Vittel Internment Camp

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stevebeste
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Vittel Internment Camp

Post by stevebeste » 13 Apr 2012 22:17

Hi - - I am new to this Forum.

I am doing research on the Intermnent Camp in Vittel during World War 2. Most of the internees were women who held USA and UK passports. Toward the end of the war, Polish Jews with North and South American passports and visas were also there. I am looking for first person accounts and / or family members of the internees.

Can you point me in the right direction?

Thanks...

Steve Beste

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Vikki
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Vikki » 15 Apr 2012 21:27

Hello Steve, and :welcome: !

If you're not already familiar with it, Charles Glass' book Americans in Paris: Life & Death Under Nazi Occupation refers to the camp at Vittel, and the experiences of internees who were sent there, at some length. Along with the extensive list of references he cites, the book is at least a good starting point on the topic. His basic description of the camp (pp. 253-4):
Vittel was a luxurious spa town in the Vosges Mountains in eastern France. An enterprising lawyer from Rodez, Louis Bouloumié, had transformed the village into a resort with lavish hotels, casino and thermal baths shortly after he bought its Fountain of Gérémoy in 1854. The bounty of hotel rooms had made it an ideal locale for interning British women in France in 1940. The camp was a large fenced-in area where most of Vittel's hotels were grouped around a beautiful park. Only barbed wire in the storm-fences and Nazi flags signalled that Vittel was a prison rather than a resort. Red Cross inspections in 1940 and 1941 reported that Frontstalag 194 at Vittel was the best German camp in Europe, although most other camps were so horrible that comparison was meaningless. Inmates lived in hotels. They did their own cooking and ate in their rooms. They received mail, monthly visitors and packages of food from their families and the Red Cross.
Actress Drue Leyton Tartière and bookseller/publisher Sylvia Beach are two of the American women internees there whose experiences Glass relates, and a few of the sources he cites regarding Vittel are:

Syvia Beach's correspondence and papers, including those quoted in Mathews, Jackson, and Maurice Saillet, Sylvia Beach (1887-1962). Paris: Mercure de France, 1963.

Donald A. Lowrie, YMCA representative, "Report on Camps at Vittel and Compiègne", 29 October 1942, Enclosure No. 1 to Dispatch No. 3732 dated 3 November 1942 from the American Legation, Berne, US National Archives, College Park, Maryland, RG 389, Box 2142.

"Report on Visit to the Internment Camp of Vittel by Mrs. Andermo and Messrs. Senaud and Andermo on February 8, 1943", US National Archives, College Park, Maryland, RG 389, Box 2142, File: Vittel Vosges (Frontstalag 194), Camp Reports: France.

Tartière, Drue with Werner, M.R. The House near Paris: An American Woman's Story of Traffic in Patriots. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946.


~Vikki

stevebeste
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by stevebeste » 15 Apr 2012 21:32

Thanks for introducing me to sources I was not aware of. Please let me know what interests you so I can send notes. Are you US based? I am looking for an intern who might be able to do research in London. Can you point me in good direction?

Best regards,

Steve

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by rwaterborn » 08 Aug 2013 18:14

My mother was an internee at Vittel. I too am doing research on her life during and prior to internment. Her name was Penelope Brierley. If you- or anyone else viewing this post has any information about her I would be most interested and grateful to receive it.

Richard Waterborn

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by RudyH » 23 Oct 2013 03:14

I came across stevebeste post from last year, while doing my own research on Vittel. I spent a year in Vittel as a young boy, until liberation in September 1944. If you are still out there and looking for some specific answers, perhaps I can help.

RudyH

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Kirstenhof16 » 01 Jan 2014 06:37

Good day, we were going through some papers and found some photos, drawings, and newspaper articles from my husband's aunt's memorabilia from when she was interned at Vittel, she was there about 3 years
Not sure if we can help but let us know if you would like to know what we have.

Brenda & Roger

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Vikki
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Vikki » 01 Jan 2014 17:24

Hello Brenda and Roger, and :welcome: !

Yes, definitely! I, and I'm sure everyone else who's written here, would be very interested in anything you're willing to share about your aunt's time at Vittel.

Best regards,

~Vikki

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Makarov
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Makarov » 01 Jan 2014 17:32

I know that this might be a question out of topic, but is there any monument at the former camp site?

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by trudie » 25 Jul 2014 10:31

I have just discovered that my Great Uncle, William Henry Jowett Smith, his wife Jeanne and his son Albert Edward Smith were interned at Vittel.
William Smith was a soldier in WW1, stationed near Boulogne and met and married a local girl. Although they married in his native Manchester she didn't like Manchester and they returned to Boulogne where they had a son and a daughter, Liliane.
William had the opportunity to change his nationality but refused, and his family had British nationality.
They were arrested in 27th Jan 1941; the daughter, working in a factory, was warned to get away, and was able to live with family in the country with false papers obtained by the Mayor.
Albert, aged 17 was taken to Tost in Poland. William and his wife went to Vittel.
On 19th March 1943 Albert was moved to Vittel. He had to swear a declaration on 3rd July 1944. The age for being able to renounce your nationality from British to French had been changed from 21 years to 18 years 3 months, so he was eligible to carry this out.
He chose to refuse to change and completed a long declaration, signed by the German Commandant, the Justice of the Peace of Vittel and the Commandant of the English Internees.
They survived to return to live in Boulogne after the war but they were in poor health. Jeanne was disfigured by losing an eye. Albert was completely traumatised and they all lived in the care of their daughter until they died. William is believed to have had to plead for the life of his son.
Thank you for the sources mentioned above. I will follow them up.
If anyone can help with anything I would be delighted to hear from them.

Dave Neil
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Dave Neil » 27 Sep 2014 04:36

Hi
My late.mother in law Sylvia Malkin was a prisoner at both Bescancon and Vittel during War2. She escaped Vittel and made it back to the UK. I would be most interested in talking to others whose relatives were at these places.
Dave Neil

DougT
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by DougT » 26 Jan 2015 00:05

Ms Kyra Schuster, a Curator at the US Holocaust Museum, has a collection on the Vittel camp.

She has met a survivor and also has met the family of a liberator of the camp.

Doug Turner

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by suzsmiles » 12 Feb 2015 01:30

my Mom Suzanne Smiles was in Vittel Concentration Camp as a ten year old child. Later she was transfered to Spain and then Cuba . If you want to talk to her, we can arrange it. be blessed

DougT
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by DougT » 12 Feb 2015 23:20

suzsmiles, My suggestion is to call Ms Kyra Schuster at the US Holocaust Museum, 202.488.0400, and I think she would very much appreciate talking to your mother.

I expect she would like to record your mother's testimony of her experiences so they are not lost to future generations.

The museum also has a web form for contact if you prefer.

Other posters may want to speak to her as well.

Best,

Doug Turner

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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by Teddy » 02 May 2015 18:02

My uncle Claude Phillips was employed at stables in Newmarket England before ww1.During he was in the army ,in France,possibly in the Vetinary Corps looking after the horses.After the war he married Leacadie a french girl and they had two children Marguerite and Roger.He lived in Chantilly and as still a British subject he was interned during ww2.He spent time in different camps but for most of the war he was,with his wife,in the Hotel Des Sources in Vittel.I have about 20 censored letters and cards written to my mother,his sister-in-law.We visited him in Chantilly in 1948 and spent some time with Marguerite who lived in Maison La Fitte and worked at a fashion house in Paris.I believe Christian Dior,Roger worked for Renault.I have French cousins of whom i have photographs but I have never met them.

stevebeste
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Re: Vittel Internment Camp

Post by stevebeste » 10 Oct 2015 15:20

Thanks all for the interesting posts and information and comments. I will be in touch.

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