Exploring Tourism in Cape Verde
Cape Verde
icon Worldwideicon
Places to Visit Details

Tarrafal Concentration Camp

Santiago Island, Cape Verde

Located in the locality of Chão Bom, the Tarrafal Concentration Camp was built in 1936, based on decree nº 26: 539 of 23 April. The penal colony received its first prisoners on October 29 of the same year, having operated until 1956. In 1962 it was reopened under the name “Campo de Trabalho de Chão Bom”, destined to imprison the anticolonialists of Angola, Guinea Bissau and Cabo Green. In total, more than 500 people were arrested, including 340 anti-fascists and 230 anti-colonialists.

The conditions for survival in the Concentration Camp were harsh and inhuman. The mistreatment, isolation and humiliation to which prisoners were subjected there, led many to death or left psychological and physical consequences. In addition to forced labor, recurrent tortures such as the frying pan, the statue, the torture of sleep, the beatings, featured inhumane practices within a whole panoply of ill-treatment.

In this context, the Tarrafal Concentration camp is recorded in the imagination of the Portuguese, Angolans, Guineans and Cape Verdeans as the “field of slow death” or “death”. During the more than thirty years of operation, it served for the practice of the most heinous crimes, leaving irreversible physical and psychological marks on those who dared to oppose the prevailing political and social order of the Estado Novo, Salazarism.

Due to the history and memory it entails, the Tarrafal Concentration Camp was inscribed on the Cape Verde indicative list for UNESCO by criteria III and VI

The Tarrafal Concentration Camp preserves its original features in its entirety, and is in good condition. After its deactivation, the complex functioned as a military training center and since 2000 it has housed the Resistance Museum.

The “slow death camp” was classified as a National Cultural Heritage through Resolution No. 33/2006, of 14 August. In order to ensure its administration and management, the Curatorship of the Chão Bom Concentration Camp, Tarrafal was created through Resolution No. 64/2014, of 12 August.

Due to structural, historical, functional and symbolic elements, this field is comparable to other homonymous spaces erected during the lifetime of the totalitarian regimes that proliferated in Europe (1933-1945), the most symptomatic being Auschwitz and Dauchau.

The Tarrafal Concentration Camp, due to its aforementioned characteristics, fits into Robben Island (South Africa), inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.

Check out more Places to Visit