Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas during WWII

History of Sorts

December 5 is the day in the Netherlands when Sinterklaas is celebrated. It is when he kids get their presents or if they were bad a bit of coal. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, legend has it that good old Saint Nick died on December 6. However, I can not verify that because contrary to popular believe I am not that old.

Despite the war, the Dutch still celebrated Sinterklaas albeit in a slightly different configuration. Following are just some impression oF Sinterklaas during WW2

Despite it being a Christian celebration, it really did transcend religion, Most Dutch Jews would also celebrate Sinterklaas, like this Jewish class.

This one I found disturbing. In this picture you see Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Nazi appointed Reich commissioner for the Netherlands, shaking hands with Sinterklaas and the ‘holy’ man appeared to enjoy his company. Arthur Seyss-Inquart also shared responsibility for the deportation of Dutch…

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Adolf Eichmann

History of Sorts

December 15th marks the 61st anniversary of Adolf Eichmann’s death sentence. I am not going too much in the history of Eichmann, there is not that much I can add to the narrative.

On December 11–12, 1961, Eichmann was convicted of crimes against the Jewish people, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and membership in a criminal organization. He was sentenced to death on December 15.

His defense was basically that he had only been following orders.

During World War I, Eichmann’s family moved from Germany to Linz, Austria. His pre-Nazi life was rather ordinary. He worked as a traveling salesman in Oberösterreich (Upper Austria) for an oil company but lost his job during the Great Depression. He had actually attended Kaiser Franz Joseph Staatsoberrealschule (state secondary school) in Linz. A certain Adolf Hitler had been a student in that same school 17 years prior.

Eichmann joined the Nazi Party in…

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Ralph G. Neppel-WWII Hero

History of Sorts

We live in an era where social media ‘influencers’ or celebrities, who make a token gesture for the latest political hype , are seen as heroes. I find it very hard to comprehend this misguided notion. None of these people have ever done a heroic deed.

I cam across the picture above on an article titled “62 Historic Photos Of Love During Wartime”

The picture is of Jean Moore kneeling and kissing her fiancé, wheelchair-bound World War II Veteran Ralph Neppel, the picture was from 1945.At first I hadn’t noticed that Ralph was missing both of his legs. I think the smile on his face made me miss it the first time I glanced at the picture.

I then decided to do a bit of research into Ralph Neppel and I came across an amazing story of an extraordinary heroic deed.

Ralpg was a leader of a machine-gun squad defending…

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The Sad Story of Emma Van Essen-Frankenstein

The story of Emma van Essen-Frankenstein is a story of desperation. Her maiden name is also the name of a famous horror story, but Emma’s story is more horrific than that of her fictional namesake.

She was born in Salzderkilden, Germany on March 18 1862. In May 1893 she married Dutchman, Abraham Levie van Essen, and I say Dutchman because the majority of Dutch Jews considered themselves Dutch more than Jewish.

The couple lived in Veenendaal in the Netherlands and on 25 February 1894, they had a baby son, Leenhart Hermann van Essen. None of them expected what fate awaited them after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands in May 1940.

Emma had 2 granddaughters. Veronie Suze Carola van Essen was born in
Amsterdam on 3 August 1928. And Elly Vera Louise van Essen born in Amsterdam, 25 February 1926.

The 2 girls and their mother Rachel Julie van Essen-Lopes de Leao Laguna

Veronie Suze Carola, the youngest granddaughter, attended the Protestant secondary modern on the Kerkewijk. Because she was Jewish, she had to leave that school in 1941. This was one of the Nazi laws that were brought in.

I don’t know why Leendert Hermann decided to go into hiding, but I can guess his reasons. They went into hiding on the Veluwe near Voorthuizen. They were caught. Their valuables possessions were confiscated by the SD. A young municipal official who supervised the house being emptied removed and preserved the mezuzah at the entrance. The mezuzah was exhibited after the war.

On 14 September 1942, Emma van Essen-Frankenstein left for Amsterdam, probably under Nazi orders. There, on 5 December 1942, at the age of 80, she took her own life. She would have had a good idea by then of what fate awaited her. All of her family were eventually murdered.

Abraham Levie van Essen was murdered in Auschwitz on 28 January 1944.

Leenhart Hermann van Essen was murdered in Auschwitz on 2 November 1943.

Rachel Julie van Essen-Lopes de Leao Laguna was murdered in Auschwitz on 27 August 1943.

Veronie Suze Carola van Essen was murdered in Auschwitz on 27 August 1943.

Elly Vera Louise van Essen was murdered in Auschwitz on 3 September 1943.

I know that suicide is often a taboo subject but I believe if that aspect of the Holocaust is not addressed, we will never really know the true extent of the horrors.



If you look at the picture, it appears to be a picture of a marketplace. Initially, you will see nothing wrong with it.

There is a man with a bike talking to another man, possibly about the weather. You can see a young boy running, and perhaps he is chasing the dog.

There are market stalls with people around them, browsing and most likely are purchasing goods. It could be a market anywhere in the world. This market is on Waterloo Square in Amsterdam.

But the apparent mundane appearance of the market is deceiving. If you analyze the picture and look closer, you will spot a few things.

In the middle, there is a signpost it says, Alleen toegang voor joden [Access for Jews only]. On the two opposite corners, two men wearing a star on their coats.

Most of those people on that market would be murdered within 2 years of that picture being taken. There would have been people then and even now who will think that things didn’t look that bad at all for the Jews, they even had their market.

The people in the photo don’t realize the significance of the picture. It was meant to deceive. The Jews were given their market and other facilities to make it easier for the Nazis to single them out. They had to wear a star so the Nazis could pick them out. They were put in ghettos to make it easier to round them up for deportation to extermination camps.



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Silvia Foti. What it really meant to be an honorary prisoner in Nazi camp

History of Sorts

The author Silvia Foti argues that spending time in a Nazi concentration camp does not exonerate her grandfather from his role in the Holocaust in Lithuania.

As I was growing up in Chicago during the Cold War, I’d heard about how my grandfather Jonas Noreika was an honorary prisoner in the Stutthof concentration camp, how he was taken hostage with 45 other Lithuanian leaders for their anti-Nazi activity.

Read more: Granddaughter of Lithuanian Nazi collaborator: ‘I love his soul but not his sins’

To my shock, as I researched his life for my memoir The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather Was a War Criminal, I realised his time in Stutthof had been used as a cover-up by Lithuanians to hide his role in the Holocaust.

Lithuanians were led to believe he was treated just as harshly as the Jews, that his anti-Nazi activity included saving Jews, and that…

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Christmas in Westerbork

History of Sorts

At first glance when you look at the picture it doesn’t appear to be extraordinary. There is an officer clearly given a speech. There are a few Christmas trees at the back so it appears to be some sort of Christmas do.

The officer is Albert Konrad Gemmeker he was a German SS-Obersturmführer and camp commandant of the Westerbork transit camp.

He was considered the friendly face of Nazi evil. Known as a decent commander, who insisted that he never knew what happened to the Jews in camps such as Auschwitz. Yet during his reign at the Dutch camp, around 80,000 Jewish people were deported to Auschwitz.

On December 19,1942 Gemmeker threw a Christmas party, or rather a Julfest(Yule feast).

The venue for his party was Westerbork. According to some survivors, a line of shiny new cars had pulled up to the camp, with a number of high ranking SS…

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Die Hard, Christmas movie? “Yippee-Ki-yay” or “Yippee-Ki-nay?”

History of Sorts

Die Hard, Christmas movie? “Yippee-Ki-yay or “Yippee-Ki-nay?

Every year around Christmas time there is the question “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”
Personally, for me, it is not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall of the Nakatomi building.

However, I appreciate that, that will not get everyone in a festive mood. So, let us look at what constitutes a Christmas movie?
According to sites like the Hollywood reporter and a Christmas movie must
• Be set around Christmas
• Have a Christmas setting, things like decorations, tree etc.
• Christmas music and carols
• Festivities
• A topless woman, oh no wait that is a different list, I should have checked that twice.
Die Hard fulfils all those criteria (including the topless woman).
To compare with a classic Christmas movie like White Christmas?
Die Hard takes place entirely in the Christmas holidays, while only the first and final…

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around.

There you are minding your own business, enjoying a concert by a legendary rock band, Then suddenly some stupid with a flare gun burns the place to the ground. “Wait a minute” I can hear you all think “This and the title sounds very much like a song” and you would be right.

Deep Purple wrote a song inspired by an event which took place on December 4,1971 in Montreux, Switzerland. On December 4, 1971, Montreux Casino burned down during a concert by The Mothers of Invention after a fan had set the venue on fire with a flare gun. A recording of the outbreak and fire announcement can be found on a Frank Zappa Bootleg album titled Swiss Cheese/Fire!

Deep Purple, who had planned to record Machine Head at the venue were forced to find another recording location. They wrote the Rock classic ‘Smoke on the Water’ about the eventful day.

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Inventions were performing “King Kong”, about 80 minutes into the show , when, during Don Preston’s synthesizer solo, someone shot off a flare gun. The flare hit the wooden roof and quickly spread.

“They were very organized,” Zappa said in an interview shortly after the fire. “I was just lucky that many of the fans]were able to speak English, because I didn’t know what to say to them in French.”

In an ironic coincidence, Zappa died on Dec. 4, 1993, the 22nd anniversary of the fire.


Fire in the Sky

The Execution of Three Heroines

History of Sorts

Nel Hissink aka Cornelia van den Brink-Kossen

On October 27, 1943, two Dutch resistance women—Nel Hissink, and Truus van Lier were executed in Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, Reina Geerlings, was executed less than a month later, on November 24, 1943. All three women were shot. This was done in secret as it was not customary to shoot women.

Cornelia (Nel) Hissink (Amsterdam, June 13, 1897 – Oranienburg (Germany), November 24, 1943) was a resistance member during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She was active for the Personal Identification Central (PBC), which provided people in hiding and resistance members with forged documents, and the resistance group CS6, an organization for the armed resistance. In the summer of 1943 she was arrested and interned in prisons Weteringsschans and Kamp Amersfoort she was executed on October 27, 1943, in Kamp Sachsenhausen.

Nel van den Brink-Kossen was a communist. She distributed communist pamphlets, regularly took part…

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