Yves-Pierre Boulongne

1921 (Callengeville, France) - 2001

Educationalist, Sportsman, Writer

"For some of us the deportation was an encounter with a new culture. I believe there is a culture of deportation to the extent that we “chewed” and “digested” the suffering, misery, coldness, beatings, fear and so forth."

Yves-Pierre Boulongne was born in Callengeville, Normandy on 13 May 1921. An avid athlete, he was a junior champion in football in 1938 and the French champion in the 100-metre sprint in 1939. The civil war in Spain had the effect of making him more aware of politics, and he joined the resistance in October 1940. He worked as a student teacher.

In 1941, Boulongne was arrested by the Vichy police, and in 1943 he was handed over to the Gestapo, who deported him to Buchenwald as a "political inmate". In the camp he belonged to the French section of the illegal camp committee and was especially involved in the cultural life of the inmates.

After liberation in April 1945, he returned to France, married, and the couple had a son. He became a sports teacher, and completed a doctorate, after which he was a professor of education and sports in Caen, later a visiting professor in Paris. Specializing in the history of the Olympic Games and the work of Coubertin, he served as President of the International Coubertin Committee. In the 1980s, he began to explore his experience as an inmate through the arts: he wrote poems, and in 1995 his Chants de retour intérieur ("Songs of an Inner Return") were set to music by the composer Marius Constant.

Yves-Pierre Boulongne died on 24 January 2001.