On January 18, 2009, the "Remembering the Camp des Milles" Association ("Association Mémoire du Camp des Milles") will begin the restoration of the former internment and deportation camp at Les Milles, near Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. At 11.30am, the association, soon to become the "Camp des Milles Foundation: Remembrance and Education", of which Lafarge is a founding member, will lay the first stone of this ambitious commemorative and educational project dedicated to the internments and deportations that took place during World War Two.
Lafarge, which became owner of the site in 1998, is contributing 1.8 million euros, out of a total investment budget of 13.8 million. The Group is also a member of the steering committee set up to oversee the planning and creation of this cultural landmark. The project is the culmination of several years of work to turn this site into a place of culture and citizen education.
Opened in September 1939 in a former tile factory, the Camp des Milles was initially an internment camp for all Austrian and German nationals living in the south of France. Viewed as enemy subjects, these internees were for the most part opponents of the German regime who had fled the Reich after 1933, seeking refuge in France. Following the French defeat in June 1940, the camp was turned into a transit station for the Vichy government, before then becoming a Jewish deportation camp in 1942.
Between 1939 and 1943 the Camp des Milles witnessed the passage of nearly 10,000 people, citizens of 27 different countries. In August and September 1942, around 2,500 Jewish men, women and children were deported to Auschwitz by the Vichy government. Amongst the internees were a world-renowned intelligentsia, notably literary figures (Fritz Brugel, Lion Feuchtwanger, William Herzog, Alfred Kantorowicz, Golo Mann, son of Thomas Mann...), scientists (Nobel prize-winner Otto Meyerhof...), musicians and painters (Erich Itor Kahn, Hans Bellmer, Max Ernst, Herman Henry Gowa, Gustave "Gus" Herlich, Max Lingner, Ferdinand Springer, Franz Meyer...).
The Camp des Milles project aims to protect, restore and open to the public the buildings of the only internment, transit and deportation camp - of the 200 that once existed in France - that is still in good condition today. It is estimated that around 100,000 visitors per year will visit the Memorial, which should open its doors to the public in 2010.
Lafarge's involvement with the "Remembering the Camp des Milles" Association, which is piloting the this operation, illustrates the Group's commitment to citizen education. Very attached to the promotion of local cultures and remembrance of the past, Lafarge has taken part in a number of emblematic projects, at locations neighboring its operational sites. The Group has contributed to the renovation of other symbols of world heritage, such as the Monastery of Simonos Petra on Mount Athos in Greece, the renovation of the Villa Golescu in Romania, the preservation of the Abbaye de la Couronne in Charente in France, and the construction of the future Islamic Art Department at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Notes to editors
- About Lafarge
Lafarge is the world leader in building materials, with top-ranking positions in all of its businesses: Cement, Aggregates & Concrete and Gypsum. With 90,000 employees in 76 countries, Lafarge posted sales of Euros 17.6 billion and net income of Euros 1.9 billion in 2007.
Lafarge is the only company in the construction materials sector to be listed in the 2008 ‘Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World'. With the world's leading building materials research facility, Lafarge places innovation at the heart of its priorities, working for sustainable construction and architectural creativity.
- About the Camp des Milles
For more information, consult the web site www.campdesmilles.org