Anna Kaganowitsch and Wolf Eijsman married in Maastricht on July 25, 1934. A year later, on May 6, 1935, they had their first and only child: Catherine. Anna and Catherine were deported from the Dossin Barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau with transport XI and Wolf with transport XII. They did not survive the war.
Anna Kaganowitsch was born on December 14, 1895 in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. She arrived in Belgium on November 10, 1930 and went to live at Rue Général Jacques de Dixmude 3 in Liège. Anna received a one-month visa, issued on November 17, 1930. She was a worker in the glass factory “Verreries des Hamendes Lambert de Merxem”. Two days before her visa expired, she moved to Somersstraat 15 in Antwerp. Anna was born in a family of 6. Both her parents had already died and her two brothers and only sister were already living in Liège. One of her brothers, Benoit, asked the Belgian authorities to grant Anna a permanent residence permit.
In May 1931, lawyer Maria Claessens wrote a letter to the Ministry of Justice requesting that they’d grant Anna permanent residence. Claessens used the same family arguments as Anna’s brother, Benoit. On July 10, 1931, the government decided that Anna had to leave Belgium. She was advised to go abroad and request official permission to enter Belgium from there. Anna was given until August 10, 1931, to leave Belgium but she did not obey. From August 10, 1931 to March 29, 1932, she presumably lived in Liège on Rue St. Léonard. Then Anna went abroad for a few days, probably to Frankfurt, since there she obtained a visa for Belgium.
On April 4, 1932, Anna returned to Belgium. She went to live in Antwerp at Kruikstraat 4 and applied again for a permanent residence permit in Belgium. Although she was in possession of a visa, valid for three months, a negative advice was given. The fact that she had ignored the deportation order of August 1931, was to her disadvantage. Consequently, Anna’s application was rejected, and she had to leave Belgium again on July 2, 1932.
On July 25, 1934, Anna married Wolf Eijsman in Maastricht. Wolf was born on November 6, 1904, in Amsterdam. On July 2, 1928, he arrived in Belgium and settled in Vestingstraat 40 in Antwerp with his father Zacharias. Wolf’s mother, Kaatje van der Sluis, had already died in 1923. In October 1931 Wolf obtained a Belgian visa for an unlimited period. As a commercial traveler he lived alternately in the Netherlands and Belgium.
After their wedding, Anna and Wolf arrived in Belgium in November 1934 and went to live in Rue Grétry in Liège. In February 1935 both Anna and Wolf applied for a Belgian alien’s identity card, which was issued to them a month later. On May 6, 1935, their first and only child Catherine was born in Liège. Four months later, on September 16, 1935, the Eijsman-Kaganowitsch family moved to Rue Bonne Femme in Grivegnée.
In May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Belgium. Wolf, Anna and Catherine obeyed the anti-Jewish laws of the occupation authorities. On November 27, 1940, they registered in the municipal Register of Jews of Grivegnée, and on May 8, 1942, they became members of the Jewish Association.
Mother Anna and daughter Catherine were arrested on September 25, 1942 and registered in the Dossin Barracks on the deportation list of transport XI under the numbers 2733 and 2734. They were two of 57 Jews from Liège who were victims of a targeted arrest. Transport XI, the largest transport of the entire deportation from Mechelen, left the Dossin Barracks on September 26 for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Given Catherine’s age – she was 6 years old – she and her mother were probably sent to the gas chamber immediately upon arrival in the camp on September 28, 1942.
Father Wolf was put on transport XII. The circumstances of his arrest are unknown to us. Transport XII left the Dossin Barracks together with transport XIII on October 10, 1942, forming one train with 1681 deportees. It was the last time a transport from Mechelen stopped in Kosel and men between the ages of fifteen and fifty were ordered to get off the train to be sent to work camps nearby. The transport included 346 men in that age group, among them Wolf. It is unclear to us whether Wolf got off at Kosel, but in any case, he did not survive the war.
ADRIAENS Ward, STEINBERG Maxime (et al.), Mecheln-Auschwitz, 1942-1944. The destruction of Jews and gypsies from Belgium, 4 volumes (volume 1), Brussels, 2009.