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In World War II a group of 2252 Jewish men, living in Belgium (some were born in Belgium but many from all across Europe) were stripped of their civil rights by the Germans, then thrown out of work and labelled as 'anti-social elements', and because they were un-employed forcibly separated from this families and deported to work as slave labour on Hitler's Atlantic Wall, in the vicinity of Boulogne and Calais, in July to August 1942. They were sent to some 15 permanent and temporary forced labour camps, mostly along the coast and they were later joined by 650 French Jews who had been deported from camps on the Island of Alderney in the Channel Islands. They worked on the Atlantic Wall for three months making bunkers and defences, as well as repairing bomb damage, for Organisation Todt (OT), Hitler's 'super' civil contractor.
This section of the Atlantic Wall was important for the Germans, firstly, because its big guns could be used to attack the Channel and the south coast of England, secondly, because in the early part of the War, the Germans thought that they could launch their planned invasion of England (Operation Sea Lion) from this area and its ports and huge beaches, thirdly, as the Germans began to lose the war, it was designed to stop the Allies invading France, and fourthly, it protected the 'Red Zone', the German restricted military zone behind the Channel ports, which is where the Germans built their secret terror weapons, the V1 and V2 rockets and the V3 super-gun.
The Belgian Jews laboured on the Wall until October 1942, when the non-Belgian born Jews were transported, via Mechelin, in Belgium, direct to Auschwitz concentration camp, where 96% were killed, at, or soon after, their arrival. Their families with the protection of fathers and sons already removed, were easy victims of the Gestapo were also send to be exterminated at Auschwitz. Some Belgian born Jews and French Jews remained in the main camp, joined by many other slave prisoners of the Nazis.Next