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Claude J. Letulle

Cambo-les-Bains, France

One of five children, Claude grew up in a Catholic family in Paris. His father, a physician, owned a prosperous general medicine practice and medical laboratory. Claude's father encouraged him to study medicine and to join his practice, but Claude was more interested in becoming a lawyer.

1933-39: I continued my studies, and in 1936 I entered the university to study law. By mid-1939, Germany's threat against France had escalated, and on September 3, 1939, France declared war on Germany. I knew that my country stood little chance of winning against the Nazis. In October I was drafted into the French army. After basic training, I was promoted to corporal and assigned to a tank division stationed southeast of Paris.

1940-44: I was captured by the German army six weeks after they invaded France. Like other POWs, I was put to forced work for the Reich. As punishment for threatening to kill a guard, I was made to work in a hospital where Nazi doctors performed "medical experiments." I was present when they castrated men, and when they crushed prisoners' fingers in a press to "study" broken bones. Many died during the procedures. One woman's eyelids were sewn open to force her to watch in a mirror as both her breasts were removed.

After four years as a prisoner, Claude was repatriated to France as part of a prisoner exchange in February 1944. He fought in the French underground until the end of the war.

 

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