Bijkomende meta info
- This collection contains: pre-war photos of the Souritz-Grabowetzki family, including photos of the deported Abraham Echiel Souritz and his children Willy and Paulette ; pre-war photos of the family of Mozes alias Max Blumberg, second husband of Jeanne Grabowetzki, widow of Abraham Echiel Souritz ; war-time photos of Rachel Souritz' son Albert Souritz, taken while the child was in hiding in Mechelen ; post-war photos of Max Blumberg and Jeanne Grabowetzki ; a wartime school report of Paulette Souritz ; documents on the deportation of Abraham Echiel, Willy and Paulette Souritz and on the repatriation of Max Blumberg.
- Rachel Souritz
- Dutch, French, English
- 55 digitised items (29 photos and 9 documents)
- The picture of Paulette Souritz which is part of this collection, was also added to the Give them a Face portrait collection (KD_00017).
Rachel Souritz was born in Anderlecht, Brussels, on 5 October 1918 as the oldest child of Abraham Echiel alias Albert Souritz (born on 21 March 1894 in Pskov/Pleskau, Russia) and Jeanne Grabowetzki (born on 1st October 1896 in Wloclawek, Poland). Rachel had two younger siblings who were both born in Antwerp, Belgium: Willy on 12 September 1924 and Pauline alias Paulette on 16 April 1928. Abraham Souritz earned a living as a diamond broker, while his wife Jeanne took care of their children. The family was well to do, taking vacations at the Belgian seaside and Jeanne travelling to France regularly to visit her mother and sisters.
In May 1940 Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium. The Souritz family was living at Walvischstraat 48 in Antwerp and obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees. Rachel’s mother Jeanne probably left for France, leaving Abraham and her children behind. Rachel, already aware of the dangers of national-socialism and believing in informing the general public as a means to activate resistance among the Belgian population, quickly joined the communist resistance and started distributing clandestine leaflets. While peddling newspapers, Rachel met Christaen Nicaise. They fell in love and in the next two years Rachel gave birth to their two children: son Albert was born on 7 March 1941, daughter Lea Georgette Noëlla alias Nicole on 17 April 1942.
When her partner Christaen Nicaise was caught and executed on 27 January 1942, Rachel was left behind with their two children, struggling to make a living. In September 1942, she was almost caught herself by the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst. Rachel hardly managed to get away when she walked into a trap set during the distribution of ration stamps in Antwerp. She then decided to go into hiding. After spending some weeks in Brussels, the communist resistance sent her to Menen. Upon her arrival she met the head of the local branch of the Independent Front: Albert De Coninck (born on 9 October 1915 in Alderley, United Kingdom). Rachel’s daughter Nicole was placed with a family on a farm near Menen, while son Albert was sent to the parents of Albert De Coninck in Mechelen.
Rachel, her children and Albert with whom she fell in love, all survived the war. Rachel and Albert married and had two more children: Alvin and Paulette. Rachel continued to fight for democracy and human rights her whole life. She passed away in 1998, her husband Albert De Coninck in 2006. Rachel Souritz lost multiple family members during the war. Although her mother Jeanne Grabowetzki survived the war in hiding and married camp survivor Mozes alias Max Blumberg in 1951, Rachel’s brother Willy reported with a work order (Arbeitseinsatzbefehl) at the Dossin barracks on 27 August 1927. He did not survive deportation via Transport VI to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 29 August 1942. Rachel’s father Abraham Souritz refused to go into hiding stating he had done nothing wrong. He and his youngest daughter Paulette were arrested after Paulette went out to buy cigarettes for her father. Neither survived deportation from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XX on 19 April 1943.
- In 2019 Paulette De Coninck, daughter of Rachel Souritz and Albert De Coninck, entrusted her original family photos and several documents to Kazerne Dossin in preparation of a book on her family history. Her parents had kept these items safe until they passed away, after which Paulette inherited them.
- Paulette De Coninck, daughter of Rachel Souritz and Albert De Coninck, 2019