August 1942: First train of Jews depart from Belgium to Auschwitz

Jews having to wear the star of David

There were approximately 85,000 Jews in Belgium before the war in the cities Antwerp and Brussels. Germans forced Jews to register with the police; however, only less than half Jews had registered. The Nazi’s were unable to have every Jew register because many fled Belgium across to France.

The Jews that stayed in Belgium had been treated like the other Jewis in different countries. They had to register with the police, wear a Yellow star, lost their jobs, had to work manual labor for free.

One of expert for Jewish Affairs, Dannecker, was told by Hitler’s right-hand man Himmler, that he needed more Jews to work in Auschwitz concentration camp and decided to send some from Belgium. 10,000 Jews were to be sent from Belgium, on the condition that they were fit to work, male or female and between the ages of 16 to 40. Even those that did not satisfy all these requirements were sent along with those who did.

Many were sent to Poland from Antwerp and sent to the textile factories. It was highly necessary to gather the labor force from Jews. It was seen as an asset to Germans because they were free labor in order to create more concentration camps. But, instead of the labor, in 1942, they received orders from SS Kurt Asche to deport the 10,000 Jews to Auschwitz. Auschwitz was known as the death camp during this time. Since barracks were created along the road from Brussels to Antwerp it was ideal to send them all from the east.

Trains sent to Auschwitz began August 1942 and they were supposed to hold Belgian and non-Belgian jews. It was until December 2 1942 when many deportation officers complained that they began to include native-born Belgian Jews. Initially, they were not being included in the deportations that were occurring on the way to Auschwitz but now were included. Thirteen transportations to and from Belgium have occurred, however, they noticed that no Jews were intentionally leaving the ghettos to go to the concentration death camps. Since a low amount of Jews were leaving, they began to do police raids in order to garner a large amount of Belgian-jews. Native-born Belgian Jews were then noticed when they began the police raids. From the 998 people that were deported in that single raid, only 744 survived or arrived to Auschwitz. Not only were they taken to Auschwitz, but they were taking to other concentration camps. Concentration camps that were included were Theresienstadt, Bergen-Belsen and Caserne Dossin.

They continued these raids in order to get more Belgian Jews; however, as time went on, it began to be more strenuous and difficult to take more to the camps. The mass deportation of the Jews had become to fail because many just were told to release them as prisoners and were not able to arrive or be admitted to any of the death concentration camps. The amount of transporting decreased from the initial rides all the way into October.