This multistory complex served as the Drancy transit camp. The overwhelming
majority of Jews deported from France were held here prior to their deportation.
Drancy, France, 1941-1944.
The Drancy camp, named after the northeastern suburb of Paris in which
it was located, was established by the Germans in August 1941 as an internment
camp for foreign Jews in France; it later became the major transit camp
for the deportations of Jews from France. Until July 1, 1943, French police
staffed the camp under the overall control of the German Security Police.
In July 1943 the Germans took direct control of the Drancy camp and SS
officer Alois Brunner became camp commandant.
The camp was a multistory U-shaped building that had served as a police
barracks before the war. Barbed wire surrounded the building and its courtyard.
The capacity of the camp was 5,000 prisoners. Five subcamps, used primarily
as warehouses for personal property confiscated from Jews, were located
throughout Paris: at the Austerlitz train station, the Hotel Cahen d'Anvers,
the Levitan furniture warehouse, the wharf in Bercy, and the Rue de Faubourg.
Approximately 70,000 prisoners passed through Drancy between August 1941
and August 1944. Except for a small number of prisoners (mostly members
of the French resistance), the overwhelming majority were Jews. A few thousand
prisoners managed to obtain release during the first year of the camp's
During the summer of 1942, the Germans began systematic deportations of
Jews from Drancy to extermination camps in occupied Poland. In the first
transport, which departed on June 22, 1942, 1,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Altogether, between that first transport and the last, on July 31, 1944,
64,759 Jews were deported from Drancy in 64 transports. Approximately 61,000
of these Jews were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Germans also deported
3,753 Jews from Drancy to the Sobibor extermination camp.
One-third of the Jews deported from Drancy were French citizens. Others
were foreign-born Jews who had immigrated to France in the 1920s and
1930s, primarily from Poland, Germany, and, after 1938, Austria. Many
distinguished French Jewish intellectuals and artists were held in Drancy,
including the poet Max Jacob, the choreographer Renee Blum, and the philosopher
On August 15-16, 1944, as Allied forces neared, the German authorities
in Drancy fled after burning all camp documents. The Swedish
Consul-General Raoul Nordling took over the camp on August 17
and asked the French Red Cross to care for the 1,500 prisoners remaining
in Drancy. Fewer than 2,000 of the almost 65,000 Jews deported from the
Drancy camp survived the Holocaust.
ref : Holocaust Encyclodepia