Augusta in the arms of her mother, Ita Berger, with her father, Baruch Brand, in the park in Antwerp in 1939
Baruch Brand and his wife, Ita Berger, were Polish Jews who had settled in Antwerp. Their daughter, Augusta Suzanna, was born in December 1938. The father was a milkman. In the summer of 1942 he was forced to work on the Atlantic Wall in Northern France. On 30 October, 1,230 deportees from the Organisation Todt were taken to the Muizen Station in Mechelen. During this stop, SS men from the Dossin Barracks made up the numbers of Transports 16 and 17 with prisoners from the Sammellager. The day before the departure, the AJB had informed the families of the forced labourers, inviting them to join their menfolk at the Dossin Barracks. Baruch Brand was on Transport 16. His wife, Ita Berger, then six months pregnant, went to the Dossin Barracks to find him. A Wehrmacht soldier, on guard at the entrance, advised her to go home. Although utterly distraught she took this advice. Anna Brand was born in secret in Charleroi on 16 July 1943. The local branch of the CDJ eventually found a home in Jumet for the baby. Her sister, Augusta Suzanne, then aged 5, was hidden in the caretaker’s lodge of a coalmine in the area.
Baruch Brand’s two children survived the war to become orphans of the Shoah. Their father, deported at the age of 28, disappeared without any trace of having ever arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He left behind a widow, a daughter he had known, and another whom he would never know.
ADRIAENS Ward, STEINBERG Maxime (et al.), Mecheln-Auschwitz, 1942-1944. The destruction of Jews and gypsies from Belgium, 4 volumes, Brussels, 2009