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Boortmeerbeek (Municipality, Province of Flemish Brabant, Belgium)

Last modified: 2019-07-30 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Boortmeerbeek]

Municipal flag of Boortmeerbeek - Image by Filip van Laenen, 26 October 2001

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Presentation of Boortmeerbeek

The municipality of Boortmeerbeek (11,561 inhabitants on 1 July 2007; 1,864 ha) is located in northern Brabant, 10 km south-east of Mechelen. The municipality of Boortmeerbeek is made since 1976 of the former municipalities of Boortmeerbeek and Hever.

The two villages of Boortmeerbeek and Hever appeared in the IXth century, but they have been administratively separated until 1976. The river Molenbeek has its source in the municipality of Boortmeerbeek and flows into the Dijle near the border with Hever; accordingly, Boortmeerbeek can be "read" as "the bank" (in Dutch, "boord") or "the end of the Meerbeek / Molenbeek". Bortmeerbeek was a strategic border village in the Duchy of Brabant, watching the Dijle. During his wars against Mechelen, the duke could block the road and water traffic. The castle of Ravesteyn, located in Hever, also played an important role during the troubled periods. Hever, from Havera, "the goat's wood", belonged to the Country of Mechelen.

In 1986-1987, Robert Korten (d. 1999), from the local historical society Heemkring Ravenstyn prepared the exhibition "150 years of railway". He discovered that a train carrying Jews to Auschwitz was stopped by members of the Belgian resistance, which seems to be a unique case in the history of the deportation of the Jews during the Second World War. In 1992, Korten met by chance the nurse Régine Krochmal, who had jumped out of the train and saved her life. The Jewish Community in Belgium, the national railway company SNCB and the municipal administration of Boortmeerbeek supported the erection of a monument recalling the event, which was inaugurated on 16 May 1993, exactly 50 years after the attack of the train. The plaque says:

Through this railway line, the Nazis have deported 24,906 Jews and 351 Roms. 1205 have survived.
A unique case in the history of the deportations of the Jews in Nazi Europa, on 19 April 1943, Jean Franklemon, Georges Livschitz and Robert Mastriau have stopped here the XXth train with 1,631 prisoners. Before crossing the border, 231 escaped from the train. 205 were liberated. 26 lost their life, as free men.

In 1940, there were 40,000 Jews in Belgium. Forty-six per cent of them were deported via the Dossin barracks in Mechelen; from summer 1942 to autumn 1944, 28 trains left Mechelen, mostly headed to Auschwitz.
Armed with a revolver, a storm lamp and a sheet of red paper, three students from the college of Uccle stopped the XXth train between Boortmeerbeek and Haacht. The train was kept by an officier and 15 soldiers from the Sicherheitspolizei. With a pair of pincers, Mastriau could open a locked wagon, from which five prisoners jumped out. Afterwards, several prisoners opened the gates of the wagons with tools they had carried away from the barracks; Régine Krochmal sawed the wooden rods of a window with a knife she had been given in Dossen. Maistriau joined the G group of the resistance, was arrested in the Ardenne and survived his stay in the camps of Büchenwald, Dora and Bergen-Belsen. Auguste Buvens, the train driver, confirmed later he had deliberately stopped the train in spite of having noticed that the red signal was fake. Simon Gronowski, then aged 12, was pushed out of the train by her mother, walked to the village of Berlingen, where he was hidden by the gendarme Jean Aerts.

Source: Holocaust Boortmeerbeek website, by Marc Michiels

Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007

Municipal flag of Boortmeerbeek

The municipal flag of Boortmeerbeek is horizontally divided red-blue-yellow.
According to the Gemeentewapens in België - Vlaanderen en Brussel, the flag combines the colours of the unofficial flags used by the former municipalities of Boortmeerbeek (red and blue) and Hever (blue and yellow).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 26 May 2007