A Little Story by Arthur Schrynemakers, 1 March 1947, from his Belgian State Security Dossier at CEGES-SOMA
“In 1940 I managed to be useful to two English soldiers, James Clark and Joe Dixie, with whom I had been put in touch by Monsier De Backer of 23 Ambiorix Square. [De Backer had been Schrynemakers’ bookkeeper at the Grand Hotel Blankenberg, which Schrynemakers managed before WWII.]
In September 1943, M. and Mme. Olders, who at that time were living in Rue du Foyez, Schaerbeek, told me that they had some Allied airmen staying in their house; and since I had spent 21 years in England and spoke English fluently I could be useful to our allies lodging with my cousins. I too had taken in an American airman called Thomas Applewhite, without accepting payment. [Olders was Maurice Gérard Hubert Marie Olders. Schrynemakers’ mother’s maiden name was also Olders. Although the two men were not closely related, Schrynemakers mentioned to his son that Maurice Olders was his cousin. Maurice Olders was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and died in a concentration camp.]
I sent my cousin a double bed for the airmen. To Jack Justice, American, an overcoat for his departure. To A.J. Holden, English, a sweater, etc. To Thomas Applewhite, American, also an overcoat. All these as free gifts.
I went to see them several times, taking English books for them and for everybody who stayed with my cousin and their friends.
Besides this, I rented a ground-floor apartment in the building where I live to a man in Intelligence, from Liege, and his wife: he was known as Robert Prévot, but his real name was Robert Sauveur. I knew this [that he worked in Intelligence], and eventually they were both arrested at about 7:15 one morning by a troop from the G.F.P. [Geheime Feldpolizei, see below]. When they [the GFP] left, they took the key to the apartment, and warned me that if anybody asked for them [M. and Mme. Sauveur], I was to say simply that they had gone away, not that they had been arrested, threatening to come back for me if I didn’t comply.
After they [the G.F.P.] had gone, since I had a master key, after locking the door I returned to the apartment: the lady on leaving had whispered “paper” as she passed me on the way to the door. In the presence of a tenant, I managed to find the false identity card which was still hidden in the Westminster grandfather clock, even though the Boche [disparaging term for Germans] had searched it. I also found in the bottom of the left pocket of a Pickup S.B.R. radio set, in a record case, the sum of 35,000 francs, meant as payment to be made that Monday morning to Robert Prévot’s agents.
The G.F.P. came back on the Thursday when I was away, and were received by my housekeeper. They made another search, and stayed for over an hour. On Saturday, another visit from the G.F.P. I was the one to receive them. They had left the garden door open, so I pointed that out to them and offered them the key. They told me to keep it, and handed me back the key to the apartment, saying, “Here’s a letter that you should read.” The letter was from Robert Prévot. In it he asked me to send him some provisions and send some on to Madame. So they told me, “In ten days you can come with a food parcel” –to their [the G.F.P.] office at No. 6 Rue Traversière. At that point I didn’t know the whereabouts of those two people. Reading the letter, I saw that it was about somebody called “Sauveur”, and they told me then that Prévot’s real name was Sauveur. I pretended to be surprised, and said that was impossible, because he never had any visitors.
The following week, a man of about forty and a young man of fifteen or sixteen turned up at my house, and asked if I knew the man who had been arrested at my place. My answer was, “Nobody’s been arrested at my place.” I said that because I didn’t know if this was a Boche trick. When they gave me his description and told me that he was being held secretly at the St. Anne Barracks, sharing a cell with somebody called Morgat [Jean Marie Moortgat, who helped Allied, was part of Service MILLE and an official of the MNB] and was from the St. Gilles police, I said, “But who are you?” They told me they were bailiffs of the Maison Communale [communal government house] of Jette [one of the communes of Brussels, located 5 km. northwest of downtown Brussels], and that the son (they said they were father and son) had been placed by the Jette Resistance at the St. Anne Barracks with the job of emptying the trash cans for ten cells.
The father gave me a hand-written message from Robert Prévot. I still didn’t trust him, and said this to him (as an answer to Prévot): “Pit and Pet – message well-received,” because there were two dogs in the house called Ric and Rac that Robert Prévot used to play with, and since he was the only one who knew their names this would make him confident about sending the next message, which he did. Two days later the young man’s father brought me a written message. The message had been sent in the garbage can enclosed in the cut-off finger of a glove, and asked me to go to Liege and warn the people whose names were written on the paper to go underground. I told the messenger that I would be going to Liege in two days, but as a safety measure I went the following day, and saw the message safely delivered, allowing some others to escape arrest. On many other occasions, with the young man acting as go-between, I was able to convey other messages, and even food was brought into the cells by the boy’s use of the garbage can. At last, after all these happenings, Robert Sauveur and his wife, who had been among the 2000 political prisoners in the train in the Gare du Midi train station, came back to us safe and sound, on the Sunday of the Liberation. [See note below about the “Nazi Ghost Train.”]
As well as this, I had living with me from November 1942 to June 1944 two groups of three and four Jewish people with false identity cards. The group of four were arrested in July ’44 at 3:30 in the morning by a Gestapo raid. The Gestapo sealed up the doors of the apartment. After they had gone, at six in the morning, I got the seal on one side off with tweezers, went into the apartment, and filled the suitcases in the attic with all their best things: clothes, linens, shoes, overcoats, typewriters and coin purses, and had it all taken out of there, so that when the swastika boys came to collect the stuff they would find just enough to keep them from getting suspicious.
These people too came back safe and sound upon the Liberation, and happy to find their possessions again.
/s/ Arthur Schrynemakers
- Arthur Schrynemakers was a member of Line O, Service “EVA,” which specialized in processing arriving Allied airmen and passing them on to the Comet Line. After the war he received the Medal of the Resistance and the Civic Medal 2nd Class.
- Schrynemakers’ dossier is located at the CEGES-SOMA archives, Guerre et Sociétes contemporaines, Centre d’Etudes et de Documentation, Brussels.
- The Geheime Feldpolizei, the Secret Field Police, was run by the German military commander of Belgium. In the early part of the war the GFP was involved in “raids and searches in an attempt to ferret out people who had gone underground or refused to go to work in Germany…beatings and torture were well within their repertoire.” In early 1941, “the GFP was limited to military tasks such [as]… investigations of Allied espionage, sabotage against military installations, as well as the apprehension of Allied aviators, [and] the escape attempts of Belgian patriots seeking service with the Allied forces in London….” (Lang, Peter, The German Occupation of Belgium, 1940-1944, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1993, pp. 117, 119.)
- Robert Charles Sauveur, born 1912, is listed as among the members of the “Amicale des Rescapés du dernier convoi – 3 September 1944,” the “Society of Survivors of the Last Convoy – 3 September 1944,” from the files of the Belgian agency, Service for War Victims. The story of the convoy is depicted in The History Channel’s dramatization, “The Nazi Ghost Train.”
- A marginal notation on the French original of Schrynemakers’ statement reads: “R. Prevot, Service MARC.” During WWII, one of the major Belgian Intelligence organizationis was LUC-MARC. It funneled information to the Allies. Records on MARC include references to a Captain Robert Sauveur, the real name of “Robert Prévot.”
- The translation is by Derrick McClure, Aberdeen, Scotland. Notes by Bruce Bolinger, Nov. 15, 2000.