Rozenblum-Suknik family

Rozenblum-Suknik family

Bijkomende meta info

A photo of Charles Rozenblum while working in a chemistry lab. Charles survived the war in hiding in Belgium.
ca. 1965
Rozenblum-Suknik family
Dutch, French, Polish, Latin, Yiddish
Latin, Hebrew
Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin as collection KD_00601
David Rozenblum, Private collection, Belgium
Digital copy available as collection KD_00601 at Kazerne Dossin. A copy was also delivered to the Musée de la Résistance de Belgique [Belgian Resistance Museum] in Anderlecht.
KD_00601
item
332 digitised images (62 documents, 1 newspaper, 85 photos and 4 objects)
This collection contains the documents confiscated from Natan Rozenblum upon his arrival at the Dossin barracks in 1944. These items were part of the relics collection (KD_00005) until they were returned to the Rozenblum family in 1999.
Naftali alias Natan Rozenblum was born in Warsaw, Poland, on 15 July 1900 as the son of Moszek Rozenblum and Ruchla Schmieleski. Presumably, at the age of 14, Naftali became an apprentice tailor. As of 1918 he was a member of the communist party and he became involved in activities of the tailors trade union. In 1923 (or 1925) he moved to Vilno to work for the communist party. Six months after his arrival he was imprisoned at Brest-Litovsk where he was held for several years. In 1929, again wanted by the police, Natan decided to leave for western Europe. Natans political activities as well as poverty and antisemitism in Poland made him leave his homeland.
On 15 April 1930 Natan Rozenblum officially arrived in Belgium and settled at Rue des Dominicains 6 in Brussels. He thus followed his beloved Curtla Suknik who had been born in Warsaw, Poland, on 27 July 1902 as the daughter of Josek Suknik and Myriam Szmidek. On 25 July 1929 Curtla had joined her brother Szyja (born on 28 September 1900 in Warszaw, Poland) who lived in Belgium since 1926. Upon migration to Belgium she declared to be a seamstress since she was officially supposed to move in with Szyja at Rue des Bouchers 71 in Brussels in order to work for him.

Natan and Curtla married at the Brussels town hall on 3 January 1931. They moved into an apartment at Rue du Télégraphe 16 in Brussels where they had their own tailoring workshop. On 26 July 1931 their son Charles was born. Six weeks later the family moved to Rue des Camions 4 in Schaerbeek, Brussels. Natan remained politically active and frequented Jewish communist circles as well as veterans of the Spanish civil war, and attempted to join Jewish tailoring workers in a union. Natan also remained a member of the communist party and Secours Rouge (later Solidarité and Gezert).

When Nazi Germany invaded Belgium on 10 May 1940 the Rozenblum-Suknik family lived at Rue Gaucheret 73 in Schaerbeek, Brussels. Natan, as a Polish citizen, was drafted into the Polish army and ended up in a hospital in Bressuire, France. After his return to Belgium, the family obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees registering in the municipal Jewish register in 1940, having their IDs stamped with the words “Jood-Juif” in 1941 and becoming members of the Association of Jews in Belgium in 1942. Natan also quickly joined the resistance. By the summer of 1941 he had been recruited for the Milices Patriotiques by A. Jochimek. Natan was responsible for recruiting new members in Schaerbeek, destroying enemy vehicles and aiding men and women in the underground. As of autumn 1942 he would also work for the Jewish Defence Committee, editing and distributing clandestine newspapers. Natan and Curtla hid in an apartment made available to them by Michel Moerenhout, a communist resistance fighter. Meanwhile Curtla’s brother Szyja Suknik was very active in the furrier industry and was forced to work in the Lustra factory in Schaerbeek where clothing for the German Wehrmacht was made.

Natan Rozenblum was arrested at the beginning of April 1944 by the Sicherheitspolizei-Sicherheitsdienst. He was transferred via Avenue Louise to the Dossin barracks on 3 April and was deported via Transport XXIV to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 4 April 1944. Upon arrival he was selected as a forced labourer. The number 179852 was tattooed on his arm. Natan survived 11 months of forced labour and the death marches but succumbed in the Buchenwald concentration camp on 13 March 1945. Natan Rozenblum received several posthumous medals after the war.

Natans brother-in-law Szyja Suknik was arrested in Schaerbeek on 19 August 1943 by the Sicherheitspolizei because he was driving a car without his yellow star of David being visible. Szyja was registered at the Dossin barracks in Mechelen that same day and was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XXIIA on 20 September 1943. He survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, forced labour at the grounds of the former Warsaw ghetto, and Dachau and its satellite camps near Mühldorf and Ampfing (Waldlager). Szyja was liberated by the American Army and was repatriated to Belgium on 7 June 1945. He settled in Brussels.

Curtla and Charles separately survived the war in hiding. Charles Rozenblum was hidden by the Jewish Defence Committee at several places including, among others, at the hospital run by the Sœurs Servites de Marie in Jolimont. After Liberation mother and son were reunited and settled in Brussels. Charles finished school in Binche, studied chemistry and worked first in the pharma industry and then as a teacher until his accidental death in 1981. His mother Curtla Suknik passed away in February 1982. In 2010, one of Charles Rozenblum’s rescuer Mother Ursule (Jolimont) – officially Marie-Théophile Elise Arnauts – was recognized as a Righteous among the Nations.
In 2020 David Rozenblum, son of Charles Rozenblum and grandson of Natan and Curtla Rozenblum-Suknik, kindly permitted Kazerne Dossin to digitise his family archive.
David Rozenblum, 2020

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