"Nurse Tells of 4-Year Ordeal as Captive of North Vietnamese"

By Danielle Flood

Associated Press Writer

(continued from Associated Press page)

Monica Schwinn, 31, of Lebach, West Germany was a member of the Maltese Aid Service and went to Vietnam to give medical help to persons on both sides of the conflict. During her imprisonment she watched three of her medical comrades starve to death.

Miss Schwinn, West German and American officials say, is the only woman known to have emerged alive from North Vietnamese imprisonment. She was interviewed during a stopover here on her way home from rest and rehabilitation in Pennsylvannia.

"The most difficult thing was having nothing to do as I lay on a wooden bench in a hut, alone for three years, and being told I had committed crimes against the Vietnamese people."

The Painful Awakening

She dreamed, she said, of building houses -- first small ones, then large ones, then schools, then hospitals.

"I dreamt of utilizing space in the best ways," she said, "and I was very happy in these dreams. But when I woke up, it was painful."

Miss Schwinn also said the North Vietnamese resented the fact she was a woman and struck her while on a forced march in the north.

"During the march, a North Vietnamese officer beat me twice until I was unconscious -- because I was a woman.

"An even worse time was when we were in a hospital hut on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. I had collapsed from the walking and the officer threw a bamboo broom at me and told me to sweep the hut. I think I made him lose face in front of the two other Vietnamese taking us north because I said no.

I was angry about his action and I told him he shouldn't play the big shot, in German. So he came up to me and put a revolver to my head, but I did not show fear, so he just beat me all over my body -- wherever he could reach."

Miss Schwinn's ordeal began when she and four colleagues were taken prisoner on April 27, l969, while on their way to a village near the Maltese hospital.

3 Die of Starvation

She said the five were kept in a Vietcong prison camp, mostly made up of small huts, where three ofher comrades, two of them women, died of starvation within three months.

After a year in the South, she said, she and the other survivor, Bernhard Diehl, 26, of Worms, West Germany, were marched for 62 days up the Ho Chi Minh Trail to a prison in North Vietnam.

"I was happy, of course, when I was released on March 5, " she continued, "but I was a littled worreid about whether I could continue where I left off. I am confident now I can return to my old life."

Miss Schwinn said she intended to work at a nursury in Germany.

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