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The sad conditions of the imprisoned National Guardsmen

La Commune de Paris. Friday, April 21, 1871. Today the army of Versailles imposes a railroad blockade of Paris while clashes continue around the capital. The conditions of the national guards taken prisoner by the Versailles army are terrifying. Élie Reclus describes them in his book "La Commune de Paris au jour le jour": The families of Paris who have the misfortune to have their members taken prisoner by the Versaillais and brought captive to the prisons and pontoons* of Brest and Toulon, Aix and Belle-Isle learn with horror of the sufferings and ignominy which the soldiers had the horrendous courage to inflict on the national guards, ... The prisoners whom we saw brought to Versailles before being locked up in the camp of Satory, were crammed, the prisons not being sufficient, into the cellars. They were thrown one on top of the other, in bulk in a promiscuity a thousand times more frightening than the terrible solitude of the cells of Mazas. After forty-eight hours, these caves were nothing but an unclean cesspool, a cesspool in whose darkness human larvae swarmed.

* Pontoons are old ships used as prisons.

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