Max Lanes

Max Lanes stayed briefly in the Dossin Barracks, but was transferred to the prison at Saint-Gilles. He was deported from there to Auschwitz-Birkenau. As a result, his name does not appear on the transport lists. His brothers Arthur and Gustav were deported from the Dossin Barracks.

Max Lanes
Max Lanes ©Archives de l'État


On 25/11/1938, the Lanes family arrives in Brussels: Max (31 years old), his wife Hermine (37 years old) and their son Peter (3 years old). Like hundreds of other Jewish Austrians, they tried to escape the persecutions of Jews by the Nazis after the Anschluss (annexation of Austria by Germany). But life in Brussels was far from easy and in July of 1939 their son Peter dies. A year later, on 15/08/1940, Harry is born in Brussels.


On 22/07/1943, Max is arrested at the Gare du Nord in Brussels, not far from his house in the rue Verte in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode (Brussels). Two days later (24/07/1943), Max is registered at the SS-assembly camp located at the Dossin barracks in Mechelen as number « E75 » mentioned « Mischehe”. His wife is non-Jewish and it is probably due to his mixed marriage that Max was transferred to the Saint-Gilles (Brussels) prison on 10/08/1943.

Max Lanes
Max et Hermine ©Archives de l'État



On an unknown date in 1943, Hermine and young Harry leave Brussels and return to Vienna. Between 01/10/1943 and 03/12/1943 Max was deported directly from the Saint-Gilles prison. According to his own testimony later on, his trajectory ran through Aachen, Cologne, Koblenz, Frankfurt and Breslau (Wroclaw) before arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Max Lanes
Gustav et Arthur ©Archives de l'État



Max’s trajectory is quite rare as almost all racial deportations from Belgium were done from the assembly camp in the Dossin barracks. The exact reason why Max wasn’t transferred back to the Dossin barracks remains unclear. Two of his brothers, Arthur and Gustav, were both deported directly from the Dossin barracks: Arthur on Transport XXIII and Gustav on Transport XXIV. Max’s mixed marriage (Mischehe) with a non-Jewish woman may partly explain his exceptional case. But it’s also possible that he was considered a member of the resistance. Max’s registration card for his repatriation mentions that he was deported for political motivations and deported on 15/12/1943 to Auschwitz. Despite his extraordinary trajectory, Max ended up in Auschwitz-Birkenau, just as his two brothers.

Max Lanes
©Archives de l'État




Having arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Max was selected for forced labour inside the concentration camp. He was given the number 171377 which was tattooed on his forearm. On 18/01/1945, Max left Auschwitz for Gross-Rosen, his first Death March. Shortly afterwards, he left the camp for Dachau. Once there, he received the number 139320, which dates his arrival on 28/01/1945. Max was set to work for the Muhldorf Kommando.

The evacuation train with Max inside was liberated by the American army. Max’s health was not in good condition, his repatriation card mentions that he had typhoid. He had to rest multiple weeks. Several months later, Max was repatriated back to Belgium through Domblin, Paris-Courbevoi and Annemasse. On 25/06/1945 he arrived back in Belgium.

After the war, Max was reunited with Harry in Brussels. His brother Arthur also survived his deportation.

Written by Gunter Vandeplas