Last Farewells


01b94195f5a55992568e66a3bdfe2e0eThe everyday life of the Jewish Gold family, who lived in the village of Jutphaas near Utrecht, came to an abrupt end in April 1943: Father, Mother and their son Lothar were picked up from their home and eventually deported. They always had close contact with the neighbours across the street, the Steenaart family.


Father Julius Gold was a shoemaker and the night before leaving he promised that when he returned he would make baby Willy Steenaart a pair of shoes. Along with this promise Julius gave the Steenaart family his shoemaker’s box, filled with tools, for safekeeping.

The farewell words to the Gold family were those of a neighbourhood kid shouting ‘Where are you going, Lothar?’ to his friend, as the family was driven away by truck. The Steenaarts never received another sign of life from Julius Gold and his family. Later, Willy Steenaart took good care of the box: not a single tool was ever used. Lothar was murdered in the Sobibor Extermination Camp on 11 June 1943 along with his mother Gerda. Julius died on 21 March 1945 in Melk, a slave labour sub-camp of Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria. It is not known whether there are still relatives of the Gold family alive.



On 7 September 1943, a freight train with 987 Jews aboard departed from the Westerbork Transit Camp in the east of the Netherlands to the Auschwitz Concentration and Extermination Camp in occupied Poland. Sitting on her backpack in an overcrowded railway car, twenty-nine-year-old Etty Hillseum wrote this postcard to her friend Christine who lived in Deventer. ‘We have left the camp singing…’ she entrusted to paper. Then she threw the card from the train – her last sign of life.


Etty Hilversum most likely died on 30 November 1943. Also her parents and brothers were murdered in Auschwitz. The diary that Etty kept during the occupation and the many letters she wrote, also from Camp Westerbork, were of high literary quality. After the war they were published in more than ten languages.




  1. Thanks so much for putting me onto her diary. I’ve never heard of her before, but I just ordered a copy. I’m researching the experiences of Australian soldiers during WWI and that has crossed over into the people living in Belgium and France and how people survived and coped and supported each other. I’ve heard a number of returned servicemen comment on how peace was a sort of justification for the mates who had sacrificed their lives. However, that only lasted 20 years and then they were back. I can’t imagine what that was like.
    Best wishes,


Leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.