MARYSVILLE, Wash. – A scrap of cloth stolen from a Marysville home represents a piece of family history that can’t be restored.
The home of Danutsia and John Burgy was burgled March 23 during his mother’s funeral, the Daily Herald reported Saturday.
Among the items taken was a piece of the uniform her father was forced to wear as a Nazi prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp during World War II. The tan fabric included his prisoner identification number.
The Burgys lost about $400,000 in belongings in March. The cloth strip was in one of the two stolen safes. It doesn’t have the monetary value of the stolen jewelry, watches, firearms and electronic technology. But it was Danutsia Burgy’s most priceless possession.
She said she was crushed when she learned that it most likely is gone forever. She remembers the day 20 years ago when her father handed her the scrap of cloth.
“He had this huge smile on his face and said, ‘I have a real surprise for you,’ ” Burgy said Friday.
“That cloth was everything to my father,” Burgy said. “To this day, I have never seen him smile as big as he smiled that day.”
A Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office detective talked to her earlier this month after interviewing one of the people suspected of being involved in a string of similar burglaries.
The cloth, a symbol of her father’s enduring spirit, apparently met a shameful end.
“Our suspect said she flushed it down the toilet” at a Portland hotel, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said.
Burgy said she finds it hard to believe anyone could be so cold.
“I haven’t been the same since,” she said. “It has torn me to pieces. I didn’t want to believe it. It was the ultimate insult.”
Burgy is grateful that police did recover a document showing that her father was a Nazi prisoner held in Buchenwald. It was in a pile of stuff dumped behind a day care center in Vancouver, Wash., in April.
Buchenwald was the second stop for her father, who was born Jerzy Budzynski in Poland. He was part of the Polish resistance and was arrested by the Gestapo during the Warsaw uprising.
He was first sent to the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland before being moved in a cramped boxcar to Buchenwald two months later. Tens of thousands of people died or were executed at both camps.
Budzynski lived to tell his story. After the war, he volunteered with the U.S. Constabulary and helped track Nazi war criminals.
He later immigrated to America and settled in Seattle, where he changed his name to George Gordon and became a U.S. citizen.
At 86, he still lives in Seattle, where she visits him often.