Son Gets WWII Resistance Fighter's Farewell Letter 70 Years Later

Peter Will wrote final words to wife, 6 sons on way to concentration camp
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2015 11:56 AM CST
Family photos of Dutch resistance fighter Peter Will, who was seized by the Nazis and shipped off to the Neuengamme concentration camp.   (ITS via AP)
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(Newser) – The thoughts Peter Will had on his mind before he died en route to a German concentration camp were of his wife and six sons—and surviving family members now know this for sure thanks to a letter delivered more than 70 years after the fact. Although the family wishes to keep most of Will's handwritten letter private, Joop Will, who was just 10 when his father, a Dutch resistance fighter, was arrested by the Nazis in December 1943, revealed one telling line to the AP in a telephone interview from his Amsterdam home. "He wrote that 'I've now been away from you at home for the 42nd Sunday,'" said Joop, now 82. "He didn't talk about days or weeks, he talked about Sundays—he was a man of deep belief, and in the letter he talked about his beliefs."

"It is very emotional, he thought of us, he had concerns for us, and now we have the letter that he had in his hand," Joop continued. Peter had been a meat inspector when he joined the Dutch resistance shortly after the Nazis infiltrated the Netherlands in 1940. He disseminated an underground paper and helped downed Allied pilots escape Nazi detection by hiding them in a slaughterhouse shed. After his 1943 capture, Peter was sent first to a Dutch transit camp, then to a German concentration camp; he died on a train to a second German camp in April 1945. In 1949, the Will family received what they thought were the last of Peter's effects, including a wedding ring and a Bible, AFP reports. But Peter's wallet, which contained the letter and some photos, was recovered by the British and filed under the wrong name; the items were discovered only after a Dutch woman saw them in an online archive and tracked the Will family down, per the AP. "Even after such a long time one never forgets," Joop Will says. "He's always been in my thoughts." (A letter to an elderly man revealed he had a 61-year-old son.)

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