Bijkomende meta info
- This collection contains: pre-war photos of Lajzer Finkielsztejn, his brother Mayer and their friends as members of the socialist Zionist youth movement Dror ; post-war photos of Lajzer Finkielsztejn’s comrades from the Partisans Armés, the Belgian Army of Partisans ; post-war photos of Lajzer Finkielsztejn at medal ceremonies and commemorations ; Lajzer Finkielsztejn’s membership card of the Belgian Army of Partisans, his Carte des états de services de guerre du combatant, 1940-1945, and his political prisoner’s ID.
- Finkielsztejn-Finkielsztejn family
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin
- Finkielsztejn family, Private collection
- Digital copy available as collection KD_00125 at Kazerne Dossin
- 41 digitised images (35 photos and 3 documents)
- An interview with Lajzer alias Leon Finkielsztejn is part of the Johannes Blum collection (KD_00016).
Aron Lejbus Finkielsztejn was born on 14 November 1889 in Przedborz, Poland. On 5 November 1923 he married Cerka Finkielsztejn, born on 16 June 1896 in Przedborz. Oldest son Lajzer alias Leon had been born on 20 January 1923 in Lodz, Poland, after their religious marriage. Cerka gave birth to three more children before the family migrated to Belgium in 1929: Mayer alias Max (born on 7 March 1924 in Lodz), Szmul (born on 9 September 1925 in Lodz) and Marja (born on 2 October 1927 in Lodz). Upon arrival in Belgium, father Aron Finkielsztejn found a job as a miner in Marcinelle, Charleroi. Cerka, pregnant at the time of migration, gave birth to youngest child David in Gilly, Charleroi, on 11 April 1929. The Finkielsztejn children adapted well to life in Belgium and joined the socialist Zionist Dror youth movement. In the mid-1930s Aron and Cerka became street vendors in Charleroi. When their work permit was revoked, the family moved to Rue Vlogaert 24 in Saint-Gilles, Brussels. Aron found work as a shoemaker and the Finkielsztejn boys joined the local Dror branch. Oldest son Lajzer became a tailor apprentice.
When Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940, the Finkielsztejn family fled to France. After being arrested in Boulogne, they were forced to return to Brussels. Regular life resumed but was quickly restricted by means of anti-Jewish measures. On 20 July 1941 Lajzer, Mayer and Szmul Finkielsztejn moved to Charleroi to work in a factory, hoping to avoid forced labour imposed by the Nazis. The three brothers were nonetheless claimed by the German Organisation Todt and were sent to France on 26 July 1942, where they were split up and worked in different labour camps. However, all three managed to escape. Lajzer, Mayer and Szmul were reunited in Brussels in October 1942. They then learned that their parents and sister had been summoned to the SS-Sammellager Mecheln. Aron Finkielsztejn, Cerka Finkielsztejn and their daughter Marja had received an Arbeitseinsatzbefehl, a convocation for forced labour, and had presented themselves at the Dossin barracks on 3 August 1942. None of them would survive deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport II on 11 August 1942.
Lajzer, taking on the role of head of the family, found a hiding place for him and his two brothers on an attic in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Brussels. In November 1942, he was introduced to and became a member of the Partisans Armés, the Belgian Army of Partisans. The leaders and members of his unit included Jos Lando, Abraham Nejszaten, Jacob Gutfraynd, Emile Löwenwirth and André Wynen. After completing his weapons training, Lajzer was involved in sabotaging railroads, the theft of ration stamps and the execution of German officers and collaborators, including an attempt to kill the snitch Icek Glogowski alias le gros Jacques on 27 April 1943. In March and April 1944 Lajzer’s resistance cell was decimated after raids by the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst (Sipo-SD). Lajzer was arrested on 1st April 1944 when meeting his superior Moise Goldman at Boulevard de Waterloo in Brussels. Both were severely questioned at the offices of the Sipo-SD at Avenue Louise and at the fort of Breendonk. On 6 May 1944 Lajzer was deported from Breendonk to Buchenwald. In June 1944 he was transferred to Hadmersleben where he worked in a salt mine. Lajzer was liberated on 26 May 1945 during a death march to Theresienstadt. Upon his repatriation he was reunited with his three brothers and his girlfriend Rosa whom he married. The couple started a family while Lajzer worked as a tailor. In the 1950s he received several medals for his resistance work and in 1965 he cofounded the Union des Anciens Résistants Juifs de Belgique (UARJB) [Association of former Jewish Resistance Fighters in Belgium]. Lajzer was very active testifying in schools and in 2009 he was elected Mensch of the year by the Centre Communautaire Laïc Juif. Lajzer Finkielsztejn passed away in 2014.
Younger brother Mayer alias Max Finkielsztejn joined the Partisans Armés in June 1943. Among his comrades he became known as Tom. On 14 May 1944 he was arrested in Etterbeek, Brussels, carrying a false ID on the name of Joseph Boon. After questioning, Mayer admitted to being Jewish but he identified himself as Mayer Goldfeld thus protecting his two younger brothers in hiding. Mayer was deported from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau under his assumed name via Transport XXV on 19 May 1944. He survived seven months in Auschwitz and a death march to Mauthausen, and was liberated in Ebensee in May 1945. Upon repatriation, he married the daughter of the Beelen family who were also members of the Partisans Armés and started a family.
Third brother Szmul Finkielsztejn, upon returning to Belgium in October 1942, went into hiding. He took on the false name Charles Gourdain and was housed together with Jacob Szejman at the home of a certain René Evraert.
Youngest brother David Finkielsztejn was taken in by his maternal aunt Chaja Fienkelstejn (born on 10 November 1906 in Przedborz) and her husband Boruch Najman (born on 14 November 1904 in Zgierz, Poland). Upon Chaja’s arrest and deportation in January 1943, Boruch, who was also a member of the Partisans Armés, placed David at the children’s home led by Jonas Tiefenbrunner at Rue des Patriotes 34 in Brussels. The boy was then sent into hiding as Daniel Depres at the Sanatorium Prince Charles in Auderghem where was reunited with his three older brothers in 1945.
- Lajzer Finkielsztejn kindly permitted the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, predecessor of Kazerne Dossin, to digitise a selection of family photographs and documents in 2010.
- Lajzer alias Leon Finkielsztejn, 2010