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- In this interview Jenny Gutwirth talks about: her family fleeing Italy and surviving the war in Switzerland ; the survival story of her husband Emmanuel Neustetel, including the fate of his father Mojzesz Neustetel as a forced labourer in France, going into hiding in Laeken and Emmanuel’s band with his rescuer Frans Verbiest.
- Jenny Gutwirth, interviewed by Betty Swaab (volunteer at Kazerne Dossin)
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin
- 1 interview (48 minutes)
Jenny Gutwirth was born in Genoa, Italy, on 27 June 1930 as the eldest of two sisters. In 1938, under the rule of Mussolini, the Gutwirth sisters were expelled from school. In 1939 Jenny’s parents planned to leave Italy for the United States. Jenny’s father held Dutch nationality and worked for the Société Générale de Surveillance, which made it fairly easy for him to obtain a visa. However, Jenny and her sister were born in Italy and fell under the Italian quota. Therefore, other plans were made. Jenny’s father had a cousin in Switzerland and was able to get official documents. The family moved to Geneva where they lived during the entire war. After the war three more children were born into the family. Jenny married Emmanuel Neustetel in 1953 in Geneva.
Emmanuel Neustetel was born in Antwerp on 2 May 1927. He was the son of a merchant, Mojzesz Neustetel (born on 15 March 1894 in Stary-Sacz, Poland) and his wife Julia Schreiber (born on 3 June 1898 in Antwerp, Belgium). Emmanuel had an older sister named Liane Ruth, born in Antwerp on 28 September 1923. When Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940, Emmanuel was still at school. The Neustetel family lived in Lange Leemstraat 210, and obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees. At the end of 1940, Mojszesz registered himself, his wife and his daughter in the municipal Jewish Register of Antwerp. Upon Emmanuel’s fifteenth birthday, he also was ordered to present himself and he went to register on 13 May 1942. As of June, all Neustetel family members wore the yellow star and Emmanuel was expelled from school. His sister Liane became a teacher in training at one of the Jewish schools in Antwerp.
At the end of July 1942 father Mojzesz was sent to Northern France as a forced labourer for Organisation Todt. At the beginning of September 1942, he got sick and was sent back to Antwerp where nobody believed his stories about the labour camps in France. The Neustetel family was housed for a few days by their cleaning lady who lived in Merksem, before going into hiding with Frans Verbiest near Laeken, Brussels. Verbiest worked in the harbour and was married to a Jewess. Thanks to him, the Neustetel family was able to stay together. They took on a Hungarian name to explain Mojzesz’s accent. Mojzesz was able to obtain false papers and a work permit which allowed him to go out. Emmanuel rarely left the apartment and learned English while in hiding. The Neustetel family survived the war in hiding with Frans Verbiest and returned to Antwerp, where Emmanuel became a diamond trader. He and Jenny settled in the city after their marriage, and remained in contact with Emmanuel’s rescuer Frans Verbiest.
- On 21 December 2018 Paul Bucholz permitted the staff of Kazerne Dossin to interview her.
- Jenny Gutwirth, 2018