Former pupils of a Dublin college have called on the private school to apologise for hiring a French former Nazi officer who subjected pupils to abuse over decades.
Louis Feutren served in the SS during World War II and was a member of Breton nationalist group ‘Bezen Perrot’ that hunted for Jews and French Resistance fighters.
What happened to him?
He was sentenced to death in France after the war before fleeing to Ireland in 1945 where he taught French at St Conleth’s College in Dublin from 1957 to 1985.
Feutren died in 2009, but former students have now called on St Conleth’s to apologise over Feutren, who signatories say regularly abused pupils in class.
Uki Goñi, who studied at St Conleth’s in the 1970s, has coordinated a letter campaign sent to the school asking it to ‘apologise for actions… that were carried out under the name it still bears today’.
Testimonies by pupils
In Mr Goñi’s letter, cited by The Irish Times, several testimonies by pupils recall physical abuse inflicted on them by Feutren even after a 1982 ban on corporal punishment in Irish schools.
Mark Collins, a former pupil, said he was told to stand in front of the class and remove any item of clothing he could not name in French.
‘So you have a 13-year-old boy thinking “am I going to be stripped naked here?”‘, he said.
Mr Collins, who studied at the college in the 1980s, said Feutren would ‘twist your ear or smack you’.
Corporal punishment in schools was made illegal in Ireland in 1982.
Other pupils said Feutren was ‘a volcano ready to erupt at any moment’.
Kieran Owens said: ‘If there was any sort of transgression he would be very, very, very swift and violent.’
He added: ‘If he was attempting to get you to pronounce a word he would use his hand to mould your jaw into whatever position it required to get it right.’
Describing Feutren as a ‘monster’, Mr Goñi, whose father was the former Argentinian ambassador to Ireland, said the Frenchman ‘was a boastful, unrepentant and proud former officer in the most evil and tyrannical organisation of the 20th Century, the Nazi SS’.
Mr Goñi said the school’s current management cannot be held responsible for employing Feutren – but called for a formal apology and acknowledgement.
Feutren was employed by the school from 1957 until his retirement in 1985.
Despite being a known Nazi collaborator, he remained respected as an educator until his death in 2009.
Mr Goñi said on Tuesday that Feutren’s past was never a secret.
‘I learned the first day I was there that he was a Nazi. It was just normalised,’ he said.
Is Louis Feutren a Nazi?
Feutren collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation of France in World War 2 in the hope of establishing an independent Breton state with Bezen Perrot.
The unit wore SS uniforms and guarded an interrogation centre in Rennes.
‘They said he wasn’t really a Nazi but a Breton separatist,’ said Mr Goñi.
‘My reaction was, yes, but many Breton separatists didn’t join the SS.’
Feutren had been member of the Bezen Parrot in France, which was officially known as the Breton SS Armed Formation.