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- This family portrait depicts Mendel Resler, his wife Rebecca alias Rosa Gutmann and their four youngest children Alexandre or Alexander, Mircea or Mircia alias Michel, Tauba and Eva Resler
- Resler-Gutmann family
- Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin as collection KD_00632
- Françoise Resler, Private collection, Belgium
- Digital copy available as collection KD_00632 at Kazerne Dossin
- 1 digitised image (1 photo)
- The photos of Tauba and Eva Resler which are part of this collection, were added to the Give them a Face portrait collection (KD_00017) thanks to the researchers of Jo Peeters of the Huis van het Belgisch-Frans Verzet [Home of the Belgian-French Resistance].
Mendel Resler was born in Sulita, Romania, on 22 July 1894. He became a fabrics merchant and fought as a soldier during the First World War. Mendel was wounded in battle, but survived. On 24 April 1918, he married Rebecca alias Rosa Gutmann in Bucharest, Romania. She had been born on 22 July 1895 in Jassy, Romania. Their four eldest children were all born in the Romanian capital: Charlotte on 6 June 1919, Alexandre on 26 December 1922, Mircea or Mircia alias Michel on 6 April 1926 and Tauba or Toba on 13 January 1928.
In March 1929 Mendel, Rebecca (who was pregnant with their fifth child), and their children migrated to Belgium where Rebecca’s brother Moïse alias Maurice Guttman had a tailoring business. The family initially moved in with Maurice at Rue Traversière 107 in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Brussels, but found separate living quarters at Rue de la Commune 65 in Saint-Joose-ten-Noode in August 1929. The family thereafter changed addresses regularly, before moving to Rue Haute 211 in Brussels. On 2 October 1929 youngest child Eva Resler was born in Etterbeek.
As of July 1930 the Resler-Gutmann family attempted to obtain a permanent residence permit for Belgium. In September 1930 they were registered in the foreigners’ registry and in March 1931 in the population registry of Schaerbeek. Meanwhile, the Resler family continued to change addresses regularly. By December 1935 they lived at Rue Jules Van Praet 6 in Brussels and by June 1938 at Chaussée de Wavre 36 in Ixelles. Alexandre supported his parents and siblings by working as a an apprentice tailor.
The Resler-Gutmann family still resided at Chaussée de Wavre 36 when Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940. Eldest sons Alexandre and Mircea Resler fled south but were not able to reach unoccupied territory and returned to Antwerp in September 1940. Father Mendel provided for his family working as a raincoat dealer, but when his business was seized by the German authorities he was obliged to work as a tailor at a German factory in Brussels. Eldest daughter Charlotte Resler had married, but she and her husband Abram Joseph Poznanski lived nearby, at Chausée de Wavre 99, and would both survive the war.
In the years following the invasion Mendel, Rebecca and their four youngest children obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees. In December 1940 the family registered in the municipal Jewish register of Ixelles and in the spring of 1941 their ID cards were stamped with the words “Jood-Juif”. In Spring 1942 the family became members of the Association of Jews in Belgium, but they were exempted from wearing the yellow badge because of their Romanian nationality which would also – temporarily – protect them from deportation. On 22 July 1942 Mendel, Rebecca, Alexandre, Mircea, Tauba and Eva moved to Rue du Trône 104 in Ixelles. In September 1942, Alexandre and Mircea Resler joined the Milices Patriotiques, distributing clandestine issues of La Libre Belgique.
The Resler-Gutmann family was arrested at home in the night of 19 January 1943 after a traitor pointed out their whereabouts. As Romanian citizens they had remained at their legal address, but their Romanian papers could no longer protect them. The family members were registered at the Dossin barracks that same day. Mendel became person 324 on the deportation list of transport XX, Rebecca person 325, Alexandre person 326, Mircea person 327, Tauba person 328 and Eva person 329. The train left the Dossin barracks on 19 April 1943 and arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on 22 April 1943. Upon arrival Tauba – who was only 14 years old – and her mother Rebecca were probably sent to the gas chamber immediately. The date, place and circumstances of Mendel’s death are unknown to us.
Brothers Mircea and Alexandre Resler were selected as forced labourers. The number 117674 was tattooed on Alexandre’s arm, the number 117673 on Mircea’s arm. Although Alexandre was murdered, Mircea survived. He was transferred from Auschwitz to Monowitz on 23 April 1943 and also survived the death marches to Buchenwald in January 1945 and Flossenburg in February 1945. As of March 1945 Mircea was at the Dachau camp where he was liberated in April by the American army. Mircea was repatriated to Belgium on 6 May 1945 and became a member of the Association des Anciens détenus de la Caserne Dossin de Malines [Association of former detainees of the Dossin Barracks in Mechelen]. In 1951 he was recognized as a political prisoner for being involved in the distribution of illegal newspapers and pamphlets for the Onafhankelijkheidsfront – Front de l’Indépendance [Independent Front]. Mircea Resler married three times and had five children. He passed away on 10 March 2009.
On its way to Auschwitz-Birkenau, resistance fighters attempted to stop Transport XX at Korbeek-Lo. Without permission of their superiors, three members of the 32nd partisan corps – Romain Baplu, Pieter Schepers and Nicolas Poncelet – built a wooden barricade to stop the train near a railroad bridge. When it slowed down, 13 year old Eva Resler and her brother Mircea undertook an unsuccessful escape attempt. Sadly, Eva was hit by a bullet – probably launched by a resistance fighter – and died on the spot. The resistance fighters first brought her body to the Sint-Kamillus institute and farm run by the Broeders van Liefde [Brothers of Charity] before bringing her back to the railroad in order to avoid discovery. Eva was found the next morning and was buried in an anonymous grave at the cemetery of Korbeek-Lo on 21 April 1943. Jo Peeters of the Huis van het Belgisch-Frans Verzet [Home of the Belgian-French Resistance] was able to identify Eva in 2016, based on thorough research. A ceremony, organized by this museum, annually commemorates Eva’s life at the location where she died.
- This family portrait survived the war and is cherished by Françoise Resler, daughter of Mircea Resler. In 2006 Jo Peeters of the Huis van het Belgisch-Frans Verzet [Home of the Belgian-French Resistance] identified the girl whose body was found near the tracks in Korbeek-Lo after the attack on transport XX as Eva Resler. He was able to contact Eva's family and provided a copy of the family photo to Kazerne Dossin so Eva's portrait as well as that of her sister Tauba could be added to the commemoration wall at the Kazerne Dossin museum.
- Françoise Resler and Jo Peeters, 2016