Father’s watch returned 75 years after Nazis stole it

The package was sent containing the watch, 75 years after it was first stolen (photo for illustration only)

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.

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.

Habère-Lullin is near the border with Switzerland (Google Maps / Screenshot)

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.”

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