Bombing of Rotterdam in WWII (PIcture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed) - Credit: Bombing of Rotterdam in WWII (PIcture: Wikimedia Commons/Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed)
Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 09:42
Jewish letters from WWII unearthed in Hague restaurant
A suitcase containing letters from World War II was found during the renovation of the French restaurant Walter Benedict on Denneweg in the Hague. The letters belonged to the Jewish Israel Bachrach, who fled from the detention center in Scheveningen to Switzerland in September 1942. He wrote the letters about his trip to Switzerland. "This is the dream of every historian", history professor Hans Pols told Omroep West. His children were helping with the renovations when they found the letters. "You expect nothing, you're hoping for a few old newspapers and then you get a suitcase with a war story." The suitcase contained letters to Bachrach's mother and to his non-Jewish girlfriend Gebby in the Hague. "If the situation is so that you are reading this letter, you know that you will feel very unhappy. But if you want to do something for me, please stay brave and do not grieve too much for me", he writes in a letter to his mother. The letters from Gebby describe the what it was like to live in a German-occupied city. "It is horrible in the city. I have a rotten feeling about it", his girlfriend wrote. Bach escaped in September 1942, with false papers and help from some smugglers. He did not have an easy time of it, according to Omroep West. He and a companion were traveling through Belgium to Switzerland. Everything almost went horribly wrong when they arrived in Brussels to find that their contact moved away from the address they had more than a year ago. They could not find shelter at a hotel because the owner found it too dangerous to let them stay there. There were raids every night. They were saved by a man and tall blonde woman who told them about an address in Antwerp and gave Bachrach a note signed "Blondinette". There was almost trouble again at the Swiss border when Bachrach and his companion somehow ended up under a German watchtower. Luckily the tower was unmanned. Bachrach survived the war and eventually returned to The Hague with his suitcase full of letters. He had a bookstore in the building on Denneweg, where the suitcase was ultimately left behind.