Ravensbruck, Majdenak and Auschwitz-Birkenau


Ravensbruck concentration camp

Sixty -six year old Marceline Deloge who having been in captivity for more than two years was presumably entitled to immediate release but on December 3rd 1943 she was taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp 90km north of Berlin. The copy of the register of those entering the camp recorded her arrival (political prisoner number: 25361)


On February 3rd 1944 she was transferred from Ravensbruck to Lublin in south eastern Poland, to the notorious Majdenek concentration camp. This is the last official news about Marceline Deloge.
Transports from various other camps had started to arrive at Majdenek from December 1943 they contained men and woman of various nationalities mainly from Western Europe. The majority of these prisoners were people who were seriously ill, maimed or exhausted in the extreme with hard labour in other camps. They were supposedly on there way to a new hospital which of course was untrue. Grzegorz Plewik at the Majdanek Museum has sent me an account by Stefania Perzanowska of a February 1944 transport containing Belgian women prisoners from Ravensbruck.


Auschwitz-Birkenau in June 2001

From information obtained from a witness in the post-war Red Cross investigation, soon after arrival in Majdenek she was transferred to Auschwitz-Birkenau near Kracow Poland. The Perzanowska account describes how most of these women on the February Ravensbruck transport were transfered to Auschwitz-Birkenau on on a transport that left Majdanek on the 13th April 1944 (1625 men & women).

Near Brzezinka in June 2001. This is the place (a short distance outside the present day boundaries of the camp) where before May 1944 all those destined for Auschwitz-Birkenau arrived. Beneath the rough grass and weeds are the railway lines and platform.

Reception Block where "Nacht und Nebel" prisoners would have had there names and personal details taken, shaved, showered and given prison camp clothes.

All the people travelled in sealed freight cars under heavy SS guard with signs on the cars saying munitions. This transport probably the one that arrived on the 15th April contained 988 women and thirty eight children plus 301 Jewish prisoners and the Majdanek Special Squad (19 Russians and a German prisoner). In the book "Les Femmes Belges dans la Camp Nazis" by Francine PLISNIER-LADAME six Belgian woman are listed as coming from Lublin (Majdanek) from where they have been sent in February 1944. They were Marcelline Henrotin-Deloge, Louise Paneels-Uyttebroek who was born in Brussels on the 8th April 1876, Emilie Leroy-Overheyen born 19/4/1889 in Genevilliers, Marie-Josée Soleme a nurse who was born in Schaerbeek, Brussels on the 19th September 1914, Marguerite Vandenweyer-Wits born Lessines on the 24th September 1886 and Claire Jaspar-Legrand (see separate box) .
Claire Jaspar-Legrand (pictured left) aged 65 who had been arrested with her husband Jules Jaspar in Marseilles on 30th November 1942 by the Gestapo.
They were suspected members of the "Red Orchestra" spy group .During World War II, General Berzine, in charge of Red Army intelligence, calls upon one Leopold Trepper to create a network of informants in Western Europe. The job of this secret organisation was to give information on the enemy's war preparations, so that Russia could not be taken by surprise. Trepper's idea is to create business firms which would be used both as a cover and as a source of financing for the network. He recruits his collaborators among Belgian, Dutch and French Resistance movements. He does this regardless of whether they are Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, communist or not, as long as they act mainly out of anti-Nazi conviction. The Gestapo calls the organisation "Die Rote Kapelle" (The Red Orchestra) and hunts down its members relentlessly...
Information and photo - Michel Jaspar.

The 988 women and the children were all put up in the men's quarantine camp B-IIA in Birkenau, Blocks 3-6 and given numbers 77235 to 78222.

Men's quarantine camp B-IIA in Birkenau, Block 6 (nearest camera) to 1 in June 2001

A fellow prisoner, possibly Marie-Josée Soleme who returned alive at the end of the war, brought news to her family, "I saw her again in September 1944 in Auschwitz in the sewing block and, that except for sciatica, she was in good health".
The sewing block could have been one of a number of places in the camp, most probably in the reception building repairing clothes taken from incoming prisoners or in the place known as "Kanada" the buildings that stored the clothes and belongings stolen from the Jews sent to the gas-chamber.

Remains of the buildings that were the area "Kanada"
Finally, in the testimonies of camp companions who returned alive after the war, Marceline Deloge would have died in Auschwitz-Birkenau at the end of 1944. She was one of three Belgian women political prisoners who perished in the camp, Louise Paneels-Uyttebroek (died 29/5/1944) and Emilie Leroy-Overheyen (died October 1944) were the other two. Another recollection is of her as part of a group being marched out of a camp but this may be a memory of when she left Ravensbruck . As the Red Army approached the Germans made attempts to evacuate the camp, in the middle of winter around the 18th January, prisoners were marched out and made to walk westwards, many died on the way or were murdered by SS guards because they were unable to continue. Despite the freezing blizzard some reached trains that took them deeper into Germany back to camps further from their liberators like Ravensbruck. The other Belgian Political prisoners Marguerite Vandenweyer-Wits was sent back to Ravensbruck and then on to Bergen-Belsen where she died the next year. Claire Jaspar-Legrand left the camp on 18 January 1945 in one of the last evacuation transports from Auschwitz. She died at the end of January, probably at the Uckermark camp. The Red Army liberated Auschwitz on the 27th January 1945. The only Belgian political prisoner liberated from the camp was Marie-Josée Soleme who was originally arrested in Brussels on the 11th October 1942, she was to die aged 31 in 1950 after her return to Belgium.
In April 1945 the war in Europe came to an end. Europe was awash with refugees, survivors of the camps and other displaced people, communication was chaotic as Marceline Deloge's daughter Anne Marie, waited in Bexleyheath for news of her mother and sisters' fate. I assume news of Louisa and Yvonne Deloge's survival would have reached England soon after the sisters returned to Belgium. Just before Christmas 1945 Jack Clinch, Anne Marie's husband, wrote to his sister-in-laws who were regaining their health after their imprisonment and still waiting for news of their mother. Part of the letter reads as follows

.....so now we are looking forward to spending Christmas with you and from the bottom of my heart. I mean mother and you both, I don't know, I somehow seem to think everything will be alright. I should so like her to see you all , at all cost Louisa and Yvonne keep smiling and a strong heart, she has always been an example to us all............here's wishing you a speedy return of health and with God's help that mother comes home.

Bye Bye,
Keep smiling,
love Jack

His hope was in vain though, by the time the family was re-united in Brussels that Christmas it was realised that Marceline Deloge would not be coming home. A presumption of death, dated 2nd August 1948, was made by the Belgian authorities and accordingly Marceline Deloge is alleged to have died at Auschwitz in March 1944 aged 67.

So Marceline Deloge never did return home, how and where she died will never be known for certain.

In 1954 she was posthumously awarded the Croix de Chevalier de l'Ordre de Leopold II avec palme.

Croix de Guerre 40/45 avec palme.

Medailles de la Resistance et Commemorative 40/45 avec eclairs entrecroises.

Marceline Deloge in Brussels 1939.

Ordre de LeopoldCroix de Guerreresistance medal

Croix de Chevalier de l'Ordre de Leopold II avec palme.  Croix de Guerre 40/45 avec palme.  Medailles de la Resistance et Commemorative 40/45.
Photos of medals (not Marceline Deloge's real medals) courtesy of Bill Simpson of "Bill's Belgian Medals Website" see LINKS page

Click on www.belgiumww2.info  to go to INTRODUCTION

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