A delegation of the descendants of a Belgian noble family whose members saved Jewish children during the Holocaust visited Israel this week and met with the descendants of the surviving Jewish children on Wednesday.
Thirty-five members of the Belgian royal House of de Ligne, led by Prince Michel, visited the Jewish state. They descend from Eugene, the 11th Prince of Ligne, and his wife Philippine. During the Holocaust, Eugene and Philippine hid hundreds of Jewish children in the family’ castle.
In 1975, after the couple died, they were recognized by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust remembrance institution as “Righteous Among the Nations,” the Israeli designation for non-Jews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The couple’s descendants were accompanied in Israel by six of the children saved by Eugene and Philippine.
“This is a very important day for all of us, one that has been missing in our family since our grandparents never took the opportunity to plant a tree in the forest of the Righteous Among the Nations,” said Prince Michel, who has visited Israel once before. His sister, Princess Anne de Ligne, spent a month working as a volunteer on an Israeli kibbutz when she was 20 years old.
“We were alone. We didn’t know if or when we would see out parents again, but we were in a safe and quiet place, and we thank Prince Michel for preserving the memory of our salvation. We owe a deep debt of gratitude to all those who worked towards saving our lives and providing us with a safe haven,” said one of the surviving Jewish children, Avraham Kapok, the Jerusalem Post reported.