In 1975 the Belgian Prince Eugène, 11th Prince of Ligne, and his wife Philippine were honored by Yad Vashem as ‘Righteous Among Nations’ for their bravery during the Second World War for saving the lives of hundreds of Jewish children in Belgium who otherwise would have been murdered by the Nazis.
Last week at the Presidential Residence, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted a special gathering of the descendents of Prince Eugène, together with several of the children who were hidden and saved in the castle of Beloeil, some fifty-five kilometers southwest of Brussels.
The delegation was led by Prince Michael De Ligne who said, “This is a very important day for all of us.…commemoration of what the Nazis did is a duty for each of us. It is the memory of terrible moments for each one of the children who were separated from their parents, and had to get used to a new way of life. During the war only three people knew of the presence of Jewish children in the castle and their obligation to be silent about this fact was a guarantee for the survival of these beloved children.” Prince Michael concluded, “In the name of my family Mr. President, I want to tell you how touched we are by the marks of gratitude we have received from the Jewish people, and from the Land of Israel. Long live Israel.”
Speaking on behalf of the survivors, Avraham Kaputka said, “In the face of the killing machine which was put to work against the Jews of Europe, people and institutions worked to save human lives.”
Kaputka said that he, along with 44 other Jewish children, were saved because of the De Ligne family, and added, “Six of these survivors are here today. We were alone; the separation from our parents was very hard. We did not know if, or when, we may ever see them again. Our acclimatization, at least at first, was not easy, but in the end we blended in to our surroundings, thanks to the guides and the teachers at the children’s home. We were in a safe and quiet place while all around us raged the war. Some of the children were reunited with their parents, others never found them.” Avraham Kaputka concluded, “There are no words which can express our feelings toward Prince Eugène and his wife Philippine, and all the other people that helped in saving us from the threats to our lives. Today, we thank Prince Michel De Ligne for his contribution to preserving the memory of the story of our rescue.”