Living Conditions in Saint Cyprien
The camp of Saint Cyprien was set up near the beach, and the living conditions were unhealty and inhuman. The inmates were housed in temporary barracks, surrounded by electric fences on the one side and by the sea on the other. The barracks had iron roofs, no electricity or furniture and only straw for bedding. The straw usually wasn’t changed. It was freezing cold in the winter and extremely hot in the summer. Food was at a starvation level and eating utensils consisted of sardine tins and pieces of wood. The lack of adequate sanitation and the crowded conditions increased the spread of disease. 'The conditions under which one lives here are dreadful, it is the end of the culture', writes an internee of ST-CYPRIEN to rabbi Chneerson on November 24th, 1940.
From a protest forwarded by the internees to the C.I.C.R.:
Water badly filtered for drink and food; Open W.C.; flies in quantity such as they are unbearable; mouse, rats, chips and lice; insufficient, partially infested straw mattresses vermin; defective hutments; malnutrition; miss clothing and underclothing; almost complete absence of drugs, disinfecting and articles of hygiene.
The water used in the camp was polluted by colon bacilli of fecal origin since the underground sheet of water was in direct communication with that under the urinals and the latrines.
85% of the internees suffered from dysentery in August 1940. An epidemic of typhoide broke out and caused the hospitalization of 112 patients at the St-Louis Hospital of Perpignan. 17 died in less than 3 weeks. The antityphic vaccination was considered only from August 22nd. There were also internees suffering from malaria, but they were not treated for the lack of drugs.
Saint Cyprien was evacuated as a consequence of very serious floods in October 1940. 3870 internees of Saint Cyprien arrived to Gurs between October 29th and the 31st, 1940.