|Council had wanted investigated. Listening to the officers, I
learned that the ranking chaplain was a Colonel in the Chaplain Corps,
an unrepentant Nazi, who preached sermons on blood and race, and envisioned
the resurgence of the defeated regime in the near future. He himself
had not yet seen the wreckage in Germany or the ravages visited down to
the last German soldier. He would understand later.
I arranged with the Camp Commander to have this chaplain relieved of
his functions and to have a Lieutenant, who had been active in the Confessing
Church, replace him.
The supplies in the officers' camp, I found, were meager but adequate.
It was in the enlisted men's camp that corruption had brought malnutrition
and death. As soon as I had gathered those responsible for the church
activities, which were also directed by the officers of the neighboring
camp, I heard reports of a catastrophic supply situation. In the
infirmary I found half-a-dozen soldiers in the last stages of malnutrition.
The doctor confirmed to me that there was a death almost every other day.
This was equal to five percent of the camp population in a year - a lower
death rate than in the German concentration camps, but intolerable in a
Back in Millau there was no time to be lost. Early the next morning
I stormed into the office of the Préfet, whom I knew to be
a man of the Résistance placed there by de Gaulle.
I told him of the scandalous conditions I had found at the Larzac camp,
and asked him if he thought France could afford to have these men on its
conscience, as we condemned so forcefully the Nazi inhumanity. The
just as shocked as I was by the news, invited me to come with him to the
Larzac camps the next day on a surprise visit. The trip was faster
in a limousine of the Préfecture, and my role was simply
to trail the official party. After a visit to the infirmary the Préfet
dressed down the camp's commandant in a private session, while the rest
of the party waited near the cars. He promised to come back soon
and to check again for improvements.
The commandant placed the blame on the supply sergeants. The Préfet
ordered him to fire them and to get new ones, or to face a court martial,
which he would be able to initiate through his contacts in Paris.
On the way back to Millau, he charged his Chef de Cabinet to follow
up on the affair and to report to him on his progress.
As I left Millau only days later, I was not able to remain involved
in the reform of the camp. Yet I believe that my intervention must
have saved a number of lives, the lives of German soldiers no longer condemned
to starvation thanks to the personal intervention of the Préfet.
THE GERMAN SEMINARY IN MONTPELLIER
In 1947 the French authorities established a special prison camp in
Montpellier. It was to house the students of a German Protestant
theological seminary, whose diplomas would be recognized by the German