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Hard labour is in Guiana.


The first camps of the convicts taken out from France were open on islands Rescues( former isl. of Devil). Type of one of 3 islands - isl. Ruayal, in 15 kilometres from Kuru. 


Hard labour camps in French Guiana were closed in 1953, For 100-years-old history of tropical reference about seventy thousand persons were here taken across. How did ссыльные live? It was for them appearing in an isolation on islands, freedom of movements? Was freedom of idea possible in the frightful terms of tropical, often lifelong captivity? On questions of the Russian release of RFI a guide and historian of museum of о.Руаяль, Serge Kolin.

The islands of rescue can be compared to paradise on earth.... But at the beginning of the last century French журналист-правозащитник Альбер Лондр named these islands "By hell in to paradise". Three islands of volcanic origin in 15 kilometres from the beaches of Куру, were up to 1953 the mestome of reference of the French criminals, and also and prisoners of state. For 100-years-old history of French tropical hard labour ten of thousands of persons were here taken across. Only units were able to come home.

Today only one of three islands is an island Руаяль - open for tourists... Built by prisoners a church, house of chief of camp, settlement of overseers, punishment cell with narrow dark chambers and hospital, is entered today in the lists of historical monuments of France...


A prisoner is a captain Dreyfus. Archive of museum of isl. Ruayal.

Right opposite of moorage, at the foot of the mountain covered by the dense tropical forest, the copsy stood juicy green moss wooden booth. On moist glasses her distinctly white inscription "of Francetelecom" could be seen yet. A ferruginous telephone box, maybe, yet would connect this scrap of earth of south America with the civilized world... Hurrying along the edge of a forest, and then sharply upwards to the left uphill a road from the rough-pointed enormous cobbles conducted in the center of island Rual (ile Royale).

One of three islands Rescues (îles du Salut), French "Kolima" in tropics, where the unfairly convict in 1894 captain of the French army Dreyfus suffered four long years.

Malaria, heat, epidemics, hard labour labour, acute mockeries....On hard labour in Guiana from 70 thousands prisoners 50 thousands perished....

Today islands Rescues became a museum under open-skies. 30 thousand visitors in a year, for 100 every day, - proudly a guide and historian, worker of museum Serge Kolin. He conducted us on the historical display unfolded in the prestige house of island - house of chief of camp. 

History of French Guiana begins in 1604, at Henry IV. First prisoners appeared on the islands of rescue in 1852, at the beginning of rule of Napoleon III. Prisoners were taken across here since Napoleon decided to close three camps on territory of France in Europe - in Brest, Rochfore and Toulon. At the beginning of the Second empire in these three camps contained 5 thousand prisoners in general complication. Clear that arriving of thousands of prisoners on islands Rescues, at once the problem of overpopulation got up sharply. 

Kicking about prisoners to Guiana and New Caledonia, France pursued two aims: to clean French territory from hard labour and colonize new territories. On the transfer of prisoners to Guiana taken 10. In 8 months after arrival in Кайенну first ссыльных the second camp of "Иле-де-Кайенн"(l'îlet de Cayenne) was open - in the north of Кайенны, by an area in 50 hectares. In addition, frenchmen drove home from France in Кайенну two old ships. Made fast in port, ships grew into port floating prison.

Two for later years, in 1854, the third пенитенциарная base was open is the "Silver mountain"(Montagne d'Argent), on a small peninsula in the delta of the river Oiapok.


Islands Rescues (former islands of Devil). Map from the museum of Guiana hard labour on an island Ruayal.

In March the same, 1854, was passed an act, fastening frightful principle depriving prisoners hopes to come home. Every, convict on a term 8 less than was under an obligation to stop behind after liberation in Guiana on a term equal to the term of punishment. Sentenced to 8 remained in place for the term of life. Back into realities units went home. At majority, after the long years of hard labour, there were not facilities, to pay a move through Atlantic ocean.

Among the rare returning is the captain Alfred Dreyfus, groundlessly accused of espionage in behalf on the German empire, Serge Kolin: Here sent the most known prisoners - those with that it was difficult to manage on a continent. It is necessary to name among known, certainly, Dreyfus. To him the member of the opposition of Napoleon III was here exiled - De Lekluse. Dreyfus will conduct on the island of Devil (or the Devil island, In French - île du Diable) four with a half years. For in anything not guilty man it is a very long term. He will be freed only 1906 to the year.

Practically in 12 after conviction. Near Dreyfus, officer of general staff of France was persistently to fight, that he was justified.

Guiana reference was considered especially dangerous... 

From the end of 19 century - 20 began in anarchists operated in France. They killed the president of republic Plant Carnot. Whereupon in all camps - disciplinary punishment cells were entered in Guiana and New Caledonia. Most frightful there was Saint Joseph on an island on territory of Guiana. There 4 blocks stood for 30 punishment cells. These 120 chambers prisoners named "предбанником of death". There got for the attempt of escape. Because escape was one of frightful crimes. 

Islands Rescues are in 15 kilometres from South America, in difficult waters, with a dangerous flow. The most known case is escape of convict on the name De Rubio. He accomplished escape from here, from islands Rescues... But it is necessary to say that in the epoch of Napoleon III to accomplish escape it was simpler, than later, in the epoch of the Third republic. At this time watching prisoners became strictly. De Рюбио will succeed to swim to the north coast of south America, make way in the USA. There he will become the participant Battle of the Little Bighorn against American Indians.

So, the former French convict will become a veteran and hero of the USA...


Virgin Mary with a baby by Jesus. Wall fresco in a church on an island Ruayal prisoner Fransise Lagrange racemes.

To pull through, escaping from hard labour was succeeded only to units. They were necessary for this purpose - in the first - to deceive vigilance of overseers from a number hard labour... In the second is vigilance of guard. In the third - to avoid the attack of sharks and not perish at-sea. But, even attaining the coast of South America, a fugitive was not out of harm's way. Prisoners, that was able to steal or build a boat, take advantage of powerful wave in the mouth of the river Марони, had most chances on success. It was needed, that a stream led away a boat as possible farther in an ocean...

So that северо- east flow, that brings pond scum and sand of the river Amazons on the ocean beaches of Kuru, took away on sails a toy-ship to the coast of Venezuela. If fugitives did not succeed to go out far in a high sea, then a flow washed them ashore to British Guiana (today to Guyana) and Dutch Guiana (Suriname) with that were celled agreement about delivery of fugitives of France. It is difficult to say to how many dare-devils it was succeeded to pull through from the Guiana camps.

Chambers measuring in 4 square meters... With a grate above an only window highly above ceiling. Prisoners were exposed to the cruel moral and physical tests. In the punishment cell of them fed especially badly, forbade to speak, contained in darkness, produced on light only one in a day... Above them mocked... a grate instead of ceiling allowed to the guards put on shoes in a soft shoe, unnoticed to steal up, to outpour from above on a prisoner bucket with impurities...

It is possible to imagine the great number of other outrages that use in prisons and today... All was done, to break a man... This prison was named "devour of people". Life-span in the punishment cell of island Sent-Josefe did not exceed 1-2... Wherein every day people fought for a survival, where cruelty was a norm and system, the exhausted souls found a rescue from reality in madness or suicide...


House of chief of camp on an island Ruayal.

However about it there is no serious statistics, Серж underlines Knees: Here madness and suicides in medical documentation was not especially mentioned... Soldiery doctors in these cases wrote in a medical conclusion - the same reason of death is a cardiac attack.

Arriving to Guiana prisoners of делилили on 3 categories. It, firstly, there were prisoners convict on hard labour on a certain term or for the term of life. They came the first here. From 1885 to Guiana began to direct shallow, but incorrigible recidivists. Finally, here were and soldiery prisoners of state. To their number Dreyfus behaved and another military- Benjamin Julmo, naval officer. Julmo made an effort sell secret documents to the military attache of Germany in Paris.


Prison hospital on an island Ruayal.

The last not especially became interested by a secret, saying that he has such information already. Then an officer tried to contact with the ministry of Морфлота of Germany. Thereon him without effort and caught, as a boy.

Witnesses told that most dangerous for prisoners were their own companions in a misfortune, set to them for a supervision. If someone from such prisoners - overseers were suspected of inclination to behave humanely to the prisoners, then they were shackled and ordered to the most frightful works.

Серж Knees: Maybe, you saw during a visit, there are very much lithoidal structures on an island. Building material the stone of volcanic origin served as. The half of convicts worked on quarries. Guidance and guard of camp had other category on service. Supervisors were very well served. A museum is located in the house of commander by a camp. 5 persons - cook, gardener and other maid worked on him...

So, prisones worked in a quarry, engaged in till of gardens (by the way, in the epoch of hard labour of island were better well-groomed, what now!) ... At that time there were not refrigerators. Therefore a cattle was regularly delivered on islands on a sea... Here was a butchery... Every week, to feed from 600 - to 700 persons on an island brought for 5-6 heads of cattle. 


On an island Ruayal(from left to right): included in a disciplinary corps, photo convict, chamber measuring in 3-4 apt. meter, without windows.

Prisoners had a different degree of freedom. Some were more free - due to their profession. For example, artist Lagrange, designing the church of island Руаяль, could walk practically, where will take in head him. And the islands celled in punishment cells Сен-Жозеф suffered in narrow lithoidal sacks... All is relative... Thus prisoners were divided by three categories. Most subzero - third. Just arriving was included in her. For good discipline and work it was possible to toady to the first category ...

That could temporally release prisoners from participating in the heaviest works.

Differing appointed the helpers of overseer - in a quarry, to the butchery and in a smithy, where work boiled constantly. In fact all grates for prisons were forged in place. A demotion of accomplices of supervisor was cruel. He was shackled, in one copula with those, who he gave orders to and above whom mocked...

Attempts of revolt and agitations were on the islands of "French GULAG" not rarely... One of most sanguinary happened on an island Sent-Josefe that it was then begun to name the "island of Silense" - because in prison punishment cells it was forbidden prisoners even to speak...

A large revolt happened on an island Sent-Josefe in 1894. Actually, for this reason the center of an increase mode was created on this island. About hundred prisoners participated in him, mainly - political, anarchists. About 12 from them will kill. Many are injured. Two overseers perished from heavy wounds. Them it will be begun to consider lost at an official duty performance...


Picture of artist of prisoner Fransis Lagrange. Executing in a camp in Guiana.

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