With fully embedded audio. To listen, click on links below.
Henry Weinstock was one of the Hidden Children of the Holocaust. He was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1934. Hitler’s army occupied Belgium in May of 1940.
In 1942, when Henry was eight years old and with Jews being deported to “areas in the East,” (later, of course, it was known that these were death camps) his father “gave him away” to a Catholic priest by the name of Edouard Froidure, better known as l’abbe Froidure. This, perhaps, the greatest act of love.
L’abbe Froidure baptized Henry and changed his name to Henry Albert Gerard. At great personal risk, l’abbe Froidure housed Henry – now a good Catholic boy – and other young Jewish boys who had also assumed new identities – in a camp outside of Brussels.
The story is complex (fully told by Henry in Story Preservation’s audio, available for listening below) but on October 9, 1942 Nazi soldiers came to the camp and l’abbe Froidure was arrested and ultimately sent to Dachau.
Henry – still known as Albert Gerard – went on to other homes run by Catholic nuns and priests. All put the lives of the children ahead of their own, creating elaborate stories to protect those in their charge.
Fast forward to 1945. Henry was miraculously reunited with his father who, shortly after he left Henry with l’abbe Froidure, was arrested and sent to Buchenwald. Few of the hidden children ever reunited with family. L’abbe Froidure also survived his imprisonment in Dachau. Henry and his father immigrated to New York.
In 1946 l’abbe Froidure visited the city. Somehow word got out that a young boy that he had baptized and hidden lived nearby. The two were reunited. The New York press had a field day.
Audio is a production of Story Preservation Initiative. All rights reserved.
More on the Hidden Children from the NY Times.
Who were the ‘hidden children’ and why have we not heard about them until recently? Though widely known within circles of academia and described more thoroughly in Holocaust literature, hidden children in general are the least known group of survivors from World War II. These children, anywhere between their infant years and their late teens, were given away either temporarily or permanently by their parents in order to save them from the concentration camps. Although there were several variations on the child’s hiding situation, they were usually sent to live with Christian families with whom they took on false identities throughout the duration of the war, or were physically hidden until the danger of arrest and deportation had passed.
In 1991 there was a Gathering of the Hidden Children in New York.