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Silence on Time in National Socialist Camp

Cesar de Schuiteneer, a Belgian, never wanted to talk about his time as a prisoner in National Socialist Germany. “His face always took on a pained expression when we asked,” said his grandson, Freddy de Schuiteneer. The 65-year-old visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen at the end of February to view documents on the fate of his family. “We children and grandchildren feel a deep obligation to find out more,” said de Schuiteneer.

After the Germans occupied Belgium, Freddy´s grandfather Cesar joined the Resistance. The Resistance group, which Freddy´s father also belonged to, smuggled weapons and blew up railroad tracks. “There was a railroad junction near our family´s home town in Onkerzeele, where a lot of coal and steel was transported,” said de Schuiteneer. One day the group was denounced and arrested.

Freddy´s father was able to escape the transport train to Germany, but his grandfather was imprisoned for a year and a half and forced to endure Breendonk concentration camp, the prisons at Groß Strehlitz and Kaisheim, and finally Dachau. He survived and was liberated by the US Army on 29 April 1945. “After that he was no longer able to work as a miner,” said his grandson. “He felt too weak and ended up going to a farm in France.”

After his return home Cesar worked as a stonemason. “He was never able to shake his fear and constantly carried two pistols with him.  Because of that he was even hassled by the police in 1947,” reported his grandson. His family has visited the sites of his imprisonment as well as numerous archives in order to collect documents and information about their grandfather´s life and the Resistance. These documents should serve to break the silence which has been a constant companion to Cesar´s children and grandchildren.