Fishel-Black family. Collection

Bijkomende meta info

This collection consists of: digitised copies of 9 letters sent by Mendel Fishel, Emily Black and their youngest son Leon Fishel in Antwerp to their oldest sons Maurice Bernard and Leonard Fishel in a civil internment camp, including one dated on the day Mendel and Emily reported at the Dossin barracks ; a family portrait of Mendel Fishel and Emily Black, with youngest son Leon ; portraits of Mendel Fishel and Leon Fishel ; Leon Fishel in the Maccabi football team outfit ; Leon Fishel and his soccer team of Maccabi Antwerp ; Leon Fishel wearing the yellow star ; a series of propaganda photos taken at the civil internment camps or Internierungslager at Tost (Ilag VIII) and Kreuzburg (Ilag VIII/Z) ; a photo album received by Leonard (Len) Fishel after the war from the Young Men's Christian Association or YMCA illustrating the YMCA's mission to several civil internment camps including those in Tost and Kreuzburg where Leonard was held.
Content Date
FISHEL Melvyn George, Caught up in the Torments of the Shoah, manuscript published online (
Fishel-Black family
Dutch, English
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin
Melvyn George Fishel, Private collection, Belgium
Level of description
Extent and medium
73 digitised images (30 pictures and 11 documents)
Related units of description
The Brunner-Hollander family collection (KD_00566) contains more information on the family of Leonard (Len) Fishel's wife Dora Brunner.
Administrative and biographical
Mendel Fishel was born in Kedainiai, Lithuania, in 1888, as the son of Youdel Fishel and Nethy Schnatt. The Fishel family migrated from the Russian Empire to Liverpool, where Mendel became a clothier. In 1915 he married Emily Black, born in Liverpool, United Kingdom, in 1887, as the daughter of Isaac Black, also known as the Jewish humourist Ish Montenegro, and Esther Herskowitz. The two oldest sons of Mendel and Emily were also born in Liverpool : Maurice Bernard (Benny) on 4 October 1916 and Leonard (Len) on 20 July 1920. On 27 December 1921, eight months after the family migrated to Belgium, a third son called Leon, was born in Antwerp, where Mendel had started a dealership in English fabrics. All three sons went to school in Belgium and Len and Leon played soccer for the Maccabi football club in Antwerp.
In May 1940, Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium. By the end of July 1940, Maurice and Leonard, the two oldest sons who held British nationality, were arrested by the Germans as citizens of a hostile country. They were held for a few days at the Centenaire in Brussels as well as in Liège, Huy and Dinant, before being sent to civil internment camps (Internierungslager), including Ilag VIII in Tost, Ilag VIII/Z in Kreuzberg and Ilag XVIII in Spittal. Both Benny and Len would thus survive the war. While being detained in the Ilag, the brothers were able to receive letters from their parents and youngest brother Leon who stayed behind in Antwerp. Len also corresponded with his pen pal Mimi Balken. Since Mimi wasn’t fluent in English, it was her cousin Dora Brunner who wrote instead. After Len and Benny were liberated in Spittal on 9 May 1945, Benny left for England. Len married Dora Brunner, who had survived the war hiding in Belgium. They had two children: Shirley and Melvyn. Melvyn still lives in Belgium and researches the family history.
Len and Benny Fishel would be the only survivors of their family. In 1940-1942 their parents Mendel and Emily as well as their brother Leon were forced to obey an increasing number of anti-Jewish decrees. In the summer of 1942, youngest son Leon Fishel was sent by the Nazis as a forced labourer to northern France where he was put to work on the Atlantic Wall under supervision of the German enterprise Organisation Todt. Meanwhile, in August 1942 parents Mendel Fishel and Emily Black received a convocation for forced labour (Arbeitseinsatzbefehl). Both were registered on the deportation list at the Dossin barracks on 24 August 1942. Neither survived deportation via transport V to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 25 August 1942. Their youngest son Leon was deported from France and after a short stop at the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via transport XVII on 31 October 1942. Leon also perished.
In the late 1990s Melvyn George Fishel, grandson of Mendel Fishel and Emily Black, started research on his family history. After getting in touch with Kazerne Dossin in 2011 he donated copies of his family's wartime photos to the museum. Photos KD_00052_000003 and KD_00052_000009 were sent by father Mendel Fishel, mother Emily Black and their youngest son Leon to their oldest sons Maurice Bernard and Leonard who were arrested in Belgium as British - thus hostile - nationals by the Germans in the summer of 1940 and who were detained during the whole war in civil internment camps in Poland and Austria.
In 2017 and 2019 Melvyn George Fishel added copies of several photos and letters to the collection which were sent by Mendel, Emily and Leon to Maurice Bernard and Leonard in the civil internment camp. The addition also included propaganda photos taken in the civil internment camps (Internierungslager) at Tost (Ilag VIII) and Kreuzburg (Ilag VIII/Z) as well as a photo album given to Leonard (Len) Fishel after the war by Henry Soderberg of the Young Men's Christian Association or YMCA.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Melvyn George Fishel, grandson of Mendel Fishel and Emily Black, 2011, 2017 and 2019
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