“ When we met on the train from Antwerp, it was 6 days before a crucial moment in my life. My sister and I finally settled our parents' inheritance at the notary's office. My mother was born in Amsterdam. They lived in Vondelstraat 7, in a posh part of town and had servants. My grandfather was from Jewish descent but he wasn’t practising. He was a well-to-do businessman. He produced and sold gramophones in cabinets. In 1932 because of bankruptcy, due to the world economic crisis, they fled to Belgium with hardly anything. They settled in a house in the countryside near Brussels where I was eventually born. My grandfather started dealing in fruit and vegetables. He went to the market in Sint Katelijne Waver, close to Mechelen. My mother had to go to a French-speaking school. She couldn’t speak French but she learned quickly and she did well. She enrolled in the University of Brussels to study Germanic philology in 1939. She met my father there and they fell in love. When the Germans invaded Belgium my grandfather fled to France with his family and near Bordeaux, among all the refugees, my mother met my father again by coincidence and they promised to wait for each other. He had also fled south with his parents, planning to travel by boat from Spain or Portugal to The Congo. His father was working as a bookkeeper for Unilever and was commissioned to work in the plantations there. In The Congo my father joined the Army against the Germans.













Mark