- Liberation Day: August 17, 2015 ... 70 years later ...
- Speech by Leopold Pander :
― The honourable director, Wang Hao,
― ladies & gentlemen.
I was 4 years old in 1945.
My name is Leopold Pander, and I was born in Tianjin in 1941, 8 months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Of the Weihsien Concentration Camp, … I was too young to remember.
Our parents never, or rarely spoke to us about the subject.
All my life, I knew that I had been in a concentration camp and that we had lived hard times, … but that is about all.
Life went on, our parents died, my father first and my mother a few years later. My little sister, born in camp died too. At the end of the century, I retired from work and had a lot of free time to spare.
I bought a computer and, of course, … I "Googled" the word "weishien". It's funny, because at first, I got the spelling wrong, … I wrote it in French, … with the "s" before the "h".
Finally, I got it right and almost immediately found Natasha's chat list on Topica. That was the moment Mary was finding our liberators, one by one.
Wow ! what a story !
I finally took my courage and joined the conversation on the WWW and tried to share a few painting reproductions my family had from Weihsien. It was complicated to share pictures on the Topica Chat list, so I created a website. I knew nothing about the subject and …
I needed help. (...)
The young generation in the person of my nephew helped me … with a lot of patience. Thank you Yves, … that's the name of my nephew.
And then, believe it or not, I got help from all over the world … Australia, New Zealand, USA, England … and from opportunity to opportunity I met with Father Hanquet, a Roman Catholic priest in Belgium and Norman Cliff, a Protestant Minister, living in England.
Norman lent me all his precious scrap books and document and gave me "carte blanche". Father Hanquet (he was 90 years old at the time) told me many, many stories about Weihsien, the stories, our parents never told us. Furthermore, Father Hanquet lived ten minutes away from my home in Belgium and we met very often.
And now, 15 years later, "our" website is more 3200 pages thick with authentic information, paintings, sketches … documents about our Weihsien concentration camp from 1943 to 1945.
As long as I will be able to … I will keep this website alive.
and, … before I finish, I would like to have a thought for all the children in the world, wherever they are, whoever they be ... who are the innocent victims of the stupid behavior of grown ups !
Those children may have dreams of what they endured; they may have nightmares or even worse. Well, you know, … They must live with it … all their lives.
That is not just, … it is not fare ….