Gantman-Fischer family. Collection

Language of Description
1 Jan 1909 - 31 Dec 1981
Level of Description
  • French
  • Dutch
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

365 digitized images (25 documents, 5 objects, 215 photos, 1 photo album)


Biographical History

Joseph Mendel alias Jos Gantman was born in Odessa, Russia, on 28 June 1919 as the oldest son of Lev alias Leo Gantman (born on 28 September 1888 in Novo-Thartoria, Russia) and Menika Grois (born on 5 December 1897 in Winitza, Russia, today Vinnytsia in Ukraine). The Gantman family was very religious. During the First World War father Lev had been a Kapellmeister in the Soviet army. Afterwards he became a famous composer of Jewish religious music and accepted a job as the orchestra leader of the Odessa opera house. A second son was born in the family on 5 June 1923. The baby was named Benjamin. In 1928, Lev Gantman was invited by the Machsike Hadass to become the choir leader at their synagogue in the Oostenstraat in Antwerp, frequented by members of the Russian-Polish Jewish community. The family emigrated to Belgium that same year and on 22 September 1930 a daughter named Ida was born in Antwerp. As of November 1939, the Gantman family resided at Lange Kievitstraat 111, where they still lived when Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium in May 1940. That same year, Jos Gantman enlisted as a student at the faculty of medicine at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels). When the university shut its doors on 25 November 1941, Jos could no longer pursue his career. On 2 March 1942, Jos Mendel Gantman, his father Lev and his brother Benjamin were arrested as Soviet citizens and thus enemies of Nazi-Germany who could be traded against German POWs. Jos, Lev and Benjamin were interned at the prison at the Begijnenstraat in Antwerp, before being deported as forced labourers to the Wülzburg concentration camp on 16 May 1942, where they worked in an arms factory. The men were liberated there on 26 April 1945 and were repatriated to Belgium on 20 May 1945. Mother Menika Grois had been arrested on 28 March 1944 as a Soviet citizen. She too had been interned at the prison at the Begijnenstraat in Antwerp, but she was subsequently transferred to the Dossin barracks. Menika was deported to the Vittel internment centre in France on 18 May 1944. She survived deportation and was repatriated in 1945. Post-war Joseph Mendel Gantman married Esther Fischer. Esther was born in Antwerp on 3 March 1928 as the daughter of Adolf Fischer (born on 21 October 1900 in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia) and Irene Fischer (born on 8 July 1896 in Antwerp, Belgium). She had an older sister named Julia alias Juliette, who had been born in Antwerp on 4 September 1923. The Fischer family was strictly religious. Father Adolphe had emigrated from Czechoslovakia to Belgium in November 1922 to marry Irene after which he had become a well-known diamond trader in Antwerp. In May 1940, the Fischers fled to Toulouse, France, but they soon returned to Antwerp. As of 1942, youngest daughter Esther was hidden by Jules and Denise Dehut-Gossart in Wasmes where she took on the name Yvonne Marie Delcourt and pretended to be an orphan whose parents were killed in the bombardments. Father Adolphe Fischer was arrested at home during the second large anti-Jewish raid in Antwerp. His wife Irene Fischer was very ill at the time and was hospitalised. She would pass away in Borgerhout, Antwerp, on 2 November 1942. Adolphe did not survive deportation from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport VII on 1st September 1942. Oldest sister Julia survives the war in hiding in Brussels, protected by her natural blond hair colour. Jos Gantman and Esther Fischer would have two children. André Gantman, born in 1950, became a lawyer and a politician. He was involved in the Jewish Museum of Deportation and Resistance and is a board member of its successor Kazerne Dossin.

Archival History

In 2012 André Gantman, son of Joseph Mendel alias Jos Gantman and Esther Fischer, donated copies of his family collection to Kazerne Dossin.


André Gantman, son of Joseph Mendel alias Jos Gantman and Esther Fischer, 2012

Scope and Content

This collection consists of: an invitation and a menu from the wedding of Adolphe Fischer and his bride Irene Fischer, pre-war shares of the Antwerp Diamond Circle, pre-war photos of the Gantman family including a photo of the graduation of Joseph Mendel alias Jos Gantman at the Koninklijk Atheneum in Antwerp, high school diplomas and documents regarding Jos Gantman’s education and his studies at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Free University of Brussels), pre-war photos of the Fischer family including photos of First World War comrades of Adolphe Fischer and vacation photos taken in the Netherlands and at the Belgian seaside (some of which still in a photo album), the Fischer family’s silver Sabbath cup and Pesach cup, a yellow badge worn by members of the Fischer or Gantman family, a toy birdhouse of hidden child Esther Fischer, an index card from the Wülzburg labour camp regarding internee Jos Gantman, a knife taken from a German soldier by Esther Fischer’s rescuer Jules Dehut, a prayer book used by a Jewish chaplain from the United States Armed Forces and given to Julia alias Juliette Fischer, a post-war medical report on Esther Fischer (married Gantman), post-war correspondence and documents regarding financial compensation for the Fischer family, documents regarding Edith Fischer’s rescuers Jules Dehut and Denise Gossart, a propaganda leaflet containing citations from speeches by Adolf Hitler.


No further accruals are to be expected

Conditions Governing Access

Contact Kazerne Dossin Documentation Centre:

Conditions Governing Reproduction

Contact Kazerne Dossin Documentation Centre:

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The yellow badge is stored with the textiles, the Pesach cup, knife and bird’s house are on display in the Kazerne Dossin museum.

Existence and Location of Copies

  • Digital copy available as collection KD_00091 at Kazerne Dossin


This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.