‘La grande Dame’

In 2010 Red Cross Flanders contacted, as a request of the German colleagues, an old lady of 86, Liliane*. Hannah*, a German woman, was looking for Liliane’s husband, Peter*. She believes she might be his daughter.

At first, Liliane is in shock, she doesn’t know anything about that part of Peter’s life. She’s not able to ask him any longer, since he died young.
The war did not spare Liliane’s family, she went through tough times. However she immediately considers how Hannah’s mother must have had a rough time. Being a single woman raising a child in postwar Germany is not easy.

Liliane is up for contact with Hannah, the possible daughter of her husband, only if there are clear clues of Peter being her actual father. She does send a death prayer card and a picture of Peter via the Red Cross.

Once over the main shock, Liliane finds herself interested. She wants to know more about her possible stepdaughter, Hannah. She goes looking for information about Hannah through family members of Peter and finds a possible relation. The Red Cross provides Liliane with pictures of Hannah and recognizes Peter’s eyes instantly.

It appears that Peter had a relationship with Hannah’s mother during the war. He met her at a factory in Germany where he was subject to compulsory labor starting April 1943 and ending March 1944. When he returned to Belgium he met Liliane and they got married. Peter lost all contact with Hannah’s mother and never knew of his daughter’s existence.

Hannah’s mother passed away in 1987. Many years later Hannah is searching for her father. She wants to know whether he’s still alive and whether Peter really is her father.

Eventually Liliane does want contact with the lost daughter of her late husband. Hannah is thankful for Red Cross Flanders’s hard work and especially grateful to Liliane, who she now calls ‘La grande dame’.

*Fictional names in order to protect the persons' privacy