LISBON (Feb. 4)
Epidemics which threatened to exterminate the 5,000 Jews interned at Drancy, the “camp of the living dead,” in Nazi-held France, were responsible for the release from internment of about 1,700 men during the month of November, according to authoritative information received here. Virtually all those released were seriously ill and were hastily set at liberty so that their deaths would not appear on the camp records, it was learned.
The Drancy camp, reputed to be one of the worst internment centers in all Europe, is under the direction of the French police and its inmates are mainly Jews arrested during various street round-ups in Paris during the Autumn. Most of the “liberated” men are described as being in such physical condition that they are unable to leave their beds. One of them, according to a highly reliable source, weighed only 33 kilos (about 75 pounds) on release as a result of the ravages of disease, lack of food and living conditions beyond description. All the released internees lost between 30 and 50 pounds in weight during their period of internment and hundreds of them required immediate hospitalization. Several cases were recorded where these released prisoners died as they were being taken directly from the camp to hospital.
A large number of the Drancy internees were Jews arrested on the streets of Paris during August and rushed off to the concentration camp without the chance to take along clothing and other necessities. No clothing was furnished them in the camp and they were forbidden to receive parcels until the beginning of November. Most of them had no beds in the camp except the cement floor of the barracks. The more fortunate ones had plank beds. Only those who were arrested in their homes and had the foresight to take along blankets, had any protection at all against the cold.