Carolina Mandelbaum was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1899. Though her and her parents comfortably lived under a high-paying salary of her father’s diamond merchant occupation, they fled to The Netherlands. Neither her mother or Carolina moved back to their family home until August of 1922.

Two years later, she married Chaim Flaksbaum, a travelling merchant that migrated to Antwerp for his career. Together, they owned and operated a cutlery story that established them as well-off members of the community. They had two children, Renee and David. In May of 1936, they moved to Strijdhoflaan 86 in Berchem to expand their business and connect with their immediate relatives.

Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium in 1940 which promoted anti-Jewish decrees. Carolina Mandelbaum obeyed these by registering herself within the municipal Jewish register of Antwerp. As her ID card was stamped with the mark “Jood-Juif,” she wore a bright yellow star beginning in June of 1942. Renee, her oldest daughter, received a convocation of forced labor at the Dossin barracks in Mechelen.

Carolina and David were protected by her Belgian nationality until 1943, where they were arrested during a raid specifically focusing on individuals who held to their Belgian heritage. Carolina and David spent their remaining life in Aushwitz-Birkenau.

Written by Emma Rieser