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The beginnings

In 1944, Saint-Lô, capital of the département (district) Manche, was suffering during the allied landing in Normandy. During these battles, the town was almost completely destroyed. The inhabitants of the town suffered from the occupation and from the bombardments of June 1944. Among them was Lucien Braley, a member of the protestant parish of Saint-Lô.

At church, he met Fritz Jötten, a German soldier stationed in St-Lô. Fritz Jötten was a member of "Bekennende Kirche" (The part of the protestant church in Germany which had opposed the nazi regime).

Lucien Braley

Lucien Braley
Fritz Jötten

Fritz Jötten

Fritz Jötten wanted to read the bible and pray together with his comrades, and Lucien Braley offered them a room in his house. The faith that they shared created a deep friendship between the two men. During the bombardments of St-Lô, the house of the Braley family was completely destroyed. They found a new home at Coutainville, on the west coast of the Cotentin peninsula.

The protestant chapel and the beginnings of CORE

At Coutainville, Lucien Braley committed himself to work for the very small local protestant community. He wanted to build a little chapel for the parish, but this project far exceeded the means of the parish. Among the persons he asked for help was his friend Fritz Jötten who had become a member of the parish council in his home town, Mülheim an der Ruhr. Mr. Jötten tried to find people who were willing to support the project, among them Mr. Luhr, Reverend in Mülheim-Saarn.

Ewald Luhr

Ewald Luhr

Lucien Braley collected enough money to build the chapel, and in 1962, at its inauguration, Mr. Braley and Mr. Luhr met in Coutainville. Their vivid experiences from the war explains why they were fascinated by the idea of organizing youth camps with young people from France and Germany. This is the beginning of CORE.

The first youth camps in Coutainville

The mayor of Agon-Coutainvile offered them a piece of land, and in 1964, the first youth camp took place in Couainville. The conditions of this first camp were rather basic: people were accommodated in tents, there were neither a kitchen nor showers or toilets.

The 1965 camp

The 1965 camp

Nevertheless, many people were marked by these encounters to such a degree that several of them are today members of our association.

Our Buildings and how they were realized

Thanks to the contributions from many people, in 1965, during the second camp, the first buiding was founded: a kitchen, sanitary facilities, but but still no dormitories.

Our first building

Our first building

Other buildings were completed in the following years:

 

  • 1967 "Old House" (Les Huguenans) finished with the first bedrooms and a meeting room
  • 1975 "Les Glinettes" with additional bedrooms
  • 1980 "Le Ronquet" with more bedrooms and a second meeting room
  • 1991 Our new kitchen links the isolated buildings and provides five additional bedrooms on the first floor

 

These buildings became possible through donations, but also through the individual commitment of many people who took part in the constructions and repaired installations while sacrificing their spare time.

CORE today

Our centre in Coutainville can accommodate 49 people today and offers two sizeable meeting rooms. It is managed by the association CORE whose goal is to run the centre and continue the work of its founders. CORE has always found people who helped it fulfill its mission.

Membres of CORE

The members of CORE, at our
annual meeting in Coutainville.
 

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