Tag Archives: WWII

The “Organisation Todt” (OT)

(The following text is based on an article which I wrote for off-line use)

We can read in a file from the Directorate-General War Victims about my great-great-uncle Kalman Lehrer (sometimes also known as Kalman Kalech) during WWII. We read there that he was conscripted into labor service in the Julius Berger Company.

I tried to figure out what the Julius Berger Company was (click here for my earlier post about this subject.

What I initially did not read well and missed in the document is the abbreviation ‘OT’ which is written on one of the documents in that file:

From Kalman Lehrer’s file at the Belgian Office of War Victims (file:DOS-DDO d210703)

What we see is that Kalman Lehrer

a été mis au travail force dans le Nord de La France (O.T.). Il figure sur les listes de salaires (établies par quinzaines) de la firme « Julius Berger » du 26.7.42 au 31.10.42“

(translation: [Kalman Lehrer] was conscripted into labor service in Northern France (OT). He is listed in the wages lists (established by fortnights) of the firm “Julius Berger” from 26.7.42 to 31.10.42.)

First I’ll try to explain more about the OT, which stood for Organisation Todt, and then I’ll continue about Kalman Lehrer during the war.

The OT’s establishment:
The “Organisation Todt” (OT) was established in May 1938, when Hitler instructed the Generalinspekteur für das Strassenwesen, Dr. Ing. Fritz Todt, who had proven himself with the autobahn construction, to continue the previously Wehrmacht led construction of the Westwall . Todt has developed the organization out of a combination of planning departments, private companies (the Julius Berger company was such a company) and until the war started in 1939, the Reichsarbeitsdienst . During the war the OT transformed into a military construction unit and its structure changed from year to year as it was adapted to the requirements of the respective orders.

The OT fell from March 1940 under the responsibility of the Reichsminister für Bewaffnung und Munition (RMfBM)- Minister for Armament and Munitions.

After the death of Fritz Todt in February 1942, the OT reorganized under Albert Speer (Mannheim, 19 march 1905 – London, 1 September 1981). From the beginning of 1941 it was headed by Continue reading The “Organisation Todt” (OT)

Some of my family members in Cuba during WWII

I mentioned in another article the fact that Belgian Jews exiled to Cuba during WWII. My relatives also stayed in Cuba. Many of the Jews who lived in Cuba during the War, were Belgian refugees. For more on this topic you may read Jews from Antwerp in Cuba.

Cuba and some of my relatives:
I found in the book “Jewish Community of Cuba – The Golden Years 1906-1958” by Mr. Jay Levinson (ISBN 78-0977620708) a paragraph on page 133 with a reference to the copy of La Voz de Betar:

“Not all the Belgian Jews, however, confined all of their activity to their own closely-knit society. J. Dorf lectured to Betar on Jewish History; Ringler spoke to the meeting of Betar about geography of the Holy Land.”

I found in that copy of La Voz de Betar (Cuba) which appeared in September 1944 (this file is known at the Jabotinsky Institute archives as file 3/239 bet), some names of people belonging to the Dorf family (my great-grandmother Liebe Dorf was married to my great-grandfather Gerschon Lehrer):

Transportation lists of the transports which left from Mechelen/Malines during the holocaust

Update (15 March 2016): I have come across a list on the website of the German ´Das Bundesarchiv´´s Memorial Book (see: www.bundesarchiv.de/gedenkbuch/chronicles.html.en?page=2).  I have merged their information (mainly the number of deported persons) with the information I have had before (on the website of ´Das Bundesarchiv´, you´ll find similar lists for The Netherlands and France).

I recently asked for a list of all transports which left the Mechelen/Malines kazerne (barracks) (Mechelen is the Dutch variant and Malines is the French variant of the name of the Flemish city which is about 25 kilometers south from Antwerp) during holocaust.

I wanted the overview so that I could place the names I received on some lists in the right context.

As I assume that there might be more out there with an interest in the list, I am publishing it here.

One transport to note is transport XX. Transport XX was attacked between Boortmeerbeek and Haacht (which is about 15km from Mechelen) by brave Belgians and thanks to these Belgians (Jean Franklemon, Georges Livschitz and Robert Maistriau) 231 deportees out of 1631 succeeded to escape the train. Out of the 231 escapees, 26 people died during the action which happened on 19 april 1943. You can read more about this episode on the following website: http://users.telenet.be/holocaust.bmb/.

Please note that you can find more about the list and transports in the following publications:

For more about the museum visit their website at http://www.kazernedossin.be where you can read the following introduction:

Of these 25,835 people, 576 escaped during the journey. 24,019 of the remainder would die: they were either gassed in Birkenau or died in the slave labour camp of Auschwitz or during the subsequent death march. Just 1,240 deportees – or less than 5% – returned to Belgium in May 1945. 32 Gypsies were among the survivors.
When war broke out, the Jewish population represented approximately 1% of the Belgian population. At the end of the war in 1945, 50% of all civilian casualties were Jewish.
The transportation of over 25,000 Jews and Gypsies was a German crime, carried out by the Nazis. However, their plan could not succeed without the cooperation of:

  • the Belgian civil service that, as a whole, principally accepted the persecution of the Jews and within the framework of the law, cooperated with the occupier
  • Belgian collaborating paramilitary parties and organisations who would present themselves as Jew hunters

This cooperation strongly contributed to the end result: a death toll of 44% of Jews. With this, the figures of the ‘Final Solution’ in Belgium lie between those of France (25%) and the Netherlands (80%).

Here is the list with the transportations:
Continue reading Transportation lists of the transports which left from Mechelen/Malines during the holocaust