Re: Portugal Recognizes Consul who Saved thousands From Holocaust #holocaust

Nicole Heymans

Thank you Jan for this piece of history!

Which connects with my own family history.

In 1940 my mother's German Jewish family was living in Antwerp, Belgium. During the phony war, Belgian authorities had listed all potential "enemies": mainly Germans, Austrians, "Böhmen und Mähren" (Chekoslovakia) and pro-Nazi groups. At dawn on 10th May 1940 as soon as German troops set foot in Belgium, listed men aged about 17-60 (I need to check) were arrested, emprisoned  and sent to camps in south-western France, previous refugee camps dating from the Spanish civil war. My uncle was among them, along with his cousin once removed, recently divorced from his aunt who had got away with their two daughters; and with one of my mother's pre-war boyfriends.

They ended up in Saint-Cyprien in south-west France, barracks on the beach, barbed wires on three sides, the sea on the fourth. Appalling conditions. At a point my uncle decided to leave. I was told he dug under the barbed wire, he didn't need to dig far, he weighed less than 40 kgs. He walked to the nearest house, was sheltered but sent off at dawn,

My uncle had relatives in Central America, one of whom vouched for him, but the affidavits were in Lisbon and he never managed to cross the Pyrrenees However he survived.

Nicole Heymans, Belgium

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