the Channel island of Aurigny (Alderney), in order to build fortifications there. These jobs protected their holders from deportation, and this relatively privileged group comprised a hierarchy of Heads of Departments, of Blocks and of Staircases. Though they lived in the fear of having to personally replace a missing detainee who was meant to be deported, these persons gradually developed the idea of a great escape plan.

Robert Blum had been a member of the Résistance movement Combat before his arrest, and in mid-September of 1943, forty-odd detainees secretly began to dig a tunnel 1.2 meters high and 0.6 meters wide, from a basement under his office. They were split into three teams and equipped with part of the equipment intended for the renovation of the camp. At the time, Robert Blum was seconded by his secretary, a lawyer named André Ullmo who had been a member of the Franc-Tireur Resistance network before his arrest. Of the 285 cadres and members of the Jewish service d’ordre (security force), 70 were aware of the escape plans. They took advantage of the absence of Aloïs Brunner and part of his commando, who had gone to round up Jews in Nice and the surrounding area (in southern France) along with some detainee cadres from Drancy.

On November 9, 1943, before the escape could take place, the tunnel was discovered by the Germans. 65 Jewish cadres were demoted and then deported, including Robert Blum. He was succeeded by Georges Schmitt, who held the former’s position until April 1944. Within the fragmented concentration camp society, which was constantly being transformed by the deportations, any remaining organized resistance seemed to have been destroyed. The masses of prisoners were supervised by the Jewish police led by detainee Oscar Reich, leader of the team of piqueurs (“Nabbers”), which was directed by the SS, and carried out nighttime arrests within ian Jewish communities (Laffitte, 2003:168).

From autumn 1943 until August 17, 1944, when Aloïs Brunner left with the last deportation convoy, the UGIF was the main link between the detainees and civil society, and practically the only connection between them. It answered directly to the German authorities, and its main task was to meet the detainees’ material needs. However, its employees were forbidden to have contact with them, and no longer had the right to physically enter the camp. The camp itself had developed into an insulated concentration-camp society, obeying its own laws and codes. From that point on, the UGIF was officially kept ignorant of the composition and destination of the deportation convoys that it was required to supply in part. Thus, the UGIF took part in the modernization of the Drancy camp, improving the quality of life of the detainees and in doing so, increasing the efficiency of the system for the deportation of the Jews of France.


A number of accounts were written while the memories were still fresh. Noël Calef, who was detained at the Drancy camp throughout the second half of 1941, described the first period of camp functioning, which was strongly affected by famine and disease. He wrote of his experience between 1942 and 1943, and went on to become a novelist and cinema screenwriter, in particular for Louis Malle’s 1958 film entitled Ascensceur pour l’échafaud, released under the title Frantic in the United States and Lift to the Scaffold in the United Kingdom (Calef, 1997).

Other witnesses, who died during or after deportation, left their diaries behind at Drancy. Serge Klarsfeld published those of the lawyer François Montel, who was the Jewish head of the camp administrative office from January to April 1942, as well as those of Georges Kohn, his successor until June 1943. Georges Wellers, who had trained as a chemist and was a pioneer of the Contemporary Jewish Documentation Centre (Centre de documentation juive contemporaine), wrote the first great work dedicated to the Drancy camp (Wellers, 1973), basing it on an autobiographical account. Despite editors’ cold feet, letters and journals were still being unearthed in the last decade of the 20th century. This was the case for the diary that dentist Benjamin Schatzman kept during detention, before his deportation to Auschwitz in September 1942. He was the father of Evry Schatzman, founder of the French School of Astrophysics (École française d’astrophysique) (Schatzman, 2005).

The problem of the existence of an interment camp at the very heart of a town in the area raises questions about the attitude of the surrounding population, about what they heard or saw, their reactions throughout the occupation and their memories of the events. No study on the subject has ever been attempted. Even though the camp was essentially closed to outside observers, the local population of Drancy could not have been unaware of the enormous transfers of people generated by the almost daily arrests and arrivals, and by the transfer of tens of thousands of detainees to the Bobigny train station. In summer 1943, the managers and workers of the Lainé company (which is still conducting business in the region today) used their skills for the modernization of the camp.

The problem raised by the camp’s visibility in the urban environment was recently dealt with by director Marcel Bluwal, whose film Le plus beau pays du monde (The Happiest Place on Earth) was released in France in 1998. The film tells the true story of the actor Robert-Hughes Lambert, who was interned in the Drancy camp for his homosexuality in 1943, as he was playing the lead role in Louis Cuny’s film Mermoz. In the last scenes to be shot, he was replaced by the young actor Henri Vidal, who later married Michèle Morgan. Lambert agreed to help synchronize the soundtrack with the picture for the final scenes of the film, before his deportation. A truck from Buttes-Chaumont (in the Northeast of ) came to the Drancy camp, and a sound engineer brought a boom microphone which was held through the barbed-wire fence. The film Mermoz was completed and released on November 3, 1943 in cinemas, and the magazine Vedettes featured a portrait of Robert-Hugues Lambert on its November 6 front page; his internment at Drancy was deliberately covered up. Marcel Bluwal’s 1998 film, based on the producer André Tranché’s account, demonstrates that the frontiers between the detainees’ world and the outside was relatively porous, due to the corruption of the gendarmes responsible for guarding the outside of the camp. The families and close friends of some prisoners were able to send them messages and obtain answers, but also to communicate with them by signals sent from the upper floors of buildings situated in the vicinity of the La Muette complex.


1. The associations’ fight

Different associations preserve the memory of the victims through publications, conferences, and the presentation of witness accounts to schoolchildren. The lawyer Yves Jouffa, who was a witness for the prosecution at the trial of the Drancy gendarmes in 1947, was arrested at age 21 and taken to Drancy along with his father, during the mass round-ups of August 20, 1941 in . As the first President of the Amicale des anciens internés et déportés de Drancy (Association of Former Detainees and Deportees of Drancy) and President of the Ligue des Droits de l’homme (League of Human Rights), he became an icon. As such, he was also a target for Holocaust deniers, to such a degree that in 1997, the “Jouffa Affair” began. On November 4, 1997, the day before his trial for being an accessory to crimes against humanity, Maurice Papon (a French civil servant under the Vichy regime who collaborated with Nazi Germany in deporting French Jews) accused Yves Jouffa of having been a “guard at the Drancy camp.” Papon was referring to a document that had been distributed via a website named “Radio Islam,” and created on March 1, 1987 in Stockholm by Ahmed Rami, a former Moroccan officer.

This text, entitled “Maurice Papon and Yves Jouffa: A Double Standard,” has been available on the site since September 19, 1997, in both English and French, and was penned by Robert Faurisson, a Holocaust denier. He states: “Released by the French authorities, he [Yves Jouffa] was not deported, having joined the General Union of French Jews (UGIF), of which his father was treasurer.” In fact, Yves Jouffa was set free at the same time as his father on September 14, 1942, thanks to his mother’s carte de légitimation (literally “legitimization card,” i.e. a temporary protection card). She had found employment as a linen maid at the UGIF boarding school, on rue Vauquelin in .

Moreover, during his detainment, Yves Jouffa had been elected by his fellow prisoners from the same barrack room, to weigh food and divide it up fairly between camp inmates, but he was never a “camp guard.” His parents were typical of a category of Jewish immigrants who had lost their jobs, and had managed to find refuge – however precarious – in the UGIF, which was a new organization at the time. Yves’ father, Jankiel Jouffa, was a tailor like his own father, and was born in Jitomir, west of Kiev (Ukraine) in 1892, and had acquired French nationality in 1927. His wife left UGIF in June 1943, when the organization hired him as a payments officer in the Social Welfare Service. The service was managed by Juliette Stern, who was responsible for finding foster care for children over the age of 15 without caregivers, and for investigating the conditions of foster care within the families concerned. Jankiel Jouffra’s salary of 1,600 francs per month was quite low, less than the average wage of first-class social workers at UGIF at the time. This is far removed from the fantastical image of a “UGIF Treasurer,” and the discrepancy reveals the anti-Semitic prejudice behind Holocaust deniers’ discourse. Likewise, the term “camp guard” is far from reality, considering the UGIF never provided cadres to administrate the Drancy camp, never established lists of deportees, and certainly never “sorted” men and women before deportation, as Maurice Papon claimed in reference to the Mérignac camp, near Bordeaux.

Other associations deal with the particular fate of certain groups of detainees. The Association of the Families of Convoy 73 (Association des familles du convoi 73), presided by Louise Cohen, is dedicated to preserving the memory of the only convoy of Jews deported from France to Kaunas, Lithuania, on May 15, 1944.

The struggle for the preservation of the site

In the months following its liberation, France was confronted with a housing crisis. In this context, the buildings of the La Muette complex were returned to their original purpose, housing. In the 1970s there was a resurgence of Jewish collective memory, with a particular emphasis on the singular nature of the Holocaust as an unprecedented, planned, and international genocide, industrial in nature. The development of the area around the former Drancy camp and the struggle to preserve the last remaining buildings of the La Muette complex bear witness to the new issues of remembrance involved.

In 1976, a sculpture by Shlomo Selinger was unveiled on the Charles-de-Gaulle Esplanade, across from the Muette complex. Selinger is a former Jewish deportee of Polish origin. The monument comprises many references to Jewish culture and religion. Three blocks set on a paved mound make up the letter shin, which is engraved on the mezuzah placed upon the doorposts of Jewish homes. The group of ten men in the sculpture corresponds to the number of people required for a minyan, the quorum required to carry out Jewish communal services, including the prayer for the dead. Two horizontal blocks that form a portal, and two sets of seven steps, which symbolize the degrees of Hell, lead to a “path of martyrs” which, in turn, leads to rails and a symbolic freight car.

Monument dedicated to Drancy prisoners, by Shlomo Selinger:

Monument dedicated to Drancy prisoners, by Shlomo Selinger

This freight car is of the same type as those used to transport the deportees; it is installed on a knoll on the other side of the street enclosing the courtyard of the La Muette complex. Since 1988, it has held an exhibition narrating the history of deportation. Following the initiative of local pharmacist Raphaël Chemouni and Dr. Richard Haddad, a conservatoire historique (a historical depository intended to preserve collective memory) of the camp was founded in 1989, under French non-profit organization law (as an association de loi 1901), within the La Muette complex itself. The conservatory was opened to researchers and students and accordingly, it received modest financial support. Limited to a ground-floor locale inside the La Muette complex, it houses displays of documents, organizes conferences and invites witnesses to speak there. The limited financial means of the association running the conservatory meant that its members could barely manage to preserve the remains of the camp, given the wear and tear of the buildings through time. There were only a few, fairly small commemorative plaques dedicated to the detainees. One was for Max Jacob, a Jewish poet who converted to Catholicism in 1915. He was arrested in Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire on February 24, 1944, detained for four days at the Orléans military prison, and died of pneumonia on March 5, 1944, less than a week after being transferred to the Drancy camp. A further three memorial tablets at the entrance to the La Muette complex are dedicated respectively to “100,000 Jews” that were deported, and to the French and British soldiers detained previously.

In 2000, American photographer William Betsch informed the French authorities that the renovation works undertaken by the office HLM de la Cité de la Muette (public housing office of the La Muette housing development) were in danger of distorting the memory of the former camp. The works were stopped on request of the French Cultural Affairs department. A decree signed on May 25, 2001 by Minister of Culture Catherine Tasca classified the La Muette complex as one of France’s protected monuments and sites. This decree protects the façades, the roofs, the stairwells and the basements of the La Muette complex, as well as the 35-meter-long escape tunnel dug in 1943.

The impetus for the initiative came from the new mayor Jean-Christophe Lagarde, of the UDF (Union pour la démocratie française) political party. He was 33 years old at the time of his election, and was keen to dissociate himself from the succession of Communist mayors of Drancy over the previous half-century. Lagarde had trained as a historian and hoped to return the La Muette buildings to their original state, so as to turn the complex into a national museum dedicated to the deportation of the Jews. This project was put forward at the same time as the Holocaust Memorial under construction in at the time, and was part of an ideological struggle of competition amongst victims. It was conceived in opposition to the project of the former Communist administration of the municipality, which had been accused of neglecting the specific nature of the Holocaust. It had considered opening an international centre for research on different forms of exclusion at La Muette, in partnership and solidarity with the Island of Gorée in Senegal (a main point of departure of slaves taken from Africa), a place of remembrance of the slave trade, and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned under the South African apartheid regime.

The Judicial Aftermath

After Drancy survivors filed lawsuits against them at the Cour de Justice de la Seine (Court of Justice of the Seine region), the trial of the gendarmes of the Drancy camp was held on March 19-22, 1947, and continued in June of the same year. The gendarmes were accused of contact with the enemy and undermining the external security of the State. Of the 15 officers and gendarmes prosecuted, 10 were referred to the Court of Justice, of which 7 attended the trial.

Captain Marcellin Vieux, who had been Commander of the Drancy Camp from July to September 1942, throughout the period of round-ups and mass arrests, was on the run. The others were judged less severely due to mitigating circumstances, and were given credit for acts of resistance. Paul Barral, who had been promoted to the rank of Captain in 1944, and Lieutenant Cannac, who was in charge of the external security of the camp after July 1943, were given a two-year prison sentence – but they were pardoned later on. They were also convicted of the crime of indignité nationale (“national indignity,” which meant assistance to the Germans, harming national unity, freedom or equality, participation in pro-Nazi militias or propaganda, or having worked for the Commission for Jewish Issues, etc.). The punishment for this was called dégradation nationale (“national degradation”) and involved being stripped of certain civil rights. Their sentence was lifted after one year.

Adjutant Jean Laroquette, who was responsible for the camp’s internal police until February 1943, had opportunely joined the FFI (Forces françaises de l’Intérieur, the French military Resistance movement) in August 1944. On June 27, 1947, Sergeant Marcel Van Neste, who was in charge of searching prisoners between November 1941 and July 1943, was sentenced to six months in prison and dégradation nationale for five years. Others were acquitted, such as Chief Warrant Officer Jean Laurent, and the gendarmes Victor Lambert and Louis Lucas. Staff Sergeant Emile Bousquet, who was in serving in Indochina at the time, was acquitted despite the very grave testimony of Yves Jouffa, a young ex-detainee, for the prosecution in Bousquet’s trial.

Aloïs Brunner himself was never arrested, though he was condemned to death in absentia for war crimes by the Permament Armed Forces Courts (Tribunaux permanents des forces armées) of and Marseilles, on January 30 and May 3, 1954 respectively. Two suits were filed against him for crimes against humanity–the first on December 4, 1987 by Serge Klarsfeld, on the behalf of the Association des fils et filles des déportés juifs de France (Association of the Sons and Daughters of French Jewish Deportees), and the second on May 11, 1988 by LICRA, the League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism. On September 1, 1999, the investigating magistrate, Hervé Stephan, responded by referring Aloïs Brunner, who was presumed to have taken refuge in Syria, to the Cour d’Assises (the Assize Court, the highest appellate court in France). Aloïs Brunner was charged with crimes against humanity again and was tried in absentia on March 2, 2001, for having “arrested Jewish orphans housed in centers run by the Jewish community in the region, between July 20 and 25, 1944.” These charges, which were not taken into account in 1954, are not subject to statutory limitation according to the French law of 1964 defining crimes against humanity, in reference to Article 6 of the Nuremburg Charter.


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Cite this item

Laffitte Michel, The Drancy Camp, Mass Violence & Résistance, [online], published on: 20 November, 2007, accessed 17/05/2021,, ISSN 1961-9898
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