The late Amanda Stassart was a guide for the Comet Line, one of the most important escape line organizations for Allied airmen during WWII. When I get my own interview with her typed up, I will post it here. It may be of interest to viewers to see Ms. Stassart speaking in French about her experiences at http://vimeo.com/31155536 or at http://www.gedenkbuch-wuppertal.de/en/node/3345. An English translation of her informal remarks appears below. In addition, there are two more pages on this website about Ms. Stassart: a report by her on her Resistance activities dated 5 Sep. 1945, and some memorabilia about her reunion with one of her American airman Tom Applewhite in 1948.
Talk by Amanda Stassart to a Group of Young People
“One must do something. They must leave our country. Our parents are too old; they won’t do anything at all. We young people must do something. My mother’s superior came to our house one day. He says to me, ‘They tell me you’d like to take part in our group.’ The next day he returned, and he told me, ‘Now you will no longer be known as Stassart. You will be known by another name. Here are your papers. You are going to have a young man who will travel with you. You are going to go to find airmen who have been shot down in the fields. You must find them before the Nazis capture them.’
“And that’s how I came to join a clandestine official organization known as the Comet Line. And I began to work with a companion and we went to the country. When we heard on our secret radio that a plane had been shot down, we had to be there before the Nazis could take them.
“When they were dressed in new clothes, we gave them papers and another name. And we took them to the south of France, where they embarked on a ship which took them back to England.
“Me, for example, I am very content to say that I saved 54 Americans…Americans, British, Polish…I did that for, I must say, 6 times, 9 times. I saved so many, which is very rare, very rare in a clandestine organization. Very rare to do so for so long.
“That’s because of the strength of our leadership. Everything was on a small scale. So we would not know each other. Because if we were arrested, we would not know how to denounce each other. People don’t always denounce each other, but when it’s difficult, when you are being beaten and all that, you must understand that, I don’t blame them, but I know my name was mentioned once or twice. But I cannot blame those people.
“We were afraid. Yes, we were afraid of getting arrested. But we had the will to help out and get all these people out of our country. We were truly very patriotic.
“I must tell you that it was very difficult. These young people sometimes had to walk for 30, 40 kilometers. We would hear footsteps on the path and we would jump into the ditch by the road. We had to hide ourselves quickly because this was the Wehrmacht who were driving by in their search vehicles.
“And on the route, when I had the airmen, they were at my side, not on each of my arms. They had to walk two or three meters behind me. But the airmen were not easy. I told them that if they were arrested, they will be prisoners of war, but I will be dead.
“I was arrested by the Gestapo in Paris on rue des Saussaies. If you have learned about this story, you will know that this neighborhood is not one that is frequented very often. I would like to tell you that at this point in time we did not believe that human beings could be cruel to such an extent.”
A Talk by Amanda Stassart
- Part 1 (Témoignage d’Amanda “Mouchka” Stassart part.1): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tw_dIMwnv6M
- Part 2 (Témoignage d’Amanda “Mouchka” Stassart part2): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV1rIWOKK4s
Book About Amanda Stassart
Territories of Memory is a centre of education in the name of resistance and citizenship set up by former political prisoners who survived Nazi camps. To perform work of remembrance with children, young people and adults, the association develops a wide array of initiatives for communicating the past and encouraging everyone’s involvement in building a democratic society that safeguards fundamental freedoms.
Among other things, the website has a page directing a visitor to a book about Amanda Stassart. Go to https://www.territoires-memoire.be/en-lien. Then click on “Je vous le dis, j’aime la vie“, which will take you to an introduction to the book. Click on “Télécharger” and a pdf file of the book will open. The book, “Je vous le dis, j’aime la vie” (“I tell you, I love life”), is 175 pages long followed by an outstanding collection of photos of Amanda. Our thanks to Claire Pahaut, co-author with Amanda Stassart of the book, for bringing it to our attention.
What a piece of treasure to read a little about a person so important to my fathers escape route Holland to Gibraltar September to December 1943 – Philip Johnson son of E.C. (Johnny) Johnson – member of 617 Squadron
Surprise de retrouver mon amie Amanda Stassart sur votre site, je eux vous dire que j’ai écrit sa biographie . Le livre peut être téléchargé sur le site des Territoires de la Mémoire à Liège en Belgique.