Fresnes Prison
View of the prison
CityFresnes, Val-de-Marne

Fresnes Prison (French Centre pénitentiaire de Fresnes) is the second largest prison in France, located in the town of Fresnes, Val-de-Marne, south of Paris. It comprises a large men's prison (maison d'arrêt) of about 1200 cells, a smaller one for women and a penitentiary hospital.

Fresnes is one of the three main prisons of the Paris area, Fleury-Mérogis (Europe's largest prison) and La Santé (located in Paris) being the other two.


The prison was constructed between 1895 and 1898 according to a design devised by architect Henri Poussin. An example of the so-called "telephone-pole design," the facility was radically different from previous prisons. At Fresnes prison, for the first time, cell houses extended crosswise from a central corridor. The design was used extensively in North America for much of the next century.[citation needed]

During World War II, Fresnes prison was used by the Germans to house captured British SOE agents and members of the French Resistance. Held in horrific conditions, many of these prisoners were tortured, and some died there.[1] As soon as the Allied forces broke through at Normandy and fought their way to liberate Paris, the Gestapo peremptorily killed prisoners at Fresnes. Fresnes Prison was liberated on 24 August 1944 by the French 2nd Armoured Division under General Philippe Leclerc, after a day of heavy fighting with many casualties on both sides.[2]

Notable inmates


World War II

Post war

Modern day

Fresnes Prison has recently experienced many rebellions and arson incidents.[21][22]


  1. ^ World War II Database : Fresnes Prison
  2. ^ Frank Falla archive
  3. ^ Barber, Stephen (2004). Jean Genet. Reaktion Books. p. 30. ISBN 9781861891785.
  4. ^ Lewis, Greg (6 August 2016). "Unknown WW2 secret agent buried in Cardiff cemetery". BBC. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d The Spirit in the Cage, Peter Churchill
  6. ^ a b c d Flames in the Fields, Rita Kramer
  7. ^ Burney, Christopher: Solitary Confinement, Macmillan Books, 1952.
  8. ^ Macintyre, Ben (2013). Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies. Broadway Books; ISBN 978-0307888778
  9. ^ Sellier, Andre (2003). A History of the Dora Camp: The Untold Story of the Nazi Slave Labor Camp That Secretly Manufactured V-2 Rockets. Ivan R. Dee. pp. 113–14, 165. ISBN 9781461739494.
  10. ^ Gordon Brown. Wartime Courage (pg. 62); ISBN 978-0-7475-9607-3
  11. ^ Agnès Humbert, (tr. Barbara Mellor) Résistance: Memoirs of Occupied France, London, Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2008; ISBN 978-0-7475-9597-7 (American title: Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War, Bloomsbury, 2008)
  12. ^ Biography of Isidore Newman by Nigel Perrin
  13. ^ a b c Sonia Purnell, A Woman of No Importance, Viking, 2019
  14. ^ "Pschitt info : Industrie automobile". Archived from the original on 2017-11-08. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  15. ^ National Archives, London. Document HS 9/1370/1
  16. ^ "Holocaust Sketches Donated To Imperial War Museum". Archived from the original on 2019-05-31. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  17. ^ "Edward Zeff: The WW2 spy who refused to reveal his secrets. The Jewish Chronicle, 3 November 2016". 2016-11-03. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
  18. ^ "Equal in Paris an Autobiographical Story". March 1955.
  19. ^ "Centre d'Histoire de la Résistance et de la Déportation, Lyon". Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  20. ^ "Jail escape forces French rethink". BBC News. 13 March 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2010.
  21. ^ Fresnes, prison au bord de l’explosion
  22. ^ Prison de Fresnes : neuf détenus mis à l’écart après la rébellion, Le Parisien

48°45′49″N 2°19′19″E / 48.76361°N 2.32194°E / 48.76361; 2.32194