Channel Islander Imprisoned in Metz Prison:
James Thomas William Quick
By Roderick Miller
Just one Channel Islander, James Quick, is known to have been imprisoned in a prison in Metz, France, a city that had been re-annexed to the German Reich after the Nazi invasion of France in June 1940. James Quick wrote on 6 May 1945 that he had been imprisoned in Metz from September 1943 to May 1944. Unfortunately, the exact place of incarceration remains unknown and as of date (January 2019) no other documentation has been found to confirm where this was and the precise dates he was imprisoned there.
From James Quick’s own 1945 statement, he was transferred in September 1943 from Bernau to Metz, and the 4 September 1943 leave date on his Bernau records confirms this time of release. The city of Metz had two prisons in operation when the Germans invaded in June 1940, called respectively Barrès and En Channdellerue. These were soon over capacity, so a theological college called the Grand Séminaire was converted into a police jail. By 1943, the Gestapo was using the basement of the Petit Séminaire in Montigny-lès-Metz to incarcerate political prisoners. There was also a prison camp established by the Gestapo in a district bordering Metz called Woippy (German: Wappingen), the Erweitertes Polizeigefängnis Wappingen (‘Wappingen Extended Police Prison’), as well as an SS prison camp called Sonderlager ‘Feste Goeben’, or ‘Fort Goeben Special Camp’.
Between two standard prisons, two provisional Gestapo prisons, one Gestapo camp and one SS camp, it’s very difficult to say without any supporting documentation where James Quick was imprisoned. It’s unlikely that Quick was in either of the two standard prisons, as they were severely overcrowded. It is less than likely that he was in either of the provisional Gestapo prisons, as these probably tended to be used for shorter-term arrests and Quick was in Metz for many months. The SS camp at Fort Goeben was only opened in October 1943, which is a month after Quick’s arrival. Therefore the most likely candidate for the place of Quick’s imprisonment is Wappingen Extended Police Prison. Technically, this prison camp was just outside the city limits in Woippy, but this district is 1500 metres from the Metz city centre. Unless documentation is found confirming Quick’s precise place of imprisonment, however, it remains impossible to confirm precisely where he was.
James Quick was transferred in May 1944 to Fresnes Prison in Paris, where he remained in Gestapo custody until being deported on 20 August 1944 to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. The fact that Fresnes Prison was a central Gestapo prison and that Quick was sent from there to Buchenwald is further circumstantial evidence confirming his likely imprisonment in Woippy/Wappingen, as suggested above.
Patton’s 3rd US Army was met with strong resistance from the Wehrmacht in Metz in September 1944, as Hitler had declared Metz a ‘fortress city’ to be defended at all costs. After two months of battle with heavy military casualties on both sides, most of the city was occupied by 22 November, although the last German stronghold was not taken until 13 December 1944.
James Quick was liberated in Buchenwald Concentration on 1 May 1945, but probably suffered from a variety of chronic physical disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorders for the rest of his life. He died in 1973.