Village of Denting
Access: D25 between Boucheporn and Boulay, in the bend near Momerstroff
Free access only to the stele.
Guided tour by reservation, only in french.
The Ban Saint-Jean camp is situated on the edges of Denting, 5 km from Boulay-Moselle, in an area of 88 hectares. Since 2004, the “Association Franco-Ukrainienne (AFU)” has been compaigning for its rehabilitation and the safeguarding of the memory of the victims.
The history of the camp
The Ban Saint-Jean camp, part of the strategy of the Maginot Line, was a security camp, set back from the fortifications of the Maginot Line. It was intended to recover the wounded in the case of clashes with the enemy, and to supply the crew of the forts with fresh men. It was inaugurated in 1937 and housed the 146th Infantry Regiment of the Fortresses (R.I.F.) in new, modern and functional structures.
After the “Phony War” and the annexation of Moselle into the Reich, this camp was for several months a place of detention for French military prisoners. With the massive arrival of Slavic prisoners at the Eastern Front, it officially became “Zweiglager”, a sub camp of Stalag XII F headquartered in Forbach.
On June 22, 1941, Hitler broke the non-aggression pact signed with Molotov and invaded the Soviet Union. Hundreds of thousands Ukrainians, candid, were taken as prisoner.
The extermination of the Slavic sub-human being programmed, the matter is to exploit them as labor in the iron and coal mines of Moselle. After an endless journey from Ukraine and then from all over the Soviet Union, they disembarked from their cattle cars at Boulay station in a pitiful state of physical decay.
A spectacle of desolation often mentioned by witnesses: these processions of living dead rallying the Ban Saint-Jean camp (5 km) on foot. The weakest were immediately directed to the pseudo field hospital of Boulay (3,600 victims lie in part of the old desecrated and requisitioned Israelite cemetery). The others were parked at the Saint-Jean Camp, which will see more than 300,000 Soviet prisoners transit from 1941 to 1944 before being dispersed in the iron or coal mines. The transport conditions, the arduousness of the work and the lack of food will lead to very high mortality.
After the Liberation (end of November 1944), the survivors and the Ukrainian community in eastern France did their utmost to promote the S.J.C. In November 1945, a joint commission, civilian and military, French and Soviet, met at the S.J.C. for investigation. There were then officially 204 mass graves. The exhumations carried out in some graves count up to 120 victims per grave. The four daily newspapers of the time unanimously reported more than 20,000 victims at S.J.C.