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From Hidden Child to Baroness

By Valerie Perales ---Régine Sluszny was born in 1939 in Antwerp to a Jewish family of Polish origin.  She was the youngest of three children with two older brothers.  Her remarkable story reveals a woman with a warm heart, courage, tenacity and an entrepreneurial spirit.  


Régine and I have been friends for over 40 years ever since a chance coincidence brought us together.  All those years ago, her daughter Sabine, barely a teenager at the time, travelled to London on a school trip.  Her school was looking for Jewish families to host pupils and, by chance, my sister and brother-in-law hosted Sabine.  On her return to Belgium, she brought with her a gift from my Mum for my son Michael.  Régine and her husband Georges visited me in Mol (where I was living at the time) to deliver the present and get to know us.  Dare I say, it was love at first sight?  Suffice to say that we very soon became close friends and our friendship grew over the years.  


The historian and teacher Paul De Keulenaer wrote a book about Régine and Georges which was published in Dutch in 2019. Entitled The Forgotten Children of the War, it tells the story of Régine and Georges’s lives as hidden children during the Second World War and all that ensued after the War.  Régine’s family was one of the few Jewish families in Antwerp to have all their family members survive the War.  Alas, this was not the case for Georges who lost several close family members.  It is a very moving story of hope and loss, emphasising the importance of memory.  The author wrote their story with great empathy and highly relevant historical background.  

A French language version of the book was published soon afterwards. I was deeply moved and honoured when Régine asked me to translate the book into English. The official launch of the English translation took place in Antwerp in November 2023 (see photo), after Regine’s granddaughter, Jazi, and I raced against the clock to complete the editing to meet the publisher’s deadline.  


Régine has had an active career ranging from working in the diamond industry and starting the first kosher Chinese restaurant in Antwerp.  She has been and still is very involved in Holocaust education for many years, speaking in schools and at conferences in Belgium and abroad, and is also engaged in several charities, as well as being Co-President of the Antwerp Forum of Jewish Organisations.

These many selfless endeavours led to Régine being honoured by King Philippe in the Honours List announced for Belgium’s National Holiday on 21 July 2023.  


 Régine is a truly remarkable woman and a wonderful friend.














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