Claude J. Letulle

Claude J. Letulle

Born: March 28, 1919

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: Claude continued his studies, and in 1936 he 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. Claude knew that his country stood little chance of winning against the Nazis. In October he was drafted into the French army. After basic training, he was promoted to corporal and assigned to a tank division stationed southeast of Paris.

1940-44: Claude was captured by the German army six weeks after they invaded France. Like other POWs, he was put to forced work for the Reich. As punishment for threatening to kill a guard, he was made to work in a hospital where Nazi doctors performed "medical experiments." Claude 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.