Chronology of the labor camps

Back to Research

As the correspondence rarely mentions where it was written, we must rely on the recorded dates of foundation and movement of the camps to know from where covers and postcards were sent, as the camps had several locations, depending on the advance of the war front.

Labor Camp Number 1:
It was in Poble Espanyol, Barcelona, the former buildings of the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition. Despite being officialy named “Campo de Trabajo Número 1” (Labor Camp Number 1) it was mainly a transit camp, and it hosted the administrative offices of the S.I.M. prisons, the “Jefatura Principal de Prisiones”. It also served as urban prison (prisoners were sent daily to work to different locations in the city), located in the buildings of Palacio de las Misiones (Preventorio B) and Palacio de Arte Moderno (later moved to the seminar, known as Preventorio C) (Badia, 157-159). Other “preventorios” in Barcelona were under the rule of the S.I.M, but they did not officialy belong to Labor Camp Number 1. Both Labor Camp Number 1 and “preventorios” do not have any kind of location identification difficulty as they were permanent and did not evacuate until the previous hours from the Francoist occupation of Barcelona (Badia, 301-320). It is not clear when Labor Camp Number 1 was stablished, but correspondence from as early as April 1, 1938 show that the Palacio de las Misiones was used as a prison in that date.

Labor Camp Number 2:
April 11, 1938: The camp was stablished in Hospitalet de l’Infant and the first prisoners arrived (Nistral, 38).
Since at least May 1938, but probably from the very same beginning of the camp: Detachment stablished in Tivissa, near Hospitalet (Nistral, 58).
September 23, 1938: the camp in Hospitalet de l’Infant and the detachment in Tivissa are moved and the prisoners begin a journey to a new location. They are brought in trucks to Tarragona, where they are embarked in a train (Badia, 170).
September 24, 1938: The prisoners passed through Barcelona, Ripoll and Puigcerdà, in a train (Badia, 170).
September 25, 1938: The prisoners are brought in trucks to La Seu d’Urgell, and afterwards they go walking to Montferrer and surrounding area (Nistral, 95-97).
The camp has four different locations: Montferrer, Sallent de Castellbò (with a command post, hosting the offices, so this may have been the main camp in the area), the woods in Comes de Burbre and Bigues, and in the village of Ars (Nistral, 101-102).
December 1938: Both Nistral (151) and Badia (321) agree that the camp was decongested from this month, and state that some prisoners were sent to the salt mines in Cardona, others to the Army, others to disciplinary battalions and others to the prisons in Barcelona. According to Badia, the camp was dissolved while being in Montferrer area, when the dispertion of the prisoners occurred. But Nistral thinks Labor Camp Number 2 must be officialy considered as dissolved on February 10, 1938, when those prisoners previoulsy moved to Barcelona crossed the French border in Puigcerdà, with their guards. We think that it is more probable that the camp ended its days in december 1938, as Badia states, when the prisoners were disbanded. It would be strange that those prisoners moved to other facilities still were considered as part of a camp that was being dismantled.

Labor Camp Number 3:
April, 25, 1938: Prisoners from Model Prison in Barcelona are moved to Els Omells de Na Gaia.
September, 24, 1938: The camp was moved to Vila-sana (Badia, 2016).
December 18, 1938: The prisoners were already moved to Cabó in this date, where they joined those coming from the Detachment in Arbeca (former Labor Camp Number 6) (Badia, 278-279).
January 24, 1939: The prisoners were moved towards the French border, being in transit until February 9, 1939, when they entered France (Badia, 321-328).

Labor Camp Number 4:
May 20, 1938: The first detachment of prisoners arrived to Concabella, mostly coming from prisons in Barcelona, Figueres, Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, and from the prison ship Uruguay, in Barcelona harbor.
September 21, 1938: The camp was moved to Barbens (Badia, 233).
December 18, 1938: The prisoners started moving towards the French border, through several villages. (Badia 238-334)
February 9, 1939: Prisoners and guards crossed the French border (Badia, 235).

Labor Camp Number 5:
July 27, 1938: The first contingent of prisoners arrived to Ogern (Badia, 237-242). Cadona (41) wrongly states that the camp was stablished on June 11, 1938, but documents reproduced by Badia ( 238-239) show that the creation of the camp was requested on July 2, 1938. Later in his text, Badia also wrongly states that the prisoners were allowed to rest in the camp from their arrival until “June, 21” (Badia, 242), but undoubtedly this is a mistake and he had to write “August, 21”.
From August 1938, a secondary camp was stablished in Castellar de la Ribera according to Cardona (2009, 45), but Badia (242, note 9) writes “a neighbour of the village [for Ogern] says that the camp had to be stablished in Castellar de la Ribera, but later the officers selected Ogern because there was more water availability”.
October 1938, unknown day: Camp moved to Anglesola (Cardona, 67).
November 18, 1938: Dissolution of the camp, and prisoners moved to Barcelona, to Preventorio C, the former seminar (Cardona, 69; Badia, 254).

Labor Camp Number 6:
July 26, 1938: A first batch of prisoners arrived to Falset, and they were hosted in the church, now used as prison (Badia, 255).
Detachment number 3 in Cabassers: Prisoners transported from Falset on July 29, 1938, hosted in the church, used as prison (Badia, 259), and detachment dismantled on September 3, 1938 (Badia, 263, note 10), when the prisoners came back to Falset and joined the expedition that merged Camp Number 6 with Camp Number 3 in Arbeca. The number of the detachment is known thanks to an improvised poscard sent by a prisoner, reproduced in Badia (145) and in catalog number 061.
Detachments in La Figuera, Gratallops and Porrera: no documents exist about these detachments, which must have been numbered 1, 2 and 4. It has not been possible to determine when the first prisoners arrived to these detachments, but it is possible that the detachment in Gratallops was dismantled in november 1938, and the prisoners transferred to Preventorio C in Barcelona (Badia, 269, note 12). This goes into contradiction with the displacement of Camp Number 6 to arbeca on September 3, 1938, where it was merged with Camp Number 3. No notices at all about the detachment in La Figuera, and the only documents known about the detachment in Porrera are a postcard sent to a prisoner (catalog number 062) and a letter written by a former prisoner after liberation.
September 3, 1938: the camp was moved to Arbeca, where it was converted into a detachment of Labor Camp Number 3, and the denomination of Labor Camp Number 6 was no longer used, as it was officialy declared extinguished (Badia, 271). Despite this, two postcards were sent later than this date, with the seal of Labor Camp Number 6 used on them (numbers 059 & 060).
December 17, 1938: this detachment, former Labor Camp Number 6, was displaced to Cabó, where it arrived the next day, December 18, 1938. Here the prisoners met with those coming from Els Omells de Na Gaia (Labor Camp Number 3) (Badia, 278-279).
January 24, 1939: The prisoners were moved towards the French border, being in transit until February 9, 1939, when they entered France (Badia, 321-328).