Nuns at an orphanage used anti-Semitic threats while beating a boy of Jewish descent, an inquiry has heard.

The witness, who was at Smyllum Park in Lanark during the 1940s and 1950s, said he is “haunted” by memories of his time at the facility.

He said he was still scared of nuns, to the extent he could not watch the film comedy Sister Act with his daughter.

Loading article content

His submissions were heard yesterday at the Scottish child abuse inquiry in Edinburgh.

Although he did not know of his Jewish heritage at the time, having entered the home at a very young age, he said it was referred to while he was beaten on a number of occasions.

He said: “The nuns would say ‘we will beat the Jewishness out of you’.

“If you consider what Hitler did during the war – it was just after that period. I don’t think I was beaten because I was Jewish, it’s just an expression.”

The man’s parents had come to the UK to flee Nazis in Europe but were unable to look after him.

He only found out he had parents on the day his mother collected him to take him home years later.

He also told how one boy was never seen again having been punished for playing football at the home, formerly run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.

On a winter Sunday, he and a few boys had been kicking a ball about when nuns saw them committing the “sin” on the holy day.

They were stripped, beaten with a strap and made to stand outside.

When they went back to bed, he said one of his friends had been crying about how cold he was.

In the morning he was no longer there and never seen again by the witness.

The inquiry continues.