FACT: No one entering the Devil’s Island, will ever leave.

Well, two prisoners made their mark by escaping the notorious prison camp, known for its geographical security. This is the story of Henri Charrière, one of those prisoners. He wrote about his life in his famous memoir named, Papillon.

Devil's Island
Devil’s Island is an island prison surrounded by deep ocean, so no prisoner could escape


Once French courts found Henri guilty of a murder and condemned him to a life in prison. He continuously denied his involvement at the killing, up until he died of natural causes in 1973. However, France had to pardon the man in 1970, as he became an instant celebrity and everyone started believing his story.

But, Henri was not a good person. After his time in Navy, he became an active member of the Paris Underworld. But he was a thief and never involved in murders. Roland Le Petit, a well known pimp was the victim at this court case. France believed that Henri killed this person.

Henri Charrière in Courts
The trial of Henri Charrière in 1931

What is this Prison Colony?

Did you know that the penal colony was not just a prison, but a hell on the earth? This was a chain of islands belonging to France in Salvation Islands. Devil’s Island was one of these. This was the most brutal prison island. The officials decided from time to time to send prisoners here according to the punishment they have.

Guillotine in Devil's Island
Guillotine in Penal colony of French Guiana

Most of the prisons contained a Guillotine, where prisoners showing disobedience were beheaded. As you know, there was a basket at the foot of the device to collect the heads. They were often displayed for days to let the others know about the outcomes of disobedience. The prisons were also known for their unsanitary operations. It was during this time, Henri made his entry to the island.

Escapes after escapes

From the time he set food on the island, there was only one thing in his mind. That was ESCAPE. Henri’s first escape attempt happened in 1933. He tried to escape through a sailor, who transported prostitutes to the prison. At the last moment, this sailor betrayed him and handed him over to the authorities, which earned him two years in a solitary confinement. These solitary cells were very brutal in nature, as they were in complete darkness and silence.

French Solitary Confinement
The Solitary Confinement cells were designed to induce the maximum mental punishment to the inmates

This was only the first attempt of Henri’s escape. No prison cell or brutal punishment could stop him from trying again and again. After a series of escapes, prison officials condemned him to five years in solitary confinement. Imagine being in a cell for five years without anyone to talk to and in complete darkness. He acted insane to get out of this continuous torture.

This led to his second most successful escape, where he left the colony on a boat. This was a very old boat and caught in a storm. Henri/Papillon and his friends ended up at a island, inhabited by an indigenous tribe. He spent a peaceful life of about 7 months there, until the prison guards found out and arrested him.

Henri in Solitary Confinement
A scene from Papillon film adapted by Henri’s story; The life in solitary confinement

The last stride

Authorities fed up with his escapes and decided to send him over to the most unbreakable prison camp, the Devil’s Island. Prison officials believed that no one can escape from there. They were so sure because of the geography of the island and never placed a guard there. However, nothing could demean the Henri’s need to escape. He made a crazy jump of over 150 feet and used a sack filled with coconuts as a boat to escape. The device washed first to France, and then Britain and Venezuela. Henri was still having his bad luck and he went to Venezuelan prisons for an year for forced entry, until his full pardon just after an year. This marked the end of the prison life for him.

Devil's Island Escape
Henri’s last escape from France; he used a coconut sack to float over the ocean

Henri published two books named Papillon as his own memoir of his time in prison and Banco, about his time in Venezuela. This film convered to a movie in 1973 as Papillon and a remake happened in 2017.

Read More

The last century’s most brutal murder. Click here to read more.

Want to confuse your opponent? Here’s how.

21 Responses

  1. I discovered your weblog web site on google and check a couple of of your early posts. Continue to keep up the excellent operate. I simply further up your RSS feed to my MSN News Reader. Searching for ahead to studying extra from you afterward!?

  2. I have read some excellent stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot effort you put to make this type of wonderful informative web site.

  3. Its actually a great and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Hi, Neat post. There is a problem with your site in internet explorer, would check this?IE still is the market leader and a large portion of people will miss your fantastic writing because of this problem.

  5. I like the helpful information you supply on your articles. I抣l bookmark your blog and take a look at again right here regularly. I am slightly sure I抣l learn a lot of new stuff proper here! Good luck for the following!

  6. Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.