Tag Archives: Robert Rogers

Historic Atelier Marcel Hastir hosted “Transport XX to Auschwitz” screening and filmmaker’s talk

 

Atelier Marcel Hastir hosted “Transport XX to Auschwitz” screening and filmmaker’s talk

Atelier Marcel Hastir hosted “Transport XX to Auschwitz” screening and filmmaker’s talk

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.

A Story of Transport XX – April 19, 1943 – by Audrey Rogers Furfaro

April 2008 * – As you or your friends celebrate Passover this April 19th, I hope you will remember another April 19th. This one was in 1943 and it was also the first night of Passover.

Robert's shirt with sewn up bullet holes

Shirt the 14 year old Robert was wearing when shot in his chest as he jumped April 19, 1943 from the 20th convoy – together with his parents Bertha and Eddy Rottenberg. Detail of the neatly sewn up bullet holes is shown in the bottom-right image. Photo’s taken Nov. 19, 2012 by Audrey Rogers Furfaro and edited by Michel van der Burg (michelvanderburg.com).

On that night, a 14-year old boy and his parents were loaded onto a cattle car that headed for Auschwitz. This is the story of that night.

The boy was born in Vienna, Austria, to middle-class Jewish parents; his mother was also born in Vienna and his father in Poland. They led an uneventful life until Hitler came to power. Following Kristallnacht in 1938, they fled to Antwerp, Belgium, and eventually settled in Brussels. In February 1943, the family was denounced. The boy and his parents were arrested and sent to Malines, a deportation camp in Belgium where the Nazis would collect Jews until they had enough for a transport to Auschwitz. For two months they waited; they were barely fed and the boy’s father was severely beaten up by a German guard in front of the boy for a minor infraction.

On the night of April 19, 1943, the family was part of Convoy XX – 1,631 Jews being shipped by cattle car to Auschwitz. They were numbers 722, 723, and 724 on the Nazis’ inventory of this shipment. A Nazi officer gave the boy’s father a white flag and a whistle, and told him that he was in charge of the particular car in which they were being loaded. He was told that if anyone tried to escape he was to alert the Nazis; if he did not the family would be killed. The father decided that the family would have to jump from the train because he would not turn in his fellow Jews.

In events that are stranger than life, on the train were some Dutch acrobats, who with the use of an old man’s cane, managed to open the latched window of the train. As the train barreled toward the German border, the family prepared to jump. The man pushed his wife from the train, and the boy watched as his mother appeared to roll toward the train’s wheels.
The boy was next. He did not want to be pushed, so he jumped on his own and scrambled up the track’s embankment. As he stood up at the top of the embankment, he felt a needle-like pain in his upper chest. He saw blood and realized he has been shot. Putting a handkerchief on the wound, he went searching for his parents, amidst the dead bodies of others who had been shot jumping from the train. Continue reading