The family Spirn-Stick was a large family consisting of father Leib Spirn, mother Ruchel Stick and their seven children: Gitel, Moses Chaksel, Laie, Bine Sara, Izaak, Esther and Hanna. Via transport XI and transport XX, the entire Spirn-Stick family was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. None of them survived the war.
The family Spirn-Stick was a large family consisting of father Leib Spirn, mother Ruchel Stick and their seven children: Gitel, Moses Chaksel, Laie, Bine Sara, Izaak, Esther and Hanna. Leib Spirn was born on July 7, 1896 in Tarnobrzeg, Poland, and Ruchel Stick on August 29, 1901 in Berlin, Germany. They married on February 3, 1927 in Berlin. The couple lived in the capital of Germany where all their children were born: Hanna on October 25, 1927, Esther on March 4, 1929, Izaak on February 2, 1932, Bine Sara on July 2, 1933, Laie on March 12, 1935, Moses Chaskel on July 26, 1936 and Gitel on July 17, 1938.
In December 1938, Leib fled Germany because of the persecution of Jews by the Gestapo. Ruchel continued to live with the children in Berlin. Leib came to Antwerp by car via Aachen and settled at Grote Beerstraat 11. As a fishmonger, he declared to the Belgian authorities that he had enough money to support himself. He also appealed to support funds in Belgium: both the Commission for Public Assistance (CVOO), today known as the OCMW, and the Jewish community Ezra. This was an Antwerp aid organization that was active among Jewish transmigrants, mainly between 1918 and 1940. Leib wanted to stay in Belgium as a stopover before emigrating with his family to Brazil. He received a travel guide valid until August 31, 1939.
On July 16, 1939, Gitel, Moses Chaksel, Laie, Bine Sara, Izaak, Esther and Hanna came to Belgium to live with their father Leib, at Lange van Ruusbroecstraat 9 in Antwerp. Mother Stick was still living in Berlin at that time. On September 26, 1939, Leib asked the Ministry of Justice to grant his wife permission to come to Belgium as well. He mentioned as a reason that their seven minor children needed their mother’s care, especially with two of them ill. In addition, Ruchel would have means of subsistence and thus no one to depend on. Leib’s request was denied. On November 30, 1939, he did get himself registered in the aliens’ register. At that moment he lived at Rolwagenstraat 34 in Antwerp. His registration in Belgium was subsequently renewed.
In May 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Belgium. The Spirn family obeyed the anti-Jewish laws of the occupation administration. On December 20, 1940, Leib registered with his seven children in the municipal Jewish register of Antwerp. Between December 21, 1940, and February 12, 1941, 3,401 Antwerp aliens – mostly Jews – arrived in the province of Limburg by order of the German occupying authorities. They were distributed among 43 villages and towns and were required to sign for presence daily at the town hall of the locality where they were housed.
Since Leib and his seven children were living in Houthalen at the end of 1940 – beginning of 1941, they are probably eight of those 3,401 Antwerp exiles. In January 1941, Ruchel came to Belgium and joined her husband Leib and her seven children. In August 1941, the Spirn-Stick family moved to Vlogaertstraat 26 in Saint-Gilles and then to Romestraat 13 in Brussels.
Ruchel stayed in Belgium with an alien’s passport, issued in Berlin on July 11, 1940. Afterwards she was registered with an identity card. Two years later, on May 5, 1942, Ruchel was registered in the foreigners’ register. The Spirn-Stick family also enrolled in the Jewish Association in 1942.
Mother Stick and children Hanna, Bine Sara, Laie, Moses Chaskel and Gitel were rounded up in September 1942 and on September 17 registered at the Dossin Barracks on the list of transport XI under numbers 1208 to 1213. Transport XI left the Dossin Barracks in Mechelen on September 26, 1942 for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Given the age of the children – Hanna was just under 15, Bine Sara 9, Laie 7, Mozes Chaskel 6 and Gitel 4 – mother and her children were probably sent to the gas chamber immediately upon arrival at the camp on September 28, 1942.
Father Leib and children Esther and Izaak were arrested in April 1943 and on April 17, 1943, they were registered on the list of transport XX under numbers 1590, 1591 and 1592 at the Dossin Barracks. Transport XX was exceptional in many ways. Since the Jews had been in hiding since the autumn of 1942, the composition of the transport was greatly delayed. It took 92 days until the registrations for this convoy were closed. Transport XX was also notable for its escapes: 233 deportees escaped from the train, partly due to the only known rescue operation in Europe executed on a deportation train carrying Jews to an extermination camp. Leib, Esther and Izaak did not escape and were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. There they were murdered. The date and exact location are not known to us. Thus, none of the Spirn-Stick family survived 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.