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The German Prison
Taken from ( http://www.chaosurbex.com ) And I only visited one side of this location.
A Cistercian monastery was built in the early 1200’s on the site on which the prison now stands. During the French revolution the building was nationalised and the monks were expelled. The site has been used a prison since the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Huge expansion of the site was planned for 1812, to convert the monastery into a workhouse for the poor and infirm. There were many delays and work did not begin until 1817, designed to accommodate 400 individuals of both sexes, and divided into four separate sections. At the time there was a lack of prisons in the area and sentences were being cut short due to overcrowding. Shortly after construction of the workhouse had commenced, the Interior Minister ordered the work be stopped, and a detention centre be built instead.
The plans were amended and construction of the central house resumed until 1822 when the first prisoners were received. The building could house up to 500 prisoners, one half reserved for corrections and the other half for criminals.
By 1823, the first stage was complete and the prison opened. By 1829, they were once again running out of space so plans were proposed for the prison to be redesigned and expanded. Several drafts were made and a decision was made in 1831 on the new revised layout. Work commenced but was not completed until 1839. Inmates could now be segregated by sex and category and were moved into separate wings.
The prison ran well until in 1885 when they ran into yet more overcrowding problems which lead to inmates sleeping on mattresses in the corridors. Hygiene was so poor that the prison suffered a Typhoid epidemic. The prison shockingly continued to run in this state for another 20 years, in which time guards were unable to control and discipline the inmates and wings once again became mixed. It was then decided that another building would be constructed.
They specifically had architects design the building to let in as much natural light as possible hence the glass pitched ceilings and huge auditorium in the centre to try and reduce running costs. On 1st September, the new block received it’s first inmates.
The new block ran very well, with improved facilities and segregation of inmates with a single cell each, population could be controlled and monitored in a streamlined fashion. Between 1940 and 1944, the prison was subject to a number of bombings with severe damage to the buildings.
The Germans had already decided in the First World War to lock up the hostages and took over the prison. The French remained in wing A whilst wings C and D became administered by the Germans. In the German section, the women were found to fit into 50 cells of wing C, however, the “terrorists” occupied part of the 129 cells in wing D. In the French section, women were housed in the Western District F, the wing of the administration building. From the end of May, 1941, there was a total seal between the German and French parts: the French retained the main door while the Germans broke through access with a heavy wooden door on the north face of the wall . From June 1940, the jail served as a hub to deportation. The massive influx of prisoners in July and especially in August 1944 increased the population to around 1,300 with 7 or 8 inmates to a single 9m squared cell.
In 1946, reconstruction began on the prison but wasn’t completed until 1960 where it re-opened again. Then in 1974, the prison was converted into a young offenders institute for offenders under 30 years of age.
At 2pm, Thursday, July 25, 1974 sixty prisoners refused to return to their cells. They spread through the establishment because they’d taken the supervisors hostage and stolen their keys. They opened the cell doors and then set fire to their classmates, the cinema, the surgery and laundrette. Fifteen of them took to the roof setting fires and also in the various workshops (blacksmith, auto mechanics, electricity, etc..).
Upon arrival, a hundred firefighters attacked the fire only from the courtyard of the facility because of the high protective railings. It took 16 hours, more than eighty CRS to storm the building, preceded by a barrage of tear gas. Fifteen minutes later, the roofs are emptied of their occupants leaving room for fire fighters.
In 2006, The detention center (former Central House) changed to an institution for convicted males, between 350 and 370 prisoners, mostly aged 20 to 35 years. Sixty of them are foreigners. Most detainees are released within two years of their arrival at the facility. Only a tenth of them are releasable beyond 2010. The prison received both males and females until March 2005 for major or minor crimes. Since April 2, 2005, it was intended to accommodate only convicted adult males whose sentence or the remaining sentence is less than or equal to nineteen months.
In March 2010, closing the dilapidated prison was finally confirmed. Four months later, Interregional Prison Service presents its calendar. On paper, everything seemed simple. The site will be closed in August 2011 and demolished in the process. The unions are relieved: the administration assured them that the reconstruction project on-site will be among the priorities in 2015.
Three years later, little or nothing of these promises had survived. The prison had closed in September 2011, its demolition, and reconstruction now outdated and the prison now sits victim to vandals.
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