Death on the Way Home

Late on the evening of 27 April 1945, members of the Belgian Red Cross brought a dying man to the auxiliary military hospital that had been set up in the Pestalozzi School in Weimar. He died there after midnight without having regained consciousness. A makeshift wooden cross in the Weimar Cemetery bore the incorrect inscription “Peeaaer Leon/ † Buchenwald 28.4.45/ Opfer des Faschismus [Victim of Fascism]”.

The prison director Leo Peeraer, a father of six, had been a member of the Witte Brigade, a major North Belgian resistance group. He had hidden people in the prison he oversaw. In June 1944, the German security police in Brussels had taken him to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Despite his frail health, he had survived ten months in the invalids’ block in the Little Camp and on 20 April signed his discharge certificate.

Two years later, the Belgian military mission transferred Peeraer’s mortal remains to his hometown Hoogstraten, where he is remembered by a memorial plaque.

(Harry Stein)