In 1945, the Antwerp based publisher De Vlijt published a book, “De Marsch tegen den dood” (“The march against the death” in English) by a certain Louis Kiebooms aka Louis Auguste Kiebooms (1903 – 1992). He was a Belgian member of parliament and mayor of the city of Wilrijk (Antwerp) between 1947 – 1953 and between 1958 – 1964, but he was also a victim of the Nazi terror in Belgium. And that’s what the book “De Marsch tegen den dood” talks about. The cover of “De Marsch tegen den dood” was by the then 20 year old Bob De Moor, you can see his ‘Bob’ signature in the right bottom corner of the cover.

"De Marsch tegen den dood" by Louis Kiebooms (1945). Cover by Bob De Moor.
“De Marsch tegen den dood” by Louis Kiebooms (1945). Cover by Bob De Moor.

Bob De Moor shows the prisoners during the so called ‘march of death’ (In Germany they talk about the Todesmarsch) which started on April 11 when the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen was evacuated and lasted till May 3rd and May 6th when they were finally rescued by soldiers of the 2nd Belorussian Front in Crivitz and Raben-Steinfeld near Schwerin and by American troops of the 7th U.S. Tank Division near Ludwigslust. The march – which had 33.000 prisoners from the camp, including women and children, walking between 20 and 40 kilometers a day in cold wet weather and slept outdoors – had cost the lives of 7.000 people.

During the march they were mistreated by the SS guards. That specific aspect was also the subject for the drawing Bob De Moor made for this book. More precisely he chose to put the scene between the abusive SS guard on the right and the exhausted prisoner laying down in the forefront, giving the whole an extra dramatic effect. On top, the story itself was more than authentic as Louis Kiebooms, the writer of the book, was one of those prisoners who survived that march. He had been sent to the Sachsenhausen camp in 1941. When returned to Antwerp in 1945, he chose for a political life.

Thanks to Chris Mouton for this little treasure!

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