Aarschot commemorates 75 years since the two convoys carrying Jews passed through
Sunday, 16 September 2018
There was a memorial service on Sunday for the Jews that were aboard two convoys that passed through Langdorp, a section of the Brabant town of Aarschot. Representatives from the Central Belgian Israeli Consistory, the Auschwitz Foundation and communal authorities all attended the ceremony. A memorial in sandstone gifted by Averbode abbey was unveiled at the ceremony.
The death convoys from Malines heading to Auschwitz usually went through Louvain and Liège on their way to Germany. In April 1943, the 20th convoy from the Dossin fire station was immobilised by three young resistance members from Brussels. 231 Jews out of the 1,631 that had been deported were able to escape the train. It was the only such incident in Western Europe during the Second World War.
After that the Nazis increased security measures for 21st and 22nd convoys, which were diverted through Aarschot and Hasselt.
The 21st convoy carrying 1,553 Jews stopped at Aarschot on the 31st of July 1943. Eight prisoners managed to escape their guards at Opperstraat. Four were recaptured and immediately executed. There were 778 men and 775 women on the train, among theM 174 children. Only 44 were still alive when the Concentration camps were liberated in 1945. The 22nd convoy passed through Longdorp on the 20th of September 1943.