In the summer of 1942, the Germans made preparations to deport the Jews of Belgium. They converted the Dossin de St. Georges military barracks in the city of Mechelen (Mechelen is the Dutch variant and Malines is the French variant) into a transit camp. Mechelen, a city of 60,000, was considered an ideal location for this purpose. Located halfway between Antwerp and Brussels, two cities which contained most of the Jewish population of Belgium, the city had good rail connections to the east.
The first group of Jews arrived in the camp from Antwerp on July 27, 1942. Between August and December 1942, two transports with about 1,000 Jews each left the camp every week for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Between August 4, 1942, and July 31, 1944, a total of 28 trains carrying 25,257 Jews left Mechelen for Poland; most of them went to Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Transport XXwas attacked between Boortmeerbeek and Haacht (which is about 15km from Mechelen) by brave Belgians and thanks to these Belgians (Jean Franklemon, Georges Livschitz and Robert Maistriau) 231 deportees out of 1631 succeeded to escape the train.