November 29, 1924 – June 3, 2021
Julien Van den Driessche grew up on his parents’ farm near the Flemish town of Eeklo. After training as a metalworker, he took a position as a mechanic in a factory. After the occupation of Belgium by Germany, Julien and his older brother Michel helped found a resistance group. Between December 1942 and April 1943, numerous members of their group – including Julien and Michel – were arrested and deported.
The brothers were held in Ghent until September 1943, after which they were transported to the Esterwegen labor camp in northern Germany by way of Brussels, Essen and Papenburg. They then spent one year in the Bayreuth jail, where Julien Van den Driessche worked as a shoemaker. In early March 1945, the Gestapo transferred them to the Flossenbürg concentration camp, where they were put to work in aircraft production for Messerschmitt. The brothers suffered under the overcrowding and the catastrophic hygiene conditions in the camp during the last weeks of the war. Julien was forced to look on helplessly as Michel succumbed to constant exhaustion and abuse. Michel died on April 7, only days before Julien Van den Driessche was liberated from a death march in the Bavarian Forest.
Julien Van den Driessche returned to his family in Belgium in May 1945. However, two years passed before he had regained sufficient strength to work. He took a position as a mechanic, but was forced to enter early retirement in 1975 due to poor health. After retiring, he produced a film about his experiences, which he screened in schools many times over the next 20 years. He also took part in numerous meetings of survivors at the Flossenbürg Memorial. Even though Julien Van den Driessche suffered from the effects of his internment throughout his life, he seeked out discussions with young people to recount his experiences.
We send out our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
Dr. Jörg Skriebeleit and the staff of Flossenbürg Memorial.