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Camp Tibor and Sites of Slave Labour (at Dannes)

Places of interest

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Start of Tour Route
German Personnel and Tobruk Bunker near Dunette
Hill-top Fortress of Mt St Frieux
Chemin du Facteur
Site of Camp Tibor
Jewish Graves and Camp Tibor Memorial - Dannes Cemetery
Cement Works at Dannes
The Kriegsmarine

1. Start of Tour Route

The tour route starts at the car-park in the square at Dunette.

2. German Personnel and Tobruk Bunker near Dunette

This restored bunker is on the flank of Mont St Frieux (a giant sand-dune). This has been restored by local bunker enthusiasts and is an excellent example of a 'Tobruk' type of a personnel bunker, which includes gas protection and a water supply. It is called a Tobruk type as it is type developed by Field Marshall in the sandy conditions of the North Africa campaign and it recognised by its round turret used for observation and a machine gun. This is the most common type in N. France and over 1,000 were built from January 1943 and each bunker would consume 485 cubic meters of concrete indicating something of the pure labour needed for their construction. The interior still preserves some of the original signs in German painted on the wall. Originally the bunker would have been more buried than it is now. These bunkers were constructed by forced labour and may well have included the residual Jewish labour group from the camp at Dannes.

(On returning to the Chemin du Facteur continue south towards Dannes, on the route taken by Jewish prisoners walking to distant worksites. As you approach Dannes you will see the chimneys of the local cement factory and the scars of chalk quarrying an important industry for the occupying Germans.)

3. Hill-top Fortress of Mt St Frieux

The bunker just visited, defends one of the approaches to the very extensive hill-top fortress of Mont St Frieux (elevation 153m and named after a decapitated local saint) to your right, which had more than 18 main bunkers and a German radar station and was part of the in-depth defences along the coast favoured by Rommel as well as controlling large sections of the channel and approaches to the River Canche. Again it is believed that forced Jewish labour was used in it construction. Other bunkers may be spotted hidden along the line of the woods on the flanks of Mt St Frieux on your right.

Continue south on the Chemin du Facteur

4. Chemin du Facteur

The Chemin du Facteur was once the main road to Boulogne and was the route taken by the Jewish prisoners when they walked to the Chemin des Juifs work site, over 4 miles (2 hours) away, as well as far as Boulogne 7 miles away, where they worked on other defences, so the prisoners would be walking long and exhausting distances in all weathers, as well as engaging in arduous work. As a matter of policy the Germans would not 'waste' transport on Jewish prisoners.

5. Site of Camp Tibor

The site of Lager Tibor lies either side of the Chemin du Facteur. The war-time aerial imagery suggests that the track actually passed through the middle of the camp, which consisted of 6 - 12 or more barrack huts and other buildings, as well as the main gate area opening onto the road. Research shows that the main camp compound was c. 112 x 165 m and the gate complex was c. 35 x 40 m. The largest huts were c. 30 m in length.

Camp Tibor was started around June 1942. The first group of prisoners probably arrival on 5 August, 1942, with a group of Belgian Jewish deportees arriving at Dannes-Camiers railway station. From June 1942, to October 1942, there were a 1,000 Jews of different nationalities and a number of Belgians, but by the end of October 1942, the number was reduced to plus or minus 100 Jews due to most being sent to Auschwitz and there were about 700 Jews left across all of the French camps. The Jews were segregated within the camp from other prisoner groups, who included French, Italian, Spanish and Russian prisoners (POWs and at the end of the War, Russian children). Prisoners worked 10 hours a day and had poor medical care, very little food and regular beatings. The camp commanders were mostly very brutal towards the Jews resulting in broken limbs and teeth. Dannes became the primary and central local camp used to assemble and register the new arrivals and then allocate prisoners to the other camps or Komandos. Conditions at the camp were arduous and often brutal. The end of the camp came on 5 September 1944, when the Germans started to evacuate all of the prisoners with them and organized a train at Boulogne to deport the prisoners. However, the transport was liberated by the Belgian resistance at Dexmude.

We are fortunate to have David Shentow's account of his experiences of Lager Tibor (below), from the first phase of its activity.
'On entering our train, we had to hand our identity cards to one of the German soldiers. We arrived the same day, at 8:00 p.m., at the Dannes-Camiers railroad station. After leaving the train we were force-marched along a country road leading to Lager Tibor. The sun was setting on a very hot August evening. Promptly upon our descent from the train, our guards hurried us a long and unlit country road past a village named Condette. The work camp consisted of a number of wooden barracks. Once inside our building, we were assigned to one of the double bunk-beds. We were allowed to keep our suitcases and our travel clothing. We were told that we could use our money to purchase food from the guards. We slept in the same clothes in double-bunk beds. No work clothes or uniforms were distributed to the prisoners. Other than running water from an outdoor installation, there were no laundry facilities or showers. Outdoor latrines were inside the camp.

The next morning we were assigned to building concrete pill-boxes, installing barbed-wire fences, and constructing concrete sea-wall defences. We were given to understand that all this work was needed in case of an Allied invasion of Europe. The place where I was engaged in slave labour was located in Boulogne-sur-Mer, some 18 km. away from Camp Tibor. We had to walk there and back in all kinds of weather... Another assignment involved the construction of a cement highway to be used by heavily armoured vehicles and tanks in preparation for Hitler's planned invasion of Great Britain.

...In France some people died, but they were buried - there was funeral and outside of the camp there was a little cemetery. They died may be not from old age, may be from beatings, one or two perhaps, no more than half a dozen in three months. [Notes: 15 Jewish prisoners died in the Nord Pas de Calais camps in the first three months of their labour, there are 6 Jewish graves at the Camp at Dannes]... A few weeks later, we learned that Hitler had decided not to invade England at this time. Instead, he had planned to invade the Soviet Union... Our work camp was to be closed, and we were to be sent back to Belgium...We received from our guards a loaf of bread and a bit of jam. I was disturbed to hear that these meagre rations were to last us for four days. I prepared my suitcase and joined the other prisoners in our return march to the railway station at Dannes-Camiers where guards herded us on a passenger train headed for the Caserne Dossin at Malines.

Once our train had come to rest in the area in front of the Caserne, I saw another passenger train being attached to the one in which we had been traveling. Through the windows I could see that the passengers were composed of elderly men and women, young women, and mothers with babies and small children. [David was deported on transport XVI 31.10.42]. Suddenly the train began to move, and we began to see the Belgian countryside disappear behind us as we travelled eastward. The train continued, non-stop, for four days and four nights. As we passed through Germany into Poland, we could see the names of important cities in the various train stations along our route.
Finally the train slowed down and came to a complete halt. It was 4:00 p.m. The sign in the train station read Auschwitz.'

After turning left at the junction of the Rue Deportes and proceeding to the entry of the new municipal cemetery, the memorial to the slave labour camp can be found not far from the gate to the cemetery, towards the rear and the six Jewish graves are to the left of the memorial and next to the Common Wealth war graves.


6. Jewish Graves and Camp Tibor Memorial - Dannes Cemetery

The current memorial and Jewish graves are c. 68 m south of the perimeter of the camp in the municipal cemetery. While most traces of the camp are now gone, the camp did survive the end of the war and was used temporarily as a POW camp for captured Germans and the buildings themselves may have survived until as late as the 1970s. The memorial to the slave labour camp can be found not far from the gate to the cemetery (geo-location 50.593579, 1.619112), towards the rear and the six Jewish graves are to the left of the memorial and next to the Common Wealth war graves. The original grave markers for the Jewish deportees were crude makeshift markers that were not replaced until sometime after 1985. The car park for the cemetery is at geo-location 50.593337, 1.619847.

On leaving the cemetery and turning left onto the Rue des Deportees, the Kriegsmarine can be approached via a track joining the Rue des Tunnels and then onwards to the railway bridge and SITA waste recycling plant (50.594910, 1.631583). At the SITA plant you follow a pipeline behind a board with arrows to get to the south-end of the Kriegsmarine (danger: some of the tunnels are in danger of roof collapse).


7. Cement Works at Dannes

While this trail does not include a visit to the local cement works, they are highly visible through much of the tour. As you continue to approach Dannes you will see the chimneys of the very important local cement factory and the extensive scarring scars created by the excavation of chalk. During the War the Germans consumed vast amounts of concrete in building the Atlantic Wall and the V Rocket Block Houses, and the local concrete factory with its connection to the main railway line and other local light railway lines, was considerably important to them.

After crossing the D140 (care needed) you will soon pass through the site of Lager Tibor. The north end of the site is just level with the row of houses to the east and the south end just before the wall of the cemetery is reached.

8. The Kriegsmarine

The Kriegsmarine is an important relic of the Nazi occupation and was a naval munitions store for the German navy ('Kreigsmarine') and also provided tunnels to be used by trains as air-raid shelters. (Safety: please note it is not recommended to go far past the L shaped entrances of the tunnels, as some of the roof-linings in the main parts of the tunnel are falling into the tunnels and are hazardous).

World War II intelligence reports relate that the site was under construction from August 1941 and was still under construction in October 1943. It was extensively bombed in February 1944. The site would have been constructed by forced labour and it is likely that Jews from both the nearby camps at Dannes and also at Camier, could have taken part in the construction.

Today you can see twenty-two massive concrete tunnels, 4 m high, extending 50 m into a low chalk hill. The tunnels have a frontage of c. 180 m, and the majority are served by a continuous railway platform which appears to have been linked by a spur to the nearby main railway line and other sidings. The concrete facing of part of the site is deliberately corrugated to allow grass to grow and conceal it.

The Kreigsmarine was a naval munitions store and kept large stocks of mines which could be rapidly off-loaded from munitions trains stopping along the giant railway platform and railway line that runs along the entire frontage of the tunnels. At the end of the war the complex was abandoned and in 1973 tunnel no. 6 was found to be filled with 83 mines which subsequently had to be emptied and destroyed at sea in the 1976! There was also two railway tunnels at the south end of the complex which could protect entire trains (including V2 weapons trains) from aerial attack. These tunnel entrances are now blocked. Field Marshall Rommel inspected this site and a propaganda film shows him walking down the length of the railway platform with his henchmen.

After leaving the Kriegsmarine, follow the Rue de la Chappelle, turning right onto the Rue des Sons de Ville, crossing the D940 with care, turning left in to the Rue de la Riviere, Right into Rue du Hetre, then left onto a footpath with a cycle bar on it (opposite no. 35), running alongside a large barn, and after 250 m you will exit nearly opposite the starting point to your left. Cyclists will need to bypass the path by continuing on the Rue de la Basse Flaque and then turning right to the start point.

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