Never Again—Never Forget

On 27 January 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz. Although those who survived were physically liberated, for many the mental torture never left them. Their experiences were relived in their nightmares and there was constant anxiety.

The United Nations has designated 27 January as Holocaust Memorial Day. I believe every day should be a Holocaust Memorial Day, especially nowadays when so many want to forget or revise history.

Never Again. Never Forget. I cannot say Never Forgive because that is not my call—that’s the prerogative of those who survived and their families.

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Camps de Gurs—The Forgotten Concentration Camp

Although its official name is Gurs Internment Camp, let’s call it what it really was, a concentration camp. It is also probably one, if not the only time, the Nazis sent Jews westward.

At first, it served as a camp for Spanish republicans and German refugees who fled from Nazism. The Gurs Camp was among the first and one of the largest camps established in prewar France. It was located at the foot of the Pyrenees in Southwestern France, just South of the village of Gurs. The camp, about 50 miles from the Spanish border, was situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains northwest of Oloron-Sainte-Marie.

The camp measured about 1.4 km (in length and 200 m in width, an area of 28 ha (69 acres). Its only street ran the length of the camp. On either side of the street were plots of land measuring 200 m by 100 m, named îlots (blocks; literally, “islets”). There were seven îlots on one side and six on the other. The plots were separated from the street and from each other by wire fences. The fences were doubled at the back part of the plots to create a walkway along which the exterior guards circulated. In each plot stood about 30 cabins; there were 382 cabins altogether.

In early 1940, the French government interned about 4,000 German Jewish refugees as “enemy aliens” along with French leftist political leaders who opposed the war with Germany. After the French armistice with Germany in June 1940, Gurs fell under the authority of the new collaborationist French government, the Vichy regime.

In October 1940, the Nazi Gauleiter (“governor”) from the Baden region of Germany had also been named Gauleiter of the neighbouring French region of Alsace. In Baden resided some 7,500 Jews, mainly women, children, and the elderly, given that the young and middle-aged men had emigrated or had gone to the Nazi concentration camps.

The Gauleiter received word that the camp at Gurs was mostly empty, and on 25 October 1940, it was decided to evacuate the Jews from Baden (between 6,500 and 7,500) to Gurs as part of Operation Wagner-Bürckel. There, they remained locked up under the French administration. The living conditions were difficult, and illness rife, especially typhus and dysentery.

The deportation of the German Jews to Gurs in October 1940 is a unique case in the history of the Holocaust. IT WAS the only deportation of Jews carried out toward the west of Germany by the Nazi regime.

Conditions in the Gurs camp were very primitive. It was overcrowded and there was a constant shortage of water, food, and clothing. During 1940–41, some 800 detainees died of contagious diseases, including typhoid fever and dysentery.

One in four of the deportees died in Gurs or other French camps, 11 per cent succeeded in emigrating overseas, 12 per cent hid out in France, and 40 per cent (around 2,600 deportees) were transported to Auschwitz after July 1942. The fate of the remaining 600 deportees is unknown.

The Vichy regime turned over the Jews who were located in Gurs to the Nazis. On 18 July 1942, the SS captain, Theodor Dannecker, inspected the camp and then ordered that they prepare themselves to be transported to Eastern Europe. The Nazis sent the majority of them to the Drancy transit camp just outside of Paris. From Drancy, they were deported in six convoys to the killing centres in Poland, primarily Auschwitz.

Vichy authorities closed the Gurs camp in November 1943. Almost 22,000 prisoners had passed through Gurs, of whom over 18,000 were Jewish. More than 1,100 internees died in the camp. In 1944, Gurs was reopened briefly to intern political prisoners and resistance fighters arrested by Vichy police.

From 25 August to 31 December 1945, Nazi collaborators and hundreds of anti-Franco militants were interned. In total 3,370 persons, exclusively men.

sources

https://www.cheminsdememoire.gouv.fr/en/gurs-internment-camp

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/gurs

https://portal.ehri-project.eu/institutions/fr-006277

https://www.fondationshoah.org/en/node/47403

Wietske—My Hero and My Mother

Mom, this picture of you is typically how people will remember you. In the kitchen, making coffee, ready to make soup and sandwiches.

In that same kitchen you asked me on 24 January 1996, “Ben je gelukkig?” (Are you happy?) Although there isn’t really an accurate translation for gelukkig it is more than just happy it also means are you content or blissful but to all those meanings I could answer, “Yes.”

Two days later on 26 January 1996, I received a call from my sister, saying there was something wrong, “I think mom is dead.” Those words hit me hard. I got on my bicycle, I must have broken a speed record because I appeared to have arrived at the apartment within seconds. The fear we had became a reality—you had died.

Just a few hours before that you were at bingo, cheerful and funny like you always were, singing Het busje komt zo on your way home, an indication of your sense of humour, which you bestowed upon my sisters, my brother and me.

Wietske Jager was born on 10 December 1935, the daughter of Frisian immigrants from Harkema, who moved to Geleen in Limburg.

Although my mother had no formal secondary education, she still spoke three languages. She taught me that intelligence does not equate to education. She was always welcoming to everyone.

One day my sister brought some of her Italian-in-laws to see my mother. The fact that my mother didn’t speak Italian, didn’t stop her from talking to her Italian guests, she simply added an ‘o’ to every word, making it sound a bit Italian. This was not to make fun of them but to give them the respect of making them feel at home. And you know what, I am nearly sure they understood her.

Regardless of what hour of the day you would call, there was always coffee. There also seemed to be an endless supply of soup. She looked after four children on her own. Nowadays some people would look down on her because she was only a mother and a homemaker. People now would say she had no ambition. I pity those people because they didn’t understand the value of real life. My mother always did, she never gave up no matter how hard things got. Her sense of humour and her fighting spirit passed on to her children.

Although she was small in stature, she had the attitude of a giant.

She died on 26 January 1996 when they carried her coffin down the stairs, it started snowing and that snow remained for a few weeks. Clearly, when she arrived in heaven she shook up the place a small bit.

The church was too small for the funeral service. There were queues of people outside the church, despite it being very cold. She was like a celebrity.

Kleine reus ik mis je nog iedere dag

Lytse reus Ik mis dy noch alle dagen

The Oradour Massacre by Das Reich

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES

The 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich surrounded the tiny hamlet of Oradour-sur-Glane in the Limousin region of South Central France on 10 June 1944. The division then massacred 642 French civilians in the village.

Some believe that the troops were seeking retribution for the kidnap of a German soldier, but others say that resistance members were based in a different, nearby village. Most of the victims were women and children. Many were herded into a local church, and hand grenades thrown in, before being set on fire. The men were locked in a barn. Machine gunners shot at their legs, then doused them in petrol and set them alight. An investigation years later saw some 60 soldiers brought to trial in the 1950s. Twentywere convicted, but all were later released.

How they got away with their crimes is something I don’t understand.

The men of the village were rounded up, pushed into a barn and shot.
Then the women and children were forced inside the village church and burned alive. In the meantime, other stormtroopers went through the village, drenching the houses with an incendiary product before setting them afire and machine-gunning those who hid in a vain attempt to escape.

sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-53875150

Babies Deported to Westerbork Concentration Camp

The one I can’t get to terms with, and even refuse to get to terms with, is the murder of babies during the Holocaust.

I know one of the reasons behind it was the purification of the Aryan race. But, how pure are you as a race when you murder babies? Another reason was that they were afraid that when these babies grew up, they would possibly look for revenge for the death of their families. The only time you expect revenge is when you know you did something wrong.

The picture above is of Roosje van der Hal. She was born in Groningen on 17 March 1942 and murdered in Sobibor on 21 May 1943. She reached the age of one.

Nehemia Levy Cohen was born in Amsterdam on 20 December 1940. She was murdered in Sobibor on 7 May 1943. She had reached two years of age.

Both babies had been deported to Westerbork on 25 January 1943. From there they were deported to Sobibor where they both were killed. These were only two of the 1.5 million children. The scary thing is that there have been genocides, albeit on a smaller scale, after the Holocaust where babies once again were victims.

I want you all to look into the faces of these two sweet angels and ask yourself, “What can I do to stop this from happening again?”

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/191815/nehemia-levy-cohen

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/26236/roosje-van-der-hal

BloodyMir Putin

History of Sorts

Dear Comrade Putin,

You tell us that you don’t want a war. You are only conducting this ‘military operation’ in Ukraine to create peace.

You say you want-Mir-I believe that is ‘Peace’ in the Russian language. But if this is really ‘mir’ then please do explain it to that poor man in Odessa, who went out to the shop just to come back home, to find that his Mother,Wife and 3 month old baby were murdered by your ‘mir’

Please do explain it to that man, and do it face to face, don’t hide behind your soldiers. Man up and face this man, person to person.

However I don’t believe a coward like you is able to do that. But I am giving you the opportunity to prove me wrong.

Your mir is a bloody one. Are you Vladimir Putin the leader of Russia? Or are you BloodyMir Putin, dictator…

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The Sad Story of Betje Weijl-van Praag and her Daughter

On 16 November 1941, Betje Weijl-van Praag died from what appears to be suicide. The police report does not mention suicide, but the circumstances indicate that probably was what happened.

“Notification is given by telephone that something has probably happened to the resident of plot Schuttersweg 88 because she has not been seen all day. She lives alone. Police officer Van Rave goes to the scene and a little later announces by telephone that he has gained access to the house by breaking a window. A coal vapour smell was observed by him. The resident was found dead in bed by him so she probably died of coal fume poisoning. Dr Hermanides stated, who will perform the autopsy.”

Later two more officers went to the scene. Two and a half hours later it is noted: “Dr Hermanides had already performed the autopsy. An amount of money, amounting to NLG 40.82, as well as distribution documents were taken by the rapporteur. The stove in the house was still smouldering, while the stove pipe was completely blocked. The house is locked and the key has been taken by detective Wolvenne. According to found papers, the deceased would have relatives in Amsterdam. The Amsterdam police will try to warn them. Dr Lobstein van het Apeldoornsche Bosch later informs him that it is known to him (a daughter of Mrs Van Praag) is being nursed in the Apeldoornsche Bosch) that family (sister) lives in Amsterdam, Oudezijde Achterburgwal 111.”

The report mentions Betje Weijl-van Praag’s daughter. Sophia Charlotte Weijl was born on 14 April 1915. She was a patient at Het Apeldoornsche Bosch, a Jewish psychiatric hospital in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands.

I am not sure when she was admitted to the hospital. However her father, Salomo Weijl died on 28 February 1923. Sophia was still nine at the time. Her mother, Betje Weijl-van Praag became a widow and perhaps she wasn’t able to look after her daughter on her own.

Sophia Charlotte Weijl was in Het Apeldoornsche Bos when it was raided on the night of 21/22 January 1943. She was put on transport on 22 January 1943 to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she was murdered on 24 January 1943.

Both women were victims of the Nazi regime.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/152937/betje-weijl-van-praag

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/660803/sophia-charlotte-weijl

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BBC at War

In the last few years, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) has lost some of its credibility, but during World War II, it was a vital source of information for resistance groups in the Netherlands and other occupied countries.

The caption of the picture above said “January 4, 1944. Jammers and betrayal make listening to the B.B.C. not easy. We listen at night, 11:45 p.m., B.B.C.”

An employee of an illegal newspaper listening to the BBC.

The founders of the first illegal newspapers came to their initiative out of indignation about the German invasion and annoyance about what the equalized newspapers wrote. There was also a need to warn the population against National Socialism and to call for united opposition to the German measures. In 1940 there were about 62 underground magazines and within a year this number rose to 120. Some magazines had succeeded in finding printers and were, therefore, able to abandon the time-consuming stencilling. By the end of 1942, the number of papers had dropped to 96 because many editors of smaller papers considered their activities superfluous when bigger and better editions appeared. In 1943, new illegal newspapers sprang up like mushrooms. These were mainly concerned with translating and distributing the war news received via hidden radios. In total, about 1300 different magazines existed during the occupation years, which together had a circulation of millions of copies.

Due to a lack of radio sets and power, the BBC news had to be brought to the people via the underground. This is where the messages came in.

From the beginning of her exile, Queen Wilhelmina took up her task with great willpower. Uncompromising and with unshakable confidence in the Allied victory, she was able to convey this conviction to others. She constantly advocated the interests of the Netherlands to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her attitude and effort commanded the respect of the Allied leaders.

The message of thanks to BBC radio for the so-called ‘Round the World birthday celebration programme’ broadcast in honour of Wilhelmina during the BBC’s European Empire Programs on 30 August 1941. Her inaction against the treatment of the Dutch Jews before, during and after the war has tainted her legacy somewhat.

The original caption reads: ‘Recording of the B.B.C. news, via a DC receiver as Goes was also without power, for the purpose of the illegal press. Goes.’
Two employees of the illegal magazine ‘Vrije Stemmen’ in Goes are working on the BBC’s news reports.

Radio Orange; Mrs A. A. Koch – de Waard.

The original caption of this photo reads: “BBC European Service: Dutch Section.
The Dutch Section’s principal woman announcer.”

One of the ways, in which Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government maintained ties with the population in the occupied territory was Radio Oranje. The broadcasts were invariably opened with ‘Hier Radio Oranje, the Voice of the Struggling Netherlands’. In addition to news commentary and entertainment, Radio Oranje broadcasts were also used to pass on code messages to the resistance in occupied territory.

Anyone caught listening to the BBC or other anti-Nazi radio stations could face execution.

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Hans and Ruth Abraham—A Positive Holocaust Story

History of Sorts

There were millions murdered during the Holocaust, and each of these victims represents a tragic and sad story.

However ,although very few, there were some positive Holocaust stories, but even in the positivity there was an underlying negative story. because it tells a story of disrupted lives.

Hans Leo (Henry in later life) Abraham and his sister Ruth Abraham were the children of Siegfried (born in Ehringshausen, 19 July 1899) and Gerda Abraham – Schwarzstein (born in Berlin, 26 February 1911). Hans was born on September 23, 1933. He and his parents came from Hamburg, Germany and fled to Amsterdam in 1935.

Father Siegfried had worked as a stockbroker in Hamburg, but after emigration became an electrician in the Netherlands. Ruth was born on September 24, 1938 in the Netherlands. The family lived on the Amstelkade in Amsterdam. After the German invasion of the Netherlands, their lives were once again…

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AC/DC’s first singer.

AC/DC will celebrate their 50th anniversary later this year. I was surprised to find out that their first singer wasn’t Bon Scott but, Dave Evans, Although he only recorded one song with the band.

He was the original lead singer for AC/DC in 1973–1974 and sang on their debut single and one other single shortly ,before being replaced by Bon Scott. Evans then went on to join the band Rabbit who were active into the early 1980s. He resumed a solo career shortly after the year 2000.

Dave recorded AC/DC’s first two singles, “Can I Sit Next To You Girl” and “Baby, Please Don’t Go”. But in October 1974, less than a year after AC/DC’s first gig, Evans was out of the band.

source

https://blabbermouth.net/news/original-ac-dc-singer-dave-evans-has-no-regrets-about-his-split-with-the-band-ive-had-a-fantastic-career