Concentration Camp

Concentration Camp

Tarrafal, Santiago Island, Cape Verde

Equipment and Infrastructures

The Tarrafal Concentration Camp was established by decree of the 23rd April 1936 and was an emblematic symbol of the Salazar regime’s policy of repression, following the model of analogous camps in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Some 357 deportees passed through the camp from 1936 to 1954. It reopened in 1961 to hold prisoners from the Portuguese colonies linked to African liberation movements, particularly from Guinea-Bissau and Angola, and remained operational until the prisoners were freed by the island’s population on the 1st May 1974. The complex comprises a large walled compound with rudimentary pavilions, cells and other annexes, including the one called the ‘infirmary.’ More severe punishment was meted out in the ‘fryer,’ a cement block with two compartments measuring 3x3 metres, each with an armoured iron door and small breathing hole, where prisoners were subject to isolation, hunger, suffocating heat during the day and cold at night. In 2005 the Tarrafal Camp was included on the world list of the ten 20th century buildings of most historical/architectural significance among the hundred in danger of destruction.

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