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A Nazi soldier stole a watch in 1942. It turned up 80 years later.

After almost 80 years, a watch that was taken by a Nazi soldier throughout World Battle II, misplaced in a cornfield and later hidden in a clock on a farm in Belgium has been returned to the grandchildren of its maker.

And it nonetheless works.

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The pocket watch was crafted in 1910 by Alfred Overstrijd, a Jewish man from the Dutch metropolis of Rotterdam. He made it as a present for his brother, Louis. An inscription on the again of the watch contains Overstrijd’s title and the place and time it was made in addition to the truth that it was supposed for his brother.

In 1942, Louis Overstrijd was arrested by the Nazis, at which level it’s doubtless {that a} soldier took the watch, in response to Rob Snijders, a Dutch historian who makes a speciality of Jewish historical past.

For Richard van Ameijden, the grandson of the watchmaker, the reunion together with his grandfather’s watch was uplifting, but it surely was additionally a impolite awakening to persevering with atrocities.

“Once I take a look at the watch, it touches me partly as a result of there’s a warfare now as nicely,” van Ameijden mentioned, referring to Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine.

An undated photograph supplied by Pieter Janssens exhibits a watch that was taken by a Nazi soldier throughout World Battle II. The watch, which was misplaced in a cornfield and later hidden in a clock on a farm in Belgium, has been returned to the grandchildren of its maker. (Pieter Janssens through The New York Occasions)

How the watch traveled from Rotterdam to Belgium just isn’t solely recognized, however Snijders has reconstructed the journey.

In the course of the warfare, individuals throughout Belgium and the Netherlands had been pressured to accommodate Nazi troopers. A Belgian farmer named Gustave Janssens housed three troopers and made them use a cornfield subsequent door as a toilet. It’s doubtless that the watch fell from the pocket of one of many troopers within the subject, Snijders mentioned.

When Janssens discovered the watch, he will need to have figured that the soldier had stolen it, Snijders defined. As an alternative of giving it again, the farmer hid it .

Not too long ago, the farm in Belgium was offered and members of Janssens’ household went by the belongings, Pieter Janssens, the farmer’s grandson, mentioned. By probability, he mentioned, the household stumbled on the watch.

He emailed Snijders in an effort to seek out its unique proprietor.

Snijders posted particulars on social media.

Inside 24 hours, Snijders obtained data that the watchmaker had a daughter who had survived the warfare and had three kids.

Snijders later discovered van Ameijden on LinkedIn. He organized a gathering between the descendants, throughout which the watch was formally handed again. “There have been tears, I noticed them,” mentioned Snijders.

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