Oral history of the mining region

Mijnwerkers die afdalen in de mijn van Zwartberg. Op de voorgrond een kolenwagentje.(1927) - Nels en Thill


Number of interviews: 43

Number of persons: 49

More detailed description of the interview in the heritage database:

Accessibility: contact

Since its creation in 2007, the Heritage Unit has initiated or supported many projects in and about the Mining Region. In preparation for a publication, an exhibition or another heritage event, oral sources were often collected. Each one of them interesting testimonies that shed light on one or more aspects of the past of the Belgian Limburg Mining Region!

The counter has now reached more than 200 oral sources!


Because we do not want to lose this wealth of information (for example for scientific research), we are currently busy opening up these sources through the library of Genk.


In a first phase, we will make the interviews available that we have recorded ourselves, independently of a project. Since 2011, we annually commission several interviews of persons with an interesting story.


In 2011, Erfgoedcel Mijn-Erfgoed started recording interviews from the mining area. These interviews are important testimonies of elderly people who can add to the shared memory of the Limburg mining region. These testimonies are not collected via a project, but they provide a valuable contribution to the heritage in the Mining Region that, together with the witnesses, is in danger of disappearing.

Since 2011, a few people have been interviewed each year. In the meantime, the counter has reached 43 interviews with 49 people, good for about 50 hours of visual material!

Expo Sluitertijd


Naar aanleiding van 100 jaar steenkoolproductie in de Limburgse Mijnstreek en 25 jaar sluiting van de laatste steenkoolmijn van de Benelux, werkte Erfgoedcel Mijn-Erfgoed in 2017, in samenwerking met persfotograaf Tony Van Galen, de rondreizende expo ‘Sluitertijd’ uit. Deze tentoonstelling, met een 35-tal foto’s van Tony Van Galen, geeft een sfeerbeeld van de periode van de mijnstakingen en -sluitingen van de jaren 1980 en 1990. Ook werden enkele interviews afgenomen van personen die op de foto’s stonden. 

Gevaert developed

Number of interviews: 67

Carrier: part video, part audio

Transcriptions: yes

Parts of the interviews can be accessed via

and the brochure ‘I worked at Gevaert’.

The full interviews have not been made available.

The Gevaert project was started in 2016, following the search for a common past (and identity) for the Zuidrand. Agfa Gevaert’s impact on the region was enormous. Because the archive of Gevaert was transferred to the Fotomuseum Antwerpen, the Streekvereniging Zuidrand was able to set up a cooperation to shape this piece of Zuidrand history. The relocation of this collection led to the idea of giving the objects, archives, photos, posters, films, cameras, etc. a voice.



In the summer of 2018, in cooperation with the Kleine Expeditie, we filmed the scale model that was made for the 1958 World Expo, and which at the time stood out in the shadow of the Atomium.

This miniature reproduction of the Mortsel factory was the starting point of the virtual tour “Gevaert ont-wikkeld”. Together with the volunteers and some former employees, we mapped out the different places on the model and linked the stories to the correct location.

You can discover the wonderful result of this collaboration via the link below.


Together with dozens of volunteers, de Zuidrand went in search of stories about working at Gevaert. Story days were organised, interviews conducted and calls launched. In 2018, on the occasion of the 150th birthday of Lieven Gevaert, the Streekvereniging Zuidrand launched the publication “Ik werk(te) bij Gevaert”, which can be downloaded here. It contains stories, interviews, drawings, photographs, etc. about the work in the factory, through the eyes of the former employees of Gevaert.

This publication was only the first part of the project. We also wanted to link the fantastic stories and interviews to the places in the factory where they took place.

Testimonies Holocaust WWII, Crea 16

Number of interviews: 5

Sound medium: mp4

Transcriptions: none

Accessibility: Contact Peace Centre

Interviews used as basis for teaching materials


During the roundups of 1942, arrested Jewish Antwerp citizens were gathered in municipal buildings. This also happened in primary school 16, the current urban primary school Crea 16. 

On the occasion of the commemoration of the events that took place on the playground
of Crea 16 on 28 August 1942, an elaborate educational programme was made “Urban primary school Crea 16 during the Second World War”. 


An audiovisual part consists of edited video fragments of about 10 to 12 minutes.
Five witnesses reflect on their experiences as children during the war years. These video testimonies came about thanks to a school project of the Stedelijk Lyceum Linkeroever about going to school in wartime. The Peace Centre supported this project.


Inspiration collection Youth in wartime

A young look at the Second World War


This collection of inspiration was created on the occasion of the commemoration of the events that took place in the Crea 16 playground on 28 August 1942. At that time, hundreds of Jews were rounded up in the Zurenborg neighbourhood and gathered on the school playground. In the early morning, they were taken to the transit camp de Dossin Barracks in Mechelen. This story can be found here in the reading text “Stedelijke basisschool Crea 16 tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog”. Let this elaborate example inspire you to get to work yourself.


This inspiration booklet will help you on your way.
This bundle for teachers consists of 6 parts:
1. An audio-visual part (video fragments);
2. Three pillars of remembrance education;
3. Teaching opportunities;
4. Texts for teaching and a timeline;
From the archive: time documents;
6. Suggestions for additional activities

Collections day WWII, 2019



Number of interviews: 

Sound medium: WMA

Transcriptions: short summaries

Accessibility: contact with Peace Centre

In 2019, it was 75 years since Antwerp was liberated from German occupation. With the passage of time, passing on this past to future generations gains importance.


Therefore, on Sunday 3 February 2019, people came to the FelixArchief with their stories, objects and documents from the Second World War. The testimonies were recorded.

A photo and a description were made of the objects brought along, so that the corresponding story is preserved.



Some of the material (both audio and the collected archive documents) served as the basis for an exhibition.

Fieldwork: refugee experiences


Number of interviews: 46

(of which 34 made available for teachers through the Archive for Education)

Stored at:

  • DAMS (beeldbank stedelijke musea Antwerpen)
  • Meemoo (Vlaams Instituut voor het Archief)
  • (interviews beschikbaar na registratie, transcripties in Engelse vertaling)

Transcriptions: ja


In 2017, the museum started the fieldworker project. Field workers are people with a refugee history and/or migration background. During this project, they conducted interviews with people with a refugee story.

The field workers were close to the interviewee. They spoke his/her home language and knew the region or the home country of their interlocutor.


You don’t just become a fieldworker. We organised an intensive training in heritage methodologies and interview techniques. Our fieldworkers – Wendy Abusabal Sanchez, Andres Lübbert, Sanaa El Fekri, Wendy Kegels, Diana Dimbueni, Polina Gerelchuk, Samer Jadallah, Ursula Jaramillo, Samuel Pinillos, Vida Razavi – collected more than 30 inspiring refugee stories. The stories are now part of the museum collection. They are also the basis of a number of small and large productions, exhibitions and activities that we organise in cooperation with external partners.


Fieldwork project on behalf of Red Star Line Museum (within the framework of Specially Unknown EU project)


‘The 32nd day’, a film that one of the fieldworkers, Andrés Lübbert, made for the project. Andrés is the son of cameraman Jorge Lübbert, who fled Chile in the late 1970s. Father Jorge made a ‘silent’ film about this event in which he tried to cope with his traumas. Son Andrés made the film again, in today’s Antwerp.


Both films are played side by side in split screen mode, alternated with images from conflict zones shot by Jorge as a cameraman, and testimonies from the fieldworkers’ project. In this way, the present and the past are interwoven to form a result of a multigenerational trauma, and a hard and uncomfortable reflection on the emotional ballast of ‘the refugee’. At the same time, the film is a pamphlet about art as a means to overcome the traumas.


Workers’ and students’ movement before and after 1968

Arbed - De draadtrekkerij in de jaren 80 van de 20e eeuw


Number of interviews: 31

Transcriptions: yes

Original sound carrier: cassette tape

Digitised: mov

Available: one time registration and login 

Interviews about experiences as a worker at Arbed, Acec and Vynckier The interviews were conducted for a study of the workers’ and students’ movement before and after 1968.



Interviewed group of workers 1950

Arbed: 6

Acec: 10

Vynckier: 3


Interviewed group of workers 1970

Arbed: 7

Acec: 4

Vynckier: 1



Trade unionism in times of war


Number of interviews: 37

ndl: 11

fra: 26

Transcriptions: none

Original carriers: audiotapes, audiocassettes and minidiscs

Current files: mp3; wav; flac

Accessibility: in the reading room

Obligatory registration as reader of the General State Archives and State Archives in the Provinces.

Rik Hemmerijckx holds a doctorate in history (from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). His research focuses mainly on trade union resistance, the history of the ABVV, Renardism and communism in Belgium. He worked successively as a historian at the Institute of Social History (Amsab), then as a coordinator for the Auschwitz Foundation. Since 2008, he has been curator at the Emile Verhaeren Museum.


The interviews he conducted concerned trade unionism in times of war. Recorded between 1984 and 1994, 39 files are available upon request for consultation.

Flemish collaboration


Number of interviews: 39

ndl: 26

fra: 9

deu: 1

onbekend: 3

Transcriptions: partly

Original carriers: audiotapes, audiocassettes and minidiscs

Current files: mp3; wav; flac

Accessibility: in the reading room

Obligatory registration as reader of the General State Archives and State Archives in the Provinces.

Wim Meyers worked mainly on Flemish collaboration with a particular focus on the VNV in his interviews, which were conducted between 1972 and 1988. The last of these concern Flemish collaborationist youth movements such as the NSJV.

The children of Save


Number of interviews: 9

ndl: 4

fra: 3

unknown: 2

Transcriptions: no

Original carriers: audiotapes, audiocassettes and minidiscs

Current files: mp3; wav; flac

Accessibility: in the reading room

Obligatory registration as reader of the General State Archives and State Archives in the Provinces.<

Between 2010 and 2012, Sarah Heynssens conducted approximately ten interviews as part of her research at the CegeSoma on “Les enfants de Save”, which aimed to reconstruct the events relating to the transfer of children from “mulatto” institutions, such as the Save orphanage in Rwanda, to Belgium on the eve of decolonisation.

The Belgian Communist Party and the Spanish Civil War


Number interviews:


ndl: 34

fra: 31

eng: 2

onbekend: 1

Transcriptions: partly

Original carriers: audiotapes, audiocassettes and minidiscs

Current files: mp3; wav; flac

Accessibility: in the reading room

Obligatory registration as reader of the General State Archives and State Archives in the Provinces.

A historian from Ghent University, Rudi Van Doorslaer wrote a doctoral thesis entitled “Children of the Ghetto. Jewish Revolutionaries in Belgium, 1925-1940”, submitted in 1990. From 1977 to 1980, he worked as a temporary attaché at CegeSoma, before being hired as a permanent researcher in 1985. For two years, he directed a research project on the Commission for the Study of Jewish Property under the Prime Minister’s Office. From 1996 to 2005, he was editor-in-chief of Cahiers d’histoire du temps présent. He has published in the domains of Jewish history, migration, communism and anti-communism, the Spanish War and other topics related to the Second World War. He left CegeSoma in 2016.

The interviews conducted by Rudi Van Doorslaer mainly concern the Belgian Communist Party. In particular, he interviewed several witnesses who had been active in the PCB during the Second World War in various Belgian cities (Antwerp, Kortrijk, Brussels, Aalst,…), but also in the context of the Spanish Civil War. He was committed to gaining a better understanding of the structure of the party. The interviews were conducted in two stages. The first interviews took place at the end of the 1970s, between 1976 and 1979. They mainly concern the PCB. Then, from 1983 to 1989, he was still interested in the PCB, but his emphasis was on its links to the Spanish Civil War.

Moreover, there are several interviews with Jewish refugees carried out in order to deepen knowledge of Jewish history.