“Written barracks.” On the Production and Circulation of Newsletters in the Internment Camps of Southwest France


  • Guadalupe Adámez Castro Universidad de Alcalá



Spanish exile, internment camp, written culture, handwritten press


Around half a million Spanish exiles crossed the French border in the  Pyrenees between January and February of 1939. They were looking for shelter in anticipation of the overthrow of the Spanish Second Republic. The reception of the exiles in France was rather hostile, and approximately a quarter of a million of them were locked up in internment or concentration camps that French authorities improvised or reactivated camps of WWI. The exiles were defeated and they were deprived of freedom and forced to live in insalubrious conditions. The refugees used writing and culture as a strategy to resist, and as a means to hang on to their personal, familial, social and ideological identities. As a result of their cultural activity, a wide range of newsletters and diaries were edited in the internment camps despite the scarcity of resources. The refugees used these writings as a means of entertainment but also to spread their own doctrines. This article analyzes some 30 newsletters produced by a variety of groups in the camps: political groups, which were mostly linked to the field of education, different intellectuals and members of the International Brigades. The main goal of this work is to disentangle how the newsletters were produced, discuss the aims of the different publications and show how the texts were circulated and exchanged within the internment camps. Ultimately, the purpose of this work is to demonstrate the meaning of these communications for their authors and their readers and examine how the texts were used to reconstruct their lost identity.