Where are all the men?
When the hundreds of men who served in the Belgian army, or who fled to the Netherlands, Great Britain and France are factored in, it is obvious that the city’s population profile underwent a drastic change..
I managed to escape in June 1917. When I reached Enghien, I was arrested by some German soldiers and so had to spend 10 days in prison. During my exile I suffered terribly from hunger and abuse. Private Otto Stutsman mistreated me, hitting me with a stick and kicking me. The ill-treatment affected my kidneys as a result of which I ended up in the Avesnes civilian hospital (France).
In the light of the statements made by the deportees, Dirk Meert concludes that nearly one in 4 deportees managed to escape from the labour camp – or at least tried to do so, in the mould of Camiel B. (26/06/1896), who was a worker in the tobacco processing industry, and lived at 13 De Gheeststraat.
Those who were caught trying to run away were sent to prison, while others managed to reach their hometowns, where they lived in hiding until the end of the war.