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.
You will find nothing on the Internet about the children’s colony at Vernet-les-Bains. It is doubtful if anybody in the town today knows anything either. But from 1942 until the end of the war, a large colony of children were accommodated there, first in the Hotel des Anglais, and then later in the Hotel Portugal. They took over the accommodation which had been previously occupied by children from Poland. At the present, I have not discovered which caring agency was responsible for the Polish children.
In November 1942, when the Germans occupied the hitherto “free zone”, travel restrictions were imposed on the border regions, which included the mountain resort of Vernet-les-Bains. Consequently, the colony was left without support from the main office in Perpignan for some time. Early in 1943, Mary Elmes, the director of the Perpignan office, was imprisoned - first in Touluse and then in Paris, making things even more difficult. She was released unharmed in July 1943 and immediately resumed her duties, though travel to Vernet was still restricted.
So far, as far as is known, no-one who was cared for in that colony has been identified. If you know of anyone who spent time there, please contact us by the forum page.
Today, these splendid buildings house a hotel and the Casino.