Soon after the founding of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring its members along with the rest of the Antwerp diamond market felt the effects of the Wall Street crash. For the diamond sector the thirties were a time of crisis with many diamantaires struggling to survive.
As the 1930’s came to an end and business slowly seemed to improve another crisis was to tragically impact the Antwerpsche Diamantkring.
In 1938, as the Belgian army mobilized, many members of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring joined their army units. A special Committee was formed by the Kring which with the help of members who were not serving in the army, collected money for food parcels for those who had been mobilized.
After the capitulation of the Belgian army the commander of the German occupying forces sent soldiers to force two Kring Administrators, Messrs. Claessens and Dehennin to open the doors of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring.
When the demands of the Nazi-occupants were not met in full, all the doors of the Kring were sealed and no-one was allowed to enter the building. The only access to the premises was via the Hoveniersstraat. On August 18, 1941, armed forces of the Wehrmacht raided the exchange hall. Everyone present was herded into the building and the entrances were guarded by soldiers with all those present submitting to a body search. Unbelievable scenes saw diamonds and other valuable possessions such as foreign currency removed and confiscated. Diamond merchants were brutally treated and the premises were closed by order of the German Currency Protection Office, all furniture was removed and all records confiscated.
Under the Nazi-occupation, the four exchanges joined forces to thwart the enemy and members continued their activities through the Beurs Voor Diamanthandel and the Diamantclub. The building housing the Vrije Diamanthandel was also commandeered by the German forces.
In the course of the German exodus in autumn 1944, part of the Kring’s trading floor in the Klein Building was destroyed by explosions in the neighboring Wolf Building. American troops entering Antwerp occupied the Kring and converted the exchange hall into allied headquarters.
After the forced closure for almost six years during World War II, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring was ceremoniously re-opened on April 4, 1946 in a fully restored exchange hall. Business activity resumed under the presidency of Gustaaf Garitte.
After the war, with the active support of the Antwerp Mayor’s office, many Antwerp diamantaires who had fled the city at the onset of the War to escape the Nazis, started returning and re-establishing their businesses.
De Beers in conjunction with leading Antwerp diamantaires like Romy Goldmuntz stimulated the start of diamond polishing after the War by supplying rough diamonds on flexible terms.
On December 9, 1947, two marble tablets were unveiled in the exchange hall in commemoration of the 164 members of the Antwerpsche Diamantkring who were brutally murdered as a consequence of the Nazi terror. Along with the rest of the Antwerp diamond trade the Diamantkring had to re-start its activities.