The arrest of Fernande Escudié, tobacconist in Montpon (16 July 1943)

« One day, I was returning from Libourne. My mother told me that there were about fifteen young people there and that, not knowing what to do with them, she had sent them to the edge of the river [the Isle], to a bushy spot. Some of them passed through St-Barthélemy-de-Bellegarde, others elsewhere. A few days later, one of these young people was caught. He indicated his route and the place where the line passed. I was arrested on 16 July 1943. I was taken to the gendarmerie where I was interrogated. I could not deny it. I confirmed that I had given passage to refractory people, but of course I didn’t say I belonged to the OCM (Civil and Military Organisation). I was taken to the station on my way to Bordeaux. An inspector, who had come from Limoges, said to me: « Madame, you are going to Germany. There are three cases: one case where you come back, one case where you come back with a bit of luck, one case where you don’t come back at all. He visited the whole house. In the cupboard he found a mass book. He asked if it was mine. I told him it was. He told me I was lucky, because he had taken me for a Jew. We arrived in Bordeaux and I was taken to a warehouse. It was a dark room. I stayed there for one or two nights. Then a prostitute arrived. She wanted to smoke, chat… Then I was taken to the Mérignac camp. My brother was also detained. I found him at the Mérignac camp. We stayed there for 15 days. Our mother came to see us from Montpon. Then we went to the Hâ fort. I stayed there for six months, because there was the Grandclément affair and the Germans were tracing the network. There were 60 of us gathered in a large room designed for 30 people. It seems that among us there was a sheep*. When I went down to the interrogation room, it was the Germans who interrogated us. I wasn’t mistreated, because I was only involved in the passage of refractory people. But they eventually found out that I was a member of the OCM.

* Undercover informer.

Suitcases of secret documents entrusted by René Sénéchal (member of the Musée de l’homme network) to the Malard family

Raymond Malard: « One day, René Sénéchal told my mother that he was leaving two suitcases and that he would come back for them in a fortnight. He never came back. Later, we learned that Sénéchal had been taken and shot. We kept those suitcases in the attic for several months, maybe a year. We suspected that there was something important in those suitcases, because we knew what he was doing, but we didn’t know what was in them. My mother decided to open the suitcases. We found plans of the Strasbourg air base, plans of the Atlantic Wall and other documents. We left them in the attic, but then we realised that we could have been killed.