Posted on September 4th, 2016 by:

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By Andy Rooney

Stars and Stripes Staff Writer

LEIPZIG, Germany, April 21 (Delayed).—An American-born countess, jailed by the Gestapo for hiding American fliers in her French chateau, said she had been forced to undress once in front of SS troops.

The attractive Countess Henry de Mauduit, Born Roberta Laurie in Stoughton, Mass, said the experience was worse than starvation or the rough treatment received during her 22-month imprisonment.

She laughed as she told American liberators how she escaped being moved from the Leipzig barracks with 6,000 other women political prisoners by hiding in the typhoid ward of the prison hospital.


Roberta Laurie, the Countess Henry de Mauduit in 1945 (Picture: The Air Force Escape & Evasion Society)

All women in the prison camp worked 12 hours a day loading artillery shells in the Hasag munition plant, second only to Krupps as Germany’s largest.

Worried About Being Killed

“What we most worried about” the countess said, “was that they would kill the women political prisoners as they had the men in camp at Thekla. We could see flames at the men’s barracks.”

The countess, who was married 17 years ago in Paris, hid American fliers in her chateau in Plourivo, Brittany, at the same time she was accommodating German officers with a phony display of hospitality. At one time the countess whose husband sailed for England to join De Gaulle in 1941, had 19 Amerian and British airmen hidden in a concealed construction between floors.

Fail to Find Fliers

“At the time I was arrested, June 12, 1943, I had five American fliers hidden” she said. “One hundred Gestapo agents came and searched the place without warning, but didn’t find anything. Someone must have tipped them off that I was helping Allied fliers get back to England, though, because they arrested me anyway.

“Don’t ever tell me women talk too much” the countess said. “They put them in bathtubs of water…and held their heads under to make them talk and give away secrets. I know several women who drowned that way, but none of them talked. I had known Germans before the war and couldn’t believe they could be so cruel. Now I hate them.”

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