Memoria [EN] No 50 (11/2021) - Page 8

Jewish forced labourers at the OT camp Les Mazures, wearing the Belgian yellow badge. (Source: Kazerne Dossin – Fonds Erlich-Liberman, KD_00365


When starting the project it seemed an easy task to establish a list of all Jewish men from Antwerp taken away to Northern France as slave labourers for Organisation Todt. After all, in 1978 the Belgian Ministry of Public Health had published the List of Jews living in Belgium on 10 May 1940, who were detained at the labour camps in the North of France. Conveniently, the list – containing data on the 2.252 recorded OT men from Belgium – had been put into an Access database by the Belgian Archives Service for War Victims. To kick off the data collection, we compared the list of 2.252 men with address records from 1940 to determine who lived in Antwerp at the beginning of the war. This allowed us to grapple how many victims living in the city at the time were affected by the OT labour and what their fate was. Within the data set, we could furthermore indicate how many of the men from Antwerp had left the city by the summer of 1942, before deportations from Belgium started in August 1942, and how many had remained in the port city until then.

So how to connect the list of 2.252 men with their 1940 address information? Kazerne Dossin has at its disposal the municipal Jewish registers which were created by Nazi decree of October 28, 1940. All address information from this rich source had already been connected with the deportation lists of the Dossin barracks in Mechelen in a Person Database. So for those of the 2.252 men that were deported from Mechelen, we could easily retrieve the address information and filter out the Antwerpians. For the men that were not deported from Mechelen, but from France or who were not deported the addresses were checked one by one to sort out the Antwerpians. This detailed research led to a list of 1.553 Jewish men, living in Antwerp in 1940 who were taken for slave labour in Northern France in the summer of 1942 (either from Antwerp or from Brussels, Liège and Charleroi). However, when consulting additional sources such as OT payroll lists, correspondence from the Association of Jews in Belgium, the list of men at the Les Mazures camp constructed by researcher Jean-Emile Andreux and personal testimonies it became clear that the list was incomplete. We therefore analysed these additional sources and added the newly found names to the deduced list of 1.553 men, leading to a final list of 1.625 Antwerpian OT men. We can therefore also conclude that the number of 2.252 OT workers taken from the whole of Belgium was, in fact, higher.

Subsequently, we divided the 1.625 men into 19 subpopulations based on their fate: