When the Bombs Began to Fall - May 10, 1940

When the bombs began to fall on Belgium, May 10, 1940, Joan's parents began their escape. They fled starting from La Panne on the Belgian seacoast (where they had been waiting anxiously to see what would happen after the Nazi invasion of Poland, September 1, 1939) with little more that the shirts on their backs. They thought they would go back to Brussels, “When it was over.” Joan's mother, Hala referred to the bombing and the running, saying we were always “one step ahead of the bombs.”
After a circuitous route, they arrived in NYC, October 1943. Joan's father, Ignas, struggled to establish himself. But, In 1946 Ignas sailed back to Brussels to see if there could be a better future for him and his family, where he spoke the language and once had connections. He was always optimistic.
Ignas went to the apartment where they had lived from 1935-40. The landlady welcomed him and readily gave him all his possessions; things that she had saved for him. They included furniture, crystal vases and bowls with silver trim, a silver sugar container, bed linens, etc. from Hala’s dowry.
The possessions even included the silk embroidered pillow case that you see Hala leaning on in the photo attached, and several albums containing the treasured Kaplan and Krakowiak family albums from before the war. This landlady is one example of the many honest non-Jews who suffered under Nazi occupation.
Hala must have hidden the items that belonged to her sister, Yvonne, including all the photos from their time as refugees in Portugal and semi-internment on the island of Jamaica, BWI, because Joan never saw them until 1997, fifty-five years after the painful fact.

Yvonne birth.jpg