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Entrance to Auschwitz (archives) Photo: Reuters
Entrance to Auschwitz (archives) Photo: Reuters

Auschwitz suitcase reveals parents' fate

Polish citizen decides to trace surviving relatives of items left by Holocaust victims at Nazi death camp, solving Jewish siblings' 70-year mystery

Published: 02.07.13, 14:21 / Israel Jewish Scene

Harry Grenville and his sister Hannah didn't know what had happened to their parents during World War II for nearly 70 years. That uncertainty came to an end last month following an initiative of a Polish citizen who visited the Auschwitz concentration camp museum.


Holocaust Memorial
Auschwitz has record 1.43 million visitors / Associated Press
Largest group of visitors to Holocaust remembrance site in 2012 comes from Poland, followed by large numbers from Britain, US, Italy, Germany, Israel and other countries
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According to a report in London's Times newspaper, the Polish visitor photographed a vast pile of suitcases left by victims murdered in the Holocaust, each of which had a name and serial number painted in white letters on the front.


He then decided to try to trace surviving relatives, and tracked down Harry Grenville, 87, in Dorchester, England.

הארי גרינווייל, בצילום מתוך ה"טיימס" 

Harry Grenville (photo from London's Times)


Harry and Hannah's parents sent them from Germany to a foster family in England, shortly before the outbreak of World War II. After the war, they tried without success to find out what had happened to their parents.


A final message received in 1944 informed them that their parents were being moved to a camp in the “east”. Now Harry Grenville knows that their final destination was Auschwitz.


“Out of the blue a photograph turned up of a whole lot of suitcases of victims and, lo and behold, there on this photograph is my father’s name,” he said. “It was a bit of a shock and my heart did miss several beats when I saw it for the first time.


"This is the first evidence I have ever had that my mother, my father and my grandmother actually arrived at Auschwitz. I have carried suspicions with me for a long time and now I have this evidence I feel justified in my suspicions.


“There will never be closure,” he added. “But I take a great deal of comfort from the fact that the second and third generations after the Nazis are trying to bring about reconciliation and a confession of the sins of their forefathers.”



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