Araújo, Joaquim Paulo do



Civilian living in Belgium

Birth place – St. Vicent of Cape Verde
Birth date – 1906
Death date –  
Father –
Mother –

Joaquim Paulo de Araújo left Cape Verde in 1923 to work as a seaman, but after landing in Belgium ended up staying there.

He married the Belgian Maria Van Zilante Toock, bought a truck for 45,000 francs and became involved in the cattle transport to the slaughterhouse in Charleroi, the city where he lived.

He saved enough money to set up a hotel that was managed by his wife.

When the Germans invaded Belgium, Joaquim de Araújo fled towards the French border with his wife, two 13-year-old twin daughters and his in-laws. The wife was killed during an air raid and, already in France, another bombing separated him from the other family members.

Believing both his daughters and in-laws had died, he wandered for some time trough France and Belgium, eventually returning home, where he found them safe and sound. The Germans had repatriated them.

The Germans confiscated his truck while he was arrested and interned in a concentration camp for about half a year. During this period he left several times to work in German farmers lands, an activity that occupied dozens of prisoners at the time. At one point he managed to escape only to be captured again near Paris and re-interned for almost a year, at which time the local Portuguese consul managed to repatriate him.

In 1944, aged 38, he lived in Lisbon in a boarding house on the Pedras Negras lane, without knowing the whereabouts of his daughters or in-laws. He was living from the charity of the state and friends.

His story was printed in February 1944 by several Portuguese newspapers, whose journalists had gone to the Santa Apolônia train station to talk with some Portuguese seafarers who had been imprisoned in Germany. Joaquim de Araújo knew one of them and the journalists also ended up giving some details of his story.

Carlos Guerreiro


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