In early 1943, Marcel Heuzé was one of hundreds of thousands of ordinary French citizens deported to Germany as part of the collaborationist Vichy government’s STO initiative: Service du Travail Obligatoire, or obligatory work service. After German men vacated jobs in factories, farms and mines to fight on the eastern and western fronts, thousands of positions needed to be filled. And those positions were filled by men like Marcel.
Living conditions in the labor camp were dire. The factory where he worked was a frequent target for bombings. Food was scarce, sanitation was nonexistent, and labor camps had a brutal reputation for working people to death. Survival was unlikely.
Yet, the letters Marcel wrote to his wife and daughters contained the most beautiful expressions of love imaginable: