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- This collection contains two group photos of girls spending their summer at the Diesterweg children’s colony in Heide-Kalmthout in 1939. Among those depicted are Herta Frucht and her friend Maria De Roy.
- Maria De Roy
- Digital copy available as collection KD_00597 at Kazerne Dossin
- 2 digitised images (2 photos)
- Herta Frucht's photo which is part of this collection, was also added to the Give them a Face portrait collection (KD_00017).
Herta Frucht was born in Gdansk on 14 February 1928 as the daughter of shoemaker Rywen David Frucht (born on 18 July 1899 in Lodz, Poland) and his wife Hudesa Borenstein or Bornsztajn (born on 15 January 1891 in Ozorkow, Poland). Herta’s parents had married in Gdansk on 4 March 1922 and two older sisters were also born there: Anna on 19 May 1922 and Frieda on 11 February 1924. On 1st July 1929 Rywen, Hudesa and their three daughters migrated to Belgium, settling at Ledeganckstraat 32 in Borgerhout, Antwerp. In the years that followed Hudesa gave birth to their four youngest children: Gisela on 4 January 1931, Jacques on 30 May 1932, Jeanne on 7 June 1934 and Henriette on 10 May 1938.
The Frucht family struggled financially, changing addresses within the city limits regularly. By 1937 oldest daughter Anna had become a furrier apprentice, while parents Rywen and Hudesa exploited a small shoe store at Falconplein 42 in Antwerp, where the family also lived. In the immediate pre-war years daughter Herta Frucht was a student at the Stedelijke Lagere School [Municipal Primary School] located at Keistraat in Antwerp, where she befriended non-Jewish Maria De Roy. Both girls came from less well-to-do families and spent their summers at the Diesterweg children’s colony in Heide-Kalmthout.
When Nazi Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940 the Frucht family still lived at Falconplein 42 in Antwerp. Herta continued to visit her friend Maria De Roy and frequently ate dinner at Maria’s house since her own family was struggling. By August 1940 Herta’s oldest sister Anna moved to Rue Vlogaert 40 in Saint-Gilles, Brussels. Rywen, Hudesa and their six other children moved from Antwerp to Rue Coenraets 53 in Saint-Gilles, Brussels, by the end of that year. The family obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees, registering in the municipal Jewish register in December 1940 and having their IDs stamped with the words Jood-Juif [Jew] in Spring 1941. Father Rywen Frucht took on a job with the Association of Jews in Belgium (AJB), working for the Oeuvre centrale israélite de secours (OCIS), the central Jewish relief society.
In late July or early August 1942 oldest daughters Anna and Frieda Frucht received a work order or Arbeitseinsatzbefehl, summoning them for forced labour. While Frieda didn’t obey the order, Anna presented herself at the Dossin barracks at the beginning of August 1942. Due to an infection she was hospitalized in Mechelen from 10 to 24 August 1942. On 25 August 1942 Anna was deported from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport V. She did not survive.
On 3 July 1943 Rywen Frucht was arrested while working at the local OCIS office in Brussels and was transferred to the Dossin barracks. Attempts made by his AJB colleagues to have him released failed. Four days later, on 7 July 1943, daughter Herta Frucht was also registered at the Dossin barracks. The circumstances of her arrest remain unclear. On 31 July 1943 Rywen and Herta were deported from Mechelen to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XXI. Neither survived.
Herta’s five remaining siblings all presumably survived the war. Gisela, Jacques and Henriette Frucht were hidden by the Jewish Defence Committee as Alice, Albert and Henriette Freyts. Gisela stayed with two families in Tervueren and Anderlecht, while Jacques was placed at the Colonie scolaire in Cul-des-Sarts and with a family in Anderlecht. Henriette was hidden at the Colonie Secours d’Hiver and with two families in Brussels and Tervueren. The whereabouts of Jeanne and Frieda Frucht during the last years of the war are unknown. Herta’s mother Hudesa survived the war in Brussels. Her whereabouts are unknown until 22 March 1944, the date on which she was officially admitted to the Jewish elderly home at Avenue Jean Van Horenbeeck in Auderghem. She moved to Uccle in 1946 and passed away in Jette, Brussels, on 15 July 1963. In the meantime her children had built their own families and some migrated. Herta’s class mate Maria De Roy continued to tell stories about her lost friend until her own death in 2009.
- The photos in this collection were kept by Maria De Roy, school friend of Herta Frucht. After Maria passed away in 2009 the photos were passed on to her son Luc Boeva. He kindly donated the originals to Kazerne Dossin in 2020.
- Maria De Roy and her son Luc Boeva, 2020