Former neighbors of Dutch holocaust survivor returns china set her family lost

POSTED: Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 5:30pm

UPDATED: Saturday, April 14, 2012 - 5:34pm

On the night of Thursday, April 12, the food, the wine, and the people were all in place as Ada van Dam prepared to share a special meal and a special story, too.

To understand it though, you have to go back.

When Ada was 15 and living in Holland, Nazis were looking for Jewish families like hers.

"For us it was horrible. I mean we were persecuted. We could die any moment," said Ada.

Her parents paid a man who promised to help them flee.

"We tried to get to Switzerland. And it was all crooked. The one who organized it was a Nazi, and he just delivered us to the prison," said Ada.

Ada and her family were sent to Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp.

"They were all killed. My parents were killed. I was the only one from my family who survived," she said. "It was just plain luck, if I had been there longer I would have been dead."

However, Thursday Ada is focused on a different story.

Late last week, some plates and soup bowls were hand delivered by Marieke Vink of France and Wim Oostveen of Holland. Oostveen, Ada's former neighbor, made the trip to Seattle

"We must try and make some amends," said Oostveen.

Seventy years ago when Ada's family had to leave they were barely able to bring belongings.

"Ada's mother gave my mother two sets of dishes, a breakfast dish and a dinner dish," said Oostveen.

Ada added, "if you had friends, you would give some items to them to keep for you in case you would come back."

When Ada did come back she asked Wim's mother about her family's china.

"You should have had them, but you didn't," said Wim. "Something happened or rather something did not happen, but should have happened at that time."

That became clear to Wim when he learned the whole story in December. His sister was moving into a retirement home and she shared what she knew about the dishes with family members.

"One plate can be really a treasure for someone, and that was something that was very clear for me," said Marieke Vink, Oostveen's niece.

Vink made it her mission to find the dishes in the cupboards of relatives all over Europe. Oostveen used Ada's maiden name and an old address to track her down. Then the two traveled to Seattle to hand deliver the dishes.

What was missing from the table is back where it belongs.

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