This website was last updated on December 23rd 2016. Although I have tried hard to ensure that all facts are correct, any mistakes or omissions are my own responsibility. Please let me know if you spot anything!
Internment camps of South West France 1939-1944
An opportunity to share knowledge and unlock the past.
The photograph shows an aerial view of Canet Plage taken many years ago. The building circled on the left is that used by the Quakers (American Friends Service Committee) to house thirty to forty children at a time for a period of about three months. The colony opened in March 1941.
The building though old, was in good condition and had the advantage of a large enclosed garden, and access to the beach only a few minutes walk away. It must have been a wonderful refuge from the worsening conditions in the camps.
Managed by Mary Elmes, the colony was able to continue after the German take-over of the south because Mary was Irish, and had the protection of her neutral status. Nevertheless, in 1943 she was arrested on suspicion of “anti-German activities” and of helping ecapees. Alice Resch (one of the Toulouse delegates) says that on one occasion, Mary hid four children in the boot of her car. We may never know how many children she helped to survive. If anyone reading this has any information about her activities, please use the forum page to tell us about it!
The other building (circled on the right) is the Villa Saint Christophe, the colony run by the American Mennonites.