"If the family knows war, the children know war."
Marilyn Moriarty, Professor of Literature at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, would like to write a book about her mother's life. For this purpose she now took a sabbatical leave. "My mother died when I was 14 years old," says the American. "We knew that during the Second World War she was in camps, but we never had any exact information." Her research led Moriarty to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen.
Moriarty's mother was originally from France. She was born near Paris in Issy les Moulineaux on 29 February 1920, as Andree Louise Boziere. After the country was occupied by the Germans, she joined the Resistance. "They distributed propaganda in Paris", explains her daughter. But Andree was caught. "My mother saw how her contact man was taken away by the Gestapo, and she knew that she would be next."
The Resistance fighter was sentenced to four years in prison on 2 May 1943. Thanks to the documents in the ITS archives, Moriarty now learned about the stages of her mother’s persecution until the end of the war. After several weeks of detention in Paris, Andree was deported to Oberems at Gütersloh, one of the five largest prison camps in Nazi Germany. She had to do forced labor, specifically in ammunition factories. Then she was taken to Schwelm to work in the factory of Rondo-Werke Berning & Co, originally a washing machine manufacturer.
As a forced labourer, Andree stood with the Resistance. "She mixed lye into the sauerkraut, which was intended for Wehrmacht soldiers on the Eastern Front", tells her daughter. Andree was finally liberated by the U.S. Army, from a prison in Ziegenhain near Kassel. She was settled in the DP camp, Kassel-Mattenberg, before returning back to her homeland.
"Now I have specific information," says Moriarty. "It's good to have something in hand. My mother hardly talked about her experiences. My father also did not know much." Veale Moriarty was stationed in France at the end of World War II, as a U.S. soldier. "They got to know each other in 1945 in Paris, were married in July 1946 and went together to the U.S." The couple had three children, two girls and a boy.
“My mother always missed her family and France very much," remembers Moriarty. "She was a rather sad person and emotionally haunted by the war." Also physically, there was a daily reminder of the horrors of prison. Since she had fallen from a deportation car and had broken her leg, she was left with a limp. But her mother allowed no complaints. You should be thankful, she always taught her children. "If the family knows war, the children know war too", says Moriarty. Andree died in October 1967, in Jacksonville, Florida.
"Tomorrow I'm going to her place of birth," announces Moriarty at the end of her visit in Bad Arolsen. For the French part of the family, information of the imprisonment and forced labor in Nazi Germany was completely new. "They told me that this would change the history of the family and their attitude to Andree, and that they would now see everything in a different light."