Category Archives: genealogy/history/culture

List of Jews living in Pre-War Charleroi

Vincent Vagman has recently published an important  list of Jews who have lived in Charleroi before the outbreak of WWII .

Charleroi, which is in the Southern part of Belgium, is a very industrial city, which I’d not consider a particularly attractive city. Charleroi used to have a very active Jewish community, mainly thanks to the coal-mining industry.

Vincent Vagman specializes in genealogical researches, as well as in the history of Charleroi and its Jews. The list which he has published for free on his website, contains names of 1641 Jews, of whom 507 were deported between 1942 and 1944.

Mr. Vagman explains in the introduction of the book his methodology and the sources he has used in order to compile the list. The list can and should be considered as an invaluable source if you had any relatives living in Charleroi.

Visit the following website to gain access to the list (an English version of the website is in its planning stages):

2015-07-20 09_11_09-Liste

My Magazine Subscriptions

IMG_20150628_010724As a Jew living in Antwerp, Belgium, and with an interest in Genealogy, I have some specific interests which are reflected somehow in my choice of magazine subscriptions.

In this article I’d like to discuss the magazines I’m subscribed to (or was at some point). Most are related to genealogy, both Jewish and non Jewish, and/or culture and/or Antwerp and/or Belgium, etc. I know that the list is (still) small, but it is a start:

Title Description Main Topics My Comments Website
Avotaynu The world’s largest circulation magazine devoted to Jewish genealogy each year publishes more than 300 pages of useful, interesting information that can help you in your research. Now in its thirteeth year, an index to the first 24 volumes is available to all the major articles.Published quarterly, our contributing editors from 15 countries throughout the world regularly gather important information that appears in our issues. Our publishers, Gary Mokotoff and Sallyann Amdur Sack, are on a first name basis with officials at institutions containing genealogical data throughout the world. Some institutions are YIVO Institute, American Jewish Archives, American Jewish Historical Society, U.S. National Archives, U.S. Library of Congress, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Leo Baeck Institute, U.S. Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem and Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People. International Jewish Genealogy This is a likable quarterly with articles by and for the subscribers of which most are (amateur and some professional) genealogists. The articles do not just discuss genealogy, but also indirect topics (which are usually related to genealogy in some ways).Apart from Avotaynu, you may which to subscribe to Jewish genealogy related magazines which discuss topics limited to a specific region


Shemot – The Journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain Shemot is the journal of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. It is published three times a year and is sent free to members. We publish original articles, submitted by members or commissioned, on a variety of topics likely to be of interest to our readers. We particularly welcome personal experiences that include sources and research methodology, explanations of technological developments and innovations, articles highlighting archival material and the work carried out by volunteers to preserve our heritage, biographical or historical accounts, and practical research tips.
We also publish book reviews and letters
British Jewish Genealogy, (some) International Jewish Genealogy Looks nice. It’s specifically meant for the genealogists with an interest in Jewish British family history. Some articles pertain to the general (mainly Jewish) public.
Computergenealogie Das Magazin COMPUTERGENEALOGIE ist ein Projekt des Vereins für Computergenealogie. Die Hefte erscheinen vierteljährlich (Bezug: s.u.). Genealogy, Germany Genealogy, IT for Genealogy This is a quarterly by the ‘Verein für Computergenealogie e.V.’. It is written in German by a dedicated team of fellow subscribers and members of this magazine.This magazine has a uniqueness in the way that it does discuss genealogy related articles which have anything to do with Computers and Genealogy, mainly German genealogy. Usually they discuss in each magazine computer software, etc. They also discuss results of conducted surveys as to which software program is the best for working on family histories etc.Their website have many tools, databases, etc which you should really make sure to check out. Its advantages etc is simply too much to discuss in this short article.Every two years they also issue another magazine, “Familienforschung” Ahnenforschung leicht gemacht – Computergenealogie für jedermann” incl. DVD, which in fact is a collection of subjects which were discussed in the quarterly edition of Computergenealogie.I highly recommend this magazine!Subscribe via:

See also:


 Vlaamse Stam Vlaamse Stam is voor familiekundigen, genealogen en heraldici een onmisbare bron van informatie. Het bevat onder meer:

  • Artikels omtrent familiegeschiedenis: het verhaal van een familie of van het onderzoek naar een voorouder.
  • Artikels in verband met familiekundige bronnen (bronontsluitingen, transcripties van archiefstukken,…): wat kunt u vinden in welke bronnen en waar bevinden deze bronnen zich?
  • Nieuwsberichten omtrent familiekunde, genealogie, heraldiek, de erfgoedsector, de archiefsector,…
  • Genealogische informatie: stambomen, kwartierstaten, voorouderreeksen,…
  • Publicaties van wapenschilden die erkend werden door het Heraldisch College

Het tijdschrift Vlaamse Stam bevat jaarlijks ongeveer 600 bladzijden en kent een oplage van 4500 exemplaren. Leden van Familiekunde Vlaanderen ontvangen Vlaamse Stam automatisch in de brievenbus.

Flemish Genealogy This is also one of my favorites. Their quarterly magazine has very good, and well-researched articles with many footnotes. Topics are very diverse, there is an online index on their website, see:
Antwerpsche Tydinghen Stadsgidsen gaan steeds op zoek naar andere bronnen, informatie en wetenswaardigheden om hun opdrachten bij de tijd te houden. Daarom werd er drieëndertig jaar geleden binnen de Koninklijke Gidsenvereniging van Antwerpen een tijdschrift opgestart. Driemaandelijks geeft de “Antwerpsche Tydinghen” uitgebreide informatie over allerhande onderwerpen welke met onze stad te maken hebben. Vele collega’s stadsgidsen werken hier aan mee en delen hun kennis, ook specialisten ter zake helpen ons hierbij door artikels of uitgebreide informatie door te spelen. Men vindt hierin ook achtergrondinfo bij komende tentoonstellingen. Een greep uit de laatste jaargangen : Recente archeologische activiteiten; een collage van Paul van Ostaijen ontdekt; Sint-Rochus in Sint-Jacob; Rubens en architectuur, De molens in Antwerpen, De Augustinuscyclus in AMUZ, de Bank, stadsbeeld en monument op de Leien enzovoort. Culture and History of Antwerp This publication has articles which discuss the City of Antwerp and its history. It’s mainly meant for active City guides of Antwerp. Also other interested people, who are not city guides, may be interested in subscribing to this magazine.The articles are written by fellow subscribers. If personally think that if you have an interest in the history of Antwerp, good books would be a better source. Sometimes the articles in this magazine are written in a specific way in order to add a funny undertone. I think that that technique works very well, and even is a requirement for any successful city guide, but that technique is, in my opinion, less suited for articles in a magazine. But the journal has another purpose as well, which is to allow the City Guides to keep in touch between themselves and update the whole group with news etc. Another advantage to subscribe to this magazine is that sometimes they offer you a discount to new books they, or others, have written. I bought already a book which was written by a few City Guides about Antwerp. When you’d make use of every discount they offer, you’ll gain often by getting almost the whole subscription fee for the magazine back.
Historiant HistoriANT is een jaarboek dat wordt uitgegeven door het Genootschap voor Antwerpse Geschiedenis. De bedoeling van HistoriANT is om wetenschappelijke, maar vlot leesbare artikels over de rijke geschiedenis van de stad Antwerpen en haar omgeving te bundelen. Via het Jaarboek wil het Genootschap de Antwerpse geschiedenis in al haar facetten kenbaar maken aan een zo ruim mogelijk publiek en zowel historici als niet-historici laten kennismaken met de rijke geschiedenis van de Scheldestad. Het Genootschap biedt historici, archeologen, kunst- en literatuurhistorici, musicologen, volkskundigen, enz. in Antwerpen en daarbuiten via HistoriANT een forum aan om hun wetenschappelijke bevindingen betreffende de Antwerpse geschiedenis te publiceren.[…] History of Antwerp This is not really a magazine, but rather an edited book with different articles by its contributors. Most articles usually discuss the same subject, which in each yearbook is different. The articles all have footnotes and are well-sourced. If you are looking for a scientific, and easy to read collection of articles about topics related to Antwerp, you may be looking for the right thing.

Cheat Sheet: Getting the Alien Files from the Archives of Antwerp (and the districts of Antwerp)

In the article I’d like to post a very quick and short cheat sheet on how to get the alien files from the Archives of Antwerp.

Check the end of this article in order to understand more about the districts which together make Antwerp.

Getting the alien files from the Archives of Antwerp:

For the district ‘Antwerpen’:

For the other districts:

Check for more information etc.

The Districts of Antwerp:
You need to understand that the city of Antwerp is composed of 9 districts. Most of these districts were in the past independent municipalities. These districts, which are now part of the City of Antwerp, do have some limited independent administrative functions.

Here is a map of Antwerp with its 9 districts:


  1. Antwerpen (district)
  2. Berchem
  3. Berendrecht-Zandvliet-Lillo
  4. Borgerhout
  5. Deurne
  6. Ekeren
  7. Hoboken
  8. Merksem
  9. Wilrijk
Source: By LennartBolks at nl.wikipedia Later versions were uploaded by Westermarck at nl.wikipedia. [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

About a certificate for land in Pre-State Israel

When my father in-law and his sisters recently cleared their mother´s home in Amsterdam after she has passed away, they came across a paper which seemed to look like a certificate with text in Dutch for land in, what was then, Palestine.

The front of the certificate has mostly typed text whilst the back has handwritten notes and a drawing.

The front of the certificate:

And the back:

Now follows the Continue reading About a certificate for land in Pre-State Israel

No ordinary clerks

Recently I went through the alien file from my great-grandfather Gerschon Lehrer, whom I am named after, which I found in the Belgian state archives.

While analyzing the documents in the file, I came across some letters written between a (Belgian) senator and someone who was working for the Belgian sûreté (State Security). What struck me was that after having checked biographies of these officers (both from the sûreté and the senator), it seemed that they played and important role, if not back then in the 1930´s, then in the future.

Here under are these letters which I´d like to discuss.

The first one is a letter from 27 April 1934 by the officer of the sûreté, Mr. De Foy, who´s checking with senator Van Berckelaer whether in the opinion of the latter my great-grandfather should be entitled to get a permit of residence in Belgium. He´s checking whether my great-grandfather´s stay, who was then a merchant in the diamond business, would be beneficial to the Belgium:

In the next letter, from 11 may 1934, the senator expresses his opinion that Continue reading No ordinary clerks

My grandmother’s embroidery

My mother owns an embroidered painting which her mother created as a young girl and which now hangs in my parents’ living room. The painting shows a landscape: a lake with a tower and a bridge in the background. When I asked my mother about it, she told me that she believed it was somewhere in Nuremberg which is the Bavarian city my grandmother was born in.

The embroidery of my grandmother

Thanks to information I got through the German ‘Ahnenforschung’ forum ( I was able to find out more about the river,the island, the two bridges, the buildings and the direct surroundings which are depicted in this painting. Let’s first take a closer look at the Continue reading My grandmother’s embroidery

Request for more information on “Yiddish Antwerp Between the World Wars”

Prof. Hannah Berliner Fischthal requested to post the following request which I am gladly doing. Please contact her for more information (or add your comments below).

I am researching Yiddish Antwerp Between the World Wars. I am particularly interested in het Vereeniging van Joodsche Ambachtslieden te Antwerpen (1919-1940), and in its yiddish school, Di ershte yidishe tsugob-shul baym hantverker farayn. If anybody has any information, I would be grateful.

Prof. Hannah Berliner Fischthal, New York

Belgian Jewish Life in the different Belgian archives

The Antwerp City archive is only one of the many archives which has useful files for researchers on Jewish topics

Just as in other countries, Jews also left traces (and still are leaving traces) in Belgium: The oldest trace is a gravestone in the Flemish city Tienen (French: Tirlemont) of a girl who was known as Rebecca, daughter of Mozes. She passed away in the Jewish year 5016 which corresponds with the Gregorian calendar as 1255-1256.

Other traces of Jewish life are to be found in:

  • documents: from the Middle Ages through the French Revolution up until now, documents by occupiers of the country (decrees and edicts for the general population or against the Jews specifically), documents by resistance fighters, documents by Governments, documents by the Jewish communities, etc.
  • biographies
  • chronicles like ‘Maagel Tov’ (see by Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai who was also known as the Chida (1724 – 1 March 1806) , whose travels took him also to Belgium
  • gravestones
  • photo’s
  • etc.

I found it exciting to read about a project by some academics and the Belgian State Archives who have been working for some months on the compilation of a Guide to Archives related to Judaism and the Jewish population in Belgium in the 19th-20th century. The makers of the guide intend to Continue reading Belgian Jewish Life in the different Belgian archives

Inauguration of a memorial stone in memory of the Jewish forced laborers in quarries in Merlemont

I received an invitation from the village of Philippeville which is in the southern part of Belgium to the inauguration of a monument in the memory of 49 Jews who were put into forced labor in quarries in Merlemont (Merlemont is part of Philippeville). The monument was erected last Sunday (16 December 2012) on the grounds of one of the quarries in Merlemont; the “S.A. Dolomies” which is nowadays part of the Lhoist Group ( I went with my brother Raffi.

Preceding to the inauguration a few speeches were given after which the national anthem of Belgium was played. Afterwards the monument was inaugurated which was followed by the inauguration and more speeches.

Finally we were all invited to the local school’s canteen in the Centre of Merlemont to have a chat, drink and snack.

The project which led to the inauguration of the monument, started when during a research on Merlemont a local city guide of the village, Marie-Noëlle Philippart, came across the Internet a phrase in a book (van Doorslaer Rudi, Schreiber Jean-Philippe, ‘De curatoren van het getto.”, Lannoo Uitgeverij, 2004, 411 p.) which indicated that during the Second World War there had been Jewish forced laborers in quarries in the village of Merlemont. After checking old records from the personnel, she found a list of fifteen names which then became the kickoff of her research which took two years and a half. She has discovered that in May 1942 a German ordinance stipulated that 60 Jews be put to work in quarries of Merlemont to mine limestone (dolomite). Of these 60 summoned, 21 workers and their families arrived during the summer of 1942 until March 1943 and lived in Merlemont. We find among them five armed partisans, hidden children, four moms who were arrested and deported on convoy XX of which at least one escaped. From late April 1945 to mid-May, there were still 28 Jewish registered incomes from Jewish workers in Merlemont, however only a few traces of their history could be found.

The project culminated also with the publishing of a book which is titled “Eté 1942 – Des étoiles jaunes à la Dolomie”. In her book the author elaborates about her findings and her communication with the witnesses she interviewed.

I had the pleasure to meet the author and other persons such as Mr. Christian Malburny from the organization Archéophil ( who took an important role in bringing this book to fruition.

Eté 1942 – Des étoiles jaunes à la Dolomie by Mrs. Marie-Noëlle Philippart

I also met with Mr. Guy Pegoretti who Continue reading Inauguration of a memorial stone in memory of the Jewish forced laborers in quarries in Merlemont

When a study can be Upside-Down and sadly wrong

Is it funny or sad if a group of academics make an error which even the unlearned can easily find out as being a serious mistake on the behalf of these academics?

Let me explain what I am referring too: I came today (16 November 2012) across a study on the website of the ‘АКАДЕМИЯ ТРИНИТАРИЗМА‘ (Academy of Trinitarianism) which is based in Moscow (see their website at www trinitas ru).

In that article they try to analyze a particular stone which was found in the Pskov region (a city located about 20 kilometers (12 mi) east from the Estonian border, on the Velikaya River).  After their lengthy analysis they come to the conclusion that:

1. The inscription on the stone is an epitaph. (correct)
2. Dialectal Russian language inscriptions. (incorrect)
3. Alphabet mixed, including Cyrillic characters, archaic Greek and Latin. (incorrect)

Here is the photo as published on their website:

And the drawing by Continue reading When a study can be Upside-Down and sadly wrong