Kazerne Dossin: Mémorial, Musée et Centre de Documentation sur l’Holocauste et les Droits de l’Homme / Kazerne Dossin: Memoriaal, Museum en Documentatiecentrum over Holocaust en Mensenrechten

  • Kazerne Dossin: Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights

History

Kazerne Dossin was built in 1756 and was at various times used as accommodation for Austrian and Belgian soldiers. From July 1942 up to the liberation in 1944, the barrack functioned as SS-Sammellager Mecheln for Jews and Gypsies. After the end of the Second World War, the building again served its original purpose as a school for the administration of the armed forces. However, in 1975, this military institute moved, after which Kazerne Dossin fell into disuse. This is why the complex was divided into apartments in the 1980s. At the request of the Vereniging van de Joodse Weggevoerden in België- Dochters en zonen van de deportatie (VJWB) (The Association of Jewish Deportees in Belgium–daughters and sons of the deportation) and the Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België(CICB) (Central Jewish Consistory of Belgium), space was made available for a museum about the period during which the barrack served as a transit camp. The Flemish Government, the Province of Antwerp and the City of Mechelen financed the purchase of Kazerne Dossin’s ground floor and the basement of the right wing. The Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance (JMDR) was officially inaugurated on 7 May 1995 by King Albert II. On 22 June 2001, the Flemish Government approved the basic concept which was to lead to the establishment of the renewed museum: Kazerne Dossin–Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights. The location of Kazerne Dossin–Memorial, Museum and Documentation Centre on Holocaust and Human Rights remains remarkable. It is one of the few museums in Europe located on an historic site that directly attests to the tragedy that befell the Jews during the Second World War. Kazerne Dossin wants to first and foremost be a historical museum, but also an educational aid, a memorial and a warning lest we forget.

Archival and Other Holdings

In 2003, the archives of the JMDR were recognised as one of the Flemish ‘theme archives’. The Documentation Centre has received a statutory mandate to collect and centralise all information regarding the persecution of Jews and Gypsies in Belgium and Northern France. This comprises the digitizing of documents and archives which are in both public and private hands and the safekeeping of original documents and archives. The lion's share of the collection can be consulted at our Documentation Centre. Some of the key archives held by Kazerne Dossin include:

Personal documents: The archive of Kazerne Dossin contains a broad number of collections, archives and documents of private persons who put their collections at the disposal of, or donated them to Kazerne Dossin. For the most part, these include personal documents of the pre-war, war, and post-war period in Belgium. The contents of these family and personal archives differ but their importance must not be underestimated. These archives form one of the primary sources for research at Kazerne Dossin.

Immigration Authority Files: In 2004, the previous Minister of Interior Affairs, Patrick Dewael, gave the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance, Kazerne Dossins’ predecessor, permission to digitise all the photos of deported Jews from the files of the Immigration Authorities. This effort was part of the project ‘give them a face’ , a project which continues to this very day, to give all deportees a visual representation. In 2007, a new agreement was reached for the digitisation of the complete files of all the deportees who had lived in Belgium and were deported from Malines or France. The project was continued after the transmission of the files from the Immigration Authorities to the Belgian State Archive in 2008. In 2013, Kazerne Dossin concluded the project and now possesses a copy of all the files of the deportees.

Jewish Register BelgiumThe anti-Jewish decree of 28 October 1940 dictated that each Jewish man or women from the age of 15 should register in the Jewish register of the municipality where they resided. The individual forms provided the following information: surname, first name, date and place of birth, nationality, profession, religion, civil state, name of spouse and children, names of parents and grandparents, date of arrival in Belgium and addresses of residence while living there. Kazerne Dossin systematically digitised the preserved Jewish registers of different municipalities. In the first place the Jewish register of Belgium which centralised the information of the smaller Jewish registers, as well as a number of preserved local Jewish registers. The central Jewish register of Belgium received a copy of the registration forms from the local registers.

Interviews: Kazerne Dossin owns a large collection of interviews. Many of these are complemented with files containing a variety of extra documentation. The large majority of the interviews were recorded by Johannes Blum, voluntary collaborator at Kazerne Dossin. He interviewed over 1100 deported and repatriated Jews, anti-fascists, resistance fighters, political prisoners, hidden children, Jewish refugees, their rescuers, etc. as well as the children of people from these different groups. The majority of the interviews were conducted in French, others in German, English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Polish or Yiddish. Besides the interviews of Johannes Blum the collection includes interviews recorded by Luckas Vander Taelen, Laurence Schram, Marian Handwerker, Ward Adriaens, Frédéric Molle, Myriam Abramowicz, Steven Gaertner and Herman Van Goethem. The often old-fashioned carriers are being digitised and made accessible for research.

Historical photographs: Kazerne Dossin holds a great number of historical, portrait, and family photographs from the pre-war, war, and post-war period (e.g. family life, associations, Jewish enterprises, Jews wearing Yellow Badges, camp survivors, commemoration after the war, reconstruction). Additionally a lot of photographs can be found in the personal archives, the files of the Immigration Authorities and in other collections.

Archives of the Association of Jews in Belgium (AJB): Kazerne Dossin conserves the archives of the AJB which were used after the war as evidence during the judicial investigation into the responsibility of the AJB regarding the deportations. The court dismissed the case. Max Gottschalk, leader of the Jewish community in Brussels, entrusted the archive in 1959 to the Centre National des Hautes Etudes Juives, later reformed to Institut Martin Buber. The Jewish Central Consistory of Belgium entrusted these archives to Kazerne Dossin. This extensive archive contains a treasure of information on the Jewish persecution in Belgium, social assistance to Jews, Jewish education, the deportations, etc. It also informs us about the structure and organisation of the AJB and its exchanges with the German occupying regime.

Opening Times

Kazerne Dossin Museum

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed Wednesdays

Documentation Centre Kazerne Dossin

By appointment: Monday, Wednesday and Friday (9 am to 5 pm)

Open access: Tuesday and Thursday (9am to 5pm)

Conditions of Access

1) If you would like to consult the archive or the library of Kazerne Dossin, please submit a research statement. The necessary form can be downloaded from this link:

https://www.kazernedossin.eu/EN/Museumsite/Documentatiecentrum/Archief-leeszaal/onderzoeksverklaring

2) Provide the completed and signed form, together with a copy of a valid proof of identity, to Kazerne Dossin. This can be done by mail.

3) The employees of the Kazerne Dossin documentation centre will then review your application and provide a written confirmation upon approval.

4) With this confirmation, you can sign up at the Kazerne Dossin documentation centre or in the reading room of one of the following partner institutions:

  • Mémorial de la Shoah, Paris, France

  • Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork, the Netherlands

5) When you visit the Kazerne Dossin reading room you will receive a copy of the reading room regulations. At the start of each visit you are required to sign the visitors’register. Local rules apply in the reading rooms of partner institutions.

6) A researcher from Kazerne Dossin or the partner institution will provide you access to the Kazerne Dossin image bank in the reading room.

Reproduction Services

If you have specific questions about the contents of the archive collection, or about reproduction or copyright matters, please contact the Kazerne Dossin via archives@kazernedossin.eu

Sources