During WW2, the ICRC Central Prisoners of War Agency serves as an intermediary between belligerents. Among its duties: the transmission of correspondence.

Sometimes, the Agency finds itself unable to reach the recipient. As a consequence, thousands of letters, written by mothers, spouses, sisters, or fiancées worried about the fate of their loved ones, end up in Geneva. Those messages of love, concerns, or hope that they will be able to reconnect have been sitting in our Archives for the past 70 years. This letter for example, addressed to a member of the French army based in North Africa reads:


November 1942. “Trust, my love, that I do not forget you. I am doing everything in my power so that these few lines reach you”. Josette. ACICR C G2 FR F-001, dossier 1/DF 27


This one is addressed to a wife to her husband, based in Dakar.

1942. “I so long to be close to you, I miss you terribly.” Simone. ACICR C G2 FR F-002, dossier 1/DF 81


Some letters are genuine declarations of love, such as following, written by a French navy man from Bizerte to his love:


August 1942. “I need to tell you something but it has to remain a secret between us. You know by now that I had to leave Lens for a reason. I joined the Navy (…)” ACICR C G2 FR F-029, dossier CMX 97616

“(…) I would be so happy to receive news from the girl that I used to love and still love. I was in love with you back when I was in Lens. Only you can now lift up my spirits and bring me comfort.” Raymond. ACICR C G2 FR F-029, dossier CMX 97616


French prisoners, captured in 1940 will for most part remain in captivity for 5 five long years. Their separation with their spouses or fiancées is cruel. Over the duration of the War, the CPWA transmits over 20 million of letters and postcards to prisoners of war or civilians detainees. Starting from 1st January 1941, letters and postcards addressed to prisoners of war are to be written on special forms. The latters are then sent directly by the prisoner himself.

This one for example, was written by a prisoner from Oflag IV D and addressed to his wife living in Casablanca. It was shortly after the Allied landing in North Africa and the bombing of the town.


November 1942. “Destiny keeps separating us. Here I am, unable to help you… Every day, my thoughts bring me closer to you.” ACICR C G2 FR F-001, dossier 1/DF 87


The following letter was stapled inside the military passbook of a French prisoner of war detained at Stalag VIII in Sagan. Maybe he was trying to keep it hidden from prying eyes. Unfortunately, the passbook was confiscated by German authorities and never given back.

The letter, written by his spouse is dated 3 January 1943, husband and wife have been separated for 3 years now. And war is far from over.

January 1943. “We have been separated 3 years now but soon, I hope, I will be in your arms.” Lydia. C G2 PO / FR-4.45, Papiers et objets de prisonniers, 1939-1945

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