Category Archives: portfolio

Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX

① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX ~ Today 75 years ago , that night of April 19th, 1943 in Belgium , Elias Gnazik helped jump the pregnant Isabella Weinreb from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz. Viviane – meaning ‘full of life’ – was born 6 months later.
Discussion – moderated by Ingrid Vander Veken – of Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” on 15 oktober 2017 in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen , Belgium.
This new short film (with english captions / partly english spoken) highlights our discussion in that ‘Literary Cafe’ on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kazerne Dossin, of Elias’ rescue of Isabella and Vivian ; it continues with our visit later to the Kazerne Dossin portrait wall (portrait’s of deported people) with Simone Korkus and Jan Maes (the first to point Simone to Hannah’s story) ; and ends with me having a short improvised talk in english with a visitor’s couple .
Film ① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life ~ Michel van der Burg | | |

Isabella Weinreb Castegnier was three-months pregnant that night – 75 years ago – on April 19th, 1943 in Belgium – when she froze the moment she had to jump from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz ( Transport XX to Auschwitz ). The man waiting in line behind her , did not hesitate for a moment , and embracing her from behind , pushed her out – jumping together they both landed in a ditch.

Isabella escaped with a broken wrist and bruises all over her body, but otherwise without major injuries. Her daughter Viviane – meaning “full of life”, and named so for her will to live and hold tight in her mother’s womb – was born six months later on October 30, 1943.

That man saving Isabella and Viviane was Elias Gnazik – we discovered recently in a joint effort – when Simone Korkus had almost finished her book about the life of Elias’ daughter Hannah Gnazik , and contacted me to find out who that woman was that Elias Gnazik helped jump and escape from that cattle car of Transport XX to Auschwitz. For Simone it was a great honor to bring Hannah and Viviane together – the child of the rescuer , and the child of the rescued pregnant woman.
This new story became the epilogue in Simone’s book , written in dutch , called ‘Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle’.
During the discussion at the presentation of Simone’s newest book – interviewed by Ingrid Vander Veken – in the Kazerne Dossin museum I asked Simone to tell us something about this spectacular story of the probably youngest that escaped that death train.


Simone Korkus (author , reporter) contacted me via facebook messenger May 2016 asking for information about Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz , and telling me Mrs Schwartz had escaped from Transport XX from the same car as Elias Gnazik , the father of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel.
Simone had actually finished the writing of the story of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel for her new dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle.” but felt she would like to get to know more about Hannah’s father Elias activities in the war.
Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz had helped me and Richard from 2011 with our documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz (published 2012, a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg). Mrs Schwartz, unfortunately, had passed away in 2014 .
However , I could help Simone with the story of Mrs Schwartz’s friend Isabella – who had escaped too , right after Mrs Schwartz’s jumped from that car – while being pregnant – with a baby born 6 months after that escape, and named Viviane , meaning ‘full of life’ !
That miraculous story I had first worked on and published together with Viviane in 2014.
Further research by Simone , with the help of Viviane and the researchers of Kazerne Dossin, let Simone to the insight that Isabella had been that pregnant woman Elias Gnazik had helped jumping , and he thus , too had saved Viviane’s life !
Simone Korkus details this beautiful finding and miraculous story in a final chapter – the Epilogue – of her new book , the research , findings , conclusion and her witnessing the emotional meeting of the daughters of the rescuer and rescued in Ramat Gan , Israel.

Sources / links

Viviane Castegnier Yarom & Michel van der Burg (2014) Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story.
Michel van der Burg online publication ( link

Simone Korkus (2017) “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle. Hoe Hannah Nadel de oorlog overleefde” Paperback ISBN 978-94-6310-093-9 / E-book ISBN 978-94-6310-300-8
Polis publisher – fragment online –

Book presentation – On Oct. 15th , 2017 , Simone Korkus presented her book in Kazerne Dossin , in a ‘Literary Cafe’ conversation with colleague author Ingrid Vander Veken. I published a full video report of that conversation Nov 4, 2017 . All in dutch. Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle – Presentatie – link

Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” (2012) A film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg



Today ‘Miracles’ is announced : our title for the upcoming documentary on Simon Gronowski and Koenraad Tinel !

Today, also, we announce the birth of the Miracles•Media site and new film house !
Miracles•Media is first and foremost for promotion of the Miracles documentary film, and will further serve as platform and online portfolio of other productions.

Ma vie n’est que de miracles – My life is only miracles – Simon Gronowski.

Splash selected for Reykjavík International Film Festival

The “Splash” one minute film is selected for the Reykjavík International Film Festival to be held 28 September – 8 October in Reykjavík , Iceland.

Reykjavík International Film Festival , 28 Sep – 8 Oct 2017


2017 RIFF Program

“Splash” will be shown at the festival in The One Minutes Series “Enjoy your file, download your life” curated by Studio David Claerbout.

More info on Splash at this site here in a previous post.

Link to the Press Release by The One Minutes


One minute films in collaboration with The One Minutes Institute in the Netherlands and shorts will be screened around Reykjavík during the RIFF festival.

International School for Holocaust Studies acquired films

International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel - Photo : Yad Vashem

International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel – Photo : Yad Vashem

The media collection of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies acquired this month – July 2016 – the DVDs of two of our documentary films :

1) The 2016 film of the premiere play “Celui Qui M’A Rendu Mon Âme” – the French-spoken adaptation of the play “Who returned my soul… “ originally by Kelly D. Brock – that retells the stories of 10 holocaust survivors – now by students of the Saint-Sépulcre school in Liege , Belgium (Philippe Renette – Centre Scolaire / Michel van der Burg – Online available and documented via this post CELUI QUI M’A RENDU MON ÂME.

2) The 2012 documentary “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg. The attack on this 20th deportation train in Belgium – by three young men – the rescue, and the many escapes and escape attemps are documented in this film by the first-hand accounts of one of the attackers, people that jumped from the train and survivors who returned from Auschwitz. The film is online available and fully documented via this post Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz”.

Link to the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem , Jerusalem , Israel



[ English summary below ]

Œuvre de « Théâtre Lu » — Lecture par des élèves de 6e année secondaire général ayant réalisé l’adaptation française de la pièce « Who Returned My Soul » de Kelly Brock avec leur professeur d’anglais, monsieur Philippe Renette.

Les monologues composant le texte de cette pièce ont été dictés par les témoignages de dix survivants de l’Holocauste : Joe Birenbaum – rôle tenu ce soir par Gaurav Prashar • Edith Castoriano – rôle tenu par Stéphanie Ceven • Emery « Pinkas » Deutsch – rôle tenu par Thomas Gilson • Joe Dziubak – rôle tenu par Flamur Meha • Arno Erban – rôle tenu par Rina Imeri • Henry Frydman – rôle tenu par Ilyas Sinouh • Sabina Frydman – rôle tenu par Pauline Renard • Jacob « Jack » Gunz – rôle tenu par Sakshi Prashar • Isaac Kline – rôle tenu par Ilyas Sinouh • Ann Rosenheck – rôle tenu par Melisa Ulusoy. Ces monologues seront mis en contexte par L’Historien – rôle tenu ce soir par Humeyra Yüksel.

Tout au long du processus de traduction, les élèves ont pu compter sur les éclaircissements et les conseils de l’auteur, Madame Kelly Brock, avec laquelle les échanges furent permanents et riches par-delà l’Océan.

Ce projet a été rendu possible par le soutien inconditionnel (à distance) de Monsieur Avi Mizrachi, co-fondateur de la « Foundation For Holocaust Education Projects » à Hollywood (Floride) et de sa collaboratrice Madame Katharine Gorsuch, et le soutien des Parlantes.

Durée du spectacle : 125 minutes (deux actes avec entracte et introduction par Philippe Renette).
Film (5 mars 2016) : Michel van der Burg –

English summary

“Celui Qui M’A Rendu Mon Âme” – Reader’s theatre – Friday evening – June 5 , 2015 – at the Saint-Sépulcre school in Liege (Belgium) the premiere of the first French-spoken adaptation of the play “Who returned my soul… “ originally by Kelly D. Brock – that retells the stories of 10 holocaust survivors – now by 6th year students of the school.

Names of the survivors and the students playing their role that night :
Joe Birenbaum – role by Gaurav Prashar • Edith Castoriano – role by Stéphanie Ceven • Emery « Pinkas » Deutsch – role by Thomas Gilson • Joe Dziubak – role by Flamur Meha • Arno Erban – role by Rina Imeri • Henry Frydman – role by Ilyas Sinouh • Sabina Frydman – role by Pauline Renard • Jacob « Jack » Gunz – role by Sakshi Prashar • Isaac Kline – role by Ilyas Sinouh • Ann Rosenheck – role by Melisa Ulusoy.
These monologues are contextualized by The Historian – role tonight by Humeyra Yüksel.

Students of the Institut Saint Sépulcre together with their ‘English’ teacher Mr. Philippe Renette – performed the French adaptation – in close cooperation .. across the ocean … with the author Ms. Kelly Brock – and supported by Mr. Avi Mizrachi, co-founder of the “Foundation For Holocaust Education Projects” in Hollywood (Florida) and his assistant Mrs. Katharine Gorsuch – and the Liege International Festival ‘les Parlantes’.

Running time: 125 minutes (two acts with intermission and introduction by Philippe Renette).
Film (March 5, 2016) : Michel van der Burg –


July 2016 – The media collection of Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies acquired July 2016 the DVD of this documentary film.

Atelier Marcel Hastir bulletin – Film 31 Jan 2015 « Transport XX to Auschwitz »

Rue du Commerce 51, 1000 Bruxelles – Métro Trône
Sa 31 jan 2015 , 17h – Film docu “Transport XX to Auschwitz”

EN – Documentary film « Transport XX to Auschwitz »
70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945 – for International Holocaust Remembrance Day – the Atelier Marcel Hastir presents the documentary « Transport XX to Auschwitz » a film by Karen Lynne Bloom, Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg.
The documentary tells the story of the remarkable heroic attack on a deportation train to Auschwitz – the 20th transport – on April 19, 1943 at Boortmeerbeek (Belgium). Three brave young Belgians stopped that train that transported 1631 Jewish passengers in the cattle cars. They managed to liberate 17 people – and another 200 could jump out also before the Belgian border, partly due to the consternation caused by that attack.
English subtitles ; and languages spoken: english, dutch, german, french.
Filmmaker Michel van der Burg will be present to talk with the audience after the screening.

FR – Film documentaire « Transport XX to Auschwitz »
70 ans après la libération du camp de concentration d’Auschwitz le 27 janvier 1945 – pour le Journée internationale de commémoration de l’Holocauste – l’Atelier Marcel Hastir montre le film documentaire « Transport XX to Auschwitz » réalisé par Karen Lynne Bloom, Richard Bloom et Michel van der Burg.
Le film raconte l’histoire de l’attentat héroïque au train de déportation vers Auschwitz – le 20e convoi – le 19 avril 1943 à Boortmeerbeek (Belgique). Trois jeunes hommes belges ont eu le courage d’arrêter ce train, transportant 1631 personnes juives. Ils ont pu libérer 17 personnes, et plus de 200 autres ont pu sauter aussi du train avant la frontière belge, en partie grâce à la consternation que l’attentat avait provoqué.
Sous-titré anglais ; langues parlées: anglais, néerlandais, allemand, français.
Le cinéaste Michel van der Burg sera présent pour échanger avec le public à l’issue de la projection.

NL – Documentaire « Transport XX to Auschwitz »
70 jaar na de bevrijding van het Auschwitz concentratiekamp op 27 januari 1945 – voor de Internationale Herdenkingsdag voor de Holocaust – vertoont het Atelier Marcel Hastir de documentaire « Transport XX to Auschwitz » een film van Karen Lynne Bloom, Richard Bloom en Michel van der Burg.
De documentaire vertelt het verhaal van de heldhaftige overval op een deportatietrein naar Auschwitz – het 20e konvooi – op 19 april 1943 te Boortmeerbeek (België). Drie moedige Belgische jongemannen stopten de trein die 1631 Joodse passagiers vervoerde in de veewagons. Zij slaagden er in om 17 mensen te bevrijden, en meer dan 200 anderen konden nog van de trein springen voor de belgische grens, mede door de consternatie veroorzaakt door de overval.
Ondertiteling: engels ; gesproken talen: nederlands, engels, duits en frans.
Filmmaker Michel van der Burg zal aanwezig zijn, om na de vertoning met het publiek praten.

Bulletin Atelier Marcel Hastir – Film 31 Jan 2015 « Transport XX to Auschwitz »

More background and other news also here at this site :  Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz”

(Revised version – March 19 , 2015 – English and especially French and Dutch texts were expanded)

“Transport XX to Auschwitz” film at Festival of Tolerance, Zagreb, Croatia

Transport XX to Auschwitz” –  European Theater Premiere – Festival of Tolerance | May, 2014, Zagreb, Croatia

Screening with both Croatian subtitles and English subtitles.

“Transport XX to Auschwitz” screening - Festival of Tolerance | May, 2014, Zagreb, Croatia

“Transport XX to Auschwitz” – European Theater Premiere – Festival of Tolerance – May, 2014, Zagreb, Croatia

EN : Transport XX to Auschwitz – Thursday, 22.5.2014, 17:45 – Cinema Tuškanac
During the Shoah, the Nazis, in their quest for the final solution of the Jewish question, utilized thousands of trains from Germany and the occupied countries to transport 3,000,000 Jews to the concentration and death camps. This is the little known, true story of a most remarkable and heroic rescue attempt which occurred on April 19, 1943, the first night of the Passover, at the same time that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising began, some 720 miles away. On that night, Transport XX departed Mechelen, Belgium at 10 p. m. with 1631 Jewish men, women and children for Auschwitz- Birkenau. Half an hour later, it was stopped by three young Belgians armed with only 1 pistol, pliers and a hurricane lamp. This was the only documented rescue attempt/attack on a death train during the Shoah.

HR : Transport XX za Auschwitz – Četvrtak, 22.5.2014, 17:45 – Kino Tuškanac 
Za vrijeme holokausta nacisti su težeći „konačnom rješenju židovskog pitanja“ upotrijebili tisuće vlakova iz Njemačke i okupiranih zemalja kako bi transportirali tri milijuna Židova u koncentracijske logore ili logore smrti. Ovo je malo poznata istinita priča o znakovitom i herojskom pokušaju spašavanja koji se dogodio 19. travnja 1943., na prvi dan Pashe, u isto vrijeme kada je započeo Ustanak u varšavskom getu, 1200 kilometara dalje. Te je noći u 22 sata Transport XX krenuo iz Mechelena u Belgiji sa 1631 židovskih muškaraca, žena i djece prema Auschwitz- Birkenau. Pola sata kasnije zaustavila su ga tri mlada Belgijanca naoružana samo jednim pištoljem, kliještima i petrolejkom. Ovo je jedini dokumentirani pokušaj spašavanja zatočenika, odnosno napad na vlak smrti za vrijeme holokausta.


May 28, 2014. Zagreb. Festival of Tolerance. The audience at the Festival of Tolerance valued the film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” with a very good average grade of 4.3 (out of 5).

8th Festival of Tolerance - Cinema Europa, Zagreb, Croatia

“Transport XX to Auschwitz” film screening with both Croatian subtitles and English subtitles in Cinema Europa at the 8th Festival of Tolerance – May 2014, Zagreb, Croatia. The audience in Cinema Europa valued the film with a very good average grade of 4.3 (out of 5).