Did you know that a Belgian was the first to report about the atrocities in Auschwitz?


During the Second World War, Victor Martin, a Belgian sociologist who was born in Blaton in 1912, was the first to bring back reliable information from a mission in occupied Poland about the fate of Jews deported to Germany and the functioning of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

After joining the Resistance, aware that his very good knowledge of German was an asset, he offered himself for a secret mission behind enemy lines. His proposal was accepted: on request of the head of the Committee of Defence of Jews, Hertz Jospa, he was asked to go to Upper Silesia to investigate the fate of Jews deported from Belgium. He prepared a hypothetical project concerning "differential psychology of social classes", which was approved by the occupier, and obtained permission from the Cologne police to travel between 4 and 20 February around Frankfurt, Berlin and Breslau. From Breslau, he travelled without authorisation by train to Sosnowiec, where he discovered the appalling conditions of Jews living in the ghetto. There, he met Jews who had worked in commandos outside Auschwitz camp who confirmed that men were put to work in the camp in very difficult conditions and that women and children were killed and their bodies burned. Victor Martin then travelled to Katowice, where, by chance, he met French workers employed on the construction of the Buna-Monowitz factory belonging to the company IG Farben. They confirmed that women and children were killed when they arrived but they did not know how.

On his return to Brussels, Victor Martin submitted a report to his Resistance friends from the Independent Front which passed on the results of his investigation to London. This same news, when communicated in Belgium, encouraged Jews to hide their children and to escape.