06/06/2019 Archival Research

“Send a Ray of Hope”

Marie-Claude Henneresse, née Stoll, Doctor of Philosophy in political science from Alsace, visited the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial on June 5. Her father, Martin Stoll, a German teacher and a French army reserve officer was imprisoned in Neuengamme.

Together with 41 other reserve officers, he was conscripted into the Waffen SS in 1944. The Group refused to serve. They wrote a resolution which was signed by everyone and sent to Adolf Hitler. The protesters were all  arrested, convicted at a secret trial and sent to concentration camps as "Night and Fog" prisoners. Martin Stoll arrived at the Neuengamme concentration camp on August 2, 1944 and was later transferred to the satellite camps Wittenberge and Hannover-Ahlem. In the course of the evacuation of concentration camps, he found himself among prisoners who were marched off in the direction of Bergen-Belsen on April 4, 1945. On the third day he managed to escape. A German communist and French prisoners of war helped him go into hiding until the arrival of the British army.

On May 2, 1945 Martin Stoll returned to his hometown Colmar. In 1950 French Ministry of War Veterans and Victims gave him his wristwatch back, which was taken away at the beginning of his imprisonment. Ms. Henneresse donated the watch to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. There are also documents about Martin Stoll’s persecution which were necessary for him to be recognized by the state as Deporté Politique and admitted into the Legion of Honor. Martin Stoll’s fate did not affect his love for the German language and culture. What gave him strength during his imprisonment was writing epigrams and poems about natural phenomena and spiritual topics. In freedom he wrote Poetry into a notebook which is now also a part of the memorial’s collection.