Father’s watch returned 75 years after Nazis stole it

A man in  Haute-Savoie has been sent a package containing his father’s precious old watch, 75 years after it was originally stolen by the Nazis.

28 March 2018
By Connexion journalist

Jean-Michel Duret, a farmer in Habère-Lullin (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), described the move as “an extraordinary gesture”.

The little watch - which has a rounded face and silver plating - was sent by Berlin resident, Sabine Konitzer, who enclosed a letter with more details.

Ms Konitzer explained that she found the watch among her aunt’s belongings when she died, and had inherited it as part of her estate.

Expecting to sell it, Ms Konitzer began to clean the watch, and instead found a name and a place engraved on the outside: “Duret Jean; Habère-Lullin”.

After some online research, Ms Konitzer was able to trace the name and address, and sent the watch back to its original family, 75 years after it was first taken.

Mr Duret has explained how his father’s watch came to be in Germany at all. He said: “The night of December 25-26 1943, the SS [Nazi armed police] came to a ball that was taking place at the chateau in Habère-Lullin. My father, aged 18, was among the young Resistance fighters present.

"Twenty-four men were shot. My father was arrested and the Germans took his watch.”

Mr Duret’s father was to be deported to Nazi Germany as part of the forced enlistment into the Service du travail obligatoire but jumped off the Leipzig-bound train taking him there, and rejoined the underground Resistance.

He died in 2010 and his son added: “That is why this watch has such sentimental value for me.”

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Brexit and Beyond for Britons in France*
Featured Help Guide
What the Brexit deal means for UK residents of France, second homeowners and visitors in 2021 and after
Get news, views and information from France