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Daughter of Former Director de Cocatrix Welcomed at the ITS

After more than 40 years, Isabelle de Cocatrix Kechavarz longed to come back to Bad Arolsen – the place where she spent many years of her childhood. Her father, Albert de Cocatrix, had been Deputy Director and subsequently Director of the International Tracing Service (ITS) from 1955 to 1977. “He was a very discreet person, hardly ever talked about his work”, Isabelle de Cocatrix recalls her childhood. “Now I would like to know more about his activities here.” A guided tour of the archives involving a look on handwritten records of her father and a visit to the exhibition on the early history of the ITS to be seen in the former Arolsen barracks were on her agenda.

“The older I grew, the more I take an interest in the subject of Nazi persecution”, relates de Cocatrix. “I am almost a bit angry with my father for not having told us more. But he wanted to shield us children from these atrocities.” It was not until he had retired that he narrated the one or the other story. Isabelle in particular remembers his narrative of a family reunion a Jewish mother had with her son. Without knowing of each other’s survival, the two had been living in New York for many years separated by a few blocks only. The ITS had finally succeeded in bringing them together again. “My father had been interned in a Soviet Gulag for some months”, explains Isabelle. “I think that this experience left an indelible mark on him. That is why he was so humane and devoted to his work.”

In Arolsen she spent a wonderful time, says Isabelle. “I was so perfectly adjusted to my environment here that I even took part in a demonstration in favour of the German Union on 17th June. I would have liked to stay here.” But as early as 1969 she had to leave Arolsen. “I had to improve my mother tongue French, and therefore was sent to a boarding school in France.” Having finished her studies, she returned to her home country Switzerland where she took up the profession of a German teacher and where she still lives today.