Natan Ramet

Natan Ramet was born in Warsaw on 5 June 1925. Natan and his father were deported on Transport VI on 29 August 1942. The transport stopped in Kosel, before Auschwitz, where the men were disembarked to be deployed as forced labourers.

Natan Ramet, vers 1940 et Judka Ramet, en 1935


The saying goes that “nobody or nothing is irreplaceable.” The people that knew Natan Ramet know that this statement is not true. Some ‘Menschen’ can never be replaced. Natan Ramet was one of them.

In 2012, Kazerne Dossin lost one of its driving forces, founding chairman of the JMDV and honorary chairman of Kazerne Dossin, Natan Ramet. He was a beloved personality for the personnel of the JMDV and the new staff members of Kazerne Dossin. Unfortunately, he did not live long enough to witness the opening of the new museum. This In Memoriam is to always remember him as person, as one of the last witnesses and as the driving force behind Kazerne Dossin.


Natan Ramet was born in Warsaw on 5 June 1925. In 1930, his parents, Judka Ramet and Sura Polakiewicz, emigrated with their two children, Félicie and Natan, from Poland. The family established residence in Berchem, a municipality in Antwerp. Judka Ramet worked in the diamond sector. Natan attended the Atheneum (Englishpre-university education) in Berchem.
In the summer of 1942, Judka Ramet decided to move to Brussels with his family. On 21 August 1942 father and son boarded a train to look for a house in Brussels. The train had still not started to move when they were arrested by ‘Feldgendarmen’ (Englishmilitary policemen) and transported to the Dossin barracks.

Félicie (20) and her mother Sura (44) went into hiding and this way, escaped deportation. Natan (17, student) and his father were deported on Transport VI on 29 August 1942. The transport stopped in Kosel, before Auschwitz, where the men were disembarked to be deployed as forced labourers. Natan and his father were forced into labour in Kleinmangersdorf and Babitz, and later in Trzebinia. Judka Ramet passed away there on 29 December 1942.

Natan was then transferred to the Szopienice camp to arrive in the end in Auschwitz in November 1943. There he got registration number 160242. In December 1943, he was included in a Kommando (Englishunit of slave labourers) to clear out the remains of the ghetto in Warsaw. In August 1944, he was transported to Dachau and to the Kaufering Kommando from there. He returned to Belgium on 23 May 1945, after the liberation by the Americans in May 1945.

After the war, Natan met Lili Steinfeld. Their great love was mutual and the two married. The couple had three children: Denise, José and Patricia. Natan worked in the diamond sector and devoted himself increasingly more for Jewish projects.
What motivated him was his great love of humanity and sincere care for others, and he devoted himself with heart and soul to prevent the history of the Shoah (EnglishHolocaust) from being forgotten. That meant devoting even more time to a thorough knowledge of this history.
In 1986, he opposed to the construction of a Carmelite monastery, including an enormous cross in Auschwitz. He was a member of the Jewish delegation from Belgium, which undertook steps against the catholic authorities in Poland. Natan Ramet together with David Susskind, Georges Schnek, Markus Pardes and rabbi Guigui was received by cardinal Macharski and expressed their protest against this violation of the Jewish memory of Auschwitz. That began the process of moving the monastery.

He was a member of the ‘Vereniging van de Joodse Weggevoerden in België – Dochters en Zonen van de Deportatie’ but it did not stop there. When the ‘Centraal Israëlitisch Consistorie van België’ launched the idea to establish a ‘Joods Museum van Deportatie en Verzet (JMDV)’, Natan agreed to be the chairman of the organising committee. This was an opportunity to discover the Belgian angle of the Shoah by a large audience and to fight against anti-Semitism and denial. Natan Ramet succeeded in conquering immense difficulties and to build a museum, thwarting that all traces of the Jewish deportation would be erased and forgotten. On 5 December 1991, the first meeting of the committee was held, which included Georges Schnek, Germaine Fischler, Oscar Van Kesbeeck, Jacques Zajtman, etc. The management committee undertook this endeavour with Maxime Steinberg as the museum historian and Paul Vandebotermet as the museum designer. Thanks to the committee, Steinberg and Vandebotermet were able to work in a complete independent manner. In November 1996, the JMDV opened after being inaugurated by King Albert II on 7 May 1995. It was the beginning of a new adventure, which no one could predict would be such a big success.

Natan was always ready to give witness accounts, both to TV personalities such as Luckas Vander Taelen and to societies and school groups. Tirelessly he aimed to make young people aware of the dangers of extreme right-wing viewpoints and to make them aware of the hateful consequences of racism and anti-Semitism.

In 1998, when the Centre Communautaire Laïc Juif (CCLJ) (EnglishSecular Jewish Community Centre) awarded the title of ‘Mensch’ for the first time, it was Natan Ramet who received this title. His exceptionally humane, warm-hearted, honest and modest character, his fidelity to his convictions and his commitment to the defence of an issue close to his heart made Natan even more than a ‘Mensch’.

Natan Ramet together with the JMDV employees was responsible for the realisation of the new exhibition in the Belgian Pavilion in Auschwitz (2006) and for the publication of the four volumes of Mechelen-Auschwitz (VUB-Press/JMDV, Mechelen, 2009).
In 2005, King Albert II awarded him the title of Knight. In the same year, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) (EnglishFree University Brussels) also honoured him as doctor honoris causa (English: an honorary degree).

Natan Ramet passed away in April 2012.