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The Jewish Community of Antwerp

Antwerp

Antwerpen, in Dutch; Anvers, in French 

The second largest city of Belgium and the capital of the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders and a major port and industrial center, is the home of the second largest Jewish community of Belgium and one of the most traditionalist Jewish communities in Western Europe.

Middle Ages

The first Jewish presence in Antwerp is attested by the will of Henry III, the Duke of Brabant and Margrave of Antwerp who in 1261 expressed his wish that the Jews of Brabant should be expelled and destroyed because they are all "usurers". His widow, the Duchess Adelheid, took a more practical view and asked for the advise of the greatest Catholic theologian of the time, Thomas of Aquinas that formulated his response in a tractate later known as De regimine Judaeorum ("On the status of the Jews"). According to Thomas Aquinas's reply to Adelheid, the Jews should be encouraged to make a living from other occupations than money lending. A document of 1286 mentions the name of a Jew living in Antwerp: Daniel Judeus (Daniel the Jew), a wine merchant, moneylender and magistrate at the Jewish law court who came to Antwerp from Cologne (Koeln), Germany. In 1292, the Duke of Brabant John I granted a charter to the city of Antwerp in which the Jews are listed among the inhabitants of the city.
It is possible that some of the Jews who were expelled from England in 1290 and from France in 1306 settled in Antwerp that by then was on a process of becoming an important commercial city. Apparently the small Jewish community of Antwerp continued to exist during the first half of the 14th century, but the anti-Jewish persecutions that followed the Black Death epidemic of 1348, when Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, put an end to the Jewish settlement in Antwerp. Jewish sources, especially the Memorbuch of Mainz and also that of Deutz record among the dead during the anti-Jewish riots and persecutions in Brabant also the victims of Antdorf, the German name of Antwerp. Although there is no direct evidence about the fate of the Jews in Antwerp, it is safe to assume that they could not have continued to reside in that city after John III, the Duke of Brabant, conducted a massive anti-Jewish campaign in Brussels and Louvain during the mid 14th century.

Spanish Rule (1506-1713)

A new group of Jewish immigrants started to settle in Antwerp in the early 16th century when the city became a relatively safe heaven for crypto-Jews fleeing the persecutions and the expulsions in the Iberian Peninsula. The growing commercial importance of the city, bolstered by the international maritime trade to the newly discovered American continent and the declining traditional economies of other cities in Flanders, could only attract Jewish merchants from Spain and Portugal as well as from other parts of Europe, who arrived in Antwerp later on in the 16th century. An edict of 1526 by the Emperor Charles V guaranteed a safe-conduct for the Portuguese New Christians in Antwerp. Although under Spanish rule, the Inquisition was not allowed to activate in Antwerp, a situation that facilitated the settlement of crypto-Jews from Spain and Portugal. The commercial connections that the Portuguese crypto-Jews maintained with their former country enabled them to have a share in the
lucrative Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade with India and the Far East. The general attitude of the Spanish authorities did not permit overt practice of Judaism and indeed from time to time several crypto-Jews were tried under the accusation of being pseudo- Christians and conducting illegal trade relations with the Ottoman Empire. The most famous trial (1532) was conducted against Diogo Mendes (before 1492–c.1542) followed by a posthumous process against him in which the Spanish authorities aimed to prove that he was not a sincere Catholic and consequently to confiscate his estate. Antwerp was also the home of Beatrice de Luna later known as Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi (1510-1569), a sister-in-law of Diogo Mendes and wife of Francisco Mendes (d.1536). She lived in Antwerp from 1536 until 1549 when she fled to Venice, Italy, and then to the Ottoman Empire. Her nephew, Joדo Miguez, better known as Don Joseph Nasi (1524-1579), was also a resident of Antwerp. Having been arrested in
1549, he too left for the Ottoman Empire where he eventually became Duke of Naxos. Other famous crypto-Jews who resided in Antwerp during the 16th century include the physician Amatus Lusitanus (d.1568) who lived in Antwerp from 1533 to 1540, when he was invited to the French court. The Spanish policy took a turn for the worse in 1543 and again in 1550, when probably all crypto- Jews were forced to leave Antwerp, despite strong opposition from the local municipality. It appears, however, that members of the "Portuguese nation" – a generic name that included New Christians from the Iberian Peninsula, several of them undoubtedly crypto-Jews, continued to reside in Antwerp in the second half of the 16th century. They were encouraged by the Calvinist Reform that was spreading in the Low Countries and became very popular in Antwerp too. But towards the end of the 16th century the conflict that developed between Spain and the people of the Low Countries turned into open war. Antwerp was
recaptured by the Spanish troops in 1585 who then introduced an intolerant policy favoring the Roman Catholic Church with the effect that the Protestant inhabitants of Antwerp and probably most of the crypto- Jews fled to the Northern Provinces and particularly to Amsterdam. While in 1571 there were 85 families belonging to the Portuguese nation in Antwerp, their number declined to 47 in 1591 while a list from 1619 mentions 46 names and another one from 1666 gives 65 individuals. It is possible that some clandestine synagogues functioned occasionally in Antwerp. A report of the Inquisition of Lisbon contains a list of the worshipers of the synagogue in Antwerp in 1585. In 1565 Christopher Plantin (1514-1589) fled the Catholic censure in his native France and opened a printing-press in Antwerp that during following twenty years produced a number of important Hebrew books. Even though for the most part rejected by the Jewish rabbinical authorities of the time, Plantin's Hebrew
editions of the Bible helped to geminate and encourage a new interest in the biblical and Jewish studies among the non-Jewish intellectuals of the early modern times.

The Peace of Westphalia (1648) made possible for some crypto-Jews to return to Antwerp. However, they could not enjoy freedom of religion, and continued to be targeted by the Inquisition. Protocols of trials by the Inquisition in the Canary Islands during the 1660's contain testimonies, sometimes taken under torture, according to which there were crypto-Jews in Antwerp who maintained various Jewish costumes and relationships with Jews in other countries, especially with the Jews of Amsterdam. In the early 1670's the bishop of Antwerp Ambrosio Capello complained to the Archduke of the presence in Antwerp of insincere Catholics whom he suspected of being crypto-Jews. There were rumors about Jewish prayer books having been printed in secret in Antwerp as well as the existence of clandestine synagogues. In 1682 the municipal authorities discovered a secret synagogue that was frequented by members of the Portuguese nation. When another secret synagogue was discovered in 1694, Elijah
Andrada, one of the local crypto-Jews, took the matter to the courts demanding the restitution of the property confiscated in the name of the King of Spain.

Austrian Rule (1713-1794)

The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) transferred Antwerp to the Austrians. The new authorities were more interested in collecting their taxes than in enforcing anti-Jewish policies. Although in principle there were limits on the number of Jews permitted to enter the country, after 1718 they were required to pay the Toleranzgeld, a special tax for the right to reside in Antwerp. The first Jewish inhabitant that was inscribed in the Poorterboek (the municipal register of Antwerp) was Abraham Arons, a shopkeeper, in 1715. Other Jews originally from Amsterdam or Germany are mentioned in the municipal records of the early 18th century. During the reign of Maria Theresia (1740-1780) the situation of the Jews was again unstable. Jews are mentioned in many cities in the region, including Antwerp, from 1745 to 1748, when the Low Countries were temporarily occupied by the French. The economic decline of Antwerp resulting from the closing the River Scheldt, forced the city magistrates to endorse a
consistent policy of encouragement of the commerce, including tolerating the settlement of Jews in the city. Sometimes this attitude brought them in conflict with the Austrians. During the second half of the 18th century there were a number of attempts by Jews to obtain citizenship, but they were strongly opposed by the city council. As early as 1769, Abraham Benjamin, a Jew of London who conducted an important trade with the Flanders applied for citizenship of Antwerp, having moved to the city. Fearing the concurrence, the city authorities accorded him the citizenship with the condition that this decision should not serve as a precedent for other Jews. New requests for citizenship followed from Jews who came to Antwerp from Amsterdam and from Germany, but not all were answered positively. The general situation of the Jews improved during the reign of Joseph II (1780-1790), particularly after the publication of the Toleranzpatent of 1787.

French Rule (1794-1815)

In 1794 Antwerp was captured by the French revolutionary army and remained under French administration for the subsequent twenty one years. Under the French rule, Jews could settle freely in Antwerp for the first time. Whereas the French Revolution granted full citizenship to the Jews living in French territories, the administration of Napoleon I intervened into the internal affairs of the Jewish community. Following the French model, all Jews of Belgium were organized into a Consistory. Because during the 1800's there were only about 800 Jews in Belgium, they all were annexed to the Consistoire of Krefeld, in Germany. In 1808 the Jews of Antwerp were accorded three months to adopt a family name and change their traditional Jewish given names to local names. The municipal records preserved the names of 36 Jews of Antwerp, the great majority born in Holland. With a few exceptions, they all changed their names and adopted vernacular, mostly French names.

Dutch Rule (1815-1830)

At the end of the Napoleonic wars, Antwerp was incorporated into the Netherlands. All religions, including Judaism, were granted equality. Jews from the Rhine districts as well as from Holland started to settle in Antwerp. From the administrative point of view, the Jews of Antwerp were subordinated to the Jewish community of Brussels. The Jewish community of Antwerp was officially established in 1816, when there were about one hundred Jews living in the city. This first legally recognized community was known as the Jewish Community (Communaute Israelite) also called the Dutch community. It continued to exist as a separate body until 1931, when it merged with the Jewish Community Shomre Hadas. The first Jewish public prayers were held in the private home of a certain Moise Kreyn, having received the approval of the city authorities. The Jews of Antwerp acquired possession of a cemetery in 1828. There were 151 Jews in Antwerp in 1829.

Belgian Independence

Antwerp became part of the independent Kingdom of Belgium in 1830. During the 19th century the Jewish population of Antwerp augmented considerably: from about 100 individuals in the late 1810's to around 500 in 1847, and almost 1,000 in the late 1860's. The largest growth, however, occurred after 1880, when Antwerp became home to many Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms in Russia and the anti- Jewish discriminations in other countries in Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands of Jewish emigrants passed through Antwerp on their way to the Americas (USA, Canada, and Argentina), of them many thousands choose to stay in Antwerp. There were about 8,000 Jews in Antwerp in 1880 and that number doubled itself before 1920. This immigration brought about a significant change in the structure of the Jewish community. From a small community dominated by Dutch Jews, many of them Sephardi, and German Jews, in the early 20th century Antwerp had a large Yiddish speaking Jewish population from Poland,
Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Another group of Jewish immigrants arrived to Antwerp from various parts of the Ottoman Empire (Salonica, Turkey) and joined the local Portuguese Jews.

As a result of the heterogeneous composition of the Jewish population, Antwerp has had since the early 20th century three separate Jewish communities. The oldest Jewish community started to organize itself in the early 19th century. Following the establishment of the independent Belgian State, the Jewish community of Antwerp has since 1832 belonged to the Consistoire Central des Israelites en Belgique. The first public synagogue in Antwerp opened on Paardenmarkt 83 on September 21, 1832. In 1846 this synagogue was closed and the community opened a new one on the Grote Pieter Potstraat in the building of an ancient church (built in 1433 and turned into a warehouse from 1802 to 1846). At the same time the first mikve (ritual bath) opened in Antwerp. The first large synagogue in Antwerp, built in an "oriental" style to the plans of the Jewish architect Joseph Hertogs (1861-1930), was inaugurated on Bouwmeestersstraat in 1893. This synagogue is still known as the "Dutch synagogue"
because it was built by descendants of Jews who came to Antwerp from Holland in the early 19th century.

A second Jewish community was organized in 1898 by the Portuguese Jews of Antwerp and it is has since been known as the Jewish Community of Portuguese Rite. Despite the fact that there was a strong presence of Sephardi Jews in Antwerp since the beginnings of the Jewish settlement in the city, this separate Sephardi Jewish community was recognized officially by the city authorities only in 1910. By then, in addition to descendants of the "Portuguese nation", the community included many Sephardi Jews who came to Antwerp from the Ottoman Empire. Their synagogue was built on Hoveniersatraat according to the plans of the architect J. De Lange and was opened in 1913.

The third Jewish community known as Machsike Hadas was organized in 1892 century by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Their synagogue was opened in 1918 on Oostenstraat and was built to the plans of the architect Jules Hofman in the style of Art Nouveau. The Machsike Hadas community opened a religious school for boys - Jesode-Hatora – in 1895, and acquired a cemetery in the border Dutch village of Putte in 1908. Machsike Hadas Jewish orthodox community was recognized officially by the city authorities in 1910.

During the early 20th century another two synagogues were opened in Antwerp: the Eisenmann synagogue on Oostenstraat and the Dutch minyan on Fabriekstaatje, in 1907 and 1919, respectively.

Jewish charity organizations started to activate in Antwerp from late 19th century, especially after the arrival of many immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Oesterreich-Ungarischer Hilfsverein ("The Austro- Hungarian Help Union") was founded in 1887 and it was followed in 1888 by Hulp in Nood ("Help in Emergency") founded by Jewish women of the Dutch community.

First Half of the 20th Century

The Jewish population of Antwerp continued to grow in the first half of the 20th century and the city became the main Jewish center of Belgium. It is estimated that there were about 50,000 Jews in Antwerp on the eve of WW2, of them probably only around 10 percent were Belgian nationals.

During the late 1930's there were in Antwerp three separate communities that together operated five synagogues and twenty-eight Batey-Midrash, of them the oldest were Feiner (established in 1884) on Leeuwerikstraat and Ahavas Choulom (established in 1888) on Van Diepenbeeckstraat. The majority of batey-midrash, however, were established in the 1920's and 1930's and included many that belonged to the various groups of Hasidim that settled in the city: Haside Belz (est. 1929), Haside Gur (est. 1929), Haside Wisjnits (est. 1928), Haside Siged (est. 1928), Haside Kadichah (est. 1919), Haside Czortkow (est. 1928) and others. The Jewish education was supported by a developed network of institutions: several schools were dedicated to Jewish studies only while others included in their curriculum the study of non-Jewish disciplines as well. Yesode Hatorah was established in 1903 as a school for boys continuing an earlier Talmud Torah (opened in 1892). It offered courses in Yiddish and also
included a kindergarten. Beth Yaakov religious school for girls was opened in 1937 replacing an earlier school for girls that was established in 1923. Yesode Hatora was associated to Beth Yaakov and together became a prestigious Jewish educational institution whose reputation spread beyond the borders of Belgium. The Tachkemoni school for boys was opened in 1920 and included the study of Hebrew. In addition there functioned in Antwerp another six religious schools, among them a school that was affiliated to the Zionist party Poale- Zion Tseirey-Zion (est. in 1926), and two yeshivas: Etz Haim (est. in 1929) and Yeshivat Shaare Torah (est. in 1930).

Although Antwerp had an old tradition of diamond industry and commerce, it was only towards the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century that the diamond industry turned into a major occupation for the Jews of Antwerp. In the early 1900's there were already about 700 Jewish diamond-cutters in Antwerp. This development coincided with the arrival to Antwerp of Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The influx of row diamonds from the Belgian colonies in Africa, the trade connections of the Jews and the willingness of the new immigrants to work for lower salaries helped to turn Antwerp into the main world center for the diamond industry. Much of this industry has since been owned by Jews to such an extent that this occupation more than anywhere else in the Diaspora has become a veritable trademark of the Jewish community of Antwerp. However, many other Jews in Antwerp were active as small artisans and merchants, especially in the textile industry.
Other Jews were employed within the various Jewish organizations as teachers, rabbis, kashrut supervisors, clerks and an additional ten percent of the work force of the Antwerp Jews were engaged in various liberal professions outside the community.

In the late 1930's there were in Antwerp twenty-two Jewish organizations and associations. They included many Zionist associations, among them the Federation Sioniste de Belgique (est. in 1905), Keren Kayemet LeIsrael, Keren Hayesod, WIZO (est. in 1920), Nachim Misrahi (est. 1922), and Zionist parties – Poale Sion-Tseire Sion (a union of two separate parties founded in 1908 and 1904, respectively), the Revisionist Zionists (est. 1926), Poale Sion-Gauche (est. in 1927). The Yiddish culture and politics were well represented by Der Bund – the Jewish Socialist non-Zionist party, whose local branch was established in 1924 and had many adherents, and the Friends of YIWO (est. in 1928). Agudath Israel started its activities in 1912. Fondation-Frechie, the hevra kadisha (burial society) in charge of the Jewish cemetery in Putte (Holland) was founded in 1884. Additional associations included V.E.V.A. (Verbond voor Economisch Verweer Antwerpen = The Union for the Economic Defense) that was
supported by most Jewish organizations; The Association of Jewish Polish Combatants 1914-1918 (est. in 1936); The Union of Polish Jews (1931) and others.

There were six professional Jewish organizations in Antwerp during the interwar period: among them Yiddisher Handverkerfarain was founded in 1919 and in 1938 merged with the Yiddisher Handerverkering (est. 1935); a painter's association; and a shopkeepers' association.

The Zionist activities and associations started in the early 1900's with the first Belgian Zionist Congress organized in Antwerp in 1906. The Jewish Territorial Organization founded by Israel Zangwill (1864- 1926) had an active branch in Antwerp.

There were nineteen Jewish Youth movements active in Antwerp during the late 1930's affiliated to all political factions in the community. The Zionist movements included Bnei Akiba (est. 1932), Beitar (est. 1926), Bar Kochbah (est. 1920) that turned into Hashomer Hatsair in 1924, Hanoar Hatsioni (est. 1930), Brith Hakanaim (1936), Hehalutz (1929), Benoth Misrahi (1926), Maccabi Hatsair (1931) and others. Tseire Agoudah, established in 1912, was the first youth movement active in Antwerp and along with Pirhe Agoudat Israel, established in 1923, and Benos Agoudah, established in 1926 for girls, grouped the supporters of Agudat Israel.

The sportive activity was encouraged by three different clubs: Maccabi, the oldest of them was opened in 1920 and had sections for basket-ball, bridge, football, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, chess, and bridge. Hapoel belonged to Poale Sion-Tseire Sion party and was opened in 1927 with sections for football, table tennis, and chess. The third club, Yask (Yiddisher Arbetersportklub – the Sport Club of the Jewish Workers) was opened in 1935 and was affiliated to the Bund party. It included sections for football, tennis, chess, swimming and in addition it had a cultural section as well.

The first amateur theater circle started its activities in as early as 1878 and it was followed shortly by another group called De Vriedenkring. In 1912 the Yiddisher Progresiver Dramatisher Klub was founded. Antwerp was frequently toured by renowned Jewish musicians and performers as well as distinguished Jewish theater companies from other countries, like Habimah of Moscow, Die Wilner Truppe of Vilna, and Jiddisches Kunstthater of New York.

Hatikwah was the first Jewish weekly in Belgium published in Antwerp by the Agudath Zion association in 1905 and until 1914 it appeared in German. During the first half of the 20th century more than fifty various Jewish periodicals, the majority in Yiddish and a few in Dutch, French, and Hebrew were published in Antwerp.

The Holocaust

On May 10, 1940, Germany attacked neutral Belgium. On May 28, Belgium surrounded and was occupied by the Nazi Germany. Fearing the Germans, the majority of the Jewish population of Antwerp fled to other regions in Belgium or to France. As many of the Jews living in Antwerp and indeed in Belgium were not Belgian nationals, they were initially refused entry into France. Nonetheless, many did manage to enter France taking advantage of the huge waves of refugees and the general chaos that prevailed in northern regions of France before its defeat in June 1940. Contrary to what happened in Eastern Europe, the German occupation forces did not start their anti-Jewish persecutions immediately. The inability to find shelter elsewhere, especially not being able to cross the sea to England, as a handful of Jews from Antwerp did before the German invasion, combined with the apparent correct attitude of the Germans, convinced about 25,000 Jews to return to Antwerp. But on October 1940, the
Germans changed their policy and gradually introduced a long series of anti-Jewish measures. Some 13,000 Jews were registered in a special Judenregister; they were forbidden to leave their homes from evening till morning, enter public parks, and Jewish owned business were marked with signs in Flemish, French and German. Between December 1940 and February 1941 more than 3,000 Jewish immigrants that entered Belgium after 1938, were deported at the order of the German army from Antwerp to a rural area in the Belgian province of Limbourg. More than in other cities of Belgium, in Antwerp the Germans received the support and collaboration of local pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic parties and groups. On April 14, 1941, a pogrom was organized against the Jews of Antwerp by local pro-Nazi groups, especially the VNV (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond), De Vlag, and De Algemeene SS-Vlaanderen, with the assistance of the German forces. The Van den Nestlei and the Oostenstraat synagogues were looted; many
Jewish-owned shops were burnt. The municipal council of Antwerp assumed responsibility for the attacks and decided to refund the Jews for the damage, but the Germans blocked the implementation of the decision. On May 1942 all Jews were compelled to bear the yellow-star badge. During the summer of 1942 mass arrests of Jews were initiated all over Belgium. A transit camp was opened at Mechelen (Malines) from where the arrested Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps in Central and Eastern Europe. On Friday night, August 28, 1942, most Jews in Antwerp were arrested and deported. The remaining ones who held Belgian citizenship or belonged to the Judenrat (established in November 1941 and called Association des Juifs en Belgique - AJB) were arrested at their turn one year later on September 4, 1943.

By the time Antwerp was liberated by the Allied troops on September 4, 1944, only about 800 Jews managed to survive in the city thanks to the help of members of the local population, for the most part devout Catholic individuals and activists of the Communist-dominated Resistance. Members of the pre-war Zionist Youth Movements continued their activity in the underground and helped smuggle Jews into Switzerland and Spain during 1942-1943. The annihilation of the Jewish community of Antwerp was almost total. There were a series of factors that facilitated the destruction, among them the fact that the majority of the Antwerp Jews were not Belgian nationals, most of the Jews in Antwerp were concentrated in distinct neighborhoods, and especially because the support received by the Germans from local anti- Semites was stronger than in many other places in western Europe. Moreover, the local Belgian authorities apparently showed almost no resistance to the Germans and thus enabled them to
carry the mass deportations, while the effective assistance to Jews from the local population was weaker than in other cities in Belgium. Jews from Antwerp who fled to France or other regions in the German occupied Europe suffered the same fate and the majority perished in the Holocaust.

Second Half of the 20th Century

HISO (Hulp aan Joodse Slachtoffers – Help for Jewish War Victims) was the first Jewish organization that started to activate in Antwerp immediately after the liberation with the aim of aiding the survivors and the few Jews who returned to the city from the deportation. The rebuilding of the Jewish community began already in 1946. The Synagogue of Van den Nestlei, built in 1928, was renovated in 1954 and has since been known as the Romi Goldmuntz Synagogue. It belongs to the modern Orthodox Judaism and serves as the main synagogue in Antwerp.

The Jewish community grew again quite rapidly during the 1950's and reached about 10,000 members in the early 1960's. Many of them were Holocaust survivors and their descendants who were joined by immigrants from Eastern Europe, mainly from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland. For the most part these new immigrants belonged to various Hasidic groups; their impact to the Jewish life of Antwerp has been felt considerably and as they have continued to conduct a traditional Jewish way of life typical of the small towns in pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. Unlike the situation before WW 2, they all received Belgian citizenship, apart for a few who preferred to maintain their status of refugees. Since the early 1960's Jews from other countries as well, including Israel, settled in Antwerp.

In the second half of the 20th century the diamond industry became the main occupation for the Jews of Antwerp. Most of them are either high skilled artisans who specialize in executing the most professional stages in the process of turning row diamonds into high quality precious stones or merchants who are connected to the global network of diamond trade. The diamond bourses of Antwerp are located inside the Jewish districts of the city; they close Friday afternoon before the unset of the Shabbat and are deserted during Jewish holidays. After the 1980's, though, changes in the world diamond industry brought about a decline in the importance of Antwerp with the result that the influence of Jewish-owned companies on the market has diminished.

Due to its large concentration of orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews who maintain a largely traditional Jewish way of life, Antwerp has many times been nicknamed the last "shtetl" in Western Europe. Yiddish is widely spoken even outside the homes and also by Jews who were born in Belgium. In the second half of the 20th century Flemish has been increasingly adopted by the Jews of Antwerp, many of which also speak French and Hebrew. Many Jews in Antwerp live in Jootsewijk, a district around the Pelikanstraat, not far from the Central railway station.

During the early 2000's the Jewish population of Antwerp was estimated at about 18,000, the great majority of them belonging to the there separate Jewish communities in Antwerp. The ultra-orthodox Machsike Hadas (Israelitische Gemeente Van Antwerpen – Machsike Hadas) is home to most Hasidic groups in the city including the Belz, Gur, Satmar, Czortkow, Lubavitch, and Vizhnitz Hasidim. Antwerp is also the home of a new Hasidic group that was formed after WW2 by the followers of Rabbi Yitzhok Gvirzman (1881-1976), also known as Reb Itzikel (or Yitzkel), a Galician-born descendant of the Pshevorsker dynasty of rabbis, who immigrated to Antwerp in the 1950's. The Hasidic groups comprise about forty percent of the Antwerp Jews, but their presence is felt strongly. The members of the Shomre Hadas community (Israelitische Gemeente Van Antwerpen - Shomre Hadas) conduct a modern orthodox Jewish way of life. The Sephardi community of Antwerp is known as the Jewish Community of Portuguese Rite
(Israelitische Gemeente van de Portugese Ritus). The three communities are members of the Central Jewish Consistory of Belgium, the main Jewish umbrella organization in Belgium. It is estimated that about twenty percent of the Jews in Antwerp are not affiliated to any of the religious communities in the city preferring to conduct a secular way of life.

Each community has its own synagogues, batey-midrash, and ritual slaughterhouses. There are two ritual baths, one for men and a separate one for women. There are about thirty synagogues and prayer houses in Antwerp, most of them located within the neighborhood of Jootsewijk. The Jewish education is advanced by four main Jewish schools in Antwerp: Jesode Hatorah (for boys), Beth Yaakov (for girls) – both belonging to the Machsike Hadas community, Yavne, and Tachkemoni of the Shore Hadas community, in addition to other smaller private religious educational institutions that include Yeshiva Etz Haim and Yeshiva Tichonit. More than eighty-five percent of the Jewish children in Antwerp attend Jewish schools, one of the highest rates anywhere in the Diaspora. Student and youth organizations include Agudath Israel, Bnai Akiva, Hashomer Hatzair, and Hanoar Hazioni.

A number of welfare Jewish organizations are active in Antwerp, among them the Federation of Jewish Women's Associations and the Jewish Welfare Organization. The community maintains two senior citizen homes and a hospital. Keren Hayesod, WIZO, Keren Kayemet, and the Zionist Federation are the main Zionist organizations in Antwerp.

Belgisch Israelitisch Weekblad ("Belgian Jewish Weekly"), the largest Jewish newspaper in Belgium is published in Antwerp. The Romi Goldmuntz Center serves as the stage for many cultural events of the community, including lectures, music and dance performances and it also shelters a Jewish library. The Royal Maccabi Sports Club is the main Jewish sport center in Antwerp.

There were a number of anti-Jewish assaults in Antwerp during recent years. The Hoveniersatraat Synagogue was the target of a terrorist attack in 1981. The rise of the right-wing Vlaams Belang (formerly called Vlaams Blok) party encouraged an increase in the intolerant atmosphere towards non-European immigrants in Belgium; occasionally members of this nationalistic party expressed anti-Jewish opinions as well. The Forum of the Jewish Organizations in Flanders, established in the 1990's, undertook the task of informing the public opinion about the dangers of the newly emerging anti democratic and anti-Semitic currents in the Belgian society. In the early 2000's there was an increase in physical attacks on Jews and Jewish property especially by members of the Arab immigrant community of Antwerp.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
174834
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Nearby places:

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Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Rosa Wolf, formerly of Antwerp, Belgium - Interview from the Seeing the Voices project, recorded by Tal Wolf on January 1st., 2019

'Flower Day' of the Jewish National Fund,
Antwerp, Belgium, 1914.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Jacob Israeli, Nahariya)
Rabbi Klingberg talking to people of his congregation
in front of his house in Brialmonte, Antwerp,
Belgium, 1981
Photo: Helen Kuropatwa, Belgium
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy Helen Kuropatwa, Belgium)
Public park on Sabbath day,
Antwerp, Belgium, 1984
Photo: Ruth Maoz, Israel
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ruth Maoz, Israel)
1 \ 3

Jacques Presser (1899-1970), professor of history at University of Amsterdam, Holland, writer and poet best known for his book on the history of the persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands during World War II, born in Amsterdam to a secular Jewish family. When he was young, his family lived for some time in Antwerp, Belgium, where his father found work as a diamond cutter.

After finishing a vocational college and working for a few years he attended the University of Amsterdam where he studied history and art history. He graduated in 1926 and then taught history at the newly founded Vossius Gymnasium in Amsterdam. In 1930 he became a lecturer at the Instituut voor Historische Leergangen. In 1939 he published an article “Anti-Semitism as a historical Phenomenon”. When Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, he tried to flee to England. When this attempt did not succeed he tried to commit suicide. As a Jew he was dismissed from the Vossius Gymnasium, but was permitted to teach at a Jewish school. In early 1943, his wife Deborah Apple was arrested and deported to the Sobibor death camp, where she was murdered. He managed to escape a similar fate by hiding out in four different addresses in a small town in the countryside. During this time he wrote a history of America which was published in 1949.

After the end of World War II, Presser was reinstated at the Vossius Gymnasium, and became also a lecturer in political history, didactics, and the methodology of history at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Amsterdam. In 1947 he also began to teach at the University's politico-social faculty of law and the following year he was appointed professor at the Faculty of Arts. Holding left-wing views, he spoke out on several sensitive political issues such as the Dutch police actions in Indonesia, and the activities of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy against suspected Communists. He also contributed to the leftist magazines like "Vrij Nederland", and "De Waarheid". In 1952 he was appointed full professor. In 1950 Presser was requested by the Dutch government to produce a study about the fate of Dutch Jews during the war. "Ondergang", published in English as “Ashes in the Wind: The destruction of the Dutch Jews”, appeared in 1965, became his most important and best known work. Besides history books, Presser also wrote novels. His book "The Night of the Girondists", which was based on his war time experiences, received literary prizes, and became an international best-seller. Set in the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork, the leading character of this book is an assimilated Jewish teacher who collaborated with the Nazis. His job was to select Jews for transportation to Auschwitz; later he realised that, as a Jew, he was also bound to share the fate of those whom he had selected for deportation.

Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Adler, Hugo Chaim (1894-1955) , cantor and composer. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Adler worked with Yossele Rosenblatt in Hamburg and served as cantor in Mannheim, Germany, between 1921-1939. Adler studied composition with Ernst Toch. In 1939 he escaped to the United States and was appointed cantor at the synagogue of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Adler set Franz Rosenzweig’s hymns to music, and was deeply influenced by Rosenzweig’s Juedisches Lehrhaus. He also composed the cantatas LICHT UND VOLK (1931), BALAK UND BILEAM (1934), AKEDAH (1938), BEHOLD THE JEW (1943), JONAH (1943) and PARABLE OF PERSECUTION (1946). In addition, he composed music for complete liturgies. He died in the United States.
Marrano banker

Born in Spain, he established - with his brother - a business in spices and precious stones. He settled in Antwerp, Low Countries, and on his brother's death in 1536 was joined in the business by his sister-in-law, Beatrice da Luna (Gracia Mendes). Their great bank enjoyed a monopoly in pepper. Their vast wealth and culture obtained them admittance to the highest circles. Mendes was a magnate in the spice trade and made large loans to the governments of the Low Countries, Portugal, and England. He organized an escape route for Marranos from the Iberian peninsula to Italy and Turkey. He was arrested in 1532 on charges of Judaizing but the case was allowed to lapse on payment of a heavy fine (partly due to the intervention of England's Henry VIII who used the Mendes bank). After his death in Antwerp a similar charge was the pretext for the confiscation of his property.
Scholar

He received a rabbinic education in his native Krakow and his secular education at the universities of Berlin and Berne. He then served as rabbi in Dresnitz and Lostice. After World War I he settled in Antwerp where he headed the Tahkemoni school and later became a bookseller. Guenzig's scholarly work dealt largely with the history of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) in Galicia but he wrote on many other topics and edited scholarly journals.

Mojsze Erlich (1921-1942), member of of the group Hatikva of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on 15 October 1921 in Warsaw, Poland. The family immigrated to Belgium in 1924 and settled in Antwerp. Along with his father, Yeruham, and his mother, Sara nee Scheinberg, he lived at 247, Provinciestraat, Antwerp. The parents owned a dairy shop. He studied at the Yeshiva Sha’arei Torah, that belonged to the Shomrei Hadas community in Antwerp, and also was a student at the local university.


The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.


Erlich was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 1, 1942, with Transport VII. His name appears under number 267 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mali Offen (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on December 10, 1924 in Berlin, Germany. Her father, Mojsze and her mother Mina nee Dorf, arrived in Belgium in 1933.  She had 5 siblings: Paula, Isi, Heini (passed away at the age of 1.5 year), Esther and Jacky. Until the Nazis came to power in 1933, she grew up and studied in schools in Berlin, Germany. That same year her family left Germany and immigrated to Antwerp, Belgium in order to receive an immigration certificate to the Land of Israel. The family was actually granted the certificate, but because of various reasons stayed behind in Antwerp. Mali studied in a Flemish public school for girls. Though she did not know the Flemish language when she was accepted to the school, after a few months she was awarded the first prize in Flemish composition. On January 1941, the whole family was forced to leave Antwerp, Belgium, and was relocated to Asch in the province of Limburg, Belgium, in what was called résidence forcée et surveillée . Only three months later, on March 25, were they allowed to return to Antwerp.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Mali was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 11, 1942 with Transport II. Her name appears under number 793 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

 Charlotte Eisenbruch (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on May 21, 1921. Her father David and her mother Rosa (maiden name Strizova) arrived in Belgium in 1920 and lived at 53, Consciencestraat, Antwerp, Belgium, then later at 19, General Capiaumonstraat in Berchem-Antwerp, Belgium. Charlotte had a brother named Adolph and a sister named Régine. 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Charlotte Eisenbruch was arrested by the Nazis and detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943 with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 541 on the list of the deported. She did not return.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

 

Erna Intrator (b. 1925), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad), Born on June 1, 1925 in Rzeszow, Poland. The family lived at132, Lange Kievitstraat in Antwerp.Together with her father Osias and her mother Bertha née Kalb, she was forced to leave Antwerp, Belgium, from February 1, 1941, and was relocated in Beverloo, Limburg, Belgium, in what was called résidence forcée et surveillée until July 21, 1941. She was a pediatric nurse.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Erna Intrator was deported to Auschwitz via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, on August 25, 1942 with Transport V. Her name appears under number 293 on the list of deported. She did not return.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

Oscar Appel (1921-1942), member of the group Hatikva of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on April 18, 1921 in Bremen, Germany. His father, Isaac, and his mother Mindel nee Sina, came to Belgium with their children Oscar (Osias), Pepi and Henri and lived in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Appel was one of the signers of the bylaws of Bnei Akiva organization in Antwerp, published in 1935.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Avraham Chaim Eksztejn (1925-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 19, 1925 in Lodz, Poland. His father, Israel and his mother, Sara nee Mastbaum, arrived in Belgium with their children in 1930 and lived on 29, Lentestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They moved a couple of times during the war including to 7, Enghienstraat in Gravenbrakel, Belgium, and from there to Linnéstr 58, St Josse ten Noode, Belgium. The last know address was: Avenue de la Reine, 323  Bruxelles. He had a brother Yeshayahu who also perished in Auschwitz. (see separate entry)

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Eksztejn was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 18,1942 with Transport IV. His name appears under number 181 on the list of deported. He did not return.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Yeshayahu Eksztejn (1927-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on May 6, 1927 in Lodz, Poland. His father, Israel and his mother, Sara nee Mastbaum, arrived in Belgium with their children in 1930 and lived on 29, Lentestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They moved a couple of times during the war including to 7, Enghienstraat in Gravenbrakel, Belguim, and from there to Linnéstr 58, St Josse ten Noode, Belgium. The last know address was: Avenue de la Reine, 323  Bruxelles. He had a brother Avraham who also perished in Auschwitz. (see separate entry)

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Eksztejn was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 18,1942 with Transport IV. His name appears under number 182 on the list of deported. He did not return.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mordechai George Bonat (1921-1942), member of the group Hatikva  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on March 7, 1921 in Vienna, Austria. His father, Moshe, and his mother, Perla nee Haussman, arrived in Belgium in March 1929 and lived at  Plantijn Moretuslei 11, Antwerp, Belgium. He had a sister named Ruth. He studied at the yeshiva Sha’are Torah that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass community, Antwerp. He was a furrier. During the war Bonat founded Lapidei Zion ("Torches of Zion") that became Tikvatenu ("Our Hope") and merged later with the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad). On one wall of the building of Bnei Akiva located on Van der Meydenstraat hung a newspaper named “Be-Bu-Bo”, called after the names of the three members who edited it: Ben-Zion Brot, Butek (David Izbutski) and Bogo (George Bonat). Bonat George replaced Max Berenblut (known in Israel as Professor Menachem Banit, a laureate of the Price of Israel) as the head of the youth group in 1939. He was a graduate form the Tachkemoni School and knew Hebrew fluently. As part of Operation Todt he was sent to forced labor at the Max Fruh factory, where he worked from July 12, 1942 until October 17, 1942.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Along with all other Jewish forced labor workers, Bonat was  arrested by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, on October 31, 1942 with Transport XVII. His name appears under number 179 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

..............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Anna Bienstock (? - ) resided in Deurne, Antwerp, Belgium, during WW2.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Lina Blitz (1923-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born in Nowy Sacz, Poland, on October 25, 1923. Her father, Haskel Feivel, and her mother Frimet nee Hollander, arrived in Belgium in 1929 and lived at Rolwagenstraat 21, Antwerp, Belgium. The family had a yarn shop. Lina had a brother, Joseph, who survived the Shoah and lived in Antwerp after the WW2. Lieba studied at the girl's high school in Berchem, Antwerp (Athenaeum voor meisjes). Her friends said that she was a bookworm. She read a lot and loved to tell about the books she read. Lina started by being a member of the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair and joined later Bne Akiva (Bachad).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Lina was arrested by the Nazis and was deported to Auschwitz, via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen on September 26, 1942 with Transport XI. Her name appears as number 1822 on the list of the deported. Lina did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Blasberg, (given name unknown), member of the group Shahal of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium. Disappeared during WW2 in Talyers, France.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Isaac Baumgarten (1925-1944), member of the Shahal group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on June 1925 in Jaslo, Poland. His father, Joel,and his mother, Sara nee Schwarz, emigrated from Uruguay and arrived in Belgium in 1932. They lived at Lange Kievitstraat 24, Antwerp, Belgium. The father, Joel, dealt in furs and diamonds, while Isaac was a student at the Tachkemoni School in Antwerp. At the beginning of WW2 Isaac fled to France and lived in Eybens-les-Grenoble. He was a member of the French Resistance under the command of Shneck, and his nom de guerre was Pedro.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

He was arrested by the Nazis and sent to  the Drancy transit camp and consequently deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on April 13, 1944 with transport LXXI. In Auschwitz he contracted typhus, was beaten to death and died in the arms of his brother Marc, who survived the war.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Bernard (Dov Berek) Gitler (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on Nov. 6, 1921 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Wolf Wilhelm Gitler) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer. Bernard studied goldsmith's work as an apprentice.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in France and consequently detained in the transit camp of Drancy, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with the 27th transport September 2, 1942. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Wilhelm (Bobek) Gitler (1925-1942), member  of the Shahal group  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on July. 10, 1925 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Gitler Bernard Dov) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in Belguim and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport VIII  on September 8, 1942. His name appears under number 470 on the list of deported. Wolf Wilhelm Gitler was murdered in Auschwitz on September 11, 1942.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Grosberg (1917-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 17, 1917 in Moscow, Russia. His father Joseph and his mother Chaya née Kahan arrived in Belgium in June 1930 and lived on 61, Charlottalei in Antwerp. He was a student at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and worked in the diamond business.

Grosberg was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on October 24, 1942 with Transport XIV. His name appears under number 144 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Israel Grunes (1925-1942), was a member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium. He was born on December 1925 in Rymanow, Poland. His father, Izak, who owned a bakery, and his mother, Henna née Kohn, arrived in Belgium in 1927 and lived first at 10, Kroonstraat, and afterwards at 262, Provinciestraat, both in Antwerp, Belgium. Israel Grunes had a sister, Ryfka Regine Grunes (see under Grunes, Ryfka Regine).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Grunes was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport XV on October 24, 1942. His name appears under number 276 on the list of deported. Grunes perished in Auschwitz on  October 27, 1942.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Ryfka Regine Grunes (1924-1942), was a member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium. She was born on December 3, 1925 in Rymanow, Poland. Her father, Izak, who owned a bakery, and her mother, Henna née Kohn, arrived in Belgium in 1927 and lived first at 10, Kroonstraat, and afterwards at 262, Provinciestraat, both in Antwerp, Belgium. Ryfka Grunes had a brother, Israel Grunes (see under Grunes, Israel).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Grunes was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport XVIII on January 15, 1943. Her name appears under number 742 on the list of deported, she never returned. 

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Icchok Dab (1926-1942) member of the group Shahal of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 7, 1926. The family lived on the Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. Icchok studied in the "Jesode Hatorah" school.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Dab Icchok was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, Belgium and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi deaath camp on August 18, 1942, with Transport IV. His name appears under number 196 on the list of the deported. He did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Domb, member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad). His parent had a grocery shop on the Rolwagenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Lucien Hauser (1923-1942), member of of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 6, 1923 in Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Shimon and his mother, Chaya nee Anisfeld, lived at Mercatorstraat 132, Antwerp and later moved to Bindstraat 32, Berchem, Belgium.

He had a sister named Sylvie (see Hauser Sylvie).

He studied at the public high school (Athenee Royal) in Antwerp and graduated summa cum laude for which he received a prize (medal) from the Belgian Government.  He was one of the founders of Tikvatenu and was very active in the movement which merged later on with Bne Akiva-Bachad. In preparation for his aliyah to Israel, he sent letters to Ben-Zion Brot, who was already there, for advice about what to study. Ben-Zion advised him to study textiles, but Lucien (also known as “”Sheel” and “Loosh”) registered to the technical school of Gembloux to study agronomy.

In 1942 he spent a couple of months in the youth movement’s training farm in Bomal till its closing. From there he moved to Brussels.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser was arrested by the Nazis in Brussels together with other Belgians and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, where he encountered his sister Sylvie (see Hauser Sylvie). From there he was deported to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1942, with Transport XXIIB. His name appears under number 58 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

Sylvie Hauser (1924-1942), member of of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 11, 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Shimon and her mother, Chaya nee Anisfeld, lived at Mercatorstraat 132, Antwerp and later moved to Bindstraat 32, Berchem, Belgium.

She had a brother named Lucien (see Hauser Lucien).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser, Sylvie was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp, Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. From there she was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1942, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 103 on the list of the deported. She died in Auschwitz from typhus in the hands of Mrs. Dym from Antwerp.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Cily-Sara Hauser (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Tikvatenu which merged with Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on July 29, 1924 in Vienna, Austria. Her father, Osias Herzel came to Belgium in the twenties while her mother Clara-Chaya nee Honig, arrived with her daughter in Belgium in 1933. They lived at 144, Lange Leemstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

She studied in a girls school on the Lamorinierestraat and later at the public high school (Athenee Royale). She was an outstanding student.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser Cyli-Sara was arrested with her parents by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 26, 1942 with Transport XI. Her name appears under number 1830 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Dora Hackena (1922-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 12, 1922 in Ostende, Belgium. Her father, Moshe, and her mother, Sara nee Einhorn, he lived at 142, Isabellalei, Antwerp, Belgium. She was the sister of Isabella Ehrenfeld, who survived the war and lived in Antwerp, Belgium. Her other sisters lived in USA.

A letter from the Siamese (Thailand) Consulate in Belgium date January 31, 1941, confirms that she had been granted an entry permit into Siam (Thailand). Dora got married in Antwerp, Belgium in a religious ceremony only and on June 6, 1941 gave birth to a daughter, Clarisse. According to some testimonies it is possible that she gave birth to another child.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hackena, Dora was arrested together with her children by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 561 and the name of her daughter Clarisse under the number 562 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.,

Myriam Feige Hamelsdorf (1920-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on September 18, 1920 in Den Haag, Holland. Her father, Baruch, and her mother, Zluwe nee Zollman, arrived in Belgium in July 1924 and lived first  at 212, Confortlei, Deurne Zuid, then in 23, Van der Meydenstraat, and afterwards at 25, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, then moved to 5, Borgerhoutsestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. She was a jeweler. There is some evidence that she was engaged to a young mand named Avraham Lipshitz.

She had a sister, Becky (see Hamelsdorf Rebecca) and a brother Avraham, who survived the Shoah.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hamelsdorf, Myriam Feige was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport IV. Her name appears under number 840 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Rebecca Hamelsdorf (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 29, 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Baruch, and her mother, Zluwe nee Zollman, arrived in Belgium in July 1924 and lived first  at 212, Confortlei, Deurne Zuid, then in 23, Van der Meydenstraat, and afterwards at 25, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, then moved to 5, Borgerhoutsestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. She was a jeweler. 

She had a sister, Mania (see Hamelsdorf Myriam Feige) and a brother Avraham, who survived the Shoah.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hamelsdorf, Rebecca was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport IV. Her name appears under number 841 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Herman Herczig (1916-1942), member of youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on June 1, 1916 in Bardejov, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia). The family arrived in Belgium in November 1924 and lived on Cuperusstraat, and then at 3 Groote Beerstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. His last know address was at 26 Generaal Capiaumontstraat, Berchem, Antwerp, Belgium. He was a diamond cutter. He had a brother called Emanuel. 

Herman was known as a big joker, and it was told that he once dressed up like Gandhi, and took a plank studded with nails and lay down on it like a fakir. He was nicknamed "Gandhi" because he physically resembled the Indian leader. According to his friends testimonies, he was friendly, pleasant, had a good sense of humor and above all was a good friend. He was also talented as a handball player and was a star in his team.  He served as the treasurer of the youth movement from 1933-1942 and participated at all summer camps of which he was in charge of finances and logistics.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Herczig, Herman was mobilized by the Nazis in Antwerp and sent to Dannes-Camiers work camps in France, from there expelled via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 15, 1942, with Transport X. His name appears under number 745 on the list of the deported. He never returned. According to hearsay, one morning he just did not wake up.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Ida Harstein (1921-1942), member of the "Hadassa" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 19, 1921 in Berchem-Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Kamiel, and her mother, Pessa Chaya nee Bramin, arrived in Belgium with their family  in October 1923 and lived at 14, Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and then in 47, Bloemstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

She had a brother, (see Harstein, Karel) and a sister, Bertha Ubersfeld, who survived the Shoah and after the war lived in Brussels, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Harstein, Ida was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 8, 1942, with Transport VII. Her name appears under number 87on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Karel Harstein (1922-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 3, 1922 in Borgerhout-Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Kamiel, and his mother, Pessa Chaya nee Bramin, arrived in Belgium with their family  in October 1923 and lived at 14, Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and then in 47, Bloemstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

He had a two sisters, Ida (see Harstein, Ida) and the other, Bertha Ubersfeld, who survived the Shoah and after the war lived in Brussels, Belgium. He studied in the Sha'arei Torah yeshiva that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass congregation in Antwerp, Belgium, and was a apprentice jeweler. 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Harstein, Karel  was takenf by the Nazis for forced laber as part of the Operation Todt at the Joh. Schneider factory in Saarbrucken, Germany and was held at the Hardleot-Plage camp. He was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, on October 31, 1943, with Transport XVI. Her name appears under number 460 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Chaja Ita Wahl (1923-1942), member of the "Geula" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on July 10, 1923 in Hannover, Germany. Her father, Moshe Aron, and her mother Pradel nee Storch, lived at 66 Grote Beerstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They lived as a very orthodox Jewish family. Chaya Ita had a sister, Malka Rachel and a brother Bezalel Mordechai, who were deported with her and their mother to Auschwitz.

Chaja Ita was talented in singing, and although her father was opposed to her being member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad), she was very  devoted to the movement. 

After the war her father returned to Belgium and live at 30 General capiaumontstraat, Berchem, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Chaja Ita was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 29, 1942 with Transport VI. Her name appears under number 62 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Aron Wudka (1923-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 12, 1923 in Bialistok, Poland. His father, Avraham, and his mother, Gittel nee Cwass, arrived in Belgium in August 1925 and lived at 69, Lamorinierestraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later in 136, Lange Kievitstraat, and then in 9, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a textile shop. 

He had a two brothers, Mozes (see separate entrance Wudka, Mauritz Mozes) and David, who survived the Shoah and today lives in the U.S.A. He studied in the Sha'arei Torah yeshiva that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass congregation in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wudka, Aron was taken by the Nazis for forced laber as part of the Operation Todt and worked at the Joh. Schneider factory from July 26, 1942 until October 10, 1942. He was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, on October 10 1942, with Transport XII. His name appears under number 961 on the list of the deported. 

He was seen for the last time on October 30, 1944 in Faulbruck (now Mościsko, Poland). It was German territory until 1945. 

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mauritz Mozes Wudka (1927-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 20, 1927 in Borgherhout, Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Avraham, and his mother, Gittel nee Cwass, arrived in Belgium in August 1925 and lived at 69, Lamorinierestraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later in 136, Lange Kievitstraat, and then in 9, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a textile shop. 

He had a two brothers, Aron (see separate entrance Wudka, Aron) and David, who survived the Shoah and then lived in the U.S.A.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wudka, Mauritz, was arrested by the Nazis  and incarcerated at the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium and from there he was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp, on October 10 1942, with Transport XII. His name appears under number 962 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Henryk Wajswol (1924-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on Aufusr 27, 1924 in Kimontow, Poland. His father, Yehezkel, a teacher, and his mother, Dobra nee Eisenbuch, arrived in Belgium in August 1929 and lived at 50, Hovenierstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later at 34, Bouwenstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

The family had 8 children: Itzik, Moshe, Malka, Sarah, Reisele, Hersh (Henryk), Jacob Eliezer and Shimon.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wajswol, Henryk was arrested by the Nazis and was incarcerated in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and from there deported on August 29, 1942, with Transport VI. His name appears under number 571 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Fanny Feiga Wildstein (1922-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 12, 1922 in Jodlowa, Poland. Her father, Alter David, and her mother, Bluma nee Wildstein, lived in Vienna, Austria at 22/13 , Heinzelmanstrasse, arrived in Belgium in January 1924 and lived at 23, Van Leriusstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. . 

She had a brother, Karel Charly (see Wildstein Karel separate) and a sister Frieda Frisch, who survived the Shoah and passed away in old age in Belgium.

Together with Sally Weinberg, the late Thea Epstein and Rachel Zugman (see Zugman, Rachel, separate), she belonged to the secret girl's group "Safatera", made up of the initials of their names. She worked in the diamond business.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wildstein, Fanny, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 495 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Karel Charly Wildstein (1927-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on February 3, 1927 in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgim. His father, Alter David, and his mother, Bluma nee Wildstein, lived in Vienna, Austria at 22/13 , Heinzelmanstrasse, arrived in Belgium in January 1924 and lived at 23, Van Leriusstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. 

Karel had two sisters, Fanny (see Wildstein Fanny separate) and Frieda Frisch, who survived the Shoah and passed away in old age in Belgium.

He was short, had curly hair and blue eyes. He was "Baal Koreh" in the Mizrahi "Menachem Avelim" Beit Midrash on Lange Kievitstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. He studied at the School of Commerce on Markgravelei in Antwerp. Durint the war, Sylvie Fischer met him with his mother on Loosplaats. The mother said that sinc Fanny was taken, she had enough of running away, so the next day she presented herself together with Charly at the train station.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wildstein, Karel , was arrested with his mother by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. He was then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. His name appears under number 579 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

His mother, Blima, was deported to Auschwitz on 12 September 1942 with Transport IX. Her name appears under the number 984 on the list of the deported.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Esther (Frimet) Wilner (1925-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 11, 1925 in Zamigrod, Poland. Her father, Alter Naftali, and her mother, Sylka nee Langstein , arrived in Belgium in September 1925 and lived at the corner of Bleekhofstraat and 19, Magdalenastraat, and later at 1, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a poultry shop. 

Esther had five siblings,Jacob (see Wilner Jacob separate), Georgette Augusta, Anna Malka, Hersch Mendel and Alter Menashe, (the three latter were not deported).

Esther was very active in Bnei Akiva.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wilner, Esther, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 11, 1942, with Transport II. Her name appears under number 464 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Jacob Isak Wilner (1919-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on november 5, 1919 in Zamigrod, Poland. His father, Alter Naftali, and his mother, Sylka nee Langstein, arrived in Belgium in September 1925 and lived at the corner of Bleekhofstraat and 19, Magdalenastraat, and later at 1, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a poultry shop. 

Jacob had five siblings, Esther (see Wilner Esther separate), Georgette Augusta, Anna Malka, Hersch Mendel and Alter Menashe, (the three latter were not deported).

Jacob was very active in the main "Garin" of the youth movement and loved to take responsibility. He was a furrier.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wilner, Jacob, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. His name appears under number 950 on the list of the deported. According to his death certificate found in the archives of Auschwitz, he died on September 25, 1942 of pneumonia.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Naphtali (Tulek) Sommer (b. 1924), member of the "Tikva" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born in 1924, in Secovce, Slovakia.  

Naphtali had one sister, Rosa (see Sommer Rosa, separate). He was blond and friendly.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Naphtali Sommer was arrested during the Holocaust, but his fate is unknown.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Rosa Sommer (1922-1942?), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 20, 1922 in Secovce, Slovakia.  

Rosa had one Brother, Naphtali (see Sommer Naphtali, separate). She was very pretty.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Sommer, Rosa,was arrested by the Germans, and consequently detained in the transit camp at Drancy, France, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 9, 1942, with Transport 30. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Herman Suskind (1911-1943), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on July 10, 1911 in Antwep, Belgium. His father, Abraham, and his mother, Gittel, nee Fischer, lived at 11, Stoomstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. 

Herman was married to Mina nee Smaragd (see separate entry Suskind-Smaragd Mina). They had  a daughter, Beatrice (Betty) who survived the Shoah and vils in Jerusalem.

Herman was one of the founders of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bahad) in Belgium and the head of the branch. He was a member of the Mizrahi Youth and even made alyah to Eretz Israel with his wife because he was promised a position in Israel. After receiving a letter that his father was very ill, the returned to Belgium. He worked in the diamond business and lived at 50, Oostenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Suskind, Herman, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from September 23, 1942 until released on June 26, 1943. Later he was re-arrested and sent to the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. There is a testimony that he was seen there on September 6, 1943. He was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. His name appears under number 190 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mina (Mignon) Suskind-Smaragd (1915-1943), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 30, 1915 in Den Haag, Holland. Her father, Shimon, and her mother, Rucha, nee Dankowitz, had five children: Melita, Rosalie, Alex (see separate entry Smaragd, Alex), Mina and Sylvie Fischer who lives in Israel.

Mina was married to Herman Suskind (see separate entry Suskind Herman). They had  a daughter, Beatrice (Betty) who survived the Shoah and then lived in Jerusalem.

Mina made alyah to Eretz Israel with her husband because he was promised a position in Israel. After receiving a letter that his father was very ill, they returned to Belgium and lived at 50, Oostenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Suskind-Smaragd, Mina, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from September 23, 1942 until released on June 26, 1943. Later she was re-arrested together with her husband and sent to the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. There is a testimony that she was seen there on September 6, 1943. She was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 189 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Efraim Silberstein (b. 1924), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on May 25, 1924 in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Shlomo, and his mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921, (see Silberstein, Thodora Sara separate entry); Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925, (see Silberstein, Joseph separate entry); Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Efraim, was arrested in Marseille, France, sent to Auschwitz from where he never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Theodora Sara Silberstein (1921-1942), member of the "Hadassa Group" of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 29, 1921 in Borgerhout,Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Shlomo, and her mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921; Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, (see separate entry Silberstein, Efraim, ); Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925, (see separate entry Silberstein, Joseph); Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

Theodora Sara was blonde and very good at sport.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Theodora Sara, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there she was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 247 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Joseph Silberstein (1926-1942), member of the "Shahal" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 13, 1926 in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Shlomo, and his mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921, (see separate entry Silberstein, Thodora Sara); Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, (see separate entry Silberstein, Joseph); Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925,; Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Joseph, was arrested by  the Germans in Antwerp, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there he was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 15, 1942, with Transport III. His name appears under number 466 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Ber Jakont (1921-1942), member of the "Hatikva" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 13, 1921 in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Jacob, and his mother, Chudes-Hadassa, nee Kreshov, arrived in Belgium, in 1924 and lived at 50 Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.  

The family had ten children of which three died in infancy.The others were: Zosha-Zelda born in 1899; Hersh-Zwi born in  1901; Sara-Sonia born in 1904; Hinda-Henriette born in 1908, Zeev born 1909, Arie Leib born in 1916 and who survived the Shoah; Dov-Ber born in 1921. The father, Jacob, was the architect of the famous building on Oostenstraat 50, Antwerp, Belgium.

Jakont, Ber studied at the "Jesode Hatorah" school and began his apprenticship as a jeweler. He was a close friend to Wolf Grosberg (see separate enty, Grosberg, Wolf). 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Jakont Ber was arrested by  the Germans in Antwerp, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there he was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on October 31, 1942, with Transport XVI. His name appears under number 128 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Removed
Added

Banovce nad Bebravou

In Hungarian Ban

A small town in west Slovakia.

Banovce on the river Be Brava is situated on a railway line near the towns of Nitra and Trencin. Around the town there are wood industries and lacework wortkshops.

The are was first part of the “Great Moravian Empire”, and later was occupied by the Hungarians. During the period 1526-1918 Banovce belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after that to the Republic of Czechoslovakia.

Jews arrived at the area already in the `1st century with the Roman Legions and it seems that Jewish merchants had been there ever since. Jews who escaped from Vienna to south Bohemia in the first half of the 15th century found refuge in the area of Trencin. Some of them settled down at Banovce, which was then called Trencen-Ban.

A Jewish community began to be organized at the place apparently in the first quarter of the 19th century. It was then headed by Rabbi Nathaniel Emerich and after him by his son Wolf Emerich. In 1822 they started keeping a regular record of births and deaths of Jews in the town and its surroundings.

In the first half of the 19th century, when Banovce was joined to the railway system, the place began to develop and the town absorbed Jews from the neighborhood, particularly from Ozorovce.

The community belonged to the Orthodox stream which opposed any change in the halakha. It had a cemetery, a synagogue, a mikveh, a home for the aged, a hevrah kaddisha (burial society), a women’s society and a daughter’s society. For a short time there was also a Jewish school and when it was closed down the cxhildren attended the general school and continued their studies at a gymnasium. Religious teachings were conducted by the rabbi. Jews were not accepted at the local teacher’s seminar, which was managed by Catholics.

The heads of the community between the two wolrd wars were: Ernest Munk, the president, Moritz Reich, the rabbi, and Isidor Weinstein, the secretary. The community also engaged cantors.

Jewish merchants and middlemen were active in the area already in the Roman period. They are again mentioned in records of the years 1903-1907. The Jews trade mainly in furs and kept commercial connections with Antwerp, Venice and countries in the east.

From the middle of the 19th century Jews integrated in all fields of the economy. Some of them became notable merchants. Among the members of the community were hotel owners, two physicians and two lawyers. The Jewish shops were all located around the central square of the town. Most of the Jews were of the middle class, some were poor. In the 1930’s two Jews, Burg and the president Munk, established a factory.

The relations between the Jewish community and the non-Jewish inhabitants were amicable and at the time of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, the Jews enjoyed a national-cultural autonomy. From the 1920’s the youth were organized in Zionist youth movements: Hashomer Kadimah later Hashomer Hazair, Maccabi, and Benei akiva. The Zionists, headed by Isidor Weinstein, set up in the town a library, a club, and a sport exercise hall.

In 1926, prior to the 15th Zionist Congress, the Jews of Banovce acquired 250 shekels voting and membership rights, and continued to acquire them also in following years. In 1937 127 members of the community took part in the elctions to the 20th Zionist Congress and one of them was elected to the leadership of the General Zionists. A training farm for Alyjah was set up at Banovce in 1938 and many of its trainees actually emigrated to Eretz Israel.

In 1930 about 500 Jews were living at Branovce nad Bebravou.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement (September 1938), about a year before World War II broke out, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was dismembered and Slovakia became independent, a satellite of the German 3rd Reich.

The Jews were gradually removed from the social and economic life of the country. Many of them were taken to labor camps, which were set up at Sered and Novaki, where they worked for the authorities. At the end of 1940 there were still some 500 Jews at the town.

Between March and October 1942 Slovakia turned most of the Jews into the hands of the Germans in Poland, where most of them were murdered in concentration camps and extermination camps. A plea of the Jews of Banovce addressed to President Joseph Tiso to exempt Rabbi Reich from expulsion, was declined. The rabbi was taken to a lorry, from which he blessed his congregation, and then started on his last journey. After October 1942 only a few Jews, whose work was vital to the authorities, remained at Banovce.

In the summer of 1942, when the Germans invaded Slovakia in order to suppress an attempted rising against the Fascist regime, the Jews who were then still in the area, escaped to the woods. Most of them were caught by the Germans, murdered and buried in a mass grave at Banovce.

After the war, only 45 Jews of the town and the neighborhood survived. Most of them emigrated in the late 1940’s to Eretz Israel or to countries overseas. In 1990 three Jewish families were living at Banovce. The public buildings of the community were desolate and only about a third of the tombstones at the Jewish cemetery were still intact.

Rotterdam


City in W. Netherlands.

 

21st Century

The path to the entrance of a former Jewish institution was renovated in 2001.

 

History

After first trying to attract Marranos from Antwerp in 1604, the city of Rotterdam issued a charter in 1610 which promised various privileges, including complete religious freedom. However, this charter was abolished by the municipality two years later and a large number of those Portuguese who had settled meanwhile left for Amsterdam. Nevertheless, a small group remained, opening a synagogue and buying a plot of land to serve as a cemetery. An important reinforcement to the community came in 1647, when the wealthy de Pinto family arrived in Rotterdam and returned to Judaism.

That same year the municipality accorded the Jews the same rights as those obtained in Amsterdam. In Abraham de Pinto's house a synagogue and a yeshivah - the Jesiba de los Pintos - were opened; head of the yeshivah was Josiah Pardo, who also served as chief rabbi of the community (1648-69). In 1669 the yeshivah was transferred to Amsterdam.

From then on it was the de la Penha family, mostly merchants and shipowners, who played the major role in the community, which continued to exist until 1736. An Ashkenazi community was founded in 1660, at first fostered by the Portuguese community. Its first chief rabbi was Judah Loeb from Vilna (c. 1674-c. 1700). The Ashkenazim were in a difficult economic position; as they were not admitted to the guilds, they were mostly petty traders or dealers in old clothes, or they engaged in one of the few permitted crafts. In addition, they were allowed to sell their merchandise in the market until 1 p.m. only. Nevertheless, their number grew steadily. In 1725 a beautiful synagogue was built, which was destroyed during the German bombing of the city in 1940.

Emancipation in 1796 brought important changes, particularly because it put an end to the absolute power of the parnasim in the community. A grave conflict in the community over the powers of the parnasim was settled by the chief rabbi, Levi Hijman from Breslau (1781--1809), who enjoyed great renown as a scholar and was the author of Penei Aryeh.

In the 19th century the community flourished, owing to the growth of Rotterdam's port. The number of Jews increased from 2,104 in 1809 to more than 13,000 in 1940. In addition to several synagogues in different quarters of the city, a second great synagogue, built in 1891, was consecrated in 1939. The economic position of the Jews improved, particularly toward the end of the 19th century, to such an extent that the number of welfare cases decreased from 1,700 in 1873 to 1,600 in 1901 despite the growth of the community. The most important chief rabbis of Rotterdam were Joseph Isaacssohn (1850-71), who settled a conflict between Reform and Orthodox, and Bernhard Loebel Ritter (1885-1928), a leading scholar and a determined opponent of Zionism. In spite of innumerable endeavors to stimulate Jewish life in Rotterdam through a weekly journal, a literary club, and more than 20 other organizations,
assimilation had a serious impact. However, the community extended important help and assistance to refugees from Germany after 1933.

 

The Holocaust Period

In 1940 there were some 13,000 Jews living in Rotterdam (2% of the city's population); 60% of them were engaged in commerce and 20% in industry. With the invasion of Holland, the German bombers destroyed the center including two synagogues and the bet midrash, which contained valuable manuscripts. On September 1, 1941, all Jewish children were expelled from the public schools, and three Jewish elementary schools, a high school, and a school of higher learning were established. Large-scale deportations to the Westerbork concentration camp and from there to Poland began in late July 1942.

 

Postwar

After the war some 800 Jews returned to Rotterdam from concentration camps and hideouts. In 1969 about 1,300 of the 800,000 inhabitants of Rotterdam were Jews. Of these some 800 were members of the Jewish congregation.

Most prewar Jewish institutions, such as the home for the aged, the orphanage, and the hospital, were not reopened; but the central Jewish home for the aged, which until 1942 existed in Gouda, to the northeast of Rotterdam, was reopened in 1950. After services had been held on temporary premises for nine years, a new modern synagogue, with adjoining classrooms, secretariat, and a modern communal center subsidized by the government reconstruction fund for wartime damage, was inaugurated in 1954. The small square in front of it was officially named A. D. N. Davids Square in 1967 after the late chief rabbi, who perished in a concentration camp. Rabbi L. Vorst was communal rabbi from 1931. He was appointed chief rabbi of Rotterdam and district after the war, retiring in 1971. He was succeeded by Rabbi D. Kahn.

Belgium

Royaume de Belgique / Koninkrijk België

A country in western Europe, member of the European Union (EU)

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 29,000 out of 11,000,000 (0.2%).  Most Jews live in the metropolitan areas of Brussels and Antwerp, the two largest cities of the country. The main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities of Belgium:

Comité de Coordination des Communautés Juives de Belgique (Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations)
Phone: 32.2 537 16 91
Fax: 32 2 539 22 96
Email: ccojb@scarlet.be
Website: www.ccojb.be

Brussels

Capital of Belgium

A Jewish community had been established in Brussels by the mid-13th century. A beautiful illuminated Pentateuch was written there in 1309 by the scribe Isaac ben Elijah of Ochsenfurt for Chaim, son of the martyr Chaim, attesting to the community's high social and cultural position. As in many Jewish communities throughout Europe, the Jews of Brussels were massacred during the Black Death in 1348-1349. A few subsequently resettled in the city, but a further massacre followed in May of 1370, after an accusation of host desecration. The small Jewish community was expelled from the city, and was not allowed to return until the end of Spanish rule in Belgium in the 18th century. The supposed host desecration that led to the massacre is depicted in a stained glass window in the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral of Brussels.

Marranos would occasionally make their way to Brussels; for example, the Mendes family arrived in Brussels during the 16th century. Additionally, during the 17th century several Marranos, including Daniel Levi (Miguel) de Barrios, served in the Spanish Army in Brussels. Some of these Marranos later settled in Amsterdam, where they were able to practice Judaism openly.

After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Belgium came under Austrian rule and Jews began, once again, to settle in Brussels. Expulsion decrees were issued in 1716 and 1756, but were averted by gifts to the crown. In 1757 the Jewish community of Brussels consisted of 21 men, 19 women, and 26 children, many of whom had moved from Holland. In 1783 Philip Nathan, who received the right of citizenship of Brussels, asked the authorities to assign a site for a new Jewish cemetery.

With the annexation of Belgium in 1794 by France, Jews were able to settle freely in Brussels. At the beginning of the 18th century the Brussels community recognized the authority of the Metz rabbinate over them. The Napoleonic Edict of March 17, 1808 included Brussels in the consistory (state controlled Jewish communal body) of Crefeld. Later, when Belgium united with Holland, Brussels became the head of the 14th religious district of Holland. Belgium achieved independence in 1830, and the constitution of 1831 accorded religious freedom to all of its citizens. Brussels became the center of the Belgian consistories, and Eliakim Carmoly was appointed to be the chief rabbi of Belgium in 1832.

The community, consisting primarily of Jews from Holland and Germany, saw a population increase when Jews began arriving from Poland and Russia after 1880, either to settle or as a stop on their way to the US. There was another wave of Jewish immigration from Germany after 1933. Before World War II, the Jewish community in Brussels was approximately 30,000, second in size only to Antwerp.

THE HOLOCAUST

The Nazis occupied Belgium in May, 1940. A Nazi ordinance led to the creation of the Association de Juifs en Belgique (AJB) in Brussels; under the pretext of providing social relief to the Jews of Brussels, the AJB was widely denounced by the Jewish resistance as a means for the Nazis to exert control over the Jewish community. Beginning in August, 1942, the Nazis began transporting Belgian Jews to the labor camp of Mechlin (Malines), and from there they were sent mainly to Auschwitz. Approximately 40,000 Belgian Jews were killed during the war.

After the war, between 1945-1950, the Jewish population of Brussels was about as large as it had been before World War II (approximately 27,000), due to the thousands of refugees arriving from Eastern and Central Europe en route to other locations. Afterwards immigration to Belgium decreased, and, in fact, there was a wave of emigration from Brussels to the US, Canada, Australia, and Israel.

The Jewish community's reconstruction after World War II was hampered by Belgium's economic instability and the process of rehabilitating war victims. Furthermore, as the majority of Jews in Brussels were foreigners, it was difficult for them to attain work permits. In 1946 an average of 4,500 people per month required relief or some form of aid from Jewish agencies (only a few hundred were still in need in 1970). Priority was given to the creation of institutions for social assistance and public services, such as L'Aide aux Israelites Victimes de la Guerre (later renamed Service Social Juif), L'Heureux Sejour, an old-age home, and the Caisse de Pret de Credit, in order to cope with the needs of the postwar Jewish community. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany also provided substantial support to the Jewish community of Brussels. A central fundraising agency unifying 15 institutions, La Centrale D'Oeuvres Sociales Juives, was created in 1952.

Brussels had two elementary Jewish day schools: the Ecole Israelite, and the Zionist Ganenou. There was also the Athenee Maimonide High School, which was run by the same board as the Ecole Israelite. All three schools were recognized and subsidized by the state. There were also Sunday schools, a Yiddish school, and various opportunities to learn Hebrew. Three ideologically different community centers also provided educational and leisure activities. There were three Ashkenazi and one Sephardi legally recognized religious committees, as well as several groups that organized their own religious services.

In 1966, Belgian Jews and American expat Jews living in Belgium created the progressive L'Union Israelite Liberale de Belgique. The Centre National des Hautes Etudes Juives, created by the Free University of Brussels and subsidized by the state, promoted research and studies on contemporary Jewry, and played an active role in the cultural renewal of the community.
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The Jewish Community of Antwerp

Antwerp

Antwerpen, in Dutch; Anvers, in French 

The second largest city of Belgium and the capital of the Dutch-speaking region of Flanders and a major port and industrial center, is the home of the second largest Jewish community of Belgium and one of the most traditionalist Jewish communities in Western Europe.

Middle Ages

The first Jewish presence in Antwerp is attested by the will of Henry III, the Duke of Brabant and Margrave of Antwerp who in 1261 expressed his wish that the Jews of Brabant should be expelled and destroyed because they are all "usurers". His widow, the Duchess Adelheid, took a more practical view and asked for the advise of the greatest Catholic theologian of the time, Thomas of Aquinas that formulated his response in a tractate later known as De regimine Judaeorum ("On the status of the Jews"). According to Thomas Aquinas's reply to Adelheid, the Jews should be encouraged to make a living from other occupations than money lending. A document of 1286 mentions the name of a Jew living in Antwerp: Daniel Judeus (Daniel the Jew), a wine merchant, moneylender and magistrate at the Jewish law court who came to Antwerp from Cologne (Koeln), Germany. In 1292, the Duke of Brabant John I granted a charter to the city of Antwerp in which the Jews are listed among the inhabitants of the city.
It is possible that some of the Jews who were expelled from England in 1290 and from France in 1306 settled in Antwerp that by then was on a process of becoming an important commercial city. Apparently the small Jewish community of Antwerp continued to exist during the first half of the 14th century, but the anti-Jewish persecutions that followed the Black Death epidemic of 1348, when Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, put an end to the Jewish settlement in Antwerp. Jewish sources, especially the Memorbuch of Mainz and also that of Deutz record among the dead during the anti-Jewish riots and persecutions in Brabant also the victims of Antdorf, the German name of Antwerp. Although there is no direct evidence about the fate of the Jews in Antwerp, it is safe to assume that they could not have continued to reside in that city after John III, the Duke of Brabant, conducted a massive anti-Jewish campaign in Brussels and Louvain during the mid 14th century.

Spanish Rule (1506-1713)

A new group of Jewish immigrants started to settle in Antwerp in the early 16th century when the city became a relatively safe heaven for crypto-Jews fleeing the persecutions and the expulsions in the Iberian Peninsula. The growing commercial importance of the city, bolstered by the international maritime trade to the newly discovered American continent and the declining traditional economies of other cities in Flanders, could only attract Jewish merchants from Spain and Portugal as well as from other parts of Europe, who arrived in Antwerp later on in the 16th century. An edict of 1526 by the Emperor Charles V guaranteed a safe-conduct for the Portuguese New Christians in Antwerp. Although under Spanish rule, the Inquisition was not allowed to activate in Antwerp, a situation that facilitated the settlement of crypto-Jews from Spain and Portugal. The commercial connections that the Portuguese crypto-Jews maintained with their former country enabled them to have a share in the
lucrative Portuguese monopoly of the spice trade with India and the Far East. The general attitude of the Spanish authorities did not permit overt practice of Judaism and indeed from time to time several crypto-Jews were tried under the accusation of being pseudo- Christians and conducting illegal trade relations with the Ottoman Empire. The most famous trial (1532) was conducted against Diogo Mendes (before 1492–c.1542) followed by a posthumous process against him in which the Spanish authorities aimed to prove that he was not a sincere Catholic and consequently to confiscate his estate. Antwerp was also the home of Beatrice de Luna later known as Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi (1510-1569), a sister-in-law of Diogo Mendes and wife of Francisco Mendes (d.1536). She lived in Antwerp from 1536 until 1549 when she fled to Venice, Italy, and then to the Ottoman Empire. Her nephew, Joדo Miguez, better known as Don Joseph Nasi (1524-1579), was also a resident of Antwerp. Having been arrested in
1549, he too left for the Ottoman Empire where he eventually became Duke of Naxos. Other famous crypto-Jews who resided in Antwerp during the 16th century include the physician Amatus Lusitanus (d.1568) who lived in Antwerp from 1533 to 1540, when he was invited to the French court. The Spanish policy took a turn for the worse in 1543 and again in 1550, when probably all crypto- Jews were forced to leave Antwerp, despite strong opposition from the local municipality. It appears, however, that members of the "Portuguese nation" – a generic name that included New Christians from the Iberian Peninsula, several of them undoubtedly crypto-Jews, continued to reside in Antwerp in the second half of the 16th century. They were encouraged by the Calvinist Reform that was spreading in the Low Countries and became very popular in Antwerp too. But towards the end of the 16th century the conflict that developed between Spain and the people of the Low Countries turned into open war. Antwerp was
recaptured by the Spanish troops in 1585 who then introduced an intolerant policy favoring the Roman Catholic Church with the effect that the Protestant inhabitants of Antwerp and probably most of the crypto- Jews fled to the Northern Provinces and particularly to Amsterdam. While in 1571 there were 85 families belonging to the Portuguese nation in Antwerp, their number declined to 47 in 1591 while a list from 1619 mentions 46 names and another one from 1666 gives 65 individuals. It is possible that some clandestine synagogues functioned occasionally in Antwerp. A report of the Inquisition of Lisbon contains a list of the worshipers of the synagogue in Antwerp in 1585. In 1565 Christopher Plantin (1514-1589) fled the Catholic censure in his native France and opened a printing-press in Antwerp that during following twenty years produced a number of important Hebrew books. Even though for the most part rejected by the Jewish rabbinical authorities of the time, Plantin's Hebrew
editions of the Bible helped to geminate and encourage a new interest in the biblical and Jewish studies among the non-Jewish intellectuals of the early modern times.

The Peace of Westphalia (1648) made possible for some crypto-Jews to return to Antwerp. However, they could not enjoy freedom of religion, and continued to be targeted by the Inquisition. Protocols of trials by the Inquisition in the Canary Islands during the 1660's contain testimonies, sometimes taken under torture, according to which there were crypto-Jews in Antwerp who maintained various Jewish costumes and relationships with Jews in other countries, especially with the Jews of Amsterdam. In the early 1670's the bishop of Antwerp Ambrosio Capello complained to the Archduke of the presence in Antwerp of insincere Catholics whom he suspected of being crypto-Jews. There were rumors about Jewish prayer books having been printed in secret in Antwerp as well as the existence of clandestine synagogues. In 1682 the municipal authorities discovered a secret synagogue that was frequented by members of the Portuguese nation. When another secret synagogue was discovered in 1694, Elijah
Andrada, one of the local crypto-Jews, took the matter to the courts demanding the restitution of the property confiscated in the name of the King of Spain.

Austrian Rule (1713-1794)

The Treaty of Utrecht (1713) transferred Antwerp to the Austrians. The new authorities were more interested in collecting their taxes than in enforcing anti-Jewish policies. Although in principle there were limits on the number of Jews permitted to enter the country, after 1718 they were required to pay the Toleranzgeld, a special tax for the right to reside in Antwerp. The first Jewish inhabitant that was inscribed in the Poorterboek (the municipal register of Antwerp) was Abraham Arons, a shopkeeper, in 1715. Other Jews originally from Amsterdam or Germany are mentioned in the municipal records of the early 18th century. During the reign of Maria Theresia (1740-1780) the situation of the Jews was again unstable. Jews are mentioned in many cities in the region, including Antwerp, from 1745 to 1748, when the Low Countries were temporarily occupied by the French. The economic decline of Antwerp resulting from the closing the River Scheldt, forced the city magistrates to endorse a
consistent policy of encouragement of the commerce, including tolerating the settlement of Jews in the city. Sometimes this attitude brought them in conflict with the Austrians. During the second half of the 18th century there were a number of attempts by Jews to obtain citizenship, but they were strongly opposed by the city council. As early as 1769, Abraham Benjamin, a Jew of London who conducted an important trade with the Flanders applied for citizenship of Antwerp, having moved to the city. Fearing the concurrence, the city authorities accorded him the citizenship with the condition that this decision should not serve as a precedent for other Jews. New requests for citizenship followed from Jews who came to Antwerp from Amsterdam and from Germany, but not all were answered positively. The general situation of the Jews improved during the reign of Joseph II (1780-1790), particularly after the publication of the Toleranzpatent of 1787.

French Rule (1794-1815)

In 1794 Antwerp was captured by the French revolutionary army and remained under French administration for the subsequent twenty one years. Under the French rule, Jews could settle freely in Antwerp for the first time. Whereas the French Revolution granted full citizenship to the Jews living in French territories, the administration of Napoleon I intervened into the internal affairs of the Jewish community. Following the French model, all Jews of Belgium were organized into a Consistory. Because during the 1800's there were only about 800 Jews in Belgium, they all were annexed to the Consistoire of Krefeld, in Germany. In 1808 the Jews of Antwerp were accorded three months to adopt a family name and change their traditional Jewish given names to local names. The municipal records preserved the names of 36 Jews of Antwerp, the great majority born in Holland. With a few exceptions, they all changed their names and adopted vernacular, mostly French names.

Dutch Rule (1815-1830)

At the end of the Napoleonic wars, Antwerp was incorporated into the Netherlands. All religions, including Judaism, were granted equality. Jews from the Rhine districts as well as from Holland started to settle in Antwerp. From the administrative point of view, the Jews of Antwerp were subordinated to the Jewish community of Brussels. The Jewish community of Antwerp was officially established in 1816, when there were about one hundred Jews living in the city. This first legally recognized community was known as the Jewish Community (Communaute Israelite) also called the Dutch community. It continued to exist as a separate body until 1931, when it merged with the Jewish Community Shomre Hadas. The first Jewish public prayers were held in the private home of a certain Moise Kreyn, having received the approval of the city authorities. The Jews of Antwerp acquired possession of a cemetery in 1828. There were 151 Jews in Antwerp in 1829.

Belgian Independence

Antwerp became part of the independent Kingdom of Belgium in 1830. During the 19th century the Jewish population of Antwerp augmented considerably: from about 100 individuals in the late 1810's to around 500 in 1847, and almost 1,000 in the late 1860's. The largest growth, however, occurred after 1880, when Antwerp became home to many Jewish immigrants fleeing the pogroms in Russia and the anti- Jewish discriminations in other countries in Eastern Europe. Tens of thousands of Jewish emigrants passed through Antwerp on their way to the Americas (USA, Canada, and Argentina), of them many thousands choose to stay in Antwerp. There were about 8,000 Jews in Antwerp in 1880 and that number doubled itself before 1920. This immigration brought about a significant change in the structure of the Jewish community. From a small community dominated by Dutch Jews, many of them Sephardi, and German Jews, in the early 20th century Antwerp had a large Yiddish speaking Jewish population from Poland,
Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Another group of Jewish immigrants arrived to Antwerp from various parts of the Ottoman Empire (Salonica, Turkey) and joined the local Portuguese Jews.

As a result of the heterogeneous composition of the Jewish population, Antwerp has had since the early 20th century three separate Jewish communities. The oldest Jewish community started to organize itself in the early 19th century. Following the establishment of the independent Belgian State, the Jewish community of Antwerp has since 1832 belonged to the Consistoire Central des Israelites en Belgique. The first public synagogue in Antwerp opened on Paardenmarkt 83 on September 21, 1832. In 1846 this synagogue was closed and the community opened a new one on the Grote Pieter Potstraat in the building of an ancient church (built in 1433 and turned into a warehouse from 1802 to 1846). At the same time the first mikve (ritual bath) opened in Antwerp. The first large synagogue in Antwerp, built in an "oriental" style to the plans of the Jewish architect Joseph Hertogs (1861-1930), was inaugurated on Bouwmeestersstraat in 1893. This synagogue is still known as the "Dutch synagogue"
because it was built by descendants of Jews who came to Antwerp from Holland in the early 19th century.

A second Jewish community was organized in 1898 by the Portuguese Jews of Antwerp and it is has since been known as the Jewish Community of Portuguese Rite. Despite the fact that there was a strong presence of Sephardi Jews in Antwerp since the beginnings of the Jewish settlement in the city, this separate Sephardi Jewish community was recognized officially by the city authorities only in 1910. By then, in addition to descendants of the "Portuguese nation", the community included many Sephardi Jews who came to Antwerp from the Ottoman Empire. Their synagogue was built on Hoveniersatraat according to the plans of the architect J. De Lange and was opened in 1913.

The third Jewish community known as Machsike Hadas was organized in 1892 century by Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. Their synagogue was opened in 1918 on Oostenstraat and was built to the plans of the architect Jules Hofman in the style of Art Nouveau. The Machsike Hadas community opened a religious school for boys - Jesode-Hatora – in 1895, and acquired a cemetery in the border Dutch village of Putte in 1908. Machsike Hadas Jewish orthodox community was recognized officially by the city authorities in 1910.

During the early 20th century another two synagogues were opened in Antwerp: the Eisenmann synagogue on Oostenstraat and the Dutch minyan on Fabriekstaatje, in 1907 and 1919, respectively.

Jewish charity organizations started to activate in Antwerp from late 19th century, especially after the arrival of many immigrants from Eastern Europe. The Oesterreich-Ungarischer Hilfsverein ("The Austro- Hungarian Help Union") was founded in 1887 and it was followed in 1888 by Hulp in Nood ("Help in Emergency") founded by Jewish women of the Dutch community.

First Half of the 20th Century

The Jewish population of Antwerp continued to grow in the first half of the 20th century and the city became the main Jewish center of Belgium. It is estimated that there were about 50,000 Jews in Antwerp on the eve of WW2, of them probably only around 10 percent were Belgian nationals.

During the late 1930's there were in Antwerp three separate communities that together operated five synagogues and twenty-eight Batey-Midrash, of them the oldest were Feiner (established in 1884) on Leeuwerikstraat and Ahavas Choulom (established in 1888) on Van Diepenbeeckstraat. The majority of batey-midrash, however, were established in the 1920's and 1930's and included many that belonged to the various groups of Hasidim that settled in the city: Haside Belz (est. 1929), Haside Gur (est. 1929), Haside Wisjnits (est. 1928), Haside Siged (est. 1928), Haside Kadichah (est. 1919), Haside Czortkow (est. 1928) and others. The Jewish education was supported by a developed network of institutions: several schools were dedicated to Jewish studies only while others included in their curriculum the study of non-Jewish disciplines as well. Yesode Hatorah was established in 1903 as a school for boys continuing an earlier Talmud Torah (opened in 1892). It offered courses in Yiddish and also
included a kindergarten. Beth Yaakov religious school for girls was opened in 1937 replacing an earlier school for girls that was established in 1923. Yesode Hatora was associated to Beth Yaakov and together became a prestigious Jewish educational institution whose reputation spread beyond the borders of Belgium. The Tachkemoni school for boys was opened in 1920 and included the study of Hebrew. In addition there functioned in Antwerp another six religious schools, among them a school that was affiliated to the Zionist party Poale- Zion Tseirey-Zion (est. in 1926), and two yeshivas: Etz Haim (est. in 1929) and Yeshivat Shaare Torah (est. in 1930).

Although Antwerp had an old tradition of diamond industry and commerce, it was only towards the end of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century that the diamond industry turned into a major occupation for the Jews of Antwerp. In the early 1900's there were already about 700 Jewish diamond-cutters in Antwerp. This development coincided with the arrival to Antwerp of Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe. The influx of row diamonds from the Belgian colonies in Africa, the trade connections of the Jews and the willingness of the new immigrants to work for lower salaries helped to turn Antwerp into the main world center for the diamond industry. Much of this industry has since been owned by Jews to such an extent that this occupation more than anywhere else in the Diaspora has become a veritable trademark of the Jewish community of Antwerp. However, many other Jews in Antwerp were active as small artisans and merchants, especially in the textile industry.
Other Jews were employed within the various Jewish organizations as teachers, rabbis, kashrut supervisors, clerks and an additional ten percent of the work force of the Antwerp Jews were engaged in various liberal professions outside the community.

In the late 1930's there were in Antwerp twenty-two Jewish organizations and associations. They included many Zionist associations, among them the Federation Sioniste de Belgique (est. in 1905), Keren Kayemet LeIsrael, Keren Hayesod, WIZO (est. in 1920), Nachim Misrahi (est. 1922), and Zionist parties – Poale Sion-Tseire Sion (a union of two separate parties founded in 1908 and 1904, respectively), the Revisionist Zionists (est. 1926), Poale Sion-Gauche (est. in 1927). The Yiddish culture and politics were well represented by Der Bund – the Jewish Socialist non-Zionist party, whose local branch was established in 1924 and had many adherents, and the Friends of YIWO (est. in 1928). Agudath Israel started its activities in 1912. Fondation-Frechie, the hevra kadisha (burial society) in charge of the Jewish cemetery in Putte (Holland) was founded in 1884. Additional associations included V.E.V.A. (Verbond voor Economisch Verweer Antwerpen = The Union for the Economic Defense) that was
supported by most Jewish organizations; The Association of Jewish Polish Combatants 1914-1918 (est. in 1936); The Union of Polish Jews (1931) and others.

There were six professional Jewish organizations in Antwerp during the interwar period: among them Yiddisher Handverkerfarain was founded in 1919 and in 1938 merged with the Yiddisher Handerverkering (est. 1935); a painter's association; and a shopkeepers' association.

The Zionist activities and associations started in the early 1900's with the first Belgian Zionist Congress organized in Antwerp in 1906. The Jewish Territorial Organization founded by Israel Zangwill (1864- 1926) had an active branch in Antwerp.

There were nineteen Jewish Youth movements active in Antwerp during the late 1930's affiliated to all political factions in the community. The Zionist movements included Bnei Akiba (est. 1932), Beitar (est. 1926), Bar Kochbah (est. 1920) that turned into Hashomer Hatsair in 1924, Hanoar Hatsioni (est. 1930), Brith Hakanaim (1936), Hehalutz (1929), Benoth Misrahi (1926), Maccabi Hatsair (1931) and others. Tseire Agoudah, established in 1912, was the first youth movement active in Antwerp and along with Pirhe Agoudat Israel, established in 1923, and Benos Agoudah, established in 1926 for girls, grouped the supporters of Agudat Israel.

The sportive activity was encouraged by three different clubs: Maccabi, the oldest of them was opened in 1920 and had sections for basket-ball, bridge, football, swimming, tennis, gymnastics, chess, and bridge. Hapoel belonged to Poale Sion-Tseire Sion party and was opened in 1927 with sections for football, table tennis, and chess. The third club, Yask (Yiddisher Arbetersportklub – the Sport Club of the Jewish Workers) was opened in 1935 and was affiliated to the Bund party. It included sections for football, tennis, chess, swimming and in addition it had a cultural section as well.

The first amateur theater circle started its activities in as early as 1878 and it was followed shortly by another group called De Vriedenkring. In 1912 the Yiddisher Progresiver Dramatisher Klub was founded. Antwerp was frequently toured by renowned Jewish musicians and performers as well as distinguished Jewish theater companies from other countries, like Habimah of Moscow, Die Wilner Truppe of Vilna, and Jiddisches Kunstthater of New York.

Hatikwah was the first Jewish weekly in Belgium published in Antwerp by the Agudath Zion association in 1905 and until 1914 it appeared in German. During the first half of the 20th century more than fifty various Jewish periodicals, the majority in Yiddish and a few in Dutch, French, and Hebrew were published in Antwerp.

The Holocaust

On May 10, 1940, Germany attacked neutral Belgium. On May 28, Belgium surrounded and was occupied by the Nazi Germany. Fearing the Germans, the majority of the Jewish population of Antwerp fled to other regions in Belgium or to France. As many of the Jews living in Antwerp and indeed in Belgium were not Belgian nationals, they were initially refused entry into France. Nonetheless, many did manage to enter France taking advantage of the huge waves of refugees and the general chaos that prevailed in northern regions of France before its defeat in June 1940. Contrary to what happened in Eastern Europe, the German occupation forces did not start their anti-Jewish persecutions immediately. The inability to find shelter elsewhere, especially not being able to cross the sea to England, as a handful of Jews from Antwerp did before the German invasion, combined with the apparent correct attitude of the Germans, convinced about 25,000 Jews to return to Antwerp. But on October 1940, the
Germans changed their policy and gradually introduced a long series of anti-Jewish measures. Some 13,000 Jews were registered in a special Judenregister; they were forbidden to leave their homes from evening till morning, enter public parks, and Jewish owned business were marked with signs in Flemish, French and German. Between December 1940 and February 1941 more than 3,000 Jewish immigrants that entered Belgium after 1938, were deported at the order of the German army from Antwerp to a rural area in the Belgian province of Limbourg. More than in other cities of Belgium, in Antwerp the Germans received the support and collaboration of local pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic parties and groups. On April 14, 1941, a pogrom was organized against the Jews of Antwerp by local pro-Nazi groups, especially the VNV (Vlaams Nationaal Verbond), De Vlag, and De Algemeene SS-Vlaanderen, with the assistance of the German forces. The Van den Nestlei and the Oostenstraat synagogues were looted; many
Jewish-owned shops were burnt. The municipal council of Antwerp assumed responsibility for the attacks and decided to refund the Jews for the damage, but the Germans blocked the implementation of the decision. On May 1942 all Jews were compelled to bear the yellow-star badge. During the summer of 1942 mass arrests of Jews were initiated all over Belgium. A transit camp was opened at Mechelen (Malines) from where the arrested Jews were deported to the Nazi death camps in Central and Eastern Europe. On Friday night, August 28, 1942, most Jews in Antwerp were arrested and deported. The remaining ones who held Belgian citizenship or belonged to the Judenrat (established in November 1941 and called Association des Juifs en Belgique - AJB) were arrested at their turn one year later on September 4, 1943.

By the time Antwerp was liberated by the Allied troops on September 4, 1944, only about 800 Jews managed to survive in the city thanks to the help of members of the local population, for the most part devout Catholic individuals and activists of the Communist-dominated Resistance. Members of the pre-war Zionist Youth Movements continued their activity in the underground and helped smuggle Jews into Switzerland and Spain during 1942-1943. The annihilation of the Jewish community of Antwerp was almost total. There were a series of factors that facilitated the destruction, among them the fact that the majority of the Antwerp Jews were not Belgian nationals, most of the Jews in Antwerp were concentrated in distinct neighborhoods, and especially because the support received by the Germans from local anti- Semites was stronger than in many other places in western Europe. Moreover, the local Belgian authorities apparently showed almost no resistance to the Germans and thus enabled them to
carry the mass deportations, while the effective assistance to Jews from the local population was weaker than in other cities in Belgium. Jews from Antwerp who fled to France or other regions in the German occupied Europe suffered the same fate and the majority perished in the Holocaust.

Second Half of the 20th Century

HISO (Hulp aan Joodse Slachtoffers – Help for Jewish War Victims) was the first Jewish organization that started to activate in Antwerp immediately after the liberation with the aim of aiding the survivors and the few Jews who returned to the city from the deportation. The rebuilding of the Jewish community began already in 1946. The Synagogue of Van den Nestlei, built in 1928, was renovated in 1954 and has since been known as the Romi Goldmuntz Synagogue. It belongs to the modern Orthodox Judaism and serves as the main synagogue in Antwerp.

The Jewish community grew again quite rapidly during the 1950's and reached about 10,000 members in the early 1960's. Many of them were Holocaust survivors and their descendants who were joined by immigrants from Eastern Europe, mainly from Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, and Poland. For the most part these new immigrants belonged to various Hasidic groups; their impact to the Jewish life of Antwerp has been felt considerably and as they have continued to conduct a traditional Jewish way of life typical of the small towns in pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. Unlike the situation before WW 2, they all received Belgian citizenship, apart for a few who preferred to maintain their status of refugees. Since the early 1960's Jews from other countries as well, including Israel, settled in Antwerp.

In the second half of the 20th century the diamond industry became the main occupation for the Jews of Antwerp. Most of them are either high skilled artisans who specialize in executing the most professional stages in the process of turning row diamonds into high quality precious stones or merchants who are connected to the global network of diamond trade. The diamond bourses of Antwerp are located inside the Jewish districts of the city; they close Friday afternoon before the unset of the Shabbat and are deserted during Jewish holidays. After the 1980's, though, changes in the world diamond industry brought about a decline in the importance of Antwerp with the result that the influence of Jewish-owned companies on the market has diminished.

Due to its large concentration of orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews who maintain a largely traditional Jewish way of life, Antwerp has many times been nicknamed the last "shtetl" in Western Europe. Yiddish is widely spoken even outside the homes and also by Jews who were born in Belgium. In the second half of the 20th century Flemish has been increasingly adopted by the Jews of Antwerp, many of which also speak French and Hebrew. Many Jews in Antwerp live in Jootsewijk, a district around the Pelikanstraat, not far from the Central railway station.

During the early 2000's the Jewish population of Antwerp was estimated at about 18,000, the great majority of them belonging to the there separate Jewish communities in Antwerp. The ultra-orthodox Machsike Hadas (Israelitische Gemeente Van Antwerpen – Machsike Hadas) is home to most Hasidic groups in the city including the Belz, Gur, Satmar, Czortkow, Lubavitch, and Vizhnitz Hasidim. Antwerp is also the home of a new Hasidic group that was formed after WW2 by the followers of Rabbi Yitzhok Gvirzman (1881-1976), also known as Reb Itzikel (or Yitzkel), a Galician-born descendant of the Pshevorsker dynasty of rabbis, who immigrated to Antwerp in the 1950's. The Hasidic groups comprise about forty percent of the Antwerp Jews, but their presence is felt strongly. The members of the Shomre Hadas community (Israelitische Gemeente Van Antwerpen - Shomre Hadas) conduct a modern orthodox Jewish way of life. The Sephardi community of Antwerp is known as the Jewish Community of Portuguese Rite
(Israelitische Gemeente van de Portugese Ritus). The three communities are members of the Central Jewish Consistory of Belgium, the main Jewish umbrella organization in Belgium. It is estimated that about twenty percent of the Jews in Antwerp are not affiliated to any of the religious communities in the city preferring to conduct a secular way of life.

Each community has its own synagogues, batey-midrash, and ritual slaughterhouses. There are two ritual baths, one for men and a separate one for women. There are about thirty synagogues and prayer houses in Antwerp, most of them located within the neighborhood of Jootsewijk. The Jewish education is advanced by four main Jewish schools in Antwerp: Jesode Hatorah (for boys), Beth Yaakov (for girls) – both belonging to the Machsike Hadas community, Yavne, and Tachkemoni of the Shore Hadas community, in addition to other smaller private religious educational institutions that include Yeshiva Etz Haim and Yeshiva Tichonit. More than eighty-five percent of the Jewish children in Antwerp attend Jewish schools, one of the highest rates anywhere in the Diaspora. Student and youth organizations include Agudath Israel, Bnai Akiva, Hashomer Hatzair, and Hanoar Hazioni.

A number of welfare Jewish organizations are active in Antwerp, among them the Federation of Jewish Women's Associations and the Jewish Welfare Organization. The community maintains two senior citizen homes and a hospital. Keren Hayesod, WIZO, Keren Kayemet, and the Zionist Federation are the main Zionist organizations in Antwerp.

Belgisch Israelitisch Weekblad ("Belgian Jewish Weekly"), the largest Jewish newspaper in Belgium is published in Antwerp. The Romi Goldmuntz Center serves as the stage for many cultural events of the community, including lectures, music and dance performances and it also shelters a Jewish library. The Royal Maccabi Sports Club is the main Jewish sport center in Antwerp.

There were a number of anti-Jewish assaults in Antwerp during recent years. The Hoveniersatraat Synagogue was the target of a terrorist attack in 1981. The rise of the right-wing Vlaams Belang (formerly called Vlaams Blok) party encouraged an increase in the intolerant atmosphere towards non-European immigrants in Belgium; occasionally members of this nationalistic party expressed anti-Jewish opinions as well. The Forum of the Jewish Organizations in Flanders, established in the 1990's, undertook the task of informing the public opinion about the dangers of the newly emerging anti democratic and anti-Semitic currents in the Belgian society. In the early 2000's there was an increase in physical attacks on Jews and Jewish property especially by members of the Arab immigrant community of Antwerp.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People

Brussels
Belgium
Rotterdam
Banovce nad Bebravou
Brussels

Capital of Belgium

A Jewish community had been established in Brussels by the mid-13th century. A beautiful illuminated Pentateuch was written there in 1309 by the scribe Isaac ben Elijah of Ochsenfurt for Chaim, son of the martyr Chaim, attesting to the community's high social and cultural position. As in many Jewish communities throughout Europe, the Jews of Brussels were massacred during the Black Death in 1348-1349. A few subsequently resettled in the city, but a further massacre followed in May of 1370, after an accusation of host desecration. The small Jewish community was expelled from the city, and was not allowed to return until the end of Spanish rule in Belgium in the 18th century. The supposed host desecration that led to the massacre is depicted in a stained glass window in the St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral of Brussels.

Marranos would occasionally make their way to Brussels; for example, the Mendes family arrived in Brussels during the 16th century. Additionally, during the 17th century several Marranos, including Daniel Levi (Miguel) de Barrios, served in the Spanish Army in Brussels. Some of these Marranos later settled in Amsterdam, where they were able to practice Judaism openly.

After the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Belgium came under Austrian rule and Jews began, once again, to settle in Brussels. Expulsion decrees were issued in 1716 and 1756, but were averted by gifts to the crown. In 1757 the Jewish community of Brussels consisted of 21 men, 19 women, and 26 children, many of whom had moved from Holland. In 1783 Philip Nathan, who received the right of citizenship of Brussels, asked the authorities to assign a site for a new Jewish cemetery.

With the annexation of Belgium in 1794 by France, Jews were able to settle freely in Brussels. At the beginning of the 18th century the Brussels community recognized the authority of the Metz rabbinate over them. The Napoleonic Edict of March 17, 1808 included Brussels in the consistory (state controlled Jewish communal body) of Crefeld. Later, when Belgium united with Holland, Brussels became the head of the 14th religious district of Holland. Belgium achieved independence in 1830, and the constitution of 1831 accorded religious freedom to all of its citizens. Brussels became the center of the Belgian consistories, and Eliakim Carmoly was appointed to be the chief rabbi of Belgium in 1832.

The community, consisting primarily of Jews from Holland and Germany, saw a population increase when Jews began arriving from Poland and Russia after 1880, either to settle or as a stop on their way to the US. There was another wave of Jewish immigration from Germany after 1933. Before World War II, the Jewish community in Brussels was approximately 30,000, second in size only to Antwerp.

THE HOLOCAUST

The Nazis occupied Belgium in May, 1940. A Nazi ordinance led to the creation of the Association de Juifs en Belgique (AJB) in Brussels; under the pretext of providing social relief to the Jews of Brussels, the AJB was widely denounced by the Jewish resistance as a means for the Nazis to exert control over the Jewish community. Beginning in August, 1942, the Nazis began transporting Belgian Jews to the labor camp of Mechlin (Malines), and from there they were sent mainly to Auschwitz. Approximately 40,000 Belgian Jews were killed during the war.

After the war, between 1945-1950, the Jewish population of Brussels was about as large as it had been before World War II (approximately 27,000), due to the thousands of refugees arriving from Eastern and Central Europe en route to other locations. Afterwards immigration to Belgium decreased, and, in fact, there was a wave of emigration from Brussels to the US, Canada, Australia, and Israel.

The Jewish community's reconstruction after World War II was hampered by Belgium's economic instability and the process of rehabilitating war victims. Furthermore, as the majority of Jews in Brussels were foreigners, it was difficult for them to attain work permits. In 1946 an average of 4,500 people per month required relief or some form of aid from Jewish agencies (only a few hundred were still in need in 1970). Priority was given to the creation of institutions for social assistance and public services, such as L'Aide aux Israelites Victimes de la Guerre (later renamed Service Social Juif), L'Heureux Sejour, an old-age home, and the Caisse de Pret de Credit, in order to cope with the needs of the postwar Jewish community. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany also provided substantial support to the Jewish community of Brussels. A central fundraising agency unifying 15 institutions, La Centrale D'Oeuvres Sociales Juives, was created in 1952.

Brussels had two elementary Jewish day schools: the Ecole Israelite, and the Zionist Ganenou. There was also the Athenee Maimonide High School, which was run by the same board as the Ecole Israelite. All three schools were recognized and subsidized by the state. There were also Sunday schools, a Yiddish school, and various opportunities to learn Hebrew. Three ideologically different community centers also provided educational and leisure activities. There were three Ashkenazi and one Sephardi legally recognized religious committees, as well as several groups that organized their own religious services.

In 1966, Belgian Jews and American expat Jews living in Belgium created the progressive L'Union Israelite Liberale de Belgique. The Centre National des Hautes Etudes Juives, created by the Free University of Brussels and subsidized by the state, promoted research and studies on contemporary Jewry, and played an active role in the cultural renewal of the community.

Belgium

Royaume de Belgique / Koninkrijk België

A country in western Europe, member of the European Union (EU)

21st Century

Estimated Jewish population in 2018: 29,000 out of 11,000,000 (0.2%).  Most Jews live in the metropolitan areas of Brussels and Antwerp, the two largest cities of the country. The main umbrella organization of the Jewish communities of Belgium:

Comité de Coordination des Communautés Juives de Belgique (Coordinating Committee of Belgian Jewish Organizations)
Phone: 32.2 537 16 91
Fax: 32 2 539 22 96
Email: ccojb@scarlet.be
Website: www.ccojb.be

Rotterdam


City in W. Netherlands.

 

21st Century

The path to the entrance of a former Jewish institution was renovated in 2001.

 

History

After first trying to attract Marranos from Antwerp in 1604, the city of Rotterdam issued a charter in 1610 which promised various privileges, including complete religious freedom. However, this charter was abolished by the municipality two years later and a large number of those Portuguese who had settled meanwhile left for Amsterdam. Nevertheless, a small group remained, opening a synagogue and buying a plot of land to serve as a cemetery. An important reinforcement to the community came in 1647, when the wealthy de Pinto family arrived in Rotterdam and returned to Judaism.

That same year the municipality accorded the Jews the same rights as those obtained in Amsterdam. In Abraham de Pinto's house a synagogue and a yeshivah - the Jesiba de los Pintos - were opened; head of the yeshivah was Josiah Pardo, who also served as chief rabbi of the community (1648-69). In 1669 the yeshivah was transferred to Amsterdam.

From then on it was the de la Penha family, mostly merchants and shipowners, who played the major role in the community, which continued to exist until 1736. An Ashkenazi community was founded in 1660, at first fostered by the Portuguese community. Its first chief rabbi was Judah Loeb from Vilna (c. 1674-c. 1700). The Ashkenazim were in a difficult economic position; as they were not admitted to the guilds, they were mostly petty traders or dealers in old clothes, or they engaged in one of the few permitted crafts. In addition, they were allowed to sell their merchandise in the market until 1 p.m. only. Nevertheless, their number grew steadily. In 1725 a beautiful synagogue was built, which was destroyed during the German bombing of the city in 1940.

Emancipation in 1796 brought important changes, particularly because it put an end to the absolute power of the parnasim in the community. A grave conflict in the community over the powers of the parnasim was settled by the chief rabbi, Levi Hijman from Breslau (1781--1809), who enjoyed great renown as a scholar and was the author of Penei Aryeh.

In the 19th century the community flourished, owing to the growth of Rotterdam's port. The number of Jews increased from 2,104 in 1809 to more than 13,000 in 1940. In addition to several synagogues in different quarters of the city, a second great synagogue, built in 1891, was consecrated in 1939. The economic position of the Jews improved, particularly toward the end of the 19th century, to such an extent that the number of welfare cases decreased from 1,700 in 1873 to 1,600 in 1901 despite the growth of the community. The most important chief rabbis of Rotterdam were Joseph Isaacssohn (1850-71), who settled a conflict between Reform and Orthodox, and Bernhard Loebel Ritter (1885-1928), a leading scholar and a determined opponent of Zionism. In spite of innumerable endeavors to stimulate Jewish life in Rotterdam through a weekly journal, a literary club, and more than 20 other organizations,
assimilation had a serious impact. However, the community extended important help and assistance to refugees from Germany after 1933.

 

The Holocaust Period

In 1940 there were some 13,000 Jews living in Rotterdam (2% of the city's population); 60% of them were engaged in commerce and 20% in industry. With the invasion of Holland, the German bombers destroyed the center including two synagogues and the bet midrash, which contained valuable manuscripts. On September 1, 1941, all Jewish children were expelled from the public schools, and three Jewish elementary schools, a high school, and a school of higher learning were established. Large-scale deportations to the Westerbork concentration camp and from there to Poland began in late July 1942.

 

Postwar

After the war some 800 Jews returned to Rotterdam from concentration camps and hideouts. In 1969 about 1,300 of the 800,000 inhabitants of Rotterdam were Jews. Of these some 800 were members of the Jewish congregation.

Most prewar Jewish institutions, such as the home for the aged, the orphanage, and the hospital, were not reopened; but the central Jewish home for the aged, which until 1942 existed in Gouda, to the northeast of Rotterdam, was reopened in 1950. After services had been held on temporary premises for nine years, a new modern synagogue, with adjoining classrooms, secretariat, and a modern communal center subsidized by the government reconstruction fund for wartime damage, was inaugurated in 1954. The small square in front of it was officially named A. D. N. Davids Square in 1967 after the late chief rabbi, who perished in a concentration camp. Rabbi L. Vorst was communal rabbi from 1931. He was appointed chief rabbi of Rotterdam and district after the war, retiring in 1971. He was succeeded by Rabbi D. Kahn.

Banovce nad Bebravou

In Hungarian Ban

A small town in west Slovakia.

Banovce on the river Be Brava is situated on a railway line near the towns of Nitra and Trencin. Around the town there are wood industries and lacework wortkshops.

The are was first part of the “Great Moravian Empire”, and later was occupied by the Hungarians. During the period 1526-1918 Banovce belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and after that to the Republic of Czechoslovakia.

Jews arrived at the area already in the `1st century with the Roman Legions and it seems that Jewish merchants had been there ever since. Jews who escaped from Vienna to south Bohemia in the first half of the 15th century found refuge in the area of Trencin. Some of them settled down at Banovce, which was then called Trencen-Ban.

A Jewish community began to be organized at the place apparently in the first quarter of the 19th century. It was then headed by Rabbi Nathaniel Emerich and after him by his son Wolf Emerich. In 1822 they started keeping a regular record of births and deaths of Jews in the town and its surroundings.

In the first half of the 19th century, when Banovce was joined to the railway system, the place began to develop and the town absorbed Jews from the neighborhood, particularly from Ozorovce.

The community belonged to the Orthodox stream which opposed any change in the halakha. It had a cemetery, a synagogue, a mikveh, a home for the aged, a hevrah kaddisha (burial society), a women’s society and a daughter’s society. For a short time there was also a Jewish school and when it was closed down the cxhildren attended the general school and continued their studies at a gymnasium. Religious teachings were conducted by the rabbi. Jews were not accepted at the local teacher’s seminar, which was managed by Catholics.

The heads of the community between the two wolrd wars were: Ernest Munk, the president, Moritz Reich, the rabbi, and Isidor Weinstein, the secretary. The community also engaged cantors.

Jewish merchants and middlemen were active in the area already in the Roman period. They are again mentioned in records of the years 1903-1907. The Jews trade mainly in furs and kept commercial connections with Antwerp, Venice and countries in the east.

From the middle of the 19th century Jews integrated in all fields of the economy. Some of them became notable merchants. Among the members of the community were hotel owners, two physicians and two lawyers. The Jewish shops were all located around the central square of the town. Most of the Jews were of the middle class, some were poor. In the 1930’s two Jews, Burg and the president Munk, established a factory.

The relations between the Jewish community and the non-Jewish inhabitants were amicable and at the time of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, between the two world wars, the Jews enjoyed a national-cultural autonomy. From the 1920’s the youth were organized in Zionist youth movements: Hashomer Kadimah later Hashomer Hazair, Maccabi, and Benei akiva. The Zionists, headed by Isidor Weinstein, set up in the town a library, a club, and a sport exercise hall.

In 1926, prior to the 15th Zionist Congress, the Jews of Banovce acquired 250 shekels voting and membership rights, and continued to acquire them also in following years. In 1937 127 members of the community took part in the elctions to the 20th Zionist Congress and one of them was elected to the leadership of the General Zionists. A training farm for Alyjah was set up at Banovce in 1938 and many of its trainees actually emigrated to Eretz Israel.

In 1930 about 500 Jews were living at Branovce nad Bebravou.


The Holocaust Period

Following the Munich Agreement (September 1938), about a year before World War II broke out, the Republic of Czechoslovakia was dismembered and Slovakia became independent, a satellite of the German 3rd Reich.

The Jews were gradually removed from the social and economic life of the country. Many of them were taken to labor camps, which were set up at Sered and Novaki, where they worked for the authorities. At the end of 1940 there were still some 500 Jews at the town.

Between March and October 1942 Slovakia turned most of the Jews into the hands of the Germans in Poland, where most of them were murdered in concentration camps and extermination camps. A plea of the Jews of Banovce addressed to President Joseph Tiso to exempt Rabbi Reich from expulsion, was declined. The rabbi was taken to a lorry, from which he blessed his congregation, and then started on his last journey. After October 1942 only a few Jews, whose work was vital to the authorities, remained at Banovce.

In the summer of 1942, when the Germans invaded Slovakia in order to suppress an attempted rising against the Fascist regime, the Jews who were then still in the area, escaped to the woods. Most of them were caught by the Germans, murdered and buried in a mass grave at Banovce.

After the war, only 45 Jews of the town and the neighborhood survived. Most of them emigrated in the late 1940’s to Eretz Israel or to countries overseas. In 1990 three Jewish families were living at Banovce. The public buildings of the community were desolate and only about a third of the tombstones at the Jewish cemetery were still intact.

Public park on a Sabbath day, Antwerp, Belgium, 1984
Rabbi Klingberg and members of his congregation, Antwerp, Belgium, 1981
'Flower Day' of the Jewish National Fund, Antwerp, Belgium, 1914
Public park on Sabbath day,
Antwerp, Belgium, 1984
Photo: Ruth Maoz, Israel
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Ruth Maoz, Israel)
Rabbi Klingberg talking to people of his congregation
in front of his house in Brialmonte, Antwerp,
Belgium, 1981
Photo: Helen Kuropatwa, Belgium
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy Helen Kuropatwa, Belgium)
'Flower Day' of the Jewish National Fund,
Antwerp, Belgium, 1914.
(The Oster Visual Documentation Center, Beit Hatfutsot,
courtesy of Jacob Israeli, Nahariya)
Rosa Wolf, Antwerp, Belgium - Seeing the Voices, 2019

Rosa Wolf, formerly of Antwerp, Belgium - Interview from the Seeing the Voices project, recorded by Tal Wolf on January 1st., 2019

Nathan Gutwirth
Leiser, Moshe
Adler, Hugo Chaim

Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Adler, Hugo Chaim (1894-1955) , cantor and composer. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Adler worked with Yossele Rosenblatt in Hamburg and served as cantor in Mannheim, Germany, between 1921-1939. Adler studied composition with Ernst Toch. In 1939 he escaped to the United States and was appointed cantor at the synagogue of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Adler set Franz Rosenzweig’s hymns to music, and was deeply influenced by Rosenzweig’s Juedisches Lehrhaus. He also composed the cantatas LICHT UND VOLK (1931), BALAK UND BILEAM (1934), AKEDAH (1938), BEHOLD THE JEW (1943), JONAH (1943) and PARABLE OF PERSECUTION (1946). In addition, he composed music for complete liturgies. He died in the United States.
Nathan Gutwirth

Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Ber Jakont
Joseph Silberstein
Theodora Sara Silberstein
Efraim Silberstein
Mina (Mignon) Suskind-Smaragd
Herman Suskind
Rosa Sommer
Naphtali (Tulek) Sommer
Jacob Isak Wilner
Esther (Frimet) Wilner
Karel Wildstein
Fanny Feiga Wildstein
Henryk Wajswol
Mauritz Mozes Wudka
Aron Wudka
Chaja Ita Wahl
Karel Harstein
Ida Harstein
Herman Herczig
Rebecca Hamelsdorf
Myriam Feige Hamelsdorf
Dora Hackena
Cily-Sara Hauser
Sylvie Hauser
Lucien Hauser
Domb, (given name unknown)
Icchok Dab
Ryfka Regine Grunes
Israel Grunes
Wolf Grosberg
Wolf Wilhelm (Bobek) Gitler
Bernard (Dov Berek) Gitler
Isaac Baumgarten
Blasberg, (given name unknown)
Lina Blitz
Anna Bienstock
Mordechai George Bonat
Yeshayahu Eksztejn
Avraham Chaim Eksztejn
Oscar Appel
Erna Intrator
Charlotte Eisenbruch
Mali Offen
Mojsze Erlich
Guenzig, Ezriel
Mendes, Diogo
Jacques Presser
Nathan Gutwirth
Leiser, Moshe
Adler, Hugo Chaim

Ber Jakont (1921-1942), member of the "Hatikva" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 13, 1921 in Warsaw, Poland. His father, Jacob, and his mother, Chudes-Hadassa, nee Kreshov, arrived in Belgium, in 1924 and lived at 50 Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.  

The family had ten children of which three died in infancy.The others were: Zosha-Zelda born in 1899; Hersh-Zwi born in  1901; Sara-Sonia born in 1904; Hinda-Henriette born in 1908, Zeev born 1909, Arie Leib born in 1916 and who survived the Shoah; Dov-Ber born in 1921. The father, Jacob, was the architect of the famous building on Oostenstraat 50, Antwerp, Belgium.

Jakont, Ber studied at the "Jesode Hatorah" school and began his apprenticship as a jeweler. He was a close friend to Wolf Grosberg (see separate enty, Grosberg, Wolf). 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Jakont Ber was arrested by  the Germans in Antwerp, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there he was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on October 31, 1942, with Transport XVI. His name appears under number 128 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Joseph Silberstein (1926-1942), member of the "Shahal" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 13, 1926 in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Shlomo, and his mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921, (see separate entry Silberstein, Thodora Sara); Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, (see separate entry Silberstein, Joseph); Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925,; Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Joseph, was arrested by  the Germans in Antwerp, consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there he was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 15, 1942, with Transport III. His name appears under number 466 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Theodora Sara Silberstein (1921-1942), member of the "Hadassa Group" of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 29, 1921 in Borgerhout,Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Shlomo, and her mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921; Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, (see separate entry Silberstein, Efraim, ); Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925, (see separate entry Silberstein, Joseph); Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

Theodora Sara was blonde and very good at sport.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Theodora Sara, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from there she was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 247 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Efraim Silberstein (b. 1924), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on May 25, 1924 in Alexandria, Egypt. His father, Shlomo, and his mother, Chana, nee Hertz, arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, from Scotland in 1919 and lived in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium till around 1922 when they left for Alexandria, Egypt. On May 11, 1932, the family returned to Antwerp and lived at 204, Kroonstraat and later moved in the same street at number 197.

The family had eight children: Elizabeth born in Glasgow, Scotland on May 30, 1916; Harry Isaac born in Glasgow, on November 25, 2017; Leah-Gerda born in Antwerp, Belgium, on August 4, 1919; Dora born in Borgerhout-Antwerp, on December 1921, (see Silberstein, Thodora Sara separate entry); Efraim born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 25, 1924, Joseph born in Alexandria, on December 13, 1925, (see Silberstein, Joseph separate entry); Maurice born in Alexandria, on November 26, 1927; and Chaim born in Antwerp on January 30, 1932.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Silberstein, Efraim, was arrested in Marseille, France, sent to Auschwitz from where he never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mina (Mignon) Suskind-Smaragd (1915-1943), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 30, 1915 in Den Haag, Holland. Her father, Shimon, and her mother, Rucha, nee Dankowitz, had five children: Melita, Rosalie, Alex (see separate entry Smaragd, Alex), Mina and Sylvie Fischer who lives in Israel.

Mina was married to Herman Suskind (see separate entry Suskind Herman). They had  a daughter, Beatrice (Betty) who survived the Shoah and then lived in Jerusalem.

Mina made alyah to Eretz Israel with her husband because he was promised a position in Israel. After receiving a letter that his father was very ill, they returned to Belgium and lived at 50, Oostenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Suskind-Smaragd, Mina, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from September 23, 1942 until released on June 26, 1943. Later she was re-arrested together with her husband and sent to the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. There is a testimony that she was seen there on September 6, 1943. She was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 189 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Herman Suskind (1911-1943), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on July 10, 1911 in Antwep, Belgium. His father, Abraham, and his mother, Gittel, nee Fischer, lived at 11, Stoomstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. 

Herman was married to Mina nee Smaragd (see separate entry Suskind-Smaragd Mina). They had  a daughter, Beatrice (Betty) who survived the Shoah and vils in Jerusalem.

Herman was one of the founders of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bahad) in Belgium and the head of the branch. He was a member of the Mizrahi Youth and even made alyah to Eretz Israel with his wife because he was promised a position in Israel. After receiving a letter that his father was very ill, the returned to Belgium. He worked in the diamond business and lived at 50, Oostenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Suskind, Herman, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, from September 23, 1942 until released on June 26, 1943. Later he was re-arrested and sent to the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. There is a testimony that he was seen there on September 6, 1943. He was  deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. His name appears under number 190 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Rosa Sommer (1922-1942?), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 20, 1922 in Secovce, Slovakia.  

Rosa had one Brother, Naphtali (see Sommer Naphtali, separate). She was very pretty.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Sommer, Rosa,was arrested by the Germans, and consequently detained in the transit camp at Drancy, France, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 9, 1942, with Transport 30. She never returned.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Naphtali (Tulek) Sommer (b. 1924), member of the "Tikva" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born in 1924, in Secovce, Slovakia.  

Naphtali had one sister, Rosa (see Sommer Rosa, separate). He was blond and friendly.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Naphtali Sommer was arrested during the Holocaust, but his fate is unknown.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Jacob Isak Wilner (1919-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on november 5, 1919 in Zamigrod, Poland. His father, Alter Naftali, and his mother, Sylka nee Langstein, arrived in Belgium in September 1925 and lived at the corner of Bleekhofstraat and 19, Magdalenastraat, and later at 1, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a poultry shop. 

Jacob had five siblings, Esther (see Wilner Esther separate), Georgette Augusta, Anna Malka, Hersch Mendel and Alter Menashe, (the three latter were not deported).

Jacob was very active in the main "Garin" of the youth movement and loved to take responsibility. He was a furrier.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wilner, Jacob, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. His name appears under number 950 on the list of the deported. According to his death certificate found in the archives of Auschwitz, he died on September 25, 1942 of pneumonia.

...........................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Esther (Frimet) Wilner (1925-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 11, 1925 in Zamigrod, Poland. Her father, Alter Naftali, and her mother, Sylka nee Langstein , arrived in Belgium in September 1925 and lived at the corner of Bleekhofstraat and 19, Magdalenastraat, and later at 1, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a poultry shop. 

Esther had five siblings,Jacob (see Wilner Jacob separate), Georgette Augusta, Anna Malka, Hersch Mendel and Alter Menashe, (the three latter were not deported).

Esther was very active in Bnei Akiva.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wilner, Esther, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 11, 1942, with Transport II. Her name appears under number 464 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Karel Charly Wildstein (1927-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on February 3, 1927 in Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgim. His father, Alter David, and his mother, Bluma nee Wildstein, lived in Vienna, Austria at 22/13 , Heinzelmanstrasse, arrived in Belgium in January 1924 and lived at 23, Van Leriusstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. 

Karel had two sisters, Fanny (see Wildstein Fanny separate) and Frieda Frisch, who survived the Shoah and passed away in old age in Belgium.

He was short, had curly hair and blue eyes. He was "Baal Koreh" in the Mizrahi "Menachem Avelim" Beit Midrash on Lange Kievitstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. He studied at the School of Commerce on Markgravelei in Antwerp. Durint the war, Sylvie Fischer met him with his mother on Loosplaats. The mother said that sinc Fanny was taken, she had enough of running away, so the next day she presented herself together with Charly at the train station.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wildstein, Karel , was arrested with his mother by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. He was then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 25, 1942, with Transport V. His name appears under number 579 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

His mother, Blima, was deported to Auschwitz on 12 September 1942 with Transport IX. Her name appears under the number 984 on the list of the deported.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Fanny Feiga Wildstein (1922-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 12, 1922 in Jodlowa, Poland. Her father, Alter David, and her mother, Bluma nee Wildstein, lived in Vienna, Austria at 22/13 , Heinzelmanstrasse, arrived in Belgium in January 1924 and lived at 23, Van Leriusstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. . 

She had a brother, Karel Charly (see Wildstein Karel separate) and a sister Frieda Frisch, who survived the Shoah and passed away in old age in Belgium.

Together with Sally Weinberg, the late Thea Epstein and Rachel Zugman (see Zugman, Rachel, separate), she belonged to the secret girl's group "Safatera", made up of the initials of their names. She worked in the diamond business.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wildstein, Fanny, was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport V. Her name appears under number 495 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Henryk Wajswol (1924-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on Aufusr 27, 1924 in Kimontow, Poland. His father, Yehezkel, a teacher, and his mother, Dobra nee Eisenbuch, arrived in Belgium in August 1929 and lived at 50, Hovenierstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later at 34, Bouwenstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

The family had 8 children: Itzik, Moshe, Malka, Sarah, Reisele, Hersh (Henryk), Jacob Eliezer and Shimon.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wajswol, Henryk was arrested by the Nazis and was incarcerated in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and from there deported on August 29, 1942, with Transport VI. His name appears under number 571 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mauritz Mozes Wudka (1927-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on December 20, 1927 in Borgherhout, Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Avraham, and his mother, Gittel nee Cwass, arrived in Belgium in August 1925 and lived at 69, Lamorinierestraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later in 136, Lange Kievitstraat, and then in 9, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a textile shop. 

He had a two brothers, Aron (see separate entrance Wudka, Aron) and David, who survived the Shoah and then lived in the U.S.A.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wudka, Mauritz, was arrested by the Nazis  and incarcerated at the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium and from there he was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp, on October 10 1942, with Transport XII. His name appears under number 962 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Aron Wudka (1923-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 12, 1923 in Bialistok, Poland. His father, Avraham, and his mother, Gittel nee Cwass, arrived in Belgium in August 1925 and lived at 69, Lamorinierestraat, Antwerp, Belgium and later in 136, Lange Kievitstraat, and then in 9, Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. The parents had a textile shop. 

He had a two brothers, Mozes (see separate entrance Wudka, Mauritz Mozes) and David, who survived the Shoah and today lives in the U.S.A. He studied in the Sha'arei Torah yeshiva that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass congregation in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Wudka, Aron was taken by the Nazis for forced laber as part of the Operation Todt and worked at the Joh. Schneider factory from July 26, 1942 until October 10, 1942. He was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, on October 10 1942, with Transport XII. His name appears under number 961 on the list of the deported. 

He was seen for the last time on October 30, 1944 in Faulbruck (now Mościsko, Poland). It was German territory until 1945. 

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Chaja Ita Wahl (1923-1942), member of the "Geula" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on July 10, 1923 in Hannover, Germany. Her father, Moshe Aron, and her mother Pradel nee Storch, lived at 66 Grote Beerstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They lived as a very orthodox Jewish family. Chaya Ita had a sister, Malka Rachel and a brother Bezalel Mordechai, who were deported with her and their mother to Auschwitz.

Chaja Ita was talented in singing, and although her father was opposed to her being member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad), she was very  devoted to the movement. 

After the war her father returned to Belgium and live at 30 General capiaumontstraat, Berchem, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Chaja Ita was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 29, 1942 with Transport VI. Her name appears under number 62 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Karel Harstein (1922-1942), member the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 3, 1922 in Borgerhout-Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Kamiel, and his mother, Pessa Chaya nee Bramin, arrived in Belgium with their family  in October 1923 and lived at 14, Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and then in 47, Bloemstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

He had a two sisters, Ida (see Harstein, Ida) and the other, Bertha Ubersfeld, who survived the Shoah and after the war lived in Brussels, Belgium. He studied in the Sha'arei Torah yeshiva that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass congregation in Antwerp, Belgium, and was a apprentice jeweler. 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Harstein, Karel  was takenf by the Nazis for forced laber as part of the Operation Todt at the Joh. Schneider factory in Saarbrucken, Germany and was held at the Hardleot-Plage camp. He was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, on October 31, 1943, with Transport XVI. Her name appears under number 460 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Ida Harstein (1921-1942), member of the "Hadassa" group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 19, 1921 in Berchem-Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Kamiel, and her mother, Pessa Chaya nee Bramin, arrived in Belgium with their family  in October 1923 and lived at 14, Zurenborgstraat, Antwerp, Belgium and then in 47, Bloemstraat, Borgerhout, Antwerp, Belgium. 

She had a brother, (see Harstein, Karel) and a sister, Bertha Ubersfeld, who survived the Shoah and after the war lived in Brussels, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Harstein, Ida was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 8, 1942, with Transport VII. Her name appears under number 87on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Herman Herczig (1916-1942), member of youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on June 1, 1916 in Bardejov, Czechoslovakia (now in Slovakia). The family arrived in Belgium in November 1924 and lived on Cuperusstraat, and then at 3 Groote Beerstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. His last know address was at 26 Generaal Capiaumontstraat, Berchem, Antwerp, Belgium. He was a diamond cutter. He had a brother called Emanuel. 

Herman was known as a big joker, and it was told that he once dressed up like Gandhi, and took a plank studded with nails and lay down on it like a fakir. He was nicknamed "Gandhi" because he physically resembled the Indian leader. According to his friends testimonies, he was friendly, pleasant, had a good sense of humor and above all was a good friend. He was also talented as a handball player and was a star in his team.  He served as the treasurer of the youth movement from 1933-1942 and participated at all summer camps of which he was in charge of finances and logistics.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Herczig, Herman was mobilized by the Nazis in Antwerp and sent to Dannes-Camiers work camps in France, from there expelled via the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 15, 1942, with Transport X. His name appears under number 745 on the list of the deported. He never returned. According to hearsay, one morning he just did not wake up.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Rebecca Hamelsdorf (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 29, 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Baruch, and her mother, Zluwe nee Zollman, arrived in Belgium in July 1924 and lived first  at 212, Confortlei, Deurne Zuid, then in 23, Van der Meydenstraat, and afterwards at 25, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, then moved to 5, Borgerhoutsestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. She was a jeweler. 

She had a sister, Mania (see Hamelsdorf Myriam Feige) and a brother Avraham, who survived the Shoah.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hamelsdorf, Rebecca was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport IV. Her name appears under number 841 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Myriam Feige Hamelsdorf (1920-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on September 18, 1920 in Den Haag, Holland. Her father, Baruch, and her mother, Zluwe nee Zollman, arrived in Belgium in July 1924 and lived first  at 212, Confortlei, Deurne Zuid, then in 23, Van der Meydenstraat, and afterwards at 25, Marinisstraat, Borgerhout, then moved to 5, Borgerhoutsestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. She was a jeweler. There is some evidence that she was engaged to a young mand named Avraham Lipshitz.

She had a sister, Becky (see Hamelsdorf Rebecca) and a brother Avraham, who survived the Shoah.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hamelsdorf, Myriam Feige was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 8, 1942, with Transport IV. Her name appears under number 840 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Dora Hackena (1922-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on April 12, 1922 in Ostende, Belgium. Her father, Moshe, and her mother, Sara nee Einhorn, he lived at 142, Isabellalei, Antwerp, Belgium. She was the sister of Isabella Ehrenfeld, who survived the war and lived in Antwerp, Belgium. Her other sisters lived in USA.

A letter from the Siamese (Thailand) Consulate in Belgium date January 31, 1941, confirms that she had been granted an entry permit into Siam (Thailand). Dora got married in Antwerp, Belgium in a religious ceremony only and on June 6, 1941 gave birth to a daughter, Clarisse. According to some testimonies it is possible that she gave birth to another child.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hackena, Dora was arrested together with her children by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 561 and the name of her daughter Clarisse under the number 562 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.,

Cily-Sara Hauser (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Tikvatenu which merged with Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on July 29, 1924 in Vienna, Austria. Her father, Osias Herzel came to Belgium in the twenties while her mother Clara-Chaya nee Honig, arrived with her daughter in Belgium in 1933. They lived at 144, Lange Leemstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

She studied in a girls school on the Lamorinierestraat and later at the public high school (Athenee Royale). She was an outstanding student.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser Cyli-Sara was arrested with her parents by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 26, 1942 with Transport XI. Her name appears under number 1830 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Sylvie Hauser (1924-1942), member of of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on November 11, 1924 in Antwerp, Belgium. Her father, Shimon and her mother, Chaya nee Anisfeld, lived at Mercatorstraat 132, Antwerp and later moved to Bindstraat 32, Berchem, Belgium.

She had a brother named Lucien (see Hauser Lucien).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser, Sylvie was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp, Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium. From there she was deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1942, with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 103 on the list of the deported. She died in Auschwitz from typhus in the hands of Mrs. Dym from Antwerp.

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Lucien Hauser (1923-1942), member of of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on January 6, 1923 in Antwerp, Belgium. His father, Shimon and his mother, Chaya nee Anisfeld, lived at Mercatorstraat 132, Antwerp and later moved to Bindstraat 32, Berchem, Belgium.

He had a sister named Sylvie (see Hauser Sylvie).

He studied at the public high school (Athenee Royal) in Antwerp and graduated summa cum laude for which he received a prize (medal) from the Belgian Government.  He was one of the founders of Tikvatenu and was very active in the movement which merged later on with Bne Akiva-Bachad. In preparation for his aliyah to Israel, he sent letters to Ben-Zion Brot, who was already there, for advice about what to study. Ben-Zion advised him to study textiles, but Lucien (also known as “”Sheel” and “Loosh”) registered to the technical school of Gembloux to study agronomy.

In 1942 he spent a couple of months in the youth movement’s training farm in Bomal till its closing. From there he moved to Brussels.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Hauser was arrested by the Nazis in Brussels together with other Belgians and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, where he encountered his sister Sylvie (see Hauser Sylvie). From there he was deported to the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1942, with Transport XXIIB. His name appears under number 58 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

Domb, member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad). His parent had a grocery shop on the Rolwagenstraat, Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

..........................................................................................................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Icchok Dab (1926-1942) member of the group Shahal of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 7, 1926. The family lived on the Marinisstraat, Antwerp, Belgium. Icchok studied in the "Jesode Hatorah" school.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Dab Icchok was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, Belgium and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi deaath camp on August 18, 1942, with Transport IV. His name appears under number 196 on the list of the deported. He did not return.

......................................................................................................................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Ryfka Regine Grunes (1924-1942), was a member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium. She was born on December 3, 1925 in Rymanow, Poland. Her father, Izak, who owned a bakery, and her mother, Henna née Kohn, arrived in Belgium in 1927 and lived first at 10, Kroonstraat, and afterwards at 262, Provinciestraat, both in Antwerp, Belgium. Ryfka Grunes had a brother, Israel Grunes (see under Grunes, Israel).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Grunes was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport XVIII on January 15, 1943. Her name appears under number 742 on the list of deported, she never returned. 

...............................................................................

This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Israel Grunes (1925-1942), was a member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium. He was born on December 1925 in Rymanow, Poland. His father, Izak, who owned a bakery, and his mother, Henna née Kohn, arrived in Belgium in 1927 and lived first at 10, Kroonstraat, and afterwards at 262, Provinciestraat, both in Antwerp, Belgium. Israel Grunes had a sister, Ryfka Regine Grunes (see under Grunes, Ryfka Regine).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Grunes was arrested by the Nazis in Belgium and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport XV on October 24, 1942. His name appears under number 276 on the list of deported. Grunes perished in Auschwitz on  October 27, 1942.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Grosberg (1917-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 17, 1917 in Moscow, Russia. His father Joseph and his mother Chaya née Kahan arrived in Belgium in June 1930 and lived on 61, Charlottalei in Antwerp. He was a student at the Free University of Brussels (ULB) and worked in the diamond business.

Grosberg was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on October 24, 1942 with Transport XIV. His name appears under number 144 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Wolf Wilhelm (Bobek) Gitler (1925-1942), member  of the Shahal group  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on July. 10, 1925 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Gitler Bernard Dov) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in Belguim and consequently detained in the transit camp of Mechelen-Malines, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with transport VIII  on September 8, 1942. His name appears under number 470 on the list of deported. Wolf Wilhelm Gitler was murdered in Auschwitz on September 11, 1942.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Bernard (Dov Berek) Gitler (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) Belgium, was born on Nov. 6, 1921 in Krakow, Poland. His father, Shalom Hersch, and his mother, Leah née Rosemary, arrived in Belgium in 1928 and lived on 16, Van Leriusstraat in Antwerp. They had five children; Chaim, Malka Chaya, Dov, Wolf (see under Wolf Wilhelm Gitler) and Joseph. His father worked as a diamond dealer. Bernard studied goldsmith's work as an apprentice.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Gitler was arrested by the Nazis in France and consequently detained in the transit camp of Drancy, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp with the 27th transport September 2, 1942. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Isaac Baumgarten (1925-1944), member of the Shahal group of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on June 1925 in Jaslo, Poland. His father, Joel,and his mother, Sara nee Schwarz, emigrated from Uruguay and arrived in Belgium in 1932. They lived at Lange Kievitstraat 24, Antwerp, Belgium. The father, Joel, dealt in furs and diamonds, while Isaac was a student at the Tachkemoni School in Antwerp. At the beginning of WW2 Isaac fled to France and lived in Eybens-les-Grenoble. He was a member of the French Resistance under the command of Shneck, and his nom de guerre was Pedro.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

He was arrested by the Nazis and sent to  the Drancy transit camp and consequently deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on April 13, 1944 with transport LXXI. In Auschwitz he contracted typhus, was beaten to death and died in the arms of his brother Marc, who survived the war.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Blasberg, (given name unknown), member of the group Shahal of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium. Disappeared during WW2 in Talyers, France.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Lina Blitz (1923-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born in Nowy Sacz, Poland, on October 25, 1923. Her father, Haskel Feivel, and her mother Frimet nee Hollander, arrived in Belgium in 1929 and lived at Rolwagenstraat 21, Antwerp, Belgium. The family had a yarn shop. Lina had a brother, Joseph, who survived the Shoah and lived in Antwerp after the WW2. Lieba studied at the girl's high school in Berchem, Antwerp (Athenaeum voor meisjes). Her friends said that she was a bookworm. She read a lot and loved to tell about the books she read. Lina started by being a member of the youth movement Hashomer Hatzair and joined later Bne Akiva (Bachad).

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Lina was arrested by the Nazis and was deported to Auschwitz, via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen on September 26, 1942 with Transport XI. Her name appears as number 1822 on the list of the deported. Lina did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Anna Bienstock (? - ) resided in Deurne, Antwerp, Belgium, during WW2.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mordechai George Bonat (1921-1942), member of the group Hatikva  of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on March 7, 1921 in Vienna, Austria. His father, Moshe, and his mother, Perla nee Haussman, arrived in Belgium in March 1929 and lived at  Plantijn Moretuslei 11, Antwerp, Belgium. He had a sister named Ruth. He studied at the yeshiva Sha’are Torah that belonged to the Shomrei Hadass community, Antwerp. He was a furrier. During the war Bonat founded Lapidei Zion ("Torches of Zion") that became Tikvatenu ("Our Hope") and merged later with the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad). On one wall of the building of Bnei Akiva located on Van der Meydenstraat hung a newspaper named “Be-Bu-Bo”, called after the names of the three members who edited it: Ben-Zion Brot, Butek (David Izbutski) and Bogo (George Bonat). Bonat George replaced Max Berenblut (known in Israel as Professor Menachem Banit, a laureate of the Price of Israel) as the head of the youth group in 1939. He was a graduate form the Tachkemoni School and knew Hebrew fluently. As part of Operation Todt he was sent to forced labor at the Max Fruh factory, where he worked from July 12, 1942 until October 17, 1942.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Along with all other Jewish forced labor workers, Bonat was  arrested by the Nazis and deported to Auschwitz via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, on October 31, 1942 with Transport XVII. His name appears under number 179 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Yeshayahu Eksztejn (1927-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on May 6, 1927 in Lodz, Poland. His father, Israel and his mother, Sara nee Mastbaum, arrived in Belgium with their children in 1930 and lived on 29, Lentestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They moved a couple of times during the war including to 7, Enghienstraat in Gravenbrakel, Belguim, and from there to Linnéstr 58, St Josse ten Noode, Belgium. The last know address was: Avenue de la Reine, 323  Bruxelles. He had a brother Avraham who also perished in Auschwitz. (see separate entry)

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Eksztejn was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 18,1942 with Transport IV. His name appears under number 182 on the list of deported. He did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Avraham Chaim Eksztejn (1925-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, was born on August 19, 1925 in Lodz, Poland. His father, Israel and his mother, Sara nee Mastbaum, arrived in Belgium with their children in 1930 and lived on 29, Lentestraat, Antwerp, Belgium. They moved a couple of times during the war including to 7, Enghienstraat in Gravenbrakel, Belgium, and from there to Linnéstr 58, St Josse ten Noode, Belgium. The last know address was: Avenue de la Reine, 323  Bruxelles. He had a brother Yeshayahu who also perished in Auschwitz. (see separate entry)

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Eksztejn was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 18,1942 with Transport IV. His name appears under number 181 on the list of deported. He did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Oscar Appel (1921-1942), member of the group Hatikva of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on April 18, 1921 in Bremen, Germany. His father, Isaac, and his mother Mindel nee Sina, came to Belgium with their children Oscar (Osias), Pepi and Henri and lived in Antwerp, Belgium.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the years 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Appel was one of the signers of the bylaws of Bnei Akiva organization in Antwerp, published in 1935.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Erna Intrator (b. 1925), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad), Born on June 1, 1925 in Rzeszow, Poland. The family lived at132, Lange Kievitstraat in Antwerp.Together with her father Osias and her mother Bertha née Kalb, she was forced to leave Antwerp, Belgium, from February 1, 1941, and was relocated in Beverloo, Limburg, Belgium, in what was called résidence forcée et surveillée until July 21, 1941. She was a pediatric nurse.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Erna Intrator was deported to Auschwitz via the transit camp Malines-Mechelen, on August 25, 1942 with Transport V. Her name appears under number 293 on the list of deported. She did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

 Charlotte Eisenbruch (1921-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, was born in Antwerp, Belgium, on May 21, 1921. Her father David and her mother Rosa (maiden name Strizova) arrived in Belgium in 1920 and lived at 53, Consciencestraat, Antwerp, Belgium, then later at 19, General Capiaumonstraat in Berchem-Antwerp, Belgium. Charlotte had a brother named Adolph and a sister named Régine. 

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Charlotte Eisenbruch was arrested by the Nazis and detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 20, 1943 with Transport XXIIB. Her name appears under number 541 on the list of the deported. She did not return.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

 

 

Mali Offen (1924-1942), member of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad) - Belgium, born on December 10, 1924 in Berlin, Germany. Her father, Mojsze and her mother Mina nee Dorf, arrived in Belgium in 1933.  She had 5 siblings: Paula, Isi, Heini (passed away at the age of 1.5 year), Esther and Jacky. Until the Nazis came to power in 1933, she grew up and studied in schools in Berlin, Germany. That same year her family left Germany and immigrated to Antwerp, Belgium in order to receive an immigration certificate to the Land of Israel. The family was actually granted the certificate, but because of various reasons stayed behind in Antwerp. Mali studied in a Flemish public school for girls. Though she did not know the Flemish language when she was accepted to the school, after a few months she was awarded the first prize in Flemish composition. On January 1941, the whole family was forced to leave Antwerp, Belgium, and was relocated to Asch in the province of Limburg, Belgium, in what was called résidence forcée et surveillée . Only three months later, on March 25, were they allowed to return to Antwerp.

The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.

Mali was arrested by the Nazis and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on August 11, 1942 with Transport II. Her name appears under number 793 on the list of the deported. She never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot databases, courtesy of the authors.

Mojsze Erlich (1921-1942), member of of the group Hatikva of the youth organization Bnei Akiva (Bachad)-Belgium, born on 15 October 1921 in Warsaw, Poland. The family immigrated to Belgium in 1924 and settled in Antwerp. Along with his father, Yeruham, and his mother, Sara nee Scheinberg, he lived at 247, Provinciestraat, Antwerp. The parents owned a dairy shop. He studied at the Yeshiva Sha’arei Torah, that belonged to the Shomrei Hadas community in Antwerp, and also was a student at the local university.


The Bnei Akiva (Bachad) youth organization in Belgium was founded in 1933, and was a very important youth organization in the life of the Belgian Jews in the years before and during the Shoah. They were active even in the yeas 1940-1942, when Belgium was occupied by the Nazis. When their activities came to an end, some of the members joined the agricultural Hachshara ("training camp") in Bomal, Belgium, with the hope that one day they will be able to immigrate to the Land of Israel and live there as farmers.


Erlich was arrested by the Nazis in Antwerp and consequently detained in the transit camp at Malines-Mechelen, Belgium, and then deported to Auschwitz Nazi death camp on September 1, 1942, with Transport VII. His name appears under number 267 on the list of the deported. He never returned.

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This biography was originally published in the book The story of a Memorial, Bnei Akiva-Tikvatenu, Antwerp, in the Holocaust, edited by Jacques I. Offen and Salomon Hauser, published by Shamayim LTD, Israel 2010, and was recorded in Beit Hatfutsot's databases, courtesy of the authors.

Scholar

He received a rabbinic education in his native Krakow and his secular education at the universities of Berlin and Berne. He then served as rabbi in Dresnitz and Lostice. After World War I he settled in Antwerp where he headed the Tahkemoni school and later became a bookseller. Guenzig's scholarly work dealt largely with the history of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskala) in Galicia but he wrote on many other topics and edited scholarly journals.
Marrano banker

Born in Spain, he established - with his brother - a business in spices and precious stones. He settled in Antwerp, Low Countries, and on his brother's death in 1536 was joined in the business by his sister-in-law, Beatrice da Luna (Gracia Mendes). Their great bank enjoyed a monopoly in pepper. Their vast wealth and culture obtained them admittance to the highest circles. Mendes was a magnate in the spice trade and made large loans to the governments of the Low Countries, Portugal, and England. He organized an escape route for Marranos from the Iberian peninsula to Italy and Turkey. He was arrested in 1532 on charges of Judaizing but the case was allowed to lapse on payment of a heavy fine (partly due to the intervention of England's Henry VIII who used the Mendes bank). After his death in Antwerp a similar charge was the pretext for the confiscation of his property.

Jacques Presser (1899-1970), professor of history at University of Amsterdam, Holland, writer and poet best known for his book on the history of the persecution of the Jews in the Netherlands during World War II, born in Amsterdam to a secular Jewish family. When he was young, his family lived for some time in Antwerp, Belgium, where his father found work as a diamond cutter.

After finishing a vocational college and working for a few years he attended the University of Amsterdam where he studied history and art history. He graduated in 1926 and then taught history at the newly founded Vossius Gymnasium in Amsterdam. In 1930 he became a lecturer at the Instituut voor Historische Leergangen. In 1939 he published an article “Anti-Semitism as a historical Phenomenon”. When Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, he tried to flee to England. When this attempt did not succeed he tried to commit suicide. As a Jew he was dismissed from the Vossius Gymnasium, but was permitted to teach at a Jewish school. In early 1943, his wife Deborah Apple was arrested and deported to the Sobibor death camp, where she was murdered. He managed to escape a similar fate by hiding out in four different addresses in a small town in the countryside. During this time he wrote a history of America which was published in 1949.

After the end of World War II, Presser was reinstated at the Vossius Gymnasium, and became also a lecturer in political history, didactics, and the methodology of history at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Amsterdam. In 1947 he also began to teach at the University's politico-social faculty of law and the following year he was appointed professor at the Faculty of Arts. Holding left-wing views, he spoke out on several sensitive political issues such as the Dutch police actions in Indonesia, and the activities of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy against suspected Communists. He also contributed to the leftist magazines like "Vrij Nederland", and "De Waarheid". In 1952 he was appointed full professor. In 1950 Presser was requested by the Dutch government to produce a study about the fate of Dutch Jews during the war. "Ondergang", published in English as “Ashes in the Wind: The destruction of the Dutch Jews”, appeared in 1965, became his most important and best known work. Besides history books, Presser also wrote novels. His book "The Night of the Girondists", which was based on his war time experiences, received literary prizes, and became an international best-seller. Set in the Dutch transit camp of Westerbork, the leading character of this book is an assimilated Jewish teacher who collaborated with the Nazis. His job was to select Jews for transportation to Auschwitz; later he realised that, as a Jew, he was also bound to share the fate of those whom he had selected for deportation.

Nathan Gutwirth (1916-1999), Holocaust survivor and diamond merchant, born in Antwerp, Belgium, to Polish born orthodox parents who later went to live in Scheveningen, Holland, and became Dutch citizens. The young man went to study Talmud at the Telz yeshiva in Lithuania, where he met and became friendly with Jan Zwartendijk, representative of the Phillips Company in Lithuania. Zwartendijk regularly gave Gurtwirth Dutch newspapers and the two spent many hours discussing Dutch football in which they were both interested. In 1940 Lithuania, in accordance with the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact, was annexed by the Soviet Union and then one year later it was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Many Jews realised that they were in a trap. Gutwirth approached his friend Zwartendijk, who in the meantime had been appointed honorary Dutch consul in Kovna (Kaunas), after his predecessor was dismissed on account of his Nazi sympathies. As a Dutch citizen, Gutwirth should theoretically have had no problem in leaving the country, but the Russians were hardly more hospitable to the Jews than the Nazis. So the two devised a scheme whereby Gutwirth would receive a visa to enter the Dutch colony of Curacao – which was in fact unnecessary since Dutch citizens did not need an entry visa for Curacao, but with the aid of this “non-visa-visa” he would be able to obtain permission to transit the USSR. Gutwirth then obtained a visa to enter Japan from where, he explained, he would travel to Curacao.

While at the yeshiva at Telz Gutwirth had frequently been offered hospitality by a local Chassidic family, Rabbi and Mrs Minz. He offered to take with him to Curacao one of their daughters, Nechama, in order to save her life. The plan worked. They both arrived in Japan safely.

A short while after his arrival in Japan Gutwirth heard of a shipload of 74 Jews arrived in the port of Kobe, but were not allowed to land because they had omitted to obtain a “non-visa visa” for Curacao or a visa for some other final destination. The ship was forced to return them to Vladivostok, Russia. Gutwirth set to work to obtain these visas for them but it would take a few days. To gain valuable time he fabricated a telegram purporting to be signed by the USA ambassador in Japan in which the captain of the vessel was instructed to return to Kobe since the USA had now agreed to accept his passengers. Understandably the Japanese Post Office was reluctant to accept his claim that he was authorised by the US embassy to send the telegram. He did not give up and finally found a post office agency which agreed to his request. When the ship returned to port, destination visas had, at his request, been issued by the Dutch consul in Kobe and these 74 Jews including the Amshinover Rebbe who was on the ship, were saved.

The young Gutwirth couple, however, had no intention of continuing to Curacao. Instead they went to the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, where they decided to marry. Nathan then joined the Dutch army. When the Japanese invaded Indonesia he was taken prisoner and spent the remaining 3 ½ years of the war as a librarian in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In 1946, after the end of World War II, the couple went to the USA where they lived for some thirteen years. In 1958, wishing to be reunited with the remains of their family, he returned to Europe, settled in Antwerp and built up the family diamond business. He became prosperous and a benefactor to many Jewish and general charities. He founded “Tikvateinu”, an organization to help severely disadvantaged children to realize their full potential and take a full part in society. The organization is active in Antwerp until today. Some of the funds for Tikvateinu were donated by Nathan's Israeli cousin Aaron Gutwirth who was a successful industrialist Gutwirth died in Antwerp in 1999.

Adler, Hugo Chaim (1894-1955) , cantor and composer. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Adler worked with Yossele Rosenblatt in Hamburg and served as cantor in Mannheim, Germany, between 1921-1939. Adler studied composition with Ernst Toch. In 1939 he escaped to the United States and was appointed cantor at the synagogue of Worcester, Massachusetts.
Adler set Franz Rosenzweig’s hymns to music, and was deeply influenced by Rosenzweig’s Juedisches Lehrhaus. He also composed the cantatas LICHT UND VOLK (1931), BALAK UND BILEAM (1934), AKEDAH (1938), BEHOLD THE JEW (1943), JONAH (1943) and PARABLE OF PERSECUTION (1946). In addition, he composed music for complete liturgies. He died in the United States.