The camp was first used to intern Germans and ex-Austrians living in the Marseille area, and by June 1940, some 3,500 artists and intellectuals were detained there. Inmates included men of letters such as Fritz Brugel, Leon Feuchtwanger, William Herzog, Alfred Kantorowicz, Golo Mann, Walter Hasenclever, scientists such as Nobel Prize laureate Otto Fritz Meyerhof, as well as musicians and painters such as Erich Itor Kahn, Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Hermann Henry Gowa, Gustave Herlich, Max Lingner, Ferdinand Springer, Franz Meyer, Jan Meyerowitz, Franz Waxman, François Willi Wendt and Robert Liebknecht.
Between 1941 and 1942 Le Camp des Milles was used as a transit camp for Jews, mainly men. Women were at the Centre Bompard in Marseille, while they waited for their visas and anthorisations to emigrate. As emigration became impossible, Les Milles became one of the centres de rassemblement before deportation. About 2,000 of the inmates were shipped off to the Drancy internment camp on the way to Auschwitz. After the war, the site was briefly re-opened in 1946 as a factory.
On September 10, 2012, seventy years after the last train left from Les Milles to the Auschwitz concentration camp, a memorial was inaugurated by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. Elie Wiesel, Simone Veil and Serge Klarsfeld visited and praised the memorial.
The Memorial site is one of the main attractions for Marseille, European Capital of Culture, 2013.
For the guided visits of the Memorial, 200 of RSF’s latest XP2 audioguide were chosen as they offer unique features not offered by any other competing product on the market. The XP2’s unique features include integrating of a digital tourguide system for group visits, and very low battery consumption with over two month of battery autonomy!
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