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Grandfather’s ring returned to Latvian family

Peteris Zorgis of Latvia was given his grandfather Ernest’s wedding ring by the ITS (International Tracing Service) in Bad Arolsen. It was taken from his grandfather when he came to the Neuengamme concentration camp. “Your service did a wonderful job,” said Peteris Zorgis to the ITS. “It is fantastic that after all these years the effects of the prisoners are still available in the archives. My father and I are very happy about this.”

Ernest Zorgis, born on 26 January 1914, was arrested when the Russian army occupied Latvia as a result of the Hitler-Stalin pact. He then fled to the west and worked as a driver in Germany, until he was deported to the Neuengamme concentration camp in July 1944. The reason for his imprisonment is not listed in the only existing document from the concentration camp that has his name on it. “He did not tell us much of those times, and he had already died when I was 16 years old,” says the grandson. “We can’t change history, but with this ring, we are once again able to feel our grandfather’s presence.”

Ernest Zorgis survived his imprisonment in the concentration camp and returned home after the end of World War II. “He led a normal life, and had three sons. You wouldn’t notice he had been to a concentration camp,” says Peteris. “The ring is part of the family’s history and will receive a special place.”

ITS still has about 2,900 effects in its archives, of which all the former owners’ names are known. The wallets, identification documents, photographs, letters, documents, and occasionally fashion jewelry, cigarette cases, rings, watches, and fountain pens are mainly from the concentration camps Neuengamme (2,400) and Dachau (330). In May 2011, the ITS published on the Internet a list of the remaining effects in the archives. The goal is to return as many of the personal items as possible to the survivors of Nazi persecution and to the families of the victims.