Bijkomende meta info
- This collection contains 2,913 index cards which refer to the Möbelaktion (Räumung), the spoliation of Jewish homes, in Antwerp. Each index card contains the address of a plundered home, the name of the Jewish resident, the date of the clearance and a file number referring to a more comprehensive file, which no longer exists today.
- Content Date
- Content Location
- STABEL Kris, De Möbelaktion. Het Duitse beheer van de in België geconfisqueerde Joodse goederen tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog, unpublished master's thesis, KULeuven, 2000 ; COMMISSION BUYSSE, Les biens des victimes des persécutions anti-juives en Belgique. Spoliation - Rétablissement des droits - Résultats de la Commission d'étude. Rapport final de la Commission d'étude sur le sort des biens des membres de la Communauté juive de Belgique, s.l., 2001.
- The creator of this collection is unknown. The index cards may have been compiled by the Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete - Einsatzleitung Belgien, by the Brüsseler Treuhandgesellschaft or by one of the moving companies that cleared out the Jewish homes, although this is unlikely since the file cards are written in German.
- Physical characteristics and technical requirements
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin
- Finding aid
- A name index is available at the Kazerne Dossin documentation centre.
- Centraal Beheer voor Joodse Weldadigheid en Maatschappelijk Hulpbetoon [Central Bureau for Jewish Welfare and Social Aid], Antwerp
- Digital copy available as collection KD_00012 at Kazerne Dossin
- Level of description
- Extent and medium
- 2,913 digitised images (2,913 index cards)
- Related units of description
- Related archives can be found at : National Archives of Belgium, “Ministry of Finance, Service of the Sequester, Files of the Brüsseler Treuhandgesellschaft”, BE-A0545_007101_006943_FRE (only partially preserved) ; Directorate-general War Victims, multiple collections which refer to the Möbelaktion.
- Administrative and biographical
In January 1942, Adolf Hitler ordained the seizure of all furniture left behind in abandoned housing previously occupied by Jews. This “Aktion M” or “Möbelaktion”, also known as Räumung (spoliation), was added to the competence of Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR). From 1940 onwards the ERR had been responsible for the confiscation of valuable artefacts owned by Jews. On 25 March 1942, the ERR delegated the Möbelaktion to the Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete. The Reichsministerium then created the Dienststelle Westen, which became responsible for the confiscation of 'Jewish' furniture. The Belgian branch of the Dienststelle, the Einsatzleitung Belgien, was led by Franz Mader. Although initially the profit from the Möbelaktion solely benefited the Reichsministerium, after 27 May 1942 the confiscated goods were transported to German cities in need of refurbishment after bombardments by the allied forces.
The Einsatzleitung Belgien started its work in March 1942, focusing on the spoliation of homes of Jews that had fled the country. After deportations began in August 1942, the homes of deportees were cleared out systematically. During its first six months of existence, the Einsatzleitung operated more or less discrete. Mader did not want to scare off those members of the Jewish community who received a convocation for forced labour by plundering the homes of persons who had already obeyed the order. After the large anti-Jewish raids in Antwerp and Brussels in August and September 1942, the Möbelaktion became a more public operation, performed on a larger scale. The Einsatzleitung continued its work in Belgium until August 1944, only a few weeks before liberation.
The Einsatzleitung Belgien operated from two offices: one on Grétrystraat in Antwerp and the other on Willem de Zwijgerstraat (Rue du Taciturne) in Brussels. Although the main operating area for the Möbelaktion would remain Antwerp and Brussels, Liège and the coastal area were targeted as well. The clearance of the homes was performed by Belgian moving companies, some of which still exist today. The seized furniture was stored in several depots and then sent to the Reich by boat or train. It is estimated that between September 1942 and August 1943 alone, over 4,000 homes were sealed and 11,173 pieces of furniture were shipped to Nazi-Germany.
Although the Möbelaktion focused on furniture, the Einsatzleitung Belgien also confiscated other types of useful items: household goods, kitchen utensils, glassware, dishes, linens and clothing. As a result, tensions between the Einsatzleitung and other German organizations quickly arose. To resolve the matter, on 18 September 1942 Eggert Reeder, head of the Verwaltungsstab, proclaimed an official division of powers. Upon the discovery of an abandoned home, the Sicherheitsdienst would seal the premises. The keys were then handed over to the Quartieramt, a branch of the Militärverwaltung which sought living quarters for German troops. Only after the release of a property by the Wehrmacht, were the goods divided. The ERR confiscated artefacts of museum quality, while the Brüsseler Treuhandgesellschaft collected other works of art, money and precious metals. Objects which were not furniture – such as vehicles and food – were sent to the Ortskommandanturen. The Einsatzleitung Belgien was designated the remaining items. This division of powers would remain a source of contention between the different organisations until the end of the war.
Before the actual spoliation the representative of the Reichsministerium – Einsatzleitung Belgien compiled an inventory of the seized home’s content on site. This document stipulated which object would go to which German organisation. The Einsatzleitung was also obliged to fill out a requisition form on which the estimated value of the goods was indicated. This document mentioned the name, the address and the nationality of the Jewish owner, the depot where the furniture was stored, and the type and measurements of the objects. Most of these archival documents were destroyed by the Nazis in August and September 1944.
Among the documents which survived are two sets of index cards. These contain the name of the Jewish resident, the address of the cleared home, the date of the clearance and a file number which might refer to the inventories or substantial files (which did not survive). The first set of index cards is stored at the Directorate-general War Victims in Brussels and contains information on the clearance of homes in several Belgian cities, including Antwerp and Brussels. A second smaller set is stored at the Centraal Beheer voor Joodse Weldadigheid en Maatschappelijk Hulpbetoon [Central Bureau for Jewish Welfare and Social Aid], also called “Centrale”, in Antwerp and only contains index cards of clearances of homes in Antwerp. This second set was digitised by the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, today Kazerne Dossin, in 2009 after which the original index cards were returned to the Centrale.
- Immediate Source of Acquisition
- Centraal Beheer voor Joodse Weldadigheid en Maatschappelijk Hulpbetoon [Central Bureau for Jewish Welfare and Social Aid], also known as “Centrale”, 2009
- System of arrangement
- Alphabetically by street and house number