Tag Archives: antwerp belgium

How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives

Please note that I am not affiliated with the Antwerp Archives although I strongly support them. Therefore, don’t contact the archives for any question which relates specifically to my website. Only contact them for matters which are related to them and their services.

For some services on the website of the Antwerp Archives (the “Felix Archief”), you first need to sign up (for free) which can be done online. I suggest that you start working on the website without signing up. On accessing most of the objects, you’ll be required to sign in as a user. If you don’t have yet a login and password, then this is the moment to sign up. You can do this on the logon screen which will be presented to you when you try to access a page which is only accessible to registered users. Click then on the word ‘hier’ in the sentence:

Heeft u nog geen bezoekersnaam of wachtwoord? Klik dan hier

(translation” If you don’t have yet a login and password, click here):

In the next screen you can Continue reading How to subscribe to the online services of the Antwerp Archives

A history of the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief) and getting there

History of the archives:
The archives of the city of Antwerp started with two charters from 1221 which the city kept in a huge chest which was longer then two meters and which was called the ‘privilegiekom’.

Of each lock the key was kept by another councilmember of the city. Therefore only when all councilmembers were together, the chest could be opened (the chest is currently on view in the reading room of the Antwerp archives).

Me standing in front of that chest (I am holding an archival item which is not related to the chest)

Thanks to the growth of the city, and of the growing stack of documents, the chest did not meet anymore the expectations of the city. Another reason why the chest did not fulfill the requirements anymore at that time, is that until the French Revolution all departments of the city archived their own files, which means that there was no (centralized) ‘city archive’ like we know today in Antwerp.

In 1796 a city archivist was appointed who was in charge of storing and managing the archives. Until the first half of the 20th century the archives were kept in the town hall (the beautiful town hall was built in Renaissance style between 1561 and 1565). Since then the archives moved a few times. During the Second World War the most important pieces of the archives were kept near a moated castle near Rochefort (in the south of Belgium). After the war the archives moved to the Venusstraat in a building which purpose was not meant (yet) for archives, therefore part of the archives were temporarily moved to a building in the Meirbrug. On 15 December 1956 the building in the Venusstraat was refurbished and the archives were kept there for almost 50 years. It closed it doors to the public on May 1st, 2006.

In November 2006 the city archives Continue reading A history of the Antwerp Archives (FelixArchief) and getting there

Old, Older, Oldest Big,Bigger, Biggest at the Archives

I went recently to the archives from Antwerp where I do collect from time to time files and other information for my family research.

During my research I usually try to understand and focus on several topics which I do come across and about which I do tend to post from time to time some articles on this website.
One of the topics I am currently focussing on, and about which I hope to post in the near future, is the district distribution in the city of Antwerp.

As part of this research I did request to have a look in the file about the reconstruction of the sewers. This interesting file contains a few Continue reading Old, Older, Oldest Big,Bigger, Biggest at the Archives

Photos and documents about Rav Schiff’s coronation as the new ruv of Machsike Hadass-Antwerp

The (paying) members of the one of the two Jewish communities, the Machsike Hadass, did vote on November 29th and 30th for the then candidate Rov Rav Ahron Schif.
From the 593 votes, 93.4% were in favour of Rav Ahron Schif as the new Rov.

Last Sunday, April 3rd, the ceremony took finally place in the packed main synagogue of the Kehille in the Oostenstraat.

All members of the kehille received two books. One book with the history on the kehille, its founding and an overview with the history on almost all shuls of Antwerp. And the second book has got a collection of essays by Rav Schiff.
Both books did cost together €10 (only) for non-members.

You can enjoy the photos I made or read some articles which I did collect from different sources.
(some articles and/or photos may have שמות, please handle with due respect)

The cover of the book עיר האם בישראל
The contents of the book

Labour in the Julius Berger company in North-France during WWII

Click here to read a follow-up on this post

© ARA - Brussels - please don't copy without permission

I posted recently (10 February 2011) a question via soc.genealogy.jewish regarding a company where my great-grandfather’s (Gershon Lehrer) brother Kalman Lehrer worked during WWII. The company was called Julius Berger and was based in France.

Kalman was born 20th June 1898 in Ustrzyki-Dolne. When the war started Kalman lived in Antwerp, Belgium on the Kroonstraat 205.

From 26 July 1942 to 31 October 1942 he was forced to work for the “Julius Berger” company in North-France.

He was deported via Malines/Mechelen in Belgium to Auschwitz on 31 October 1942 with transport 16 from which he did not return. The Belgian authorities confirmed (on 5 May 1955) their assumption that he passed away sometimes between 31 October 1942 and 1 June 1945.

I am looking for more details regarding the company Julius Berger.

Click here if you would like to read the message I did post to the newsgroup»

I appreciate any ideas or tips, please comment on this post or send me an e-mail.

Click here to read a follow-up on this post

X-No-archive: yes
I found in documents that my great-great uncle Kalman LEHRER had to work during the
War in Norht-France in a company which was called Julius Berger. He worked there
from 26 June 1942 to 31 October 1942.
Does anyone know more about the company? Thanks a lot in advance for your help,
Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium
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Jews from Antwerp in Cuba

A while ago I looked on behalf of someone else seek to get more information on why the Cuban authorities allowed Jews from Antwerp to immigrate to Cuba in the 1930’s while they had strict immigration rules.

Although the Internet has got some interesting pieces of information about the Jews in Cuba, I did not really manage to find details about the episode that deals with the Antwerp Jews in the 1930’s.

Therefore I sent a message to a newsgroup that deals mainly with Jewish Genealogy (soc.genealogy.jewish) in the hope that I would get somehow more information.

This post is a means to publish a summary on the responses I got.

Click here if you would like to read the message I posted to the newsgroup»
I received a few responses which replied to me in the Jewish way, i.e.: they replied to my question with another question. The question some asked was: “Why would the Jews not be allowed entrance if everyone knew that the Jews were being chased by bloodthirsty anti-Semites“. A notorious case was the S.S. St. Louis which was not allowed to disembark its passengers in Cuba or the USA. The USA (then INS) agency restricted immigration very severely during 1920’s and thereafter.

From the responses it appears that the Antwerp Jews were accepted into Cuba because of their knowledge in the diamond business. During their stay in Cuba they kept their own community and didn’t become part of one of the communities already present (possibly due to the gap in the language and because they intended to stay there only temporary?). After WWII the Jews left Cuba and went back to Belgium. The Belgian state was of course also interested in the diamond business (it seems that Camille Huysmans was one of the big powers behind this Belgian initiative to get the Diamond business back to Antwerp).

Someone else wrote me that the gangster Meyer Lansky used his connections to the Cuban government, through which he worked out a deal to allow European Jews to land in Cuba.  Visa’s were then bought and entry to the US was granted.

If you’d like to read more about the history of the Jews in Cuba (including the Antwerp Jews), the following two books do tell the story:

Some general websites about Jewry in Cuba:

I’d like to thank the following people for having replied on my request: Burt Hecht, Judite Orensztajn, Sam Lifsh?, Barbara Mannlein, Irene Newhouse, Stephen Denker, Jill Goodman, Helaine ?, Marcel Apsel, Sylvain Brachfeld, Mona Freedman Morris, Joan Parker, Rabbi Moshe Otero, Judy Turbin, Tineke Sjenitzer, Sue Kriloff, Melody Mayes nee Pinkus

Date: Fri, Jan 21 2011 5:22 pm
From: gershon.lehrer@gmail.com (lehrer)

X-No-archive: yes

Does anyone know why the Jews were allowed to immigrate into Cuba
in the 30’s from the previous century?

Why was an exception made for the Jews whilst I heard that the
Cuban authorities were very strict to allow immigration for
white people (does anyone have any source for this claim?)?

I am mainly talking about the Jews from Antwerp that were working
in the diamond industry.

Thank you for your help,

Gershon Lehrer
Antwerp, Belgium


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