Guide to the Gurs (Concentration camp) Collection
1940-1989
(bulk 1940-1942)

AR 2273

Processed by Leanora Lange

Leo Baeck Institute

Center for Jewish History

15 West 16th Street

New York, N.Y. 10011

Phone: (212) 744-6400

Fax: (212) 988-1305

Email: lbaeck@lbi.cjh.org

URL: http://www.lbi.org

© 2013  Leo Baeck Institute
Electronic finding aid was encoded in EAD 2002 by Leanora Lange in March 2013. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Leo Baeck Institute
Title: Gurs (Concentration camp) Collection
Dates:1940-1989
Abstract: This is a constructed collection of items related to the internment and concentration camps in France in operation during World War II. The bulk of the materials relate to the Gurs camp and stem from 1940-1942. Other camps mentioned are St. Cyprien and Vichy. Materials include correspondence, photographs, personal accounts, lists of prisoners, a death certificate, clippings, reports and minutes of relief organizations, poems and songs, and reproductions (photographs, photocopies, and slides) of artwork depicting Gurs.
Languages: The collection is in English and German with a few items in French.
Quantity: 0.25 linear feet
Identification: AR 2273
Repository: Leo Baeck Institute
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Historical Note

The Gurs internment and concentration camp was located outside of the village of Gurs in southern France about 50 miles from the Spanish border. Established in April of 1939, Gurs first held Spanish republicans fleeing Franco after the Spanish Civil War. These political prisoners were joined in 1940 by Jews from Germany and Austria as well as French political opponents of the Nazis. Aid organizations helped to release about 2,000 Jews between 1940 and 1942. Many of those who remained either died in Gurs as a result of harsh living conditions or were deported via transport camps to the extermination camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor. The Gurs camp was closed in November 1943 and then reopened in 1944 first to hold political prisoners of the Vichy government and then prisoners of war captured by the Allies. It was shut down completely by 1946.

During its operation from 1939-1940, the internment camp at St. Cyprien held refugees of the Spanish Civil War and Jews from the German Reich. In 1940, many detainees were transferred to Gurs.

References

Rutkowski, Adam. “Gurs.” Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. Israel Gutman, ed. New York: MacMillan, 1990.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Gurs.” Holocaust Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14 March 2013 from http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005298.

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Scope and Content Note

This is a constructed collection of items related to the internment and concentration camps in France in operation during World War II. The bulk of the materials relate to the Gurs camp and stem from 1940-1942. Other camps mentioned are St. Cyprien and Vichy. Materials included are correspondence, photographs, personal accounts, lists of prisoners, a death certificate, clippings, reports and minutes of relief organizations, poems and songs, and reproductions (photographs, photocopies, and slides) of artwork depicting Gurs.

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Arrangement

Materials in the collection were separated by document type. Folders are arranged chronologically by the earliest date of the items they hold.

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Access and Use

Access Restrictions

This collection is open to researchers.

Access Information

Readers may access the collection by visiting the Lillian Goldman Reading Room at the Center for Jewish History. We recommend reserving the collection in advance; please visit the LBI Online Catalog and click on the "Request" button.

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Access Points

Click on a subject to search that term in the Center's catalog. Return to the Top of Page

Related Material

The LBI Archives holds the Gurs (Concentration camp) Clippings Collection as well as several collections of personal papers or memoirs that relate to the Gurs camp, including the following:

The LBI and YIVO libraries also hold several published works on the Gurs camp.

Yale University's Furtunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies contains videotapes of personal accounts about imprisonment in Gurs.

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Separated Material

The original Karl Schwesig artworks and the artist's book Gurs 1941 by Liesel Felsenthal have been removed to the LBI Art and Objects Collection.

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Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Gurs (Concentration camp) Collection; AR 2273; box number; folder number; Leo Baeck Institute.

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Processing Information

Duplicates were removed. Where necessary, photographs were placed in archival envelopes and brittle papers were placed in Mylar sleeves.

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Container List

 

Gurs (Concentration camp) Collection, 1940-1989

In English and German with a few items in French.
0.25 linear feet.
Arrangement:

Materials were separated by document type. Folders are arranged chronologically by the earliest date of the items they hold.

Scope and Content:

This is a constructed collection of items related to the internment and concentration camps in France in operation during World War II. The bulk of the materials relate to the Gurs camp and stem from 1940-1942. Other camps mentioned are St. Cyprien and Vichy. Materials included are correspondence, photographs, personal accounts, lists of prisoners, a death certificate, clippings, reports and minutes of relief organizations, poems and songs, and reproductions (photographs, photocopies, and slides) of artwork depicting Gurs.

The relief organizations mentioned in this collection include Selfhelp, the Koordinationskomitee of Bern, Switzerland, Secours Suisse, the American Friends Service Committee, Comité Central, the Koordinationskomitees für Hilfe in französischen Lagern, and the American Committee to Save Refugees. Many of the letters to Selfhelp are addressed to the Executive Secretary, Dr. Fred Weissman. There are also letters to Max Grunewald of the Jewish Theological Seminary appealing for help.

Photographs of the stamps created by Karls Schwesig are included in the collection. These stamps depict the suffering of prisoners in the camp in the form of postage stamps with titles “Gurs” “Liberte” “Egalite” and “Fraternite.” Also included are reproductions of sketches by Helga Cazas-Treuherz and watercolors by Liesel Felsenthal depicting life in the Gurs camp.

BoxFolderTitleDate
1 1 Images and map of Gurs camp undated
1 2 Poems and songs undated
1 3 Photographs of prisoners at St. Cyprien 1940
BoxFolderTitleDate
OS 21 Photograph of prisoners at St. Cyprien 1940
BoxFolderTitleDate
LBI Photograph Collection Photographs of prisoners at St. Cyprien circa 1940
LBI Photograph Collection Photographs of prisoners at Gurs 1940-1942
BoxFolderTitleDate
1 4 Personal correspondence from prisoners in Gurs and St. Cyprien 1940-1942
1 5 Correspondence, reports, and minutes of relief organizations 1940-1942
1 6 Personal accounts and reports on the Gurs camp and other camps in France 1940-1942, 1965
1 7 "Vichy Concentration Camp" clipping from Illustrated Magazine 1941 July 12
1 8 Lists of prisoners, dedication to Pauline Maier, and death certificate of Abraham Stock undated, 1942
1 9 Materials on stamps depicting Gurs camp by Karl Schwesig 1970-1989
1 10 Slide reproductions of stamps depicting Gurs camp by Karl Schwesig 1978-1980
1 11 Photographs and photocopies of artwork depicting Gurs camp by Liesel Felsenthal and Helga Cazas-Treuherz and related correspondence undated, 1980
1 12 Detail photograph reproductions of stamps depicting Gurs camp by Karl Schwesig 1984
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