Jan 2015 – Brussels, Belgium. On January 31, the historic Atelier Marcel Hastir hosted the special screening (and Belgium premiere) of the documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » for International Holocaust Remembrance Day – 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945.
The screening was introduced by filmmaker Michel van der Burg with a few words on the history of this special place – the Atelier Marcel Hastir – and the important role of the Atelier in the planning of the attack on the 20th train to Auschwitz.
“ … This place – l’Atelier – is also special to me – because of the long history of art, philosophy, special events … and especially because the Atelier has played an important role in the planning of the attack on the 20th train to Auschwitz. During WW2 the artist Marcel Hastir managed to get permission from the German occupiers to start a drawing and painting school in his Atelier. That school, however, was actually a cover , to have a safe meeting place , for resistance work like printing underground papers , and ….. the planning of the attack on Transport XX. Two of the attackers often came here talking and working : Youra Livschitz and his old schoolmate Jean Franklemont. Youra helped with the printing of underground papers in the cellar of the Atelier (…) Late 1942 – early 1943 these papers warned for the terrible conditions in the east were the deportation trains went. Some people from the Jewish Defense Committee – a resistance group – were thinking of planning an attack on the next train to liberate prisoners – the armed partisans however considered that too dangerous with so many people involved. Youra Livschitz was also told about these plans. He did not belong to any organisation – a free spirit – and Youra could not let go of that idea to stop a train and free the prisoners. So , here in the Atelier – early 1943 – Youra and his friend Jean Franklemon planned to attack the next deportation train, together with Robert Maistriau – who also was an old schoolmate. These 3 young men from Brussels stopped the 20th Transport that left Malines with over 1600 people direction Auschwitz on April 19, 1943. That attack on Transport XX is unique. Of the many deportation trains in Europe – only this train was attacked to free people. And people that escaped from Transport XX – like Régine Krochmal – knew they could count on Marcel Hastir’s atelier for help.”
After the screening in a discussion lead by Laura Muris (Atelier Marcel Hastir), Michel van der Burg talked with the audience about the film, about these people’s stories, and also the many new stories that emerged since the film came out – stories from children of various other passengers of Transport XX who contacted us – like the stories (on this site) of the escape of the 14-y-old Robert Rogers, and the escape of Viviane … holding tight in the womb of her three-months pregnant mother Isabella Weinreb Castegnier … to be born 6 months later.