Image of the internees and deportees

The “foreigners” interned in France did not have a face: censors were watchful and no photographs of camps and individuals were published.

The German press, except for a newspaper distributed in the occupied part of France, La Gazette des Ardennes, was also quiet about the civilian camps in Germany. This figure was slow to emerge.

Work deportations got more media coverage. The “Lillois” case is meaningful: the press mentioned new victims of German atrocities, particularly insisting on the fate of women, more vulnerable when confronted to soldiers, and who were the innocent victims of this conflict. Quickly, this deportation actually became the “lilloises” deportation.

In France, a medal for “Civilian Prisoners, Deportees and Hostages of the Great War” was created as late as March 14th, 1936. More than 10,000 people were issued with the medal but they got no allowance rights. They gained less national recognition than soldiers killed in action.

In Belgium, to obtain the allowance granted by the Committee of National Recognition, deportees had to prove that they did not willingly work for the Germans.

Loading, please wait...
  • Forain Jean-Louis (1852-1931), The deportations from the Nord, 1916, lithograph, coll. Historial de la Grande Guerre, Péronne © Y. Medmoun

    Jean-Louis Forain is referring to the deportation of civilian hostages to Germany in December 1916. They were used by the German authorities to put pressure on France. The two nations had been negotiating since the start of the war about the fate of the German civilians that had been interned in French camps.

  • Boutry Edgar (sculptor, 1857-1938), Alleman Jacques (architect, 1882-1945), Monument dedicated to the people of Lille, © Daniel Rapaich, Ville de Lille

    This monument, which was inaugurated in 1927, is dedicated to the people of Lille, soldiers and civilians alike. A bas-relief, entitled "Les captifs" or the Prisoners, represents displaced populations.

  • Medal of the civilian prisoners, of the deported and the hostages of the Great War, first quarter of the 20th century, bronze, Caverne du Dragon-Musée du Chemin des Dames, Aisne

    This medal depicts a woman looking down, her right hand chained and letting go of a torch with her left hand, which symbolized the home that she must leave behind. In the background one can make out the smoking ruins.

Les déportations du Nord. Ce n’est pas encore ça qui vous fera prendre Verdun !Monument dedicated to the people of LilleMonument dedicated to the people of Lille