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.




Number of interviews: 372

fra: 351

ndl: 13

deu: 5

onbekend: 3

Transcripties: 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.

José Gotovitch was born in 1940. A Belgian historian, he graduated in history from the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) where he later taught contemporary history for many years. His doctoral thesis, which he defended in 1988, focused on the Belgian communists from 1939 to 1944. José Gotovitch joined the Centre for Research and Historical Studies of the Second World War in 1967 (later CegeSoma). He became its director from 1988 to 2005. He was also the scientific director of the Centre des archives communistes de Belgique (CARCOB) for several years.

José Gotovitch worked mainly on communism in Belgium but also on the Communist International in Moscow. He also examined the history of the Second World War from a social and prosopographical perspective. The nearly 400 interviews he conducted from 1970 to the end of the 1990s thus focused largely on communism in Belgium (P.C.B.), but also on resistance networks during the Second World War, as well as collaboration (Rex, flamingantism). Among others, he interviewed many politicians, ministers, Belgian and foreign secretaries general. Following these interviews, he published numerous books and articles, including L’An 1940 ; Du rouge au tricolore ; Du communisme et des communistes en Belgique : approches critiques ; L’Europe des communistes : identités politiques européennes ; La Seconde Guerre mondiale en Belgique : orientation archivistique ; Les occupations allemandes en Belgique, etc.

The clandestine warfare


Number of interviews: 19

fra: 16

ndl: 1

unknown: 2

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.

Jean Dujardin holds a degree in diplomatic sciences from the University of Liège. Upon graduation in 1964, he entered the National Centre for the History of the Two World Wars and the C.R.E.H.S.S.G.M. when it was founded in 1968. In 1986, at the age of 49, he died of an illness.

During his career, Jean Dujardin’s objective was to make the history of the Second World War better known to the general public, particularly through educational dossiers and exhibitions.

He conducted 19 interviews between 1970 and 1984, mainly on “clandestine warfare” (intelligence services, press, radio). He was particularly interested in the intelligence networks “Luc”, Zero, BOUCLE and MILL. He also carried out an inventory of clandestine newspapers kept in Belgium. His death left his research on the Marc network and the functioning of Sûreté de l’Etat in London unfinished.

The war children


Number of interviews: 122

ndl: 57

fra: 42

deu: 9

unknown: 13

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.

A graduate in Germanic languages and a licenced secondary school teacher in 1964, Gerlinda Swillen defended her doctoral thesis on “Born of War children” at the VUB in 2016. From 2009 to 2013, she was also spokesperson for the international BOW i.n. network. (Born Of War international network).

Oral testimonies are one of the main sources of Gerlinda Swillen’s research work on these children. Since 2008, she has interviewed several dozen witnesses. All of Gerlinda Swillen’s interviews were submitted in digital format to CegeSoma. Many photographs were attached to further complement the sound archive collection. These children born to Belgian mothers and German fathers were interviewed in French, Dutch or German. A large proportion of the interviewees wished to remain anonymous and the recordings are not yet freely accessible. A specific authorization must be granted by the interviewer.

Occupied Belgium


Number of interviews: 54

nld: 45

fra: 3

unknown: 6

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.

Dirk Martin studied history at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) where he defended his thesis on local political personnel during the interwar period. He was a scientific collaborator at CegeSoma from 1979 to 2016, holding various positions such as head of Archives, head of the Documentation Sector and Acting Director. He is also a member of several official management bodies and associations in the research sector. Notably, he was the Secretary of the Documentation Group of the Federal Scientific Establishments. He left CegeSoma after having been its director from September to December 2016.

Dirk Martin’s research areas were varied. His interests included Belgium’s foreign policy before, during and after the Second World War, communal policy of the interwar period, cultural policy under occupation and, more generally, sources relating to Belgium during the Second World War.

As part of his research, Dirk Martin conducted some fifty interviews between the 1980s and 2001, mostly in Dutch on a variety of themes, but mainly on collaboration and resistance in occupied Belgium. Several of his interviews address these issues at the local level in cities such as Ghent, Leuven and Antwerp. The result of his research on the subject has led to the publication of several key books including De Rijksuniversiteit Gent tijdens de bezetting 1940-1944. Leven put de vijand and Antwerp sous l’Occupation, 1940-1945.

Other interviews with Dirk Martin concern culture and the arts during the occupation (dance, music and literature), Belgians in Great Britain and the United States during the Second World War, propaganda and Belgian trade unionism abroad.

De Rijksuniversiteit Gent tijdens de bezetting 1940-1944 : leven met de vijand
Dirk Martin

Gepubliceerd in 1985 in Gent door Archief van de Rijksuniversiteit Gent

Antwerpen 1940-1945

Dirk Martin, Lieve Saerens

ISBN: 9789085422488 
augustus 2011 

The Catholic Church and the Catholic Worker Youth


Number of interviews: 4

nld: 1

fra: 3

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.

An important figure in CegeSoma and present since its launch in 1969, Frans Selleslagh wrote a thesis on activism between 1914 and 1916. For many years, he devoted himself to collecting and filing documents relating to the second war period. His main research interests were Christian Youth Workers, compulsory work in Germany, and the Catholic Church. He also contributed greatly to the development of the Centre’s Images and Sounds section by developing an awareness of the importance of these formerly overlooked sources. He left CegeSoma in 2002 to retire. He then volunteered to contribute to the classification of the archives of the Archdiocese of Mechelen. In October 2008, he died of illness.


Lunch time


Number of interviews: 17

Interviews and transcripts can be accessed through:

oral source

Although there is nothing more everyday than the lunch break, we still know little about it. Amsab-ISG is taking up the challenge of a project on lunch time in order to shed light on how working people used to spend their lunch break, both in the past and today.


Food … is not only a collection of products that can be used for statistical or nutritional studies. It is also, and at the same time, a system of communication, a body of images, a protocol of usages, situations and behavior. (Roland Barthes, 1975).


The project consists of making an inventory, recording and preserving the testimonies about meal times collected in the past and collecting and recording stories that fill the gaps in this heritage. Engaging podcasts open up the testimonies to the public. On a meta-level, this project focuses on both the potential and the problems of oral testimony in the collections of various heritage institutions. FARO is a partner in setting up a collegial group on this subject.



  • FARO
  • Industriemuseum Gent
  • Centrum Agrarische Geschiedenis Leuven
  • Erfgoedcel Brussel van de Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie
  • Kusterfgoed
  • Riolenmuseum Brussel
  • Werkplaats Immaterieel Erfgoed
  • Archiefpunt
  • Red Star Line





I live in a Monument



Number of interviews: 8

Sound file: mov

Transcriptions: none

Accessibility: one-time registration and login

Conforta, Arena and Unitas are old working-class districts in Deurne, Antwerp with a special historical and architectural character. In Conforta, you will find the first owner-occupied dwellings for workers, the Unitas neighbourhood is a textbook example of a garden suburb, and Arena – designed by Renaat Braem – is a modernist monument to social housing. The project was not just an investigation into the history and architecture of the districts. The residents were intensively involved. The residents of the neighbourhoods were intensively involved. The project also tries to strengthen social relations in the neighbourhoods.


The project culminates in a door-to-door magazine that every resident receives, and an exhibition of photos, documents and testimonies in the party hall of the local secondary school. In a lounge – set up in a lower part of the banquet hall – visitors can look at family photos and the video with testimonies from residents at home and impressions of the neighbourhood.


Project websites:



For the film, four residents were sought who were prepared to appear on camera and who were contagious storytellers. They had to live in a place that was representative of the neighbourhood. By filming the residents in their homes, their stories as well as their living conditions could be revealed. In order to locate the various neighbourhoods and homes in relation to each other, a brass band was called in, which followed an elaborate route through Deurne. Length of film: 30 minutes.


Vooruit: 100/30


Number of interviews: 5

Sound file: wav

Transcripts: yes

10-minute summaries: yes

Accessibility: one-time registration and login

The centenary (2013) of the Feestlokaal Vooruit and the thirtieth anniversary of the Arts Centre that is housed there will be an opportunity to make the rich material and immaterial heritage of the building, the socialist cooperative Vooruit and its cultural activities and the Arts Centre accessible to a broad public.

The promoters and external partners want to develop a rich ‘content’ by tracing, valorising and presenting tangible and intangible heritage in an accessible way. To this end, the documentary heritage preserved by AMSAB Institute of Social History and the Arts Centre is being explored. In addition, three oral history projects will be carried out on the history of the last half century of Vooruit.

They will be made available in the form of a website, mobile ICT applications in the Feestlokaal Vooruit, an exhibition in the STAM and a public book. The experience and know-how of external partners will be used for this.
The 100th/30th anniversary of Vooruit will undoubtedly appeal to a broad public and will also receive a lot of media attention. This project wants to anticipate this with a high-quality heritage project in which UGent historians, art historians, architects and multimedia engineers will contribute. It fits in the good neighbourhood in which Vooruit and UGent live ‘back to back’ and it will contribute to the image of UGent.




Author: Liesbet Nys
ISBN: 9789491376481

Behind the iconic façade of De Vooruit lies a rich history. A story of 100 years of trial and error.

de vooruit/geschiedenis


Werking van de coöperatie Vooruit from Geertjan Tillmans on Vimeo.

About the flowers and the bees

Number of interviews: 3

Sound source: audiocassettes

Digitized: mov

Transcriptions: yes

10-minute summaries: yes

Accessibility: one-time registration and login

Interviews conducted within the framework of the project ‘Over de bloemetjes en de bijtjes’, sex education in and around the socialist milieu.

Author: Nele Bracke
Number of Pages 498
Year of publication: 1999



Article by Wis Geysen published in Desire has touched us.

About flowers and bees: sex education in and around the socialist milieu

pg. 281-309