Archives of Young Christian Workers (JOC-KAJ)

  • Access and consultation: The fonds JOC-KAJ can be accessed during the opening hours of the reading room. Its content is freely accessible. Reservation.
  • Reproduction:  The content of the fonds can be reproduced freely in our reading room. For any information about requests for a document reproduction carried out by CegeSoma staff can be found here.
  • Research instruments: Inventory AA1796

Archive fonds description:

The archives of Young Christian Workers (JOC-KAJ) contain the correspondence of several members of the organisation who worked in Germany as forced labour for the war effort of the Third Reich. The archives of these people, all of which were Dutch-speaking, document the organisational structure of KAJ and its militants subdivided into leiders and kajotters.

The aim of their correspondence was to encourage each other to follow the principles of militant action (mostly clandestine due to the “rivalry” with DeVlag organisation and due to the checks, arrests, etc. carried out by the German security services). These principles were spread by the leiders, who were in contact with the headquarters KAJ-Verbond in Brussels. The militant nature of the organisation is reflected in the style and subject matters of this type of correspondence (religious subjects, slogans and prayers and/or contemplation) from and to all parts of Germany where KAJ workers were during the war.

The core of their action was to organise gatherings in so-called Lagers, sometimes with religious service, to prepare discussions about Christian and altruistic subjects about a highly moral issue, and to spread religious handouts, obviously with the aim of keeping alight “the flame” and to recruit new members.

The social, charity and humanitarian action is also documented by this active proselytism. The key figures of this solidarity movement between workers are Karel Vermaercke, Marcel Gulickx, André Desseins and Eugène Coine.

There is also a file on the volunteer workers in Belgium (the birth of the movement, the attempts of Rex to gain hold within the movement, etc.), as well as documentation, reports, correspondence, etc. about KAJ workers sent to France to different work camps, and the Catrysse papers, documents about congresses in Belgium and abroad, publications and periodicals of KAJ or JOC, training and information manuals in French and Dutch.

For more information :

  • Hugaerts, F., De Boodt, J., Gezels, L., Coine, E., Selleslagh, F., De KAJ, haard van verzet : hun mooiste uur, Gent : Reinaart, 1989.