Bijkomende meta info
- This collection contains : seven photos of Leonid Edelstein, including two on the beach and two while performing as a musician ; a thank you note by Leonid Edelstein to Pierre André.
- STEVENS Nele, De Vervolging en de Joodse gemeenschap in Gent tijdens de tweede wereldoorlog, thesis to obtain the degree of Master in History, University Ghent, 1996-1997 ; CARELS Sander, De wereld in zakformaat. Buitenlandse studenten in de Gentse ingenieursopleiding tijdens het interbellum, thesis to obtain the degree of Master in History, University Ghent, 2013-2014.
- Daisy André, daughter of musician Pierre André
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin
- Daisy André, Private collection, Ghent
- 8 digitised images (7 photographs and 1 document)
Leonid Edelstein was born in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, on 4 January 1906 as the son of pharmacist Magnus Edelstein (b. 17/12/1869 in Vilna, Poland) and Rywa Kamuscher (b. 06/02/1884 in Vilna, Poland). Leonid emigrated via Berlin to Belgium on 20 October 1923 to study at the university of Liège. His brother Eugene (b. 07/12/1911 in Saint-Petersburg, Russia) arrived 11 days later via Italy. The two routes might illustrate that the Edelstein family was fleeing the Soviet Union. Mother Rywa was able to leave Estonia in June 1924 to come to Belgium, father Magnus arrived a couple of weeks later.
At the beginning of the school year 1924-1925 the complete Edelstein family settled in Ghent. Leonid switched from Liège to the local university, where he studied medicine. The family settled into the house of the Association for Jewish Students in Ghent, where father Magnus Edelstein earned a living by running the kosher student restaurant. Leonid paid for school by playing the piano in night clubs and joining multiple orchestras and ensembles.
Via his music, Leonid came in contact with Pierre André, violinist at the Royal Opera in Ghent. Leonid became a close friend of the André family, including daughter Daisy. During the summer months, Leonid and Pierre would play together in the casinos at the Belgian seaside. However, disaster struck. In 1935, Leonid’s mother, Rywa Kamuscher, passed away. His brother Eugene suffered from a kidney decease and passed away on 14 December 1936, leaving Leonid and his father by themselves. At the end of the 1930s, Leonid became the pianist of “The Happy Boys”, a jazz band that played all through Belgium. When war broke out, Leonid and Pierre André both played in Willy Rokin’s jazz band.
At the end of 1940, Pierre André refused to play for the Royal Opera any longer, which had become more and more German oriented. When the Willy Rokin group was dismantled, Pierre relocated to Bruges, while Leonid stayed in Ghent. After a concert in the local Ancienne Belgique, Flemish SS-men broke Leonid’s fingers. He was forbidden to ever play in public again. In July 1942, Leonid Edelstein received a convocation for forced labour (Arbeitseinsatzbefehl). He reported at the Dossin barracks on 12 August 1942 and did not survive deportation to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport III on 15 August 1942. His father Magnus Edelstein perished after deportation via Transport XI on 26 September 1942.
Pierre André went into hiding in 1943, after his band had been forced to travel to Germany to perform there. The André family survived the war and kept the memory of Leonid Edelstein alive until this day.
- Daisy André, daughter of Leonid Edelstein's musical friend Pierre André, wrote Leonid's life story down in 2012. She illustrated the text with photos from her family albums and sent a copy to Kazerne Dossin.
- Daisy André, daughter of musician Pierre André, 2012