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Love Letters Written By Frenchman In Nazi Labor Camp Finally Get Delivered To Family

10/15/2012 02:35 pm ET | Updated Oct 15, 2012
Carolyn Porter

The family of a Frenchman who was sent to work in a World War II Nazi labor camp has finally received his love letters -- 70 years after they were written.

Marcel Heuzé, a French tool worker, was deported to a German work camp in 1942, the Telegraph reports. For two years, he built engines, armored vehicles and tanks at the Daimler-Benz factory in Berlin. In his spare time he sent letters back home to his wife and three daughters in a rural village near Chartres.

Many of the letters, however, never made it back to his family.

In 2002, Carolyn Porter, an American graphic designer with a love of typography, spotted Heuzé's letters in an antiques store in Minnesota

She noted in an email to Yahoo: "The letters were written in French, and even though I couldn't read them, it was obvious that they were written with care."

But it took her nine years to translate the letters -- the first one was translated in 2011. Porter told The Huffington Post that she slowly began to get all the letters translated and put together the story of the mysterious missives.

Porter was mesmerized by Heuzé's affectionate prose, addressing his wife and children as "mes petites chéries" (my little darlings), "mon petit loup" (my little wolf) or "mon petit trésor" (my little treasure), according to the Daily Mail.

"Time seems to go so slowly without you and without my girls," Heuzé wrote. "All the letters I receive tell me that I’m awaited with impatience and it makes me sad."

In another letter, he wrote: "There is a lot of talk of us leaving but it’s always the same, nothing official. And in the end, we are still waiting."

As time went on, Heuzé appeared to realize that his letters weren't making it home. "I must have letters that are late or lost," he wrote.

"When I had finished, I just wanted to know whether he had lived, whether this man returned to the wife and daughters he loved so much," Porter told the Telegraph.

With the help of a genealogy researcher, Porter tracked down Heuzé's family, and contacted them by letter. She tells The Huffington Post that she then sent his grandchildren and great-grandchildren copies of the letters.

Tiffanie Raux, 24, Heuzé’s great granddaughter, told the British newspaper that she thought the letters were a hoax when she first opened them at her grandmother Denise’s home.

“Then when we realised it was true, it was like a magnificent film. It gave my grandmother so much joy but also sadness that her parents were not there to see them.”

Marcel Heuzé Jr., 63, told the Telegraph he believes the letters were censored by the Germans as one was “stamped with a swastika,” and then taken back to the US and sold by a serviceman after the war.

According to Yahoo News, a second batch of letters has also been discovered in California, which will be shared with the family.

Porter said, "It's been a few months since the first five letters were shared with the family, and honestly, I still get emotional when I think about it."

Raux added that the family was grateful to Porter for her "altruistic" gesture. "It's very American," she said. "I'm not sure people in France would have gone to all that trouble."

Editor's Note: Soon after this piece was published, Carolyn Porter contacted The Huffington Post to correct several minor details that had been misreported by other sources. The story has been updated to reflect these changes.

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