A Tin Can Full of Stories

The 19th of March 1945 was the Belgian Charles Brusselairs’s first day on the “rescue team”. From now on, he would leave the camp on the Ettersberg with this labour detachment every day to clear rubble in Weimar.

In the ruins, one of his comrades found a little tin can with pencils in it. He took the pencils and tossed the tin away. Although it was prohibited, Charles picked it up and kept it. He used it for little things he found or was given: a couple of buttons, coins, a piece of metal thread. He cherished it like life itself. The tin also survived the death march of many weeks to Terezín. It even had a place for the little tube of vitamin pills Brusselairs received there after the liberation.

After he returned home, he kept the tin. For him, the seemingly trivial objects all had stories of their own to tell: “how I got it” or “why I kept it” – stories about his time in the concentration camp.

(Michael Löffelsender)


Source: Report by Charles Brusselairs, 1990s (Buchenwald Memorial).

Reference: Charles Brusselairs, Il ne nous reste plus tellement de temps pour faire entendre notre voix, Antwerpen 1981.