Former military camp of the 1st World War, located in the Canet district at the eastern end of the boulevard Oddo extended, along the  Aygalades stream, the Oddo camp was from November 27, 1922 to April 22, 1927 one of the places of reception made available to refugees following the first massive arrival of Armenians in Marseille. It hosted 4,463 refugees, to which must be added the 405 children born in the camp. A tribute monument has been placed in a space along Avenue Félix Zoccola.

The massive arrival of Armenian refugees in France, from 1922, is closely linked to the geopolitical upheavals in the Middle East, in particular the evacuation of Smyrna, in September 1922, and the entry of the Kemalist Turks into Cilicia, after the withdrawal  from France.

About 58,000 Armenian refugees disembarked in the port of Marseille between 1922 and 1924. Many will settle in makeshift camps, such as the Oddo, Saint-Jérôme, Les Milles camps, etc.․

On September 18, 1923, 780 refugees were accommodated in the Oddo Camp, but the figures increased very quickly: 1,430 on October 2, 1923 and November 26, 2,327 occupants were recorded.

In the end, 5,441 Armenian refugees will pass through this camp. After finding a job, the priority for the refugees was to find accommodation.

Camp Oddo, 1922-1927, Armenian Refugees, MarseilleIn August 1924, the prefect of Bouches-du-Rhône informed the French government that the Armenian refugees were permanently installed in the camp and recommended a gradual evacuation.

In the meantime, a social life is organized and Franco-Armenian schools welcome children there. The camp would not close until April 23, 1927. 

Today there is no longer any visible trace of the camp. A street called Villa Oddo and Boulevard Oddo still recall the camp area today, as well as a small monument on the square bordered by Avenue Félix Zoccola.

Camp Oddo, 1922-1927, Armenian Refugees, MarseilleFor the Marseillais of the time and for many commentators, the Camp was an object of concern and crystallized in some the fear of the other, of the “invader” .

A journalist of great talent like Albert Londres, also succumbed to this fascination which was at the same time of admiration and hostility. Thus he wrote:

“Escaped from Smyrna, Constantinople, Batoum, Adana, Armenians, always Armenians, more Armenians, disembarked and disembarked in Marseilles. They first formed into tight ranks and set out to conquer the old quarters. Then they marched to storm the suburbs.

Only they thought about it. They returned to the city. Armenian is a plant that grows only between the cobblestones of a city. The great outdoors are worth nothing to him. Then the Armenians seized the squares, the alleys, the public places and the climbs of stairs.

When all this was occupied, there came another two thousand seven hundred Armenians. They searched the city. Nothing was free, neither a bench, nor a curb, nor even a basin, which it is so easy to make a home when the waters have been driven out.

The two thousand seven hundred Armenians began to get angry. Fortunately, the municipality understood that the time had come for it to start negotiations ”.

The socio-economic integration of these refugees will go through the creation of organizations with a humanitarian, educational, cultural, sporting vocation and, above all, of “compatriotic” associations. The latter play a vital role thanks to the mutual aid they organize. They are also launching fundraisers for the construction of Armenian schools and churches. The press and publishing finally serve as a link between all these uprooted people who will gradually find their place in French society. In the 1930s and 1940s, many of these refugees entered France by practicing emblematic trades, such as shoemakers or tailors. But it is truly the Second World War that makes these Armenian refugees French citizens․

Even today commemorative ceremonies of the “Camp Oddo” and of the Armenian Genocide are celebrated in Marseille.