The village of Sobibor was located in the eastern region of German-occupied Poland during World War II. Nearby, the Nazis had built the Sobibor Death Camp. It was the final stop on a railway to hell where 250,000 Jews were gassed and buried in mass graves. Among them were the first three of the following individuals: Klaartje de Leeuw, Joachim Bloch, Meijer Stokvis and Andries Bloch (Joachim’s brother), The fourth person, Andries, was killed at Trobitz, another Nazi camp located inside Germany.
It has been confirmed just recently that these four individuals were ancestors of mine, albeit distant cousins, but nonetheless…family. Andries, who was killed last, lost his life in 1945, the year I was born.
I can barely attempt to pronounce some of their names properly, let alone imagine the horror they went through in their final year. But just seeing their names brings them into focus…and into reality. Knowing what happened to them, along with realizing the connection, has given me pause. These people represent some of the blood lines that stream down the branches of my family tree and no matter how inconsequential the linkage may be, all four of them, one way or another, are a part of me.