Deportations of Jews
First Deportations 1939
»General Gouvernement«
Lodz ghetto
»Reichskommissariat Ostland«
»Operation Reinhard«
# Flight, Emigration and Death
Demography 1938-1945

Before the occupation of Belgium in the spring of 1940, the Jewish population consisted of about 90,000 persons, who for the greater part were immigrants and new arrivals not, or not yet in possession of Belgian citizenship – about 1000 refugees from Austria among them.

The invasion by the German army in May 1940 and the subsequent installation of the German military administration led to a mass flight of the Jewish population, to France, Great Britain and overseas, with the result that only about 52,000 remained in Belgium at the end of 1940. The German military administration in Brussels enforced first anti-Jewish measures in the autumn of 1940. In order to intensify their grip on Jewish citizens and prepare the ground for their economic annihilation, registration of Jews was started in October 1940. A year later right of residence for the Jewish population was restricted to four cities: Brussels, Amsterdam, Liège and Charleroi. Preparations for the deportations reached their peak with the erection of two camps: the fortress Breendonk, built during World War I, was transformed into a detention camp with however small holding capacity. Malines/Mechelen served as central collecting camp, strategically situated between Antwerp and Brussels, the cities with the highest proportion of Jewish residents.

Since the Jewish population hardly heeded the German autorities' request to register, the military administration started taking »more efficient« measures. Wide-spread police raids were supposed to guarantee the carrying out of the deportations which started in the summer of 1942.

Until 31 July 1944 altogether about 30 transports with approx. 25,000 human beings left the camp in the direction of Auschwitz, about 1200 victims from Austria among them. About a 140 of them survived.


Ignaz Salzmann
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Ignaz Salzmann fled to Belgium with his wife, Elsa, and their daughter, Gertrude.

Gertrude and Elsa Salzmann Ester Tencer
Affidavit by Frieda Weintraub concerning her deportation