Smyllum Park abuse survivor was forced to eat his own vomit by orphanage nuns

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A former resident of a notorious children’s home has spent his life “haunted” by an incident which led to his friend’s disappearance, an inquiry has heard.

“Victor” told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry he never saw his friend again after nuns made them strip and stand in the rain for up to three hours after being caught playing football on a Sunday.

The witness, now in his 70s, was at Smyllum Park orphanage in Lanark between 1947 and 1955 after his parents arrived in Britain as refugees at the outbreak of the Second World War.

He told the inquiry he was made to eat his own vomit after being force fed by nuns who routinely attempted to beat his “Jewishness” out of him.

But he said his “abiding memory” of Smyllum was an incident in which a group of boys were made to strip and then hit with a strap for playing football on a Sunday.

After being made to stand for two to three hours in the rain, the boys were told to go to bed where he could hear his friend crying.

He said: “I could hear him crying out in the night. He was so cold. I think the nun came and told him to shut up.”

The next day his friend had disappeared, and Victor was told not to speak of him again, the inquiry heard.

He added: “I never saw him again. It still haunts me to this day. It’s probably the worst thing that happened at Smyllum, mainly because I lost my friend and I don’t know to this day what happened to him.”

Led by Lady Smith, the inquiry has heard from a number of witnesses about alleged physical and sexual abuse at Smyllum, which closed as a children’s home in 1981.

Victor was taken to Smyllum after his German father was interred during the War and his mother contracted tuberculosis.

He only found out he had a mother when she came to collect him in 1955 after fighting for a number of years to have her son returned.

More than sixty years on, he still has nightmares about his time in Smyllum and has a fear of nuns, which prevented him watching the comedy film Sister Act with his daughter, the inquiry heard.

Asked why he wanted to give evidence to the inquiry, he said: “Being Jewish, you learn about the Holocaust. I believe, just like Smyllum, people should also learn about the Holocaust.

“I’m not looking for retribution in any way,” he said. “I just want the world to know what happened.”

Lawyers for the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, which ran Smyllum, last year offered a “most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse while in our care”.

More than 60 institutions including leading boarding schools and residential homes run by religious groups are being investigated by the inquiry, which is due to report next year.

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