Two young women working at a rubbish dump have found this massive box of over 200 love letters that a World War II soldier wrote to his fiancee between 1942 and 1945.
The rescue of the precious documents took place at a waste recycling centre in Saint-Jean-d’Angely, a commune in the Charente-Maritime department in south-western France on Wednesday morning (3rd December).
Real Press spoke to Cecile Filippi, 25, in an exclusive interview about the discovery that she made with her colleague, Adelie Breuil, 23.
She explained that she is a jurist by trade and that she works for Inddigo, an environmental think tank, but she said that one of her colleagues was sick and so she ended up working at the rubbish dump because her firm is currently studying the patterns of what waste people in France are throwing away.
She explained: “One day a man came to the rubbish dump with a huge trailer attached to his car. He had boxes full of old newspapers.
“He explained that he was emptying the house that he had just bought. He said he had no idea what was in the trailer and that he just wanted to empty the attic and get rid of it all.”
She said that at first she was intrigued by the newspapers which all dated back to the 1960s and 1970s.
She added: “As the trailer was emptied of the newspapers, I found a tiny box at the bottom of it and inside there were these letters.”
“There were not many people around at the waste recycling centre so we decided to put the box to one side and have a look inside it later.”
When the finally got round to looking at the letters, they realised that they were all addressed to the same person, a woman called Aimee Randonne. So they opened a few and started to read them and they quickly realised that they were love letters and a French soldier, Pierre Herve, had been sending his fiancee during World War II.
She said: “They were beautifully written and very touching.”
They discovered that the she would have been just 14 years old when most of the letters were written. It is unclear how old the soldier was at the time he wrote the letters, but one thing is for sure that at the end of the war, they got married.
Ms Filippi said that some had even been opened by the Nazis and the envelopes bore Nazi stamps that said ‘opened’ in German.
Wondering if the soldier or his fiancee might still have descendants alive today, she posted photographs of the letters on Twitter, hoping that someone would recognise them.
She told Real Press that she posted at around 10 AM and by 4 PM the same day she had already tracked down the couple’s family, who were mortified that they had not checked the attic properly when they sold the house and were very grateful to be able to get the letters back.
The couple is no longer alive today but the woman’s family said they were very moved to get the letters back. Ms Filippi explained that “Aimee had two children with the author of all these letters. Such a beautiful story!” The house was sold by one of her two daughters, who were unaware that the letters even existed, and the box was forgotten in the attic. The daughter, Claudine, showed up at the rubbish dump the very next day, Ms Filippi said.
Ms Filippi said that she did not know if the letters ended up in the museum or not but she said that the family are planning to read them to the grandchildren and great-grandchildren, because after the end of the world in 1945, the soldier was reunited with his fiancée, and they had got married and had children.
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