Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A son of a Nazi and a Jewish boy embrace

Koenraad is the youngest child of a Flemish family that turned pro Hitler after the first world war. He is a great artist, draws and sculpts and plays the piano. On the window in the early 1940's they had a sign 'Juden raus'. Although the piano teacher was allowed in, teaching him a minuet. Koenraad couldn't live with the guilt he felt for the pain his family had caused and started telling his story on stage, showing the drawings he did about the subject. About a year ago Sacha Rangoni asked him whether he would tell his story for a major Jewish organization. Koenraad immediately agreed. He had read something about a boy who 11 years old had jumped from a train and suspected that one of is brothers had guarded the Kazerne Dosin from where this boy and his family had been deported.
Simon, the youngest child of a Jewish family was on the train of the 20st convoy to a death camp: 30 wagons, 1600 people were on the train. Of course nobody expected to be gassed. They were told they had to work in Germany. This was the only convoy the Belgian resistance tried to stop: they saved 17 people. And also Simon. The door of their wagon had been pried open and his mother brought him to the door waiting till the train was slowing down and ordered him to jump. He was 11 years old and all alone. He too plays the piano, yet loved Jazz. Running away he kept humming, hearing in his head In the mood by Glen Miller.
Both men, in their eighties met and embraced. Simon told us: Kids don't understand war. They were crushed by it and they are all victims. Children in wars are not responsible!
Soon their common book, yes they became friends, will be brought out. "L'enfant du 20ième convoy". These men in their great humanity showed how we can heal each other and made me think about forgiveness, pardon and the power to heal this holds. At the end both men played for us and received a standing applause. David, president of PEN-Flanders did another great job. We cannot do enough to oppose fascism.


  1. Note - the title of their common book you gave "L'enfant du 20ième convoy" should be "Eindelijk bevrijd" (for the dutch book) and "Enfin libérés" for the french version.

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