Bijkomende meta info
- This collection contains: pre-war photos of the wedding and honeymoon of Evelyne Haendel’s parents Moses alias Marcel Haendel (also Handel or Händel) and Pessa Wolfowicz ; pre-war and wartime photos of members of the extended Haendel-Wolfowicz family, including Scheindla Wolfowicz and her daughter Ursula Frommer or Julius Wolfowicz and his wife Ella Diamant and Jetti alias Itte Haendel alias Hecht ; wartime photos of Evelyne Haendel with rescuers such as Georges Vandor and the Krings family ; a post-war photo of Evelyne Haendel's solemn communion
- MOKOTOFF Gary, "Evelyne Reclaims her Identity", in: Gary Mokotoff (ed.), Every Family Has a Story, Avotaynu, 2008, p. 8-21.
- Evelyne Haendel
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin as collection KD_00631
- Evelyne Haendel, Private collection, Liège
- Digital copy available as collection KD_00631 at Kazerne Dossin
- 15 digitised images (15 photos)
- The photo of Ursula Frommer which is part of this collection, was added to the Give them a Face portrait collection (KD_00017).
Evelyne Haendel (also Handel or Händel) was born in Vienna, Austria, on 22 August 1937. Her father Moses alias Marcel Haendel (born in Sniatyn, Poland, on 5 March 1905) studied law and medicine, but became a merchant and joined the Austrian socialist party. On 12 June 1932 he married Evelyne’s mother Pessa Wolfowicz (born in Lodz, Poland, on 23 May 1909) in the Austrian capital. The family officially lived at Lichtensteinstrasse 130 in Vienna by the time Evelyne and her mother arrived in Belgium on 31 December 1937. Pessa Wolfowicz had been able to obtain a Belgian tourist visa stating she wanted to take care of her sick mother, the widowed Malka alias Martha Ehrlich, who lived at Kipdorpvest 11 in Antwerp. Upon arrival, Evelyne and her mother moved in with Malka. Pessa’s sister Scheindla Wolfowicz, Scheindla’s husband Abraham Frommer and their daughter Ursule or Ursula were also living with grandmother Malka at the time.
After their visa expired Evelyne and her mother remained in Antwerp. Pessa declared to the Belgian authorities that they had both fallen ill and after the Anschluss on 13 March 1938 she pleaded that it was unsafe for her and Evelyne to return to Austria. Persecuted because of his faith and political convictions, Evelyne’s father Moses alias Marcel Haendel also made his way to Belgium, arriving on 13 July 1938. The Haendel-Wolfowicz family was threatened with expulsion from Belgium several times, but interventions by the Comité pour la Défense des Droits des Juifs and the Antwerpsch Komiteit voor Joodsche Vluchtelingen helped them obtain long term visa which were renewed regularly. In June 1939 Moses, Pessa and Evelyne moved from grandmother Malka’s house at Kipdorpvest to Bakkerstraat 13 in Borgerhout.
On 10 May 1940 Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium. By that time Evelyne and her parents lived at Lange Nieuwstraat 88 in Antwerp. Upon the invasion Evelyne’s father Moses alias Marcel Haendel, being a recently arrived Austrian refugee, might have been arrested as a suspicious individual by the Belgian authorities but it is more likely that he fled south and was not able to return to Belgium after the armistice as there are no records of him being detained at any of the internment camps in southern France. Moses alias Marcel Haendel would be arrested in Nice in 1942, in the company of his mother Jetti alias Itte Haendel-Hecht. Both were deported from Drancy to Auschwitz-Birkenau via transport 29 on 7 September 1942 and murdered.
In the absence of Evelyne’s father, her mother Pessa Wolfowicz obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees installed by German authorities as of the end of 1940. Pessa registered herself and Evelyne in the municipal Jewish register of Belgium on 20 December 1940, and, in spring 1942, they became members of the Association of Jews in Belgium. As of January 1941 Evelyne and her mother lived at Rue de la Prairie 40 in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, only to move to Rue de Belle Vue 12 in Genval a month later. In June 1941 mother and daughter settled at Rue Artan 84 in Schaerbeek, where they shared living quarters again with Pessa’s now widowed sister Scheindla Wolfowicz and her daughter Ursula Frommer.
In the summer of 1942 deportations began. Pessa started looking for a hiding place for Evelyne and received help from the concierge of their building: Georges Vandor. He first placed Evelyne with Armand and Micheline Krings-Nilsson and their son Ivar. Georges knew the family since they had also resided at Rue Artan 84 until the outbreak of war when they moved to Gaillemarde near La Hulpe. Evelyne took on the false identity of Colette Wauthier and remained with the Krings family until 1943 when it became too dangerous to stay in Gaillemarde. Georges then moved Evelyne to the village of Noirha, where she stayed with a business associate of his: Joseph and Helene Legros-Durlet, and their sons Edgar and Roland. Evelyne remained with the Legros family until a few months after Liberation when she was taken in by Georges Vandor and his wife.
Evelyne’s mother Pessa Wolfowicz went into hiding as well, but in October 1942 she was arrested when visiting the town hall of Schaerbeek. Pessa was registered at the Dossin barracks on 28 October 1942 and was deported from Mechelen to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XVI on 31 October 1942. Pessa did not survive and in 1955 the orphaned Evelyne was adopted by Georges Vandor and his wife who raised her as a catholic girl. Evelyne did have a surviving maternal uncle, Julius Wolfowicz, but he did not want any contact with her. Evelyne’s maternal aunt Scheindla Wolfowicz and her daughter Ursula Frommer had been in hiding but were denounced and were arrested in Brussels on 6 June 1944. They were subsequently deported via transport XXVI from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 31 July 1944. Only Scheindla survived. Traumatized by the loss of her daughter Scheindla migrated to Australia in the 1950s after which all contact with Evelyne halted.
Evelyne married but her experiences during the war, her conversion to Catholicism and the loss of her family burdened her heavily. Nonetheless, she had Georges Vandor and the Legros family recognized as Righteous among the Nations in 1995, and the Krings family in 1998. It was only in the early 2000s, after she learned that she had a second maternal uncle in the United States and was able to find cousins there thanks to the help of Gary Motokoff that she was able to accept her Jewish identity and her past as a hidden child. As of 2009 Evelyn Haendel was director of the family tracing services for the Hidden Child Foundation. She passed away in Brussels on 11 May 2021.
- In 2002 Evelyne Haendel entrusted digital copies of 15 photos from her family album to the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, predecessor of Kazerne Dossin. The photos survived the war because Georges Vandor, the concierge of the house where Evelyne and her parents lived, entered their apartment after the arrest of Evelyne's mother in 1942 and rescued some of the family's belongings. When Georges became Evelyne's guardian after the war the items were returned to her.
- Evelyne Haendel, 2002