I am a British national and a former EU official who has lived, worked and studied in the UK, Italy, France and Belgium. In 2008 I was appointed Secretary General of the European Economic and Social Committee, a European Union advisory body composed of 353 representatives of civil society organisations in the 28 member states, with a five-year mandate which ended on 30 September 2013. From the outset I decided to keep a blog which, I should stress, was completely private and in no way committed my institution, but with a three-fold aim. First, I wanted to ‘humanise’ the position of Secretary General by giving people an idea about what I did both in and out of the office. Second, I wanted to pass the message that officials should  have a life outside of work. Brussels, Belgium and the EU member states are rich in cultural and other activities. We should all be enjoying them. They are also what Europe is about. Third, I wanted to let people know that in this brave new world of the social media it is OK to be active on blogs and the social media.


  1. Gordon Eekman

    Hello Martin,

    I am Gordon Eekman, the nephew of Alexandre Joseph Eekman and Johanna Eekman.

    Your article about them and their family was insightful and revealing – well researched. I am referring to your article “The WWII sacrifices behind a grey plaque on a striking Schaerbeek building”.

    I am curious how you learned about my family members especially related to the times before, during and after WWII.

    I would like to know more about my European Eekman family and have tried to discover online references about them – but many gaps remain. For example, I have not found anything about Walter Eric Eekman, a son of Alexandre. In 1970 I visited Walter Eekman at his house in the Brussels suburbs. Also in 1970 I stayed with Annette and Adrien in their home in the suburbs of Brussels. Likewise for Johan and Roeland Eekman, sons of Alexandre – I visited them at the Eekman house on Avenue Plasky. I have lost contact with all of them, their stories and their children. If you have any information, links and references about my Eekman family, I would appreciate learning about it.


    Gordon Eekman

  2. Martin

    Dear Gordon, thank you for your message and my most humble apologies for taking quite so long to reply. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be in contact with you. To explain, I rarely visit my blog these days and have only now received your message because another contact needed to be ‘refereed’. I have the vague recollection that I already replied to you via a different medium, but perhaps that is my imagination playing tricks with me. In any case, in answer to your questions, I wrote the article purely on the basis of what I was able to find out through my research on the internet. I tried hard to find ‘live’ leads, but failed. If you still have postal addresses for any of the relatives you mention, I would be happy to try and establish contact with them. There are a number of Eekmans on the internet, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable contacting them unless I had some justification. Please let me know whatever you can about last contacts, etc. My e-mail address (a better way to contact me) is westlakemartin@gmail.com All my very best wishes and I look forward to hearing from you, Martin

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