Tolkowsky family. Collection

Bijkomende meta info

This collection consists of 13 files :
KD_00045_0001: Miscellaneous photographs of the Tolkowsky family from Antwerp, including Charles Tolkowsky as an officer in the Belgian Army during the First World War, André Tolkowsky, son of Charles Tolkowsky, member of the Belgian resistance during the Second World War, Alexander de Vries and his wife Denise Tolkowsky, photos of vacation colony villa Altol, pictures taken during holidays at the Belgian coast and at the Francorchamps race track.
KD_00045_0002: Documents concerning Denise Tolkowsky and Alexander de Vries, including poems, drawings, school reports, letters from Denise’s siblings and documents sent by the Feldkommandantur
KD_00045_0003: Documents concerning Charles Tolkowsky and Ginette Sevi and their sons André and Jacques, including documents regarding Charles’ military career and spoliation.
KD_00045_0004: Documents concerning Samuel Tolkowsky and Anna Kennes, parents of Denise Tolkowsky, including letters from family members.
KD_00045_0005: Documents concerning a trip to Congo of Alice Tolkowsky and Nicolas Boruchovitz. Maps, a menu from the ship, a concert program from the ship, a passenger list (1937).
KD00045_0006: Letters from Palestine/Israel sent by Samuel Tolkowsky (nephew of Samuel Tolkowsky, father of Denise Tolkowsky) to Ginette Sevi (1945-1950).
KD00045_0007: Letters from Alfred (?) addressed to Georges, comte de Charny (Avenue Marie Antoinette 42, Paris)
KD00045_0008: Postcards sent by the Tolkowsky family to the Netherlands (1917)
KD00045_0009 : Catalogue ‘L’Union Artistique des jeunes’ (1889).
KD00045_0010: Writing paper and envelope with the Tolkowsky logo.
KD00045_0011: Hand drawn map of France and England indicating the evolution of the military front (not digitised)
KD00045_0012: Items belonging to musician Alexander De Vries (glasses, bullet cases, fabrics, yellow star torn from clothing).
KD00045_0013: Recordings of TV interviews and films (not digitised)
Content Date
Tolkowsky family
French, English, Dutch, Hebrew
Latin, Hebrew
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
The recordings are stored with the video collection.
Finding aid
Inventory available at Kazerne Dossin documentation centre.
Digital copy available as collection KD_00045 at Kazerne Dossin
Level of description
Extent and medium
over 6.000 items including photos, documents, objects and audiovisual materials
Related units of description
The Anna Esther Tolkowsky collection (KD_00364) contains additional photos of Anna Esther Tolkowsky, her siblings and children. Anna Esther Tolkowsky was the granddaughter of Abraham Tolkowsky and the daughter of Moise (Maurice) Tolkowsky. She married her paternal uncle Falk Paul Tolkowsky.
Administrative and biographical
Abraham Tolkowsky, born on 5 June 1838 in Russia, migrated from Bialystok, Poland, to Belgium in the 1880s and became a diamond merchant in Antwerp. He married Lifsche Moed and several of their nine children also became active in the diamond industry. The family business prospered from the 1890s with the founding of diamond polishing business A.M.I. Tolkowsky. Son Moise (Maurice) invented several techniques to cut round diamonds, while son Samuel (Sam) became the first chairman of the Antwerp Diamond Exchange. After the First World War, during which the family fled to England and the far East, grandson Marcel Tolkowsky, son of Israel (Isidore), developed the Ideal Cut diamond, which is still a standard in the business today.
The Tolkowsky family was also very active as philanthropists. Son Chilem Salomon cofounded the general Zionist organisation Agoudath Zion in Antwerp in 1898, son Israel (Isidore) the Ezra welfare organisation in 1904 which he presided for more than 25 years. Villa Altol, a colony for weak children located in the rural area of the Kempen, outside of Antwerp, was established by the family, in honour of the deceased patriarch Abraham Tolkowsky and his wife Lifsche Moed. The colony still exists today, but was relocated to Koksijde in 1965.
By 1940, only Abraham Tolkowsky’s sister Lina Tolkowsky, his grandson Charles Tolkowsky (son of Maurice) and his family, and his granddaughter Denise Tolkowsky (daughter of Sam Tolkowsky) with her husband Alexander de Vries lived in Belgium. Since they had received Belgian nationality before the war, they were initially protected from deportation. When in 1943 Jews with Belgian nationality were also deported, the family members went into hiding.
Charles Tolkowsky was arrested in February 1944. When returning home to pick up the mail, his tenant, mister Haegens, called the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst (Sipo-SD) upon which Charles Tolkowsky was arrested. He did not survive deportation from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XXVI, the last convoy to leave Belgium, on 31 July 1944.
Charles’ oldest son André Tolkowsky had joined the White Brigade Fidelo (Witte Brigade) in May 1942 and participated in several acts of sabotage against German vehicles and cinemas. When trying to travel to Spain to reach England in August 1942, André had been arrested and was sent to the Pithiviers camp in France. After his transfer to the Drancy transit camp later in August 1942, he was deported via transport 24 to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 26 August 1942. An intervention by Queen Elisabeth of Belgium came too late. André Tolkowsky perished after deportation, as did his maternal grandparents, Nissim David Sevi and Fortunée Misrahi, his uncle Maurice Sevi, his aunt Rachel Brailowski and their son Leon Sevi, who were all deported from the Dossin barracks. Regine Sevi, André’s mother and Charles’ wife together with her youngest son Jacques Tolkowsky survived the war in hiding, as did Denise Tolkowsky and her husband Alexander de Vries
After the war, members of the Tolkowsky family, most notably Denise and Alexander, contributed significantly to the Arts and cultural life in Flanders and Belgium. The family continues to prosper as great-grandson Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky is a world acclaimed consultant in the diamond business. Today, Tolkowsky family members live all over the world.
The archive was compiled by Abraham Tolkowsky’s great-grandson Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky, selecting items from a wide range of family documents. In 2015, Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky donated the archival collection to Kazerne Dossin.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Katja Tolkowsky, daughter of Sir Gabriel Tolkowsky, 2015
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