Page 5, 29th October 1943

29th October 1943
Page 5
Page 5, 29th October 1943 — Nuns Back From Prison Camps

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People: Benedict, Jesuit


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Nuns Back From Prison Camps

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happy. The whole of Germany seems to be under cultivation. Enormous fields crammed with food.

" We had a wonderful reception in Sweden, and the captain of our boat was very kind to us, tucked us up on the boat and said that he loved England after his own country best."

Mother Benedict told me that when the Germans marched into France in 1940 she and other Sisters of her community walked from Normandy to Chartres. beliig bombed all along the road. From there they went to Angers, and there two Germans came and arrested them. After, they were taken to Besancon, to a filthy barracks with no heat. They were there five months and it took them all that time to clean it. Vittel was a palace compared with this. They had beds to sleep on instead of straw-filled bags. Many old people died at Besancon.


While they were on French rations things were very bad ; later they were put on German rations, which were much better. They got meat twice a week and butter and 'cheese. Small quantities, of course, but more than the French had, for the French had not seen butter for years.

The milk the nuns got when they arrived in Sweden was the first they had tasted for three years.

There were four priests in the camp at Vittel, two English Canadians, one Australian and one British-born Jesuit. They were able to have Mass every day, and in the little hotel where the Sisters lived they had the Blessed Sacrament reserved. There was a general chapel for the camp, Mother Benedict added, but although some of the attendants at the camp were rough, including the French, the camp commandant, whose name was Landhaus, was very decent. He encouraged them to teach the children and allowed them to have another priest when requested. About 200 nuns were left behind at Vittel, including several Americans.


" Many of the children took their matriculation this year," Mother Benedict said. " and the (line in prison goes quickly enough for the children in lessons, and for the adults in working to keep the place clean. in queueing up for food, coal --in fact everything has to be queued for. Any sort of contact with the outside world is absolutely taboo, and if any of the prisoners go out for walks and attempt to talk to anyone on the road the life of the person they speak to is endangered. German guards in the camp gave the impression that they were heartily sick of the war and were longing to get back home."

All the nuns think the food in England wonderful after what they have had. They know the French people are in dire need of food but are sure they would get little of any food sent them.

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