The couple Szyper-Prowisor

The couple escaped the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. A recent testimony provides the reconstruction of their incredible life story.

Frain Wolf Szyper (°15/09/1916 in Christina, Poland) applied for a visa to travel to Belgium in December 1931: he wanted to live with his brother in Vorst. At that time Frain was still living in Josefow, Poland. On 10 March 1932 he finally arrived in Belgium, where he went to live with his mother, Chaja Nyremberg, and his younger siblings at Gustave Defnetstraat 31 in Saint-Gilles. Frain indicated that he wanted to stay in Belgium permanently, and got a job as a tailor.

Klara Prowisor (born 30/05/1922 in Altona, Germany) has been living in Belgium since November 1924. In 1933 she registers in the municipality of Sint-Jans-Molenbeek. She wanted to stay in Belgium permanently. In Molenbeek she lived with her parents Chaskel Prowisor (also Prowizur) and Chana Golda Birnberg, sister Edith (°30/11/1923 in Altona, Germany) and brothers Alfred (°18/08/1926 in Seraing) and Maurice (°03/12/1933 in Molenbeek) at Delaunoystraat 55. Klara works as an office assistant at the company ‘Lindor’ in the Vandeweyerstraat in Schaarbeek. Klara’s sister Edith is still taking classes: she is taking sewing classes at the vocational school in Molenbeek.

As a result of the German occupation, anti-Jewish laws were enacted from the end of 1940. Jews over the age of 15 were required to register in the Register of Jews. Klara registered in the Brussels Jewish Register on 19 December 1940. Klara gave Karperbrug in Brussels as her address. Later she moved to Bondgenotenstraat in Vorst. In August 1942 deportations started. Jews are given a work order and must report to the Dossin Barracks. Edith received this order and registered. She was deported with transport II to Auschwitz-Birkenau and never returned.

On 21 January 1942 Frain and Klara got married in Sint-Gillis. At that time Klara worked as a shop assistant. After their marriage they regularly changed their place of residence. Barely a year after their marriage, on 27 January 1943, Frain and Klara were arrested and registered in the SS-Sammellager Mecheln. In the camp Klara was reunited with her father, Chaskel, who worked as a labourer in the assembly camp. Frain, Klara and Chaskel were eventually deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau with transport XX on 19 April 1943. A few days before their departure from Mechelen, however, Chaskel fell ill. Once in the train, Frain urged them to jump off the train while they were still in Belgium, but Klara resisted because she did not want to leave her sick father behind. In the end, she decides to jump off the train with her husband. Once they have escaped, they can go into hiding with Belgian families. Frain and Klara manage to stay out of the hands of the Germans. Before the end of the war they register in the Foreigners’ Register of Gilly in Hainaut. They both survived the war and, after living for a time in Etterbeek, emigrated to Israel. In Israel, a woman approached Klara who was in the same deportation car as her, Frain and her father. This woman tells her that her father Chaskel was glad she jumped, and died on the train before they arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Testimony: Aaron Bandler, “Watch: Holocaust survivro recounts leaving father behind on train to Auschwitz, receives message from him years later”, Jewish Journal, 13 oktober 2017, https://jewishjournal.com/news/worldwide/225828/225828/.

Kaatje Langens