Monday, July 30, 2012

Belgium- Kazerne Dossin- WWII Archives on Deportation of Belgian Jews

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

Following the IAJGS Conference in ParisI was visiting Belgium where I was able to meet with the Director, Memoriaal, Museum en Documentatiecentrum over Holocaust en Mensenrechten in Mechelen, Belgium of  the Kazerne Dossin. While the Museum is closed until this November as it is building a new building, they hold documents for the 25,000 Jews deported from Belgium to Auschwitz.



Belgium by edict since 1830 does not list the ethnicity nor religion of  their citizens--they did not know which of their citizens were Jewish. However, 90% of the Jews deported from Belgium were "foreigners" who fled to Belgium starting in the 1930's from various countries. Of the 56,000 people the Nazi's had registered as "Jews"--they had to file a "foreign police " report  and in the 3 million files they were able to trace back the 25,000 deported Jews.  Forty percent of the 25,000 Jews were originally from Poland and then there many from Germany, Hungary and other countries.

The museum has documents such as their original country of issue passports, Nazi deportation lists, 17 anti-Jewish laws that were posted so no one could say they didn't know, photographs, important biographical information such as country of origin, occupation, birth dates, to when they fled to Belgium, Nazi-required municipality lists of registered Jews, letters from collaborators telling the Nazis which Belgians were hiding Jews, information on the 3,500 children that were taken to be hidden by the resistance, transport lists and much more. These records are digitized but are not on the Internet, nor will they be placed on the Internet to protect the living, The Museum's second phase is to digitize the "persecuted -hidden Jews. As this is a totally private not governmental museum--they rely on private donations to pay the staff of three--therefore, this next phase may take 5 years to complete.

They were able to acquire the Nazi documents as the Nazi's left them behind when they fled after the Allies landed in Normandy.  [ Historical note: The fighting ended the end of August when the Germans withdraw massively eastwards of the Seine, abandoning their heavy equipment and within days the western part of Belgium including Antwerp and Brussels area were liberated.  For more history of the liberation see the Brussels City website: http://www.brussels.be/artdet.cfm/5562 ].

If you wish to inquire if the records hold something of interest on your family--remember most of the deported Jews came from other European countries--so this holds a potential genealogical trove of records for many without Belgian ancestors. You can request assistance from Director Ward Adriaens  -- at:  :  info@kazernedossin.eu or view the website at: http://www.kazernedossin.eu/en
 I do not know what,  if any charge there may be for the search or copies of the records.

The archives are located at:  Kazerne Dossin
Goswin de Staassartstraat 153
2800 Mechlin-Belgie

Jan Meisels Allen
IAJGS Vice President
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome. Please post responsibly.