Gurs

We were three days, three nights on this train. Put us on the sidings during the night and for how long it was, until we moved on again. And...after three days we arrived. My mother knew it wasn’t the east because she could see the Alps and the Pyrenees later on. So she knew it wasn’t the east. They were always frightened of the east.

It was a camp originally made for the 1937 Spanish Civil War. There were still a few Spaniards there. I didn’t know why, but they were still there. They knew the ropes of the camp more, and we were totally shocked. We were given- We were told, “Here is a- Here is a – a paliasse;” - a sack - “fill it with straw, and that will be your bed.” So you come from quite civilized place, and now you have this space in a barrack which is the width of your mattress. That is the space that you occupy. During the day, you pushed it back, and it was your seat, and during the night you pushed it back and it was your bed. We had a blanket and this sack. We were treated... terribly. We had to go for miles to go to the latrines to the toilets because... to avoid sickness. We all, but we had rats, we had mice, we had - you name it. Old people died. They were taken out in the middle of the night. You had people fighting because fifty people in a barrack, they were hungry they were miserable, and it doesn’t take much to have... rows. We didn’t know what was worse, the scratching from our... bites, or the hunger from our stomach. It was- The situation was just appalling. We didn’t have any schooling whatsoever. The water was on for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening, and that was miles away. If you imagine it like maybe in the Army they have such things. There were lots and lots of taps and you washed in the open.

 
 

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