Transport XX to Auschwitz
During the Nazi occupation of Belgium 28 train convoys with over 25,000 Jews and 351 Roma left Mechelen towards the Auschwitz extermination camp. On the night of April 19, 1943, the 20th transport headed East with 1631 Jewish passengers crammed into 40 cattle cars. This ‘Transport XX’ left the Mechelen transit camp ‘Kazerne Dossin’ at 10 pm. and was attacked and stopped some 30 minutes later outside Brussels – near Boortmeerbeek. Armed with only 1 pistol, pliers and an improvised red hurricane lamp the three young Belgians Robert Maistriau, Jean Franklemon, and Youra Livschitz – old schoolmates – stopped the train by putting the red lamp in the middle of rails. They were able to open one of the cattle cars and liberated 17 men and women. Another more than 200 prisoners escape from the train before the German border. Many were shot and 26 were killed. Eventually, half of them succeeded to escape.