Why #StolenMemory?

Which things do you have with you right now? A watch? A piece of jewellery? A wallet? Your phone with photos and messages of your loved ones? What do these objects mean to you?

When prisoners arrived in the concentration camps, the Nazis confiscated all their personal belongings. The Arolsen Archives still holds items that were stolen from around 2,500 former concentration camp prisoners from all over Europe. Together with volunteers, we are searching for the families of these victims of persecution as part of the #StolenMemory campaign. The aim of the campaign is to return the lost keepsakes to their rightful heirs. Over 700 families have been found in this way – 18 of them in Belgium.

In this special exhibition, and for the very first time, the Arolsen Archives and MAS are showing a large collection of stolen mementoes from Belgium – authentic original pieces that belonged to 14 Belgian concentration camp prisoners. Immerse yourself in the stories of their owners and find out how you too can be part of #StolenMemory!


Edmond Ameye

Edmond Ameye was born on 29 July 1900 in Deerlijk, near Kortrijk. He was the son of a constable and had two sisters.

After attending the Royal Military School, he served as a staff officer with the 14th Infantry Division during the German invasion of Belgium in 1940. Edmond was made a prisoner of war and deported to Offizierslager (Oflag) IX-A in the German town of Spangenberg, before returning home to his family in 1942. He promptly joined the Resistance and became a high-ranking administrator with the Secret Army in Ghent, drawing on his military experience to coordinate covert operations.

Following the spectacular liberation of secret agent Albert Mélot in the Papegaaistraat in Ghent, which prompted city-wide retaliations from the SS, Commandant Ameye was arrested by the German occupiers on the Korenmarkt on 2 August 1944. On 30 August, having suffered weeks of Gestapo interrogation, Edmond was deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 44 860. He also spent time in the Hannover-Misburg sub-camp, where he had to do clearance and construction work on the site of the German Petroleum Refinery (Deurag), which was frequently targeted by Allied bombing raids.

In April 1945, the SS began the evacuation of the Neuengamme camp and put some 8,000 prisoners on a death march to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. There, just days before its liberation by the Allies, Edmond Ameye succumbed to typhoid fever. His body was probably cast into a mass grave. For his valour and leadership, Edmond Ameye was posthumously awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Leopold II as well as the War Cross 1940. He also has a symbolic grave in his native village of Deerlijk.

The personal effects of Edmond Ameye were returned to his family in 2019.

Photo: Edmond Ameye as an officer cadet in the Royal Military School

Eugène de Villa de Castillo

Eugène de Villa de Castillo was born in Ghent on 22 May 1908, into a family of impoverished nobles whose name and lineage date back to Charles V’s reign of the Spanish Netherlands. Eugène lived in Brussels and was married without children.

For his active involvement in the Resistance, the Gestapo arrested him on 22 March 1944 in a Parisian brasserie, where they had set up an elaborate trap. He was brought back to Belgium and detained, suffering months of interrogation under torture. On 31 August 1944, the SS put Eugène on the last major convoy to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 44 782.

While the train was departing, Eugène managed to throw out a piece of paper with a message to his loved ones. The crumpled farewell note was found by a railway worker and delivered to his family, who learned of Eugène’s fate in this way. Eugène de Villa de Castillo died after the liberation on 1 June 1945 and was buried in a mass grave in the Tiergarten cemetery in Lüneburg. In 1956, his body was exhumed and his widow had him officially identified using dental records. Eugène’s signet ring, registered in Neuengamme in 1944, still bears the centuries-old crest of his family. 

The personal belongings of Eugène de Villa de Castillo were returned to his family.

Prosper de Rijcke

Prosper De Rijcke was born on 25 July 1908 in De Klinge in East-Flanders. In the 1930s, he married Livina Ryckaert, with whom he had three children.

His youngest daughter Juliette fondly remembered how her father always carried around his pocket watch, which he would check regularly to make sure nobody was late for dinner. In July 1944, Prosper found himself in the local pub, enjoying a drink with friends. The pub was also frequented by German soldiers. When it was time to go home, a slightly drunk Prosper grabbed what he believed to be his coat and headed out. The garment was not his coat, however, but a German uniform jacket. Prosper’s mistake was taken for a slight, and he was arrested shortly afterwards.

On 8 July 1944, the Nazis transported him first to the Herzogenbusch-Vught concentration camp, where he was put to work in the Philips labour detail, fabricating torches and radios. From there, he was deported to Sachsenhausen, and in October to the Wilhelmshaven camp, a satellite camp of Neuengamme. Here, the prisoners had to work 12 hours a day in the shipyard of the German navy. The hard labour and appalling conditions in the camp exacted a terrible death toll among the prisoners. One month after his arrival in Wilhelmshaven, on 30 November 1944, Prosper De Rijcke died at the age of 36.

Prosper’s wife Livina never knew what had happened to her beloved husband. Neither did Juliette, who was the apple of his eye. After his arrest, Prosper was locked inside a prison cell, facing an unspeakable fate. Thinking about his family, he found a sharp object and scratched the name of Juliette inside his trusted pocket watch.

The personal effects of Prosper De Rijcke were returned to his family in 2016.

Felix Elie Decremer

Felix Elie Decremer was born on 1 June 1896 in Hamme-Mille in Beauchevain (Bevekom). Single and childless, he worked as a waiter in a restaurant in Brussels.

In 1942, unbeknownst to his family, he was arrested by the Germans and sent to a labour camp, probably in the Wilhelmshaven region, where he carried out forced labour from April 1942 until October 1944. The exact reason for his arrest is unknown: the documents in the Arolsen Archives state that he was detained for ‘security reasons’.

On 5 October 1944, Felix was transported to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 54 352. Curiously, he was made to wear a black Star of David on his prison uniform, even though he was not Jewish. Perhaps the Nazis presumed he was a Jew on account of his middle name ‘Elie’.

On 29 April 1945, the SS began the evacuation of the Neuengamme main camp, sending prisoners on death marches and transports to various collection camps, such as Sandbostel, Wöbbelin and Bergen-Belsen. Four days later, on 3 May, Felix Elie Decremer was among the 5,000 concentration camp prisoners who perished aboard the ocean liner SS Cap Arcona in the Bay of Lübeck, which was destroyed by British bombers. His body was only officially identified in 1946, in Neustadt.

The personal belongings of Felix Elie Decremer were returned to his family in 2019.

Florian Laurent

Florian Laurent was born on 29 August 1918 in Ciney in the province of Namur. He worked for the railways, which gave him inside knowledge about the timetables and cargo of German trains.

He passed this information to the local Resistance, who used it to plan and coordinate sabotage operations. In 1944, Florian was betrayed and arrested. On 17 May, the Nazis sent him to the Herzogenbusch-Vught concentration camp in the Netherlands, where he was registered as a political prisoner. A few months later, he was transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, north of Berlin. Here, he was briefly assigned to the infamous Schuhläuferkommando, made up of prisoners who had to ‘test’ German-made footwear by walking around a specially designed track with different surfaces, covering distances of up to 40 miles a day.

In June 1944, Florian was transferred to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 58 589. He was put to hard physical labour and had to live in terrible conditions. Unusually, the SS put Florian in a group of Polish inmates, who all wore red triangles on their uniforms, identifying them as political prisoners. Presumably the lower loop of the letter B in the red triangle on Florian’s uniform had perished, now spelling P for Poland. When he was finally liberated, he weighed only 36 kilograms. He regained his strength in a US-run hospital and decided to walk back home to Belgium.

After the war, Florian settled down and started a family. For the remainder of his life, he spoke little of his experiences in Germany, but he remained in contact with other camp survivors.

The personal belongings of Florian Laurent were returned to his family in 2018.

Melchior Alfons Oris

Alfons ‘Fons’ Oris was born on 26 March 1920 in Rijkevorsel. He grew up in the village and worked in a local brewery. During the war, Alfons was an active member of the Resistance.

On 25 September 1944, the British Army had just crossed the Dessel-Schoten-Turnhout canal and was expanding its bridgehead into the area. On that same day, and only a few hundred yards from the Allied positions, Alfons was walking along the Oostmallebaan, when he was spotted by the retreating Germans. They had recently come into possession of a list of names of local partisans, and they arrested Alfons on the spot. The German occupiers sent Alfons to the Hoogstraten prison and put him on a transport to Kamp Amersfoort a few days later.

On 11 October 1944, the Nazis deported him to Salzgitter-Watenstedt, a sub-camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp, where he received the prisoner number 65 655. Alfons was part of a group of around 2,000 prisoners who were housed in the camp behind an electric fence and had to perform forced labour for the Wehrmacht armament company Stahlwerke Braunschweig.

In the last months of the war, the SS sent more and more prisoners to the camp, resulting in catastrophic overcrowding: near the end, some 5,000 prisoners had to survive under inhuman conditions. On 7 April 1945, the SS began to clear the camp and sent the prisoners on death marches and convoys to Ravensbrück. Alfons’s column was found and liberated by Soviet troops. Back home in Rijkevorsel, he started a family, opened his own café and brewery, and lived out his days as a well-loved member of the community. Alfons Oris passed away in 1993.

The personal belongings of Alfons Oris were returned to his family in 2018.

Justin Pieters

Miller’s son Justin Pieters was born on 14 December 1922 in Diepenbeek, on the outskirts of Hasselt. Together with his older brother Maurice, Justin was active in the local Resistance, carrying out sabotage missions against the Germans.

Their group was betrayed to the SS, however, and in the summer of 1944 the men were rounded up during a night raid in Winterslag. In August, the personal belongings of Justin (a watch) and Maurice (a ring) were registered in Fort Breendonk. From there, the Nazis deported the brothers to the Neuengamme concentration camp, where they were forced to perform hard labour in the neighbouring factories.

In late April 1945, the SS transported around 10,000 prisoners from Neuengamme to the town of Lübeck on the Baltic Sea, where the Nazis had commandeered ships to form a makeshift prison flotilla. On 3 May, the Pieters brothers survived the Allied bombing of the ocean liner Cap Arcona and the freighters Thielbek and Athen, which had more than 9,000 concentration camp prisoners aboard: 7,000 of them were killed in the attack.

After the liberation of the camps, the emaciated brothers were brought home, where they received a hero’s welcome. Maurice eventually emigrated to the United States where, late in life, he recounted his harrowing story to local journalist. Maurice’s ring was never found. His brother Justin, who had been traumatised by his experiences in the camps, stayed in Limburg and passed away in 2004.

The Arolsen Archives returned Justin Pieters’s watch to his family in 2022.

Photo: Justin Pieters (right) and Maurice Pieters (left), convalescing in their hospital beds

Marcel Uytdenhoef

Marcel Uytdenhoef was born on 20 November 1914 in Merksplas, near Turnhout. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Marcel was mobilised into the 3rd Lancers and captured by the advancing Wehrmacht in France.

He was sent to a forced labour camp in Germany. At the same time, and unbeknown to Marcel, his brother Louis had been killed in the bombing of Leuven, which marked the start of the 18 Days’ Campaign. Learning of Louis’s death after his return to Belgium, Marcel vowed revenge and joined the Legion of Campine, carrying out sabotage actions against the German occupiers. During the day, Marcel worked in the Port of Antwerp, where he smuggled food for comrades in hiding.

In 1944, Marcel’s resistance group was betrayed and arrested. After a stint in the local prison, the Nazis transported him to Kamp Amersfoort in the Netherlands. From there, he was deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp and shortly afterwards to Ravensbrück, where the SS had set up a small camp for male inmates, who built and worked in a temporary gas chamber.

In the spring of 1945, the remaining 30,000 prisoners at Ravensbrück were liberated by the Red Army. Among them was Marcel Uytdenhoef, completely emaciated from the hardships he had endured. The Soviets put Marcel on a transport to a nearby field hospital, but he fell from the overcrowded truck en route. Finding himself completely alone and isolated, he managed to survive in the surrounding forests for several weeks, scavenging water and food.

He was eventually found and repatriated to Belgium by the Red Cross. Before the war, Marcel had been a gregarious man, but the concentration camps had scarred him for life. He never married and died in Berchem in 1969.

The personal effects of Marcel Uytdenhoef were returned to his family in 2016.

Photo: picture inside the wallet of Marcel Uytdenhoef, which was kept in the Arolsen Archives

Claire Van den Boom

Claire Martchouk was born on 20 April 1902 in Bogapol in Ukraine, where she trained as a nurse. She married Georges Van den Boom, co-founder of the Communist Party of Belgium (KPB), with whom she spent two years in the USSR. Their daughter Liliane was born in 1923.

The couple were well-known for their militant political activism. When the Germans invaded, the Van den Booms naturally resisted, setting up a clandestine press and coordinating acts of sabotage. In 1942, Claire was betrayed and arrested. Knowing what was in store, she kept her Jewish identity hidden from her interrogators in the prison of Saint-Gilles.

On 27 May, the Nazis deported Claire as a political prisoner to the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück. Her daughter Liliane and husband Georges suffered the same fate in 1943. In September 1944, Claire was transferred to Helmstedt-Beendorf, a sub-camp of Neuengamme. In April 1945, she was evacuated to Hamburg and rescued near Padborg by the so-called ‘White Busses’ of the Swedish Red Cross, whose president Count Folke Bernadotte had personally negotiated the release of Scandinavian prisoners with Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler.

On 3 May 1945, Claire arrived in Sweden and eventually returned home to Belgium, where she was reunited with Liliane and Georges. After the war, Claire Van den Boom was one of the former inmates of Ravensbrück whose testimony before the military tribunal in Hamburg contributed to the conviction of leading SS officers of the camp. Throughout her life, Claire remained a vocal political activist and champion of numerous causes and organisations. She was also part of the Belgian delegation to the World Congress for International Women's Year, held in Berlin in 1975.  

Claire Van den Boom passed away in 1991, in Brussels.

The Arolsen Archives returned Claire Van den Boom’s watch to her family in 2022.

Photo: Claire Van den Boom and her husband Georges

Jean Woluwe

Jean Lambert Woluwe was born in Herstal on 14 May 1913. He worked as a moulder in the local foundry. In 1939, Jean was mobilised by the Belgian army and captured by the Germans.

He was sent to POW camps twice, in Magdeburg and Dortmund respectively. On both occasions, Jean managed to escape and find his way back to Belgium. In 1941, still a fugitive, he left the country and travelled through France and Spain. He was imprisoned several times. Thanks to the intervention of a Belgian consul, who sprang him from a prison in Miranda, Jean made his way to Lisbon, where he boarded a plane to Poole in the UK. There, Jean was drafted into Section T of the British Special Operations Executive (SOE), a top-secret branch of the British Government carrying out covert missions in occupied Europe. After receiving special training at Brickendonbury Manor, near Hertford, Jean was parachuted into Belgium to conduct secret operations behind enemy lines.

In 1943, he was personally involved in more than 20 military operations and acts of industrial sabotage. On 30 March, Adjutant Woluwe was redeployed in Belgium, tasked with destroying lock gates on Belgian waterways still open to enemy traffic. Leading a daring assault on the lock on the Lys river in Menin, he was wounded by German fire, but managed to place his charges and blow up the gates. He tried to evade the Vlaamse Wacht by assuming a Canadian identity but was caught out by an informant and arrested on 28 April 1944. Jean passed through the prisons of Kortrijk and Ghent, where he suffered severe torture, before being condemned to death. He was deported to Stalag X-B in Sandbostel and summarily executed on 26 April 1945.

During and after the war, Jean Woluwe was awarded many honours and distinctions, both Belgian and British, including the British Military Medal and the King’s Commendation for Brave Conduct for his actions on the Menin lock. Today, his name is still celebrated among the Belgian Fraternelle des Agents Parachutistes.

The personal effects of Jean Woluwe were returned to his family in 2020.

René De Herdt

René Maria Jean De Herdt was born in Antwerp on 27 August 1919. He grew up in the Kiel neighbourhood and worked at the Engineering Company in the Indiëstraat.

After the German invasion of Belgium, he was taken prisoner of war and sent to work on a farm in Germany. He returned to Antwerp in 1940 and joined the armed resistance fighters of the National Royalist Movement. On 11 August 1944, the Gestapo arrested René in his family home on the Jan Davidslei, after they had threatened his mother and siblings with deportation the previous day. He was sentenced to death in the Begijnenstraat prison and transported to Fort Breendonk. On 31 August, the SS deported René and other political prisoners to the concentration camp of Neuengamme. He was assigned to the subcamp on the Alter Banter Weg in Wilhelmshaven, where prisoners had to perform hard labour in the shipyards of the German navy. In early April 1945, the SS began evacuating the camp and forced René on a death march to Bremen-Farge, then Hamburg-Rothenburgsort, and finally to the overcrowded reception camp of Sandbostel, where he arrived on 18 April. In the final weeks, more than 3,000 prisoners died from starvation or the typhus epidemic that had broken out in the camp. The British Army liberated Sandbostel on 29 April 1944. 

After convalescing in Kalmthout, René De Herdt came back to the Kiel and was awarded numerous distinctions for his bravery and service in the armed resistance, including the Knight’s Cross in the Order of Leopold II, adorned with crossed swords. He married Valentine and started a family. Later in life, he travelled the world in the tramp trade and became a floating crane operator and tugboat engineer in the Port of Antwerp. René passed away in Ekeren in 1999. He is buried in the Schoonselhof Cemetery in Hoboken.

Although exempt from military service, René’s only son paid tribute to his father by joining the Para-Commandos.

On the day of his arrest, the Gestapo made an inventory of the destroyed personal belongings of René De Herdt, which also lists his watch. The watch survived and followed René to Neuengamme. It was returned to his son in Antwerp on 4 May 2023.

René Vandelsen

René Vandelsen was born on 2 May 1921 in Ghent. He lived with his mother Cesarina Van den Eede, who divorced her husband Jozef Vandelsen in 1936.

Mother and son were domiciled in Antwerp before René struck out for Liège, where he worked as a waiter. In 1940, he took up residence in Brussels. As far as we know, he had no wife or children. On 28 April 1944, the Nazis arrested René for fleeing Germany, where he had worked as a labourer. For his refusal to work, they deported him to the concentration camp of Neuengamme, where he received the prisoner number 59 343. René Vandelsen died on 12 January 1945. The exact circumstances of his imprisonment and death are unknown.

After the war, Cesarina formally applied to have her son posthumously recognised as a political prisoner by the Belgian Ministry of Reconstruction. On the grounds that René had initially gone to Germany on a voluntary basis, her repeated requests were denied. Cesarina eventually remarried. Her brother Desiré Van den Eede, who ran a store in Antwerp, was her witness at the marriage, as he had been for her first marriage to Jozef Vandelsen. It is through her close relationship with Desiré that we managed to find the relatives of René Vandelsen.

The personal effects of René Vandelsen were returned to his family in Antwerp on 4 May 2023.

Franciscus Broothaers

Franciscus Broothaers was born on April 9, 1925, the fifth of eleven children. His family lived in Rumst, a small town near Antwerp.

During the German occupation of Belgium, the Broothaers family were faced with economic hardship. That is why the father and the older children – including Franciscus – volunteered for work in the German Reich.

When the father wanted to return home with two of his sons in late summer 1944, they were betrayed, arrested and deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. A few weeks later, the Nazis transferred them to the Neuengamme concentration camp. The two brothers were sent on to the Watenstedt/Leinde subcamp, where they were forced to perform hard labour in the Braunschweig steelworks. We do not what happened to the father.

Shortly before the end of the war, on March 8, 1945, Franciscus Broothaers was murdered at the tender age of 19. Beaten to death, according to a report by his brother. He was buried in the ‘foreigners' cemetery’ Jammertal in Salzgitter.

In 2012, a nephew of Franciscus Broothaers attempted to retrace the family history. His search efforts led him to the Arolsen Archives, where he found his uncle’s blue fountain pen.

The family decided to give the keepsake to the Drütte Memorial so that he might be remembered on site.

Karel de Ceur

Karel ‘Charles’ de Ceur was born on 21 February 1903 in Blankenberge on the Belgian coast. He was an electrician by trade and a leading figure in the Resistance group Vrij België.

He had a daughter with his wife Johanna (‘Jeanne’), who was also actively involved in the armed Resistance. In 1943, Karel was arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Germany, where he spent almost two years in the prison of Groß-Strehlitz in Upper Silesia. The SS then moved him to Esterwegen, Wolfsbüttel and finally the prison of Brandenburg-Görden, which was liberated by the Soviet Army on 27 April 1945. Karel returned to Belgium and was awarded the War Cross and the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Leopold II in 1946. He passed away in 1951.

The pocket watch of Karel de Ceur was returned to his family in 2017.

Josefine Deweer

Josefine Zoe Deweer was probably born on 9 March 1920 in Bellingen in the Pajottenland. At an unknown date, she left for Germany to work in an inn in Lüneberg, where her name was listed in the registry of the general health insurance scheme (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse).

In November 1944 she spent two days in the hospital of Lüneberg. For reasons that are still unclear, the Gestapo took Josefine into ‘protective custody’ in January 1945. They incarcerated her in the Lüneberg prison. The Nazis then deported her to the police-run labour camp of Wilhelmsburg in the port of Hamburg, where some 5,000 ‘enemies and undesirables’ were ‘re-educated through labour’ between 1943 and 1945. Josefine survived the ordeal and returned to Belgium.

The personal belongings of Josefine Deweer were returned to her family in 2019, in Herne.

Emile Burm

Emile Polydore Burm was born on 5 December 1919 in Grimbergen. He belonged to a family of lightermen and lived on his parents’ barge, which was moored on the Quai des Anglais in Nimy near Mons.

Emile, who was a simple man, worked as a digger in the construction of bridges and roads. In 1943, a local resident and Nazi-sympathiser named Jules Libert took advantage of Emile’s gullible nature, convincing him that his father would be sent to labour in Germany if Emile did not volunteer to go in his place. To protect his father, Emile left for Nuremberg on 1 February 1943 to work in a factory. He became aware of his situation, however, and repeatedly refused to perform his duties.

These acts of insubordination earned him two stints in the local prison. When Emile still refused to work, he was arrested by the Gestapo and transported to the Dachau concentration camp as a political prisoner. From here, he was transferred to the Augsburg prison, back to Dachau, and then to the concentration camp of Neuengamme, where he passed through several work details. Finally, the SS sent Emile to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he was liberated by the British forces on 15 April 1945.

Because he had gone to Germany voluntarily, Emile never received the official status of political prisoner.

The personal belongings of Emile Burm were returned to his family in Mons in 2023.

Pierre de Jaraczewski

Pierre de Jaraczewski was born on 27 December 1906 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He trained as commercial engineer at the ULB and worked for the Groupement Principale de l’Industrie Chimique in Brussels.

Pierre lived in Uccle with his family and was a well-respected member of its high society. For his active role in the Resistance, he was betrayed and locked up in the prison of Saint-Gilles. On 31 August 1944, a few days before the liberation of Brussels, Pierre was put on the last Belgian transport to Neuengamme, which consisted of some 2,000 political prisoners from around the country.

After the convoy had left the Antwerp-East station and crossed the border into the Netherlands, a handful of prisoners managed to pry open the door of their cattle car and leap from the moving train. Among them was Pierre de Jaraczewski. The prisoners had made their escape on the stretch of railway between Essen and Roosendaal. Pierre was found by local policemen with ties to the Dutch Resistance and hidden until the arrival of the Allied forces.

After the war, for his bravery and distinguished service, Pierre de Jaraczewski received the War Cross 1940 on the Grand Place of Brussels. He wrote a book about his experiences, entitled Echappé belle: Souvenirs de prison et d'évasion, which was published in 1945.

The personal belongings of Pierre de Jaraczewski were returned to his family in Brussels in 2023.

Edward Szotek

Edward Szczepan Szotek was born on 21 May 1911 in the Polish town of Bukowno, between Katowice and Kraków. In 1937, he emigrated with his wife Stanislawa 'Stephanie' Lubaczka and their infant son Szczepan Edward 'Eddy' to Eisden, where Edward worked as a miner.

In 1940, he was sent to Germany to perform forced labour.

In August 1944 Edward was detained in the prison of Saint-Léonard in Liège, where he was stripped of his tobacco box and pocket knife. The reason for his arrest is unclear. He was then transferred to the Wehrmacht prison at Camp Beverlo. In the summer of 1944, the Nazis deported him to Neuengamme concentration camp, where his watch was confiscated. Documents from the camp suggest that in September 1944 he was assigned to the Blumenthal-Schützenhof outer camp in Bremen. The camp held Hungarian Jews, as well as political prisoners from Poland, Belgium, France and the Soviet Union. The hard labour and inhuman conditions took a heavy toll. In April 1945, the camp was evacuated by the SS.

We do not know what happened to Edward Szotek. No repatriation card was found after the war, and no official applications were made for a presumption of death, or recognition as a political prisoner. We assume Edward Szotek died in the concentration camp.

Edward's wife Stephanie died in July 1947. Their son Eddy stayed with his Polish foster parents in Eisden and eventually started a family of his own. Although he rarely spoke about the past, he spent his life searching for traces of his disappeared father, without success.

Edward Szotek's watch was returned to his grandson René on 2 May 2023.


Support us
Learn more