Viviane and Simon Gronowski meet for the first time in Los Angeles, April 2018 , after they both escaped 75 years ago in the night of April 19th 1943 from that fast moving death train Transport XX to Auschwitz – Simon at the time an 11-year-old boy pushed from the train by his mother Chana , and Viviane still in the womb of her 3-months pregnant mother Isabella.
Today 75 years ago Viviane (meaning ‘full of life’) was born in Brussels – 6 months after she had escaped death that night in April 1943 – thanks to the courage of her pregnant mother Isabella Weinreb , when Isabella jumped in Belgium from that cattle car of Transport XX heading for Auschwitz. She today celebrates her 75th birthday in Los Angeles.
When Simon Gronowski , from Brussels , was visiting LA in April this year – to tell his story and reunite with his childhood friend Alice Weit – Viviane fortunately was able to meet Simon , together with her girls – (grand)daughters – for the first time.
Photo – Simon with Viviane and her girls – thanks to Sébastien De Nys / Viviane
Film ① memo 20181030 ~ Viviane & Simon ~ Michel van der Burg | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media
More on Viviane’s story here in “Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story” : https://michelvanderburg.com/2014/04/28/escape-from-transport-xx-to-be-born-6-months-later/
A recent finding on the man – Elias Gnazik – saving Isabella and Viviane published April 19th , 2018 , including a film on the dutch book presentation ( Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” ) – here online : https://michelvanderburg.com/2018/04/19/full-of-life-escape-from-transport-xx/
More on Simon Gronowski and the documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz here in : Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – https://michelvanderburg.com/2013/04/19/transport-xx-to-auschwitz/
The Crescendo choir (conductor : Urbain Van Asch) sings “When You Believe” during the Transport XX commemoration April 22 , 2018 in Boortmeerbeek , Belgium ① memo 20180430 ~ Miracles Song ~ Film : Michel van der Burg – Miracles.Media
① memo 20180429 ~ Hands ~ This work by the Belgian sculptor Etienne Desmet is a tribute to the brave attack in Boortmeerbeek by the three young men Youra Livschitz, Robert Maistriau and Jean Franklemon , on the ‘Transport XX’ deportation train – a cattle car train crammed with Jewish passengers, heading for Auschwitz. The story is told in the documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – https://michelvanderburg.com/2013/04/19/transport-xx-to-auschwitz/ With ‘Last Post’ by Boortmeerbeek’s trumpet player Freddy Verschuren .
Filmed last Sunday at the Transport XX commemoration April 22 , 2018 in Boortmeerbeek , Belgium
① memo 20180424 ~ Into the Woods ~ 75 years later at the site of the attack on the deportation train ‘Transport XX’ – a cattle car train crammed with 1631 Jewish passengers, heading for Auschwitz.
Here in the woods near Haacht in Boortmeerbeek , Belgium, the night of April 19, 1943, three young men from Brussels – Youra Livschitz, Robert Maistriau and Jean Franklemon – attacked and stopped this cattle car train, succeeded in opening one of the cars and liberate 17 people. Another more than 200 others could jump out also before the train reached the German border.
Site was filmed (Sony Alpha A7 III with Sennheiser MKE 440) ca 50 meters from the rails into the woods , last Sunday April 22, 2018, Boortmeerbeek , Belgium
Note , last sunday another video called ‘Mood’ showed the attack site at the rail.
The story is told in the documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” – https://michelvanderburg.com/2013/04/19/transport-xx-to-auschwitz/
① memo 20180420 ~ Empty Court ~ Inner court Kazerne Dossin 7 years ago , April 20th, 2011 , Mechelen , Belgium
① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life … Escape from Transport XX ~ Today 75 years ago , that night of April 19th, 1943 in Belgium , Elias Gnazik helped jump the pregnant Isabella Weinreb from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz. Viviane – meaning ‘full of life’ – was born 6 months later.
Discussion – moderated by Ingrid Vander Veken – of Simone Korkus’ dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle” on 15 oktober 2017 in Kazerne Dossin , Mechelen , Belgium.
This new short film (with english captions / partly english spoken) highlights our discussion in that ‘Literary Cafe’ on Oct. 15, 2017 in Kazerne Dossin, of Elias’ rescue of Isabella and Vivian ; it continues with our visit later to the Kazerne Dossin portrait wall (portrait’s of deported people) with Simone Korkus and Jan Maes (the first to point Simone to Hannah’s story) ; and ends with me having a short improvised talk in english with a visitor’s couple .
Film ① memo 20180419 ~ Full of Life ~ Michel van der Burg | michelvanderburg.com | 1-memo.com | miracles.media
Isabella Weinreb Castegnier was three-months pregnant that night – 75 years ago – on April 19th, 1943 in Belgium – when she froze the moment she had to jump from the fast moving 20th train heading for Auschwitz ( Transport XX to Auschwitz ). The man waiting in line behind her , did not hesitate for a moment , and embracing her from behind , pushed her out – jumping together they both landed in a ditch.
Isabella escaped with a broken wrist and bruises all over her body, but otherwise without major injuries. Her daughter Viviane – meaning “full of life”, and named so for her will to live and hold tight in her mother’s womb – was born six months later on October 30, 1943.
That man saving Isabella and Viviane was Elias Gnazik – we discovered recently in a joint effort – when Simone Korkus had almost finished her book about the life of Elias’ daughter Hannah Gnazik , and contacted me to find out who that woman was that Elias Gnazik helped jump and escape from that cattle car of Transport XX to Auschwitz. For Simone it was a great honor to bring Hannah and Viviane together – the child of the rescuer , and the child of the rescued pregnant woman.
This new story became the epilogue in Simone’s book , written in dutch , called ‘Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle’.
During the discussion at the presentation of Simone’s newest book – interviewed by Ingrid Vander Veken – in the Kazerne Dossin museum I asked Simone to tell us something about this spectacular story of the probably youngest that escaped that death train.
Simone Korkus (author , reporter) contacted me via facebook messenger May 2016 asking for information about Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz , and telling me Mrs Schwartz had escaped from Transport XX from the same car as Elias Gnazik , the father of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel.
Simone had actually finished the writing of the story of Hannah (Gnazik) Nadel for her new dutch book “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle.” but felt she would like to get to know more about Hannah’s father Elias activities in the war.
Mrs Lilly (Wolkenfeld) Schwartz had helped me and Richard from 2011 with our documentary Transport XX to Auschwitz (published 2012, a film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg). Mrs Schwartz, unfortunately, had passed away in 2014 .
However , I could help Simone with the story of Mrs Schwartz’s friend Isabella – who had escaped too , right after Mrs Schwartz’s jumped from that car – while being pregnant – with a baby born 6 months after that escape, and named Viviane , meaning ‘full of life’ !
That miraculous story I had first worked on and published together with Viviane in 2014.
Further research by Simone , with the help of Viviane and the researchers of Kazerne Dossin, let Simone to the insight that Isabella had been that pregnant woman Elias Gnazik had helped jumping , and he thus , too had saved Viviane’s life !
Simone Korkus details this beautiful finding and miraculous story in a final chapter – the Epilogue – of her new book , the research , findings , conclusion and her witnessing the emotional meeting of the daughters of the rescuer and rescued in Ramat Gan , Israel.
Sources / links
Viviane Castegnier Yarom & Michel van der Burg (2014) Escape from Transport XX – to be born 6 months later – Viviane’s story.
Michel van der Burg online publication (michelvanderburg.com) link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nq
Simone Korkus (2017) “Het dienstmeisje van Degrelle. Hoe Hannah Nadel de oorlog overleefde” Paperback ISBN 978-94-6310-093-9 / E-book ISBN 978-94-6310-300-8
Polis publisher – fragment online – https://issuu.com/uitgeverijpolis/docs/preview_het_dienstmeisje_van_degrel
Book presentation – On Oct. 15th , 2017 , Simone Korkus presented her book in Kazerne Dossin , in a ‘Literary Cafe’ conversation with colleague author Ingrid Vander Veken. I published a full video report of that conversation Nov 4, 2017 . All in dutch. Het Dienstmeisje Van Degrelle – Presentatie – link https://wp.me/p14gqN-nhp
Documentary film “Transport XX to Auschwitz” (2012) A film by Karen Lynne & Richard Bloom and Michel van der Burg https://wp.me/p14gqN-hA