Karl Guenther fled Germany in fear of the persecution of Jews by the Gestapo. He received assistance from the Assistance Council for Jewish Refugees. Karl accepted the Arbeitseinsatzbefehl in August 1942 and was deported on transport III from the Dossin Barracks to Auschwitz-Birkenau. He did not survive the war.
Karl Guenther was born on April 6, 1903 in Mehring, Germany. As a shoemaker he arrived in Belgium on January 15, 1939 via Aachen. He went to live at Habermanstraat 15 in Anderlecht. Karl declared that he had fled Germany for fear of the persecution of Jews by the Gestapo and that he would stay in Belgium as a stopover before emigrating to South America. Although registered as a foreigner in Belgium, he was nevertheless ordered by the Belgian authorities to leave Belgium by June 10, 1939.
Karl received help from the Assistance Council for Jewish Refugees, established in 1933 as the Council for Help and Assistance to Victims of Anti-Semitism in Germany. The name was changed in 1938. The council, which was responsible for the reception of Jews fleeing Nazism in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, asked the Belgian authorities in May 1939 to accommodate Karl in Merksplas. However, the request was refused, and Karl’s travel guide was only extended until June 30, 1939.
Karl did not leave Belgium. On July 4, 1939, he was arrested by the police in Anderlecht and detained in the prison of Saint-Gilles. Nevertheless, eight days later he was admitted to the Merksplas state welfare colony, and exactly one month later, on September 12, 1939, Karl was transferred to Wortel. On February 26, Karl left the refuge and was registered in the Marquain refugee centre. In May 1940, when Nazi Germany invaded Belgium, Karl left Marquain and went to live at Theodore Verhaegenstraat in Saint-Gilles. Eventually he lived at Hollandstraat 4.
Karl obeyed the anti-Jewish laws of the occupation authorities. He registered in the Register of Jews in Saint-Gilles on November 26, 1940, and later became a member of the Jewish Association. When the “evacuation” of the Jews began in August 1942, Karl was registered in the Dossin Barracks on August 10 on the list of transport III. He accepted the Arbeitseinsatzbefehl, the employment order issued by the Sipo-SD. As a ‘compulsory laborer’ he was summoned to the assembly camp in Mechelen and then deported. Transport III left Mechelen on August 15 and arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau on August 17. Karl 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.