Wedding book of couple who died at Auschwitz returned to family
A thrift store owner in the Netherlands used social media to find the rightful owners of a Jewish wedding reception book dating from the Second World War.
The book was found in a box the store had recently acquired. It was decorated with a Star of David and the names of the couple, Louis and Flora. It also had signatures from guests that attended the wedding in 1942.
Stans Barzelay is the niece of Louis, her father's brother. She tells As It Happens host Carol Off that she was shocked when she saw the social media post advertising her uncle's wedding book, "a friend of ours forwarded it to me and asked 'is this your relative?'" The next day Barzelay went to the store.
Barzelay says she wasn't emotionally prepared to see the book, "It hit me more than I thought. I was almost in tears. It was beautiful, and of course very sad."
Six weeks after the wedding, Louis and Flora were taken to Westerbork, a transit camp for Dutch Jews before they were deported to extermination camps. A month after that, they were taken to Auschwitz, where they were killed in the fall of 1942.
"They thought it was a work camp," Barzelay says of Auschwitz. "They knew there were things [there], but what exactly was happening…you could never imagine."
Barzelay says her father, who survived the war, rarely talked about her uncle. "It was too hard, too emotional. It was something my parents never talked about because it wasn't something to talk about."
Barzelay says she is grateful to the store owner to have the family heirloom in her possession, "It's part of history from our beloved family. It's very special. I can't explain it to you in the right words. It's such a special feeling to have this. It is so strange because there was a party, and they were happy and four months later, it was over."