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Biographical/Historical Information

Liesel Felsenthal was only sixteen years old when she was interned in Gurs.

The Gurs internment and concentration camp was located outside of the village of Gurs in southern France, about 50 miles from the Spanish border. Established in April of 1939, Gurs first held Spanish republicans fleeing Franco after the Spanish Civil War. These political prisoners were joined in 1940 by Jews from Germany and Austria, as well as French political opponents of the Nazis. Aid organizations helped to release about 2,000 Jews between 1940 and 1942. Many of those who remained either died in Gurs as a result of harsh living conditions or were deported via transport camps to the extermination camps Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor. The Gurs camp was closed in November 1943 and then reopened in 1944, first to hold political prisoners of the Vichy government and then prisoners of war captured by the Allies. It was shut down completely by 1946.

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Felsenthal, Liesel: Gurs 1941, Leo Baeck Institute, 91.3.