Monument voor de gedeporteerde Antwerpse Burgers (Monument to the Deported Citizens of Antwerp)
Who is Commemorated?
Jewish Deportees from Antwerp
The tall monument is situated close to the railway line in the Jewish quarter. It is set in the median of Belgiëlei between two rows of trees. The monument is set on a low grassy mound, the front of which is paved in stone at a low angle where wreaths and flowers are frequently placed.
The monument structure is in three parts: a plinth, a tall shaft which has the form of a wide I-beam, and an uppermost section of the “I-beam” that opens into a platform on which are placed figures of a man, woman, and child, enclosed in barbed wire. The sides “beam” extend beyond the horizontal platform on which the figures stand and create three separate spaces. The man and woman are each alone and face outward in different directions. The child is in the inner space. The human figures are quite detailed but without facial features.
The plinth is undecorated except for a small Magen David on the front side (above where flowers are placed), and set on the recessed center part of the shaft, about midway up, is a cut metal relief of a Torah Scroll with the edges of the parchment shown as flames. Superimposed on this are the Hebrew letters for the word “Zachor” (Remember).
A low fence of eleven independent Corten steel panels closes the memorial space at the intersection with Belgielei. A triangle is cut in each panel recalling the badges worn by inmates in the caps. In front of each panel, facing the monument is a concrete block. These panels and blocks provide visual closure to the memorial but also serve as a protective security barrier to stop cars. In front and center of the row of pedestals sits another plaque with an inscription in Dutch thanking all who helped Jews.
There are two blocks at the ground level in front of the monument with inscribed bronze plaques.
On the right block inscriptions in Hebrew and Dutch citing Psalm 78: 3-4
אשר שמענו ונדעם
ואבותינו ספרו לנו,
לא נכחד מבניהם לדור אחרון ו[ג](נ)ו'
Al wat wij ervaren hebben;
Al wat wij vernomen hebben van onze voorvaderen,
laten wij het niet weerhouden voor het nageslacht.
Translation: Everything we have experienced / Everything we have heard from our ancestors / Let's not hold it back for posterity / Psalm 78
On the left block an inscription in Flemish-Dutch and Hebrew reads:
... waar boze geesten heersen
en het mensenvolk geen naam meer heeft.
aan de Joodse gedeporteerde burgers הי"ד [=השם יקום דמם]
Op initiatief van het
"Forum der Joodse Organisaties" en
de Stad Antwerpen.
27 mei 1997 - 20 IYAR 5757
Translation: Where evil spirits rule and the people of mankind no longer have a name. / In memory of the Jewish citizens deported 1940-'45. May God avenge their blood [in Hebrew]. / At the initiative of the Forum of Jewish Organizations and the City of Antwerp. /May 27, 1997 - 20 IYAR 5757.
Thus the inscription includes a Hebrew formula commonly used while mentioning a martyred person, but this inscription is "invisible" to a non-Jew.
In front of the row of pedestals sits another block with the inscribed plaque in Flemish Dutch thanking all who helped Jews:
eeuwige dank verschuldigd
aan allen dis,
op gevaar van hun eigen leven,
ons uit de gruwel der nazi’s hebben gered.
Translation: We are eternally indebted to all who, at the risk of their own lives, rescued us from the horror of the Nazis.
Forum der Joodse Organisaties (The Forum of Jewish Organizations of the Flemish Region) and the City of Antwerp
Beginning in August 1942 the German SS, assisted by Belgian police and collaborators, organized raids in Antwerp in which non-Belgian Jews were arrested and deported. Jews with Belgian citizenship were arrested a year later on the night of September 3, 1943 and deported to the Mechelen collection camp. Most transports from there went to Auschwitz, where most deportees were murdered. The majority of the Jewish population of Antwerp consisted of immigrants and East European refugees; only very few survived the war. 24,916 Jews and about 350 Sinti and Roma were deported from Belgium.
The monument was sponsored by the regional Jewish organization with the permission of the City of Antwerp. It was dedicated on May 27, 1997 and commemorates the deportation of all the city’s Jews, but the depiction Torah scrolls on fire also commemorate the pogrom which took place on April 14, 1941.