“I immersed myself in it, and I quickly understood that they were letters written by my grandfather, Pierre Castan, to my grandmother, Pierrette Maurette, during the Second World War”, explains t -she. By devouring all these letters, Jocelyne thus discovers the intensity of the feelings which united her grandparents then. Engaged shortly before Pierre’s mobilization for the STO in 1943, these young people aged 22 and 19 nurtured their passion at a distance, between the Montaudran district, in Toulouse, and the German work camps, until 1945, during that history lived its darkest hours.
“Let’s keep confidence”
Words of love are legion, as if to soften the violence of the context. “Dear little fiancee,” he often begins. “I love you madly”. “I am writing to you on a train without light, which drives us irreparably. How much will it takes not to be put down! “Over the months, the tone changes, the lovers get closer, ignite. “It is happiness that I wish you, and this is my greatest desire (…) O my beloved, without ceasing, this is the goal of my prayers always so fervent. “Faith is also very present:” Let us hope, hope together and keep trusting. ”
For Jocelyne, this collection of letters is the “story of a lifetime”. Throughout its existence, the Pierre-Pierrette couple remained strong and passionate. Until tuberculosis prevailed in 1986. Since then, Pierrette has never stopped joining him. She has never rebuilt her life, has recently left for a retirement home and is completely unaware of the discovery of these letters. “We prefer to avoid stirring up the past, for the moment,” says his granddaughter.
This romantic correspondence is also an opportunity to learn what Pierre Castan really experienced, this engineer of Bridges and Roads mobilized in Germany on the railway sites, then assigned to the reconstruction of houses in Berlin during the bombings. “The subject has always been quite taboo in the family. He only spoke about it once, saying it would be the last, says Jocelyne. The STO’s image was not very bright. When I was little, I didn’t understand why he had worked for the Germans. I didn’t know he had been forced. Reading all that, it relieves guilt. ”
Fear of censorship
When Pierre mentions the situation in his letters, it is always half-hearted. Censorship does not spare lovers, and he wants to pass through the cracks. His letters are often marked with a stroke of blue paint, proof that they have been “validated”. On June 8, 1944, he refers in his own way to the D-Day landings: “The event which was in the headlines has occurred, and whether we like it or not, it is a bit of a concern for all minds (…) will it succeed? ”
In times of stress, the writing becomes narrower, more tense, lies across the margins. Later, he wonders about the outcome of the conflict: “I don’t believe in the possibility of a compromise. I think we’ll have to spend another winter apart. Pierre escaped from his camp, with his comrades, in April 1944. He took refuge for a time at the Sainte-Marie du Desert abbey, in Haute-Garonne. In September 1945, the reunion between the two lovers is imminent. And the exchanges are more pragmatic. “I had 50 kilos of potatoes at 7 francs, very pretty, I’m very happy. We will have something to eat! I keep them in the office until I find our nest. ”
Armed with this treasure, Jocelyne does not yet know how to share it. Entrust it to a museum? Share it on a blog? No matter what form, what matters to her is raising awareness of the dangers of extremism. “Given the current social context, the work of memory is important. You should never forget what happened. »With their ardent missives, Pierre and Pierrette will now be able to contribute.