American Women in the Vittel Internment Camp

Religions, Morality, and Culture

in Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques
Page Dougherty Delano Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY

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This article is a study of the complex social environment within the Vittel internment camp in eastern France during World War II. The Germans arrested some two thousand British women and then nearly three hundred American women of different class backgrounds, religions, political beliefs, and national affiliations, who were placed in the hotels of this spa town. The Vittel internment camp also became the temporary home of around three hundred Jews from the Warsaw ghetto, who claimed to possess American and South American citizenship. Most of these Jews were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz. Drawing on memoirs, letters, Red Cross reports, and scattered histories, this article explores the interactions, resistance, and prejudices of camp inhabitants. It argues that American women's behavior was guided less by religious beliefs than one might expect in the context of the 1940s.

Contributor Notes

Page Dougherty Delano teaches at the Borough of Manhattan Community College/CUNY. Her articles on American women in World War II include “Kay Boyle and Mary Reynolds, Friendship Intensified by War” (in E-rea: Revue électronique d'études sur le monde Anglophone), “Loving Occupiers: Kay Boyle's Critique of Power in Occupied Germany in The Smoking Mountain” (in a collection on Boyle), and “Making Up for War: Sexuality and Citizenship in Wartime Culture” (in Feminist Studies). She has also published works of poetry. Email:

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