Bompard, Levant and Terminus du Port were three hotels located in the city of Marseilles, which were utilized as transit camps for foreign-born women and children beginning in the late spring of 1940. Many of the residents were women whose husbands were incarcerated at Les Milles, the largest of the transit camps, located 90 km. north of Marseilles. Those interned in the hotels and at Les Milles were primarily Jewish refugees who had made arrangements to emigrate, but who had not yet received the required funds and/or documentation to do so. Conditions in the hotel internment camps were never comfortable and deteriorated dramatically as the war progressed. At Bompard 250 inmates lived in 25 rooms of a two-story building. At Levant, where the OSE [Oeuvre de secours aux enfants] established a children's center, some 100 children shared the facility with 80 women. The Terminus du Port housed as many as 500 refugees. The internees suffered from malnutrition, poor hygiene, vermin, insufficient clothing, lack of heat, and limited electricity. Though life in the hotels was difficult, the refugees lived under a far more lenient regime than those confined to closed internment camps. Of greatest importance was their ability to leave the hotels on a daily basis. They also received much needed assistance from several relief organizations, including the Red Cross, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the Unitarian Service Committee, HICEM, and the OSE. The Jewish residents of the Marseilles hotel internment camps who were unable to emigrate or make other arrangements were rounded-up in early August 1942 and taken to Les Milles. A few weeks later the first deportation convoys left the camp for Auschwitz.
[Source: Ryan, Donna Frances. Vichy and the Jews: The Example of Marseille, 1939-1944, PhD dissertation, Georgetown University, 1984.]
Margot Samuel (born Margot Stein) was born in Germany and fled to France in 1933. After being herself interned in Gurs, she was released through the efforts of OSE and served as a child-care and aide worker for the Unitarian Service Committee.