History and visit the former prison of Cherche-Midi in Paris
The former prison of Cherche-Midi is one of the places of memory that contains the city of Paris. It was a military prison, located at 54 Boulevard Raspail, at the corner of the rue du Regard and the rue du Cherche-Midi in the 6th arrondissement. The prison of Cherche-Midi was operational from 1847 to 1950. During this period, prominent persons were incarcerated there for both men and women such as Captain Alfred Dreyfus, Agnès Humbert, Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves, Otto Abetz …
The prison of Cherche-Midi stood on the site of the former Convent of St. Thomas of Villanova in the seventeenth century who founded the Catholic community of the Daughters of the Good Shepherd. During the Revolution, the building that housed the convent was assigned to the Ministry of War. The latter used it primarily as stores the effects of settlements to the garrison of Paris. He then moved a repair shop’s clothing troops and a service food handling. In 1847, the building was demolished to gave way to the construction of a new military prison in Paris, replacing the one that is found in the Abbey, near Saint-Germain-des-Prés. The construction of the new prison was inspired by the prison system of Auburn, New York. Scheduled for two hundred prisoners, she inclosed collective and individual cells. The men and women each had their neighborhood. The regime of the institution imposed inmates to work collectively for the day, and individually cell overnight. The prison of Cherche-Midi was originally designed to incarcerate anyone who violated the code of military justice and were the subject of trials before military courts. The latter settled at the time at number 37 rue du Cherche-Midi. The story claimed that some detainees were imprisoned arbitrarily. This was the case for the conviction of the French Captain Alfred Dreyfus in a judgment of 22 December 1894. Dreyfus was convicted of treason and spying for the Germans. Prison du Cherche-Midi, it has a presidential pardon September 19, 1899 and reinstated the French army seven years later.
During the Second World War, a large number of Communists was incarcerated. During the Occupation, it was completely under the command of the Germans who placed several political opponents as well as resistant as Leon Maurice Nordmann, Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves … German prisoners of war occupied the prison of Cherche-Midi after the liberation of the French capital. It was among them, the mining engineer, Kurt Gerstein or General Otto Von Stülpnagel who committed suicide in their cells. Towards the end of 1947, military prisoners were dislodged from the prison. It was transformed into single house arrest until March 18, 1950. Located in a dilapidated and unsafe condition, the building was abandoned in the same year, and demolished eleven years later.
The Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (FMSH) Foundation and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) occupied since the late sixties the former site of the prison of Cherche-Midi. Since 2002, the FMSH supports a research program dedicated to the study of the latter. Former resistance fighter and witness the destruction of the old prison, Jean Barin, took over the management of this program with historian Jacky Tronel as project coordinator.
Taxi shuttle from former prison of Cherche-Midi in Paris
The former prison of Cherche-Midi is located 14.8 kilometers from Orly Airport, 32.8 miles from Roissy Charles de Gaulle Airport and 89.9 km from the airport of Beauvais.