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Offlag Letters
André to Paulette
1940 - 1945


Partner: Center for the History of Resistance and Deportation (Lyon)

Design :Marie-Francoise and Eric Cenat

Interpretation:Eric Cenat

Duration:1 hour


André Vincenot marries Paulette Cabon on July 6, 1939. The time for happy days is very short. Two months later, war broke out and the couple separated. The "phoney war" is not funny for anyone. On May 23, 1940, André, an infantry second lieutenant, was wounded in the head. A month later, with so many others, he was taken prisoner by the victorious Germans and taken to the Sudetenland in a first Oflag. Then begins for André the time of captivity. Could they imagine, he and his comrades, that it would last five years?


During all these years, André wrote to Paulette as often as possible. Of thelove letters where his daily life is reflected and expressed: his concerns for his young wife, his shortcomings in the face of absence, the emptiness of the days that must be overcome by all means (reading, writing, conference, gymnastics), his sufferings linked to hunger, to the cold, his often unsatisfied expectations of a letter or a parcel, the only means of being connected to the "life before" but also hisjoys, ses hopes when he learns, through the words of Paulette, the birth, in March 1941, of a little girl, Marie-Françoise, his daughter.

On January 25, 1945, a few days before the evacuation of Oflag IV D near Dresden where he was held prisoner, André wrote a last letter to Paulette. Then began for him a period of wandering which led him, first of all, from Colditz to the Zeithain camp where, on April 23, 1945,  André was liberated by a unit of horsemen from the 'Red Army then sent east to Bunzlau. Detained for a few weeks by the Soviets before being sent back to the West to the Americans, he arrived in Paris on May 31. The next day, in Rennes, he finds Paulette and meets Marie-Françoise...








"It is a tribute to all anonymous prisoners of war that has been paid. A war is not clean for anyone... On their return, a period of readjustment to civilian life will be necessary, as Marie-Françoise recalls .

Prisoners of war will often be at the origin of rapprochements and twinnings between Germany and France: learning the language to better understand each other, exchanging to get to know each other better... this will be the case in Laussonne, the first town to be twinned with a German village in 1965, for a Europe of Peace."

The awakening of the Haute-Loire

"Presented several times across France, this theatrical reading meets with great attention and attention from young people who discover the little-known history of prisoners of war. This reading pays tribute to the 1,845,000 French soldiers who been prisoners after the debacle of 1940."

The Tribune Progress


"These are a few letters addressed by his grandfather to his grandmother that Éric Cénat reads to us. Five years of words of love and lines so as not to lose the thread of real life. A powerful reading. Touching simplicity ."


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