Tag Archives: mechelen

Viviane & Simon ~ 75 Years After Escape Transport XX to Auschwitz

Viviane and Simon Gronowski meet for the first time in Los Angeles, April 2018 , after they both escaped 75 years ago in the night of April 19th 1943 from that fast moving death train Transport XX to Auschwitz – Simon at the time an 11-year-old boy pushed from the train by his mother Chana , and Viviane still in the womb of her 3-months pregnant mother Isabella.

Today 75 years ago Viviane (meaning ‘full of life’) was born in Brussels – 6 months after she had escaped death that night in April 1943 – thanks to the courage of her pregnant mother Isabella Weinreb , when Isabella jumped in Belgium from that cattle car of Transport XX heading for Auschwitz. She today celebrates her 75th birthday in Los Angeles.

When Simon Gronowski , from Brussels , was visiting LA in April this year – to tell his story and reunite with his childhood friend Alice Weit – Viviane fortunately was able to meet Simon , together with her girls – (grand)daughters – for the first time.

Photo – Simon with Viviane and her girls – thanks to Sébastien De Nys / Viviane
Film ① memo 20181030 ~ Viviane & Simon ~ Michel van der Burg | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media

More on Viviane’s story here in “Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story” : https://michelvanderburg.com/2014/04/28/escape-from-transport-xx-to-be-born-6-months-later/

A recent finding on the man – Elias Gnazik – saving Isabella and Viviane published April 19th , 2018 , including a film on the dutch book presentation ( Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” ) – here online : https://michelvanderburg.com/2018/04/19/full-of-life-escape-from-transport-xx/

More on Simon Gronowski and the documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz here in : Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – https://michelvanderburg.com/2013/04/19/transport-xx-to-auschwitz/

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 | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media

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 (michelvanderburg.com) link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nq

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 – https://issuu.com/uitgeverijpolis/docs/preview_het_dienstmeisje_van_degrel

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 https://wp.me/p14gqN-nhp

Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” (2012) A film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg https://wp.me/p14gqN-hA


Esther’s Puzzle

(EN) – English below
(FR) Français au bas

Esther Naschelski leest ons voor uit haar boek ‘Achter de Stilte’* , haar gedicht ‘De puzzel van mijn leven’,  tijdens het publieke optreden van schrijvers in ‘Stemmen In Het Museum’ , in het Kazerne Dossin museum op zondag 3 december 2017 , ter gelegenheid van het 5 jarig bestaan van het holocaust museum (als opvolger van het Joods Museum van Deportatie en Verzet) in Mechelen , België.
① memo 20180127 ~ Esther’s Puzzle ~ Film : Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com

Esther Naschelski 3 dec 2017, Kazerne Dossin, Mechelen [BE] – Still film ‘Esther’s Puzzle’ (20180127) Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com

Esther is nog geen drie jaar , wanneer haar ouders in 1942 naar Auschwitz worden gedeporteerd. Ze zullen nooit meer terugkeren. Esther wordt verborgen gehouden en komt na de oorlog in een katholiek gezin terecht. Pas op 65-jarige leeftijd, leert Esther het ware verhaal van haar familie kennen.

Puzzle – Esther Naschelski – Still film ‘Esther’s Puzzle’ (20180127) Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com

De Puzzel Van Mijn Leven

Mijn leven is een puzzel, een pijnlijke puzzel.
Verspreide stukjes, ergens, ver, ver.
Vergeten stukjes.
Verloren stukjes, weggegooide stukjes, verbrande stukjes.
Puzzels van scheidingen, omdat ik gescheiden werd van mijn lieve ouders.
Puzzels van berovingen, beroofd van mijn lieve ouders, wat het dierbaarste ter wereld is. Puzzels van vernederingen, bastaardkind, verlaten kind.
Puzzels van stilte, want men heeft alles verborgen voor me, gestolen kindertijd.
Ja, een pijnlijke puzzel.

Esther Naschelski reads from her dutch book ‘Achter de Stilte’* (Behind the Silence) , her poem ‘De puzzel van mijn leven’ (The puzzle of my life) , during the writers public event ‘Stemmen in het Museum’ (Voices in the Museum) in the Kazerne Dossin museum , Sunday 3 december 2017 , marking the 5 year anniversary of the holocaust museum and memorial (as successor to the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance) in Mechelen , Belgium.
① memo 20180127 ~ Film : Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com

Esther is not yet three years old when her parents are deported to Auschwitz in 1942. They will never return. Esther is kept hidden and ends up in a catholic family after the war.
Only at the age of 65, Esther learns the true story of her family.

The Puzzle of My Life

My life is a puzzle, a painful puzzle.
Pieces scattered, somewhere, far, far.
Forgotten pieces.
Lost pieces, discarded pieces, burnt pieces.
Puzzles of separations, because I was separated from my dear parents.
Deprivation puzzles, deprived of my dear parents, which is the most precious in the world. Humiliation puzzles, bastard child, abandoned child.
Silence puzzles, because all was kept hidden for me, childhood stolen.
Yes, a painful puzzle.

Esther Naschelski nous lit un extrait de son livre en néerlandais «Achter de Stilte» (Derrière le silence) , son poème «Le puzzle de ma vie» lors d’un événement public «Les voix dans le musée» au musée Kazerne Dossin, dimanche 3 décembre 2017, marquant le cinquième anniversaire du musée et mémorial de l’holocauste (en succédait au Musée Juif de la Déportation et de la Résistance) à Malines , en Belgique.
① memo 20180127 ~ Film: Michel van der Burg – michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com

Esther n’a pas encore 3 ans lorsque ses parents sont déportés à Auschwitz en 1942. Ils ne reviendront jamais. Esther est cachée et finit dans une famille catholique après la guerre.
C’est seulement à l’âge de 65 ans qu’Esther apprend l’histoire vraie de sa famille.

Le Puzzle De Ma Vie

Ma vie est un puzzle, un puzzle douloureux.
Des morceaux éparpillés, quelque part, loin, loin.
Des morceaux oubliés.
Des morceaux perdus, des morceaux jetés, des morceaux brûlés.
Des puzzles de séparations, parce que je fus séparée de mes chers parents.
Des puzzles de privations, privée de mes chers parents, ce qui est le plus cher au monde.
Puzzles d’humiliations, enfant bâtard, enfant abandonné.
Puzzles de silence, car on m’a tout caché, enfance volée.
Oui, un puzzle douloureux.


Achter de Stilte – Het verhaal van een verborgen Joods kind – Esther Naschelski & Hans Grietens – ACCO Uitgeverij

Achter de Stilte – Het verhaal van een verborgen Joods kind – Esther Naschelski & Hans Grietens – ACCO Uitgeverij .

Saturday Night Live Kazerne Dossin

Public weekend opening 2-3 December 2017 of the Kazerne Dossin museum , marking the 5 year anniversary of the opening of the museum as successor to the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance in Mechelen , Belgium – ① memo 20180126

1st Sketch Composition Art Of War

A 1st sketch of my photo composition – a train car with (rescued) deportees during the holocaust – for the Art Of War competition by the Kazerne Dossin museum in Mechelen , Belgium – the final work will be a photo after some more rearrangements of the portraits and some more color , light editing (some blending options shown here in this video).  ① memo 20180125 ~ 1st Sketch Composition Art Of War

A different composition ( mvdb20110422_transport-XX ) was first published Jan 27th, 2013 on my site in “We have the right to escape