Brunner-Hollander family. Collection

Language of Description
1 Jan 1899 - 31 Dec 1952
Level of Description
  • French
  • Dutch
  • German
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

24 digitised images (18 photos and 5 documents)


Biographical History

Menasche alias Maximilian Brunner was born in Kaschau, Czechoslovakia, on 15 May 1894 as the son of Baruch Brunner and Rifka Kendel Hollander. Maximilian had two sisters named Esther (born on 18 August 1895) and Rachel alias Rosa (born on 9 November 1897). In 1899 the Brunner family migrated to Belgium. During the First World War, Maximilian nonetheless had to serve in the Austro-Hungarian army. He reached the rank of Oberleutnant and received several medals. After his military service Maximilian married religiously Esther Hollander, born on 29 November 1895 in Rozwadów, Poland. In August 1919 the couple settled in Antwerp, where their daughter Dora was born on 26 December that year. Maximilian and Esther officially married at the city hall in Antwerp on 27 April 1920. Maximilian provided for his family selling diamonds, while Esther took care of the household. A second child named Henri Brunner was born in Antwerp on 9 December 1924. By 1940 the Brunner-Hollander family lived in Kappellen, but they continued to move back and forth between the village and Antwerp. During the first two years of the war, Maximilian, his wife Esther and their children obeyed the anti-Jewish decrees. They registered in the municipal Jewish Register, became members of the Association of Jews in Belgium, had their IDs stamped with the words “Jood-Juif” and wore the yellow star. In the late summer of 1942, the Brunner-Hollander family went into hiding. After living in Uccle for a while, they were taken in by Paul and Maria Balzat in Genval. To send parcels to their loved ones in the Dossin barracks and to give financial support to their rescuers, the Brunner-Hollander family members went out to work in Brussels (Henri) and in the Jewish orphanage in Wezembeek-Oppem (Dora). They obtained false papers and Henri’s age was changed so he would not be taken for forced labour. On 11 June 1943, Maximilian Brunner was walking in the street in Brussels when he was recognized by a snitch during an ID check by a German officer. Maximilian succeeded in keeping the hiding place of his family a secret, but was detained at the Dossin barracks as of 12 June 1943. Here he was united with his sister Rosa who was forced to work as a staff member in the camp. Meanwhile, Maximilian’s wife Esther succeeded in obtaining help from the Hungarian consulate. Maximilian was stricken from the regular deportation list of transport XXI, thanks to this intervention, and was deported from the Dossin barracks to Buchenwald via a special Transport on 13 December 1943. Maximilian Brunner was liberated in Buchenwald by the American Army on 11 April 1945 and was reunited with his wife and children at the Royal Circus in Brussels on 4 May 1945. His daughter Dora went on to marry Leonard alias Len Fishel, her war-time pen pal who had been interned in an Internierungslager in Germany as a British citizen for the duration of the war. The Brunner-Hollander family lost several relatives during the war. Esther Hollander’s brother Aron was able to escape from deportation transport XVIII and survived the war in hiding in Spa. Abraham Osias Balken, husband of Maximilian’s sister Rachel alias Rosa Brunner, didn’t survive deportation via Transport XVI on 31st October 1942. Their daughter Yolande Balken was killed after deportation via Transport II. Rachel herself served as a member of the Dossin barracks detainee staff for over a year before being deported together with her daughter Mina Balken via Transport XXIV on 4 April 1944. Both women were repatriated to Belgium in 1945, where Mina died of illness two months later. Rachel herself was reunited with her young sons Bernard and Aron who had survived the war in the Wezembeek-Oppem orphanage led by the Association of Jews in Belgium. Maximilian’s second sister, Esther Brunner, as well as their mother Rifka Kendel Hollander survived the war in hiding in Mons (father Baruch Brunner having passed away before the war). Esther’s husband Sigmund Hollander did not survive deportation from the Dossin barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau via Transport XX on 19 April 1943.

Archival History

In the late 1990s Melvyn George Fishel, grandson of Menasche alias Maximilian Brunner and Esther Hollander, started research on his family history. After getting in touch with Kazerne Dossin, he donated copies of his family's wartime photos to the museum in 2019.


Melvyn George Fishel, grandson of Maximilien Brunner and Esther Hollander, 2019

Scope and Content

This collection contains: pre-war photos of Menasche alias Maximilian Brunner, his wife Esther Hollander, their children Dora and Henri Brunner, and the extended Brunner family ; wartime photos of the Brunner family while in hiding at Genval with the Balzat family ; a photo of Menasche alias Maximilian Brunner being reunited with his wife Esther Hollander and their son Henri at the Royal Circus in Brussels in 1945 ; war-time Red Cross membership card and ID card of Rosa Brunner ; advertisement stamp of Pension Brunner located in Heide ; Menasche alias Maximilian Brunner's Hungarian military certificate.


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

Digitally stored at Kazerne Dossin

Existence and Location of Originals

  • Melvyn George Fishel, Private collection, Belgium

Related Units of Description

  • The Fishel-Black family collection (KD_00052) contains more information on the family of Dora Brunner's husband Leonard (Len) Fishel.


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.