Franco's concentration camps

Franco's concentration camps

The first concentration camp was created by Franco just at the beginning of the Spanish civil war, on July 20, 1936, and it was located in the castle of El Hecho, Ceuta, North Africa. The last camp to close was Miranda the Ebro, operative until January 1947. Between 1936 and 1947, Franco's regime had more than 190 concentration camps.

Post card from Patronato concentration camp in Bilbao, to Barcelona, circulated through franchise, with Bilbao postmark of April 25, 1939 and censor mark of the camp "CENSURA MILITAR / CAMPO DE CONCENTRACIÓN / PATRONATO - BILBAO". Addressed to a postman in Barcelona's Section 2. See it on the website.

Ex Gómez-Guillamón.

In 1938, Francoist concentration camps held more than 170,000 prisoners. After the end of the war, in 1939, these figures grew up to 500,000 people.

The last camp to close, Miranda de Ebro, was also used as a transit camp after the Spanish civil war for people fleeing Nazism, International Brigades members and Allied soldiers. Miranda de Ebro was the central prison camp for foreign prisoners, and this included people who had illegally entered the country, Jews wanting to go to the Americas and, after World War II, German military personnel wanting to escape from justice.

Cover from Miranda de Ebro concetration camp to Switzerland, sent by a Polish prisoner whose info is on the back of the cover: "Rte [Remite] Roman Oswald, Miranda de Ebro (Burgos), C. de Conc. [Campo de Concentración], Comp. [Compañia] Polacos, España". See it on the website.

Prisons were also used by Francoist as detention centers for war prisoners, political opponents, homosexuals and regular convicts.  

Interesting study with 11 post cards related with Dueso Penitenciary Colony: 7 from Dueso to Málaga, 3 from Málaga to Dueso, and a last one from Dueso prison to West Worthing, Sussex, England. Detailed study of censor marks, marks of the prison and references on the text to the postal system. Mounted on six exhibition plates. Ex Gómez-Guillamón collection. See it on the website.

The prisoners were used as forced labourers for reconstruction works. to mine coal, extract mercury, build highways and dams, and dig canals. Later their work was subcontracted to private companies and lawnowners, who used them to improve their properties.
While being used as forced labourers, prisoners were in Worker's Battalions.

Registered cover with censor mark "Batallón de Trabajadores Nº 3 / Censura / Mando" to Alaejos (Valladolid), sent by the guard Andrés Hernández. Handstamp cancellation only with the date, Dec 5, 1938. Transit railway postmark Zamora-Medina with date Dec 6, 1938 and Alaejos registered mail arrival backstamps. See it on the website.

In some cases, prisons and labor camps previously used by the Republican side were continued by Francoists, now hosting Republicans. We know at least two cases were censor marks used by Republicans were'nt even changed, and whey continued to be used by Francoists. This happened in San Miguel de los Reyes prison (Valencia) and Gandia labor camp.  

Extremely rare usage of Republican censor mark "D.P. Nº 1 - VALENCIA / CENSURA" from San Miguel de los Reyes prison in Valencia, used by the Francoist administration of the same prison in 1944, on post card to Madrid franked with 20c Edifil 974 and Valencia postmark of July 6, 1944. See it on the website.

Extremely rare usage of Republican censor mark "D.P. Nº 3 - GANDIA / CENSURA" from Escuelas Pías prison, used by the Francoist administration of the same prison in 1940, on postal stationery Edifil 83 to Valencia. Unreadable postmark, but text on the back dated on December 6, 1940. See it on the website.