Famous People in Antwerp, Belgium

Renaat Braem (1910-2001)
architect. Renaat Braem was born in Antwerp on August 29, 1910 and was an intern at Le Corbusier in the 1930s. At that time he was considered the most important representative of modern architecture and urban planning in Belgium, not least because of his sometimes extreme ideological positions. It should be mentioned that from 1947-1975 he worked as a professor at the University of Architecture and Urban Development in Antwerp and later had the police high-rise “Oudaan” built in the city based on his designs. Braem, who is hardly known in Germany, is valued in Belgium as a great theorist according to ethnicityology. He died on January 31, 2001 in Essen.

Georges Baines (1925-2013)
architect. Georges Baines was born in Antwerp on May 7, 1925. He belonged to a small group of Belgian architects who had returned to the architecture of the 1920s after the Second World War, which was evident not least in the clear simplicity and sleek sophistication of his designs. In the beginning he mainly planned single-family houses, later he took over more public buildings and restoration work. In 1999 he was knighted for his services. Baines died on May 22, 2013 in his native Antwerp.

Johann von Bodeck (1555-1631)
banker, first guilder millionaire in Frankfurt am Main. Johann von Bodeck was born in Antwerp in 1555 as the son of a merchant. He, too, became a merchant after he had undertaken various trips abroad and just got away with his life on Bartholomew’s Night in Paris. Since Antwerp was attacked by Spain in the mid-1580s, he fled to Germany with his small family and finally settled in the metropolis on the Main. There he co-founded the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, built up an outstanding banking business and later bought manors etc. in the area. Von Bodeck finally died in Frankfurt am Main in 1631.

Martin Anton Delrio (1551-1608)
Jesuit, philologist, witch theorist. Martin Anton Delrio was born in Antwerp in 1551 and had noble Spanish roots. The trained Jesuit studied rhetoric and philosophy in Paris at the Collège de Clermont, which had been founded by his fellow believers. Later he studied law in Salamanca, among others. In 1580 he joined the Jesuit order. Delrio, was an advocate of exorcising the devil, wrote numerous writings and was also a professor of theology. His best-known work, his witch’s tract, is called “Disquisitionum magicarum libri sex”. Delrio died in Leuven in 1608.

Jan Gruter (1560-1627)
polyhistor. The polymath, also known as Jan de Gruytere, was born in Antwerp in 1560 and published numerous anthologies by various authors and scientists. Gruter, son of a mayor, studied law at Cambridge and then went from university to university in Italy, France and Germany. In Wittenberg he became a professor of history. Jan Gruter died in 1627 near Heidelberg, the city in which he last taught history.

George Koltanowski (1903-2000)
chess player. George Koltanowski was born in Antwerp in 1903 and became world champion in blind chess. He sometimes played against 56 opponents all over the world from Edinburgh, New York, South America to Barcelona. Koltanowski was also President of the United States Chess Federation from 1976-1978. About his experiences as a chess master he published autobiographical writings like “Adventures of a Chess Master” or anecdotes from the world of chess. George Koltanowski, who also composed trains, died in San Francisco in 2000.

Johannes Overbeck (1826-1895)
archaeologist. Johannes Overbeck was born in Antwerp in 1826 as the grandson of the mayor of Lübeck, Christian Adolph Overbeck. He studied in Bonn, where he later completed his habilitation. From 1853 he taught archeology at the Leipzig University. His merit is a cast museum that he built up over decades. His writings included works such as “Pompeji” or “The ancient written sources for the history of the fine arts among the Greeks”. Johannes Overbeck, who initiated university sports in Leipzig and was a member of the Royal Saxon Society for Science, died in 1895 in what is now the trade fair city.

Marc Rich (1934-2013)
financial investor and commodity trader. The descendant of German-speaking Jews, born in Antwerp in 1934 as Marcell David Reich, became an apprentice to Philip Brothers from 1954, the world’s largest raw materials company at the time led by German-Jewish emigrants. He became a real estate and financial investor himself, but was controversial. So he appeared for years on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, is said to have evaded taxes, etc. In the 1970s he established the trade in crude oil, which is still functioning today, and is also dubbed the King of Oil. Rich died in Lucerne in 2013.

Christine Van Den Wyngaert (born 1952)
legal scholar. Christine Van Den Wyngaert was born in Antwerp in 1952 and initially made a name for herself as a law professor. She did research in Cambridge, made guest appearances in South Africa and finally became a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia before she was appointed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. That was in 2009. Christine Van Den Wyngaert has already been awarded an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University and received, among other things, the prize of the Human Rights League.

Christine Van Den Wyngaert

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