Before I go into the story of Koenraad , I want to mention someone else. The 2 people are connected by the date January 29,1942. Clazina van Leeuwen-Menassen died on this date, she was a Jewish lady but she was spared the horrors of the camps, she died at the ripe old age of 100.
Koenraad was born on January 29,1942.
He was the second child of Florence Gezang-Goudeket and Maurits Gezang . The couple had had another son, Edward . At the time of Koentje’s birth, the family lived in The Hague, the Netherlands.
After a failed attempt to escape to Switzerland in August 1942, the Gezang couple decided to go into hiding separately from each other. Koentje was left in early October with Leo van Dis in Overveen. A Dutch teacher at the Second HBS in Haarlem, he was a member of the Dutch Reformed Church and involved in resistance work within his religious community. He promised to find a reliable foster home for the child. This was a tried and tested method of the resistance to save Jewish babies: a baby was placed on the doorstep of a trustworthy family (usually by agreement), who then alerted the police and registered the baby with the registry office. Then the family took care of the child and either adopted it, or it went to an orphanage. In this way the child was no longer registered as Jewish and could potentially survive the war or deportation.
On October 16 at 8.45 pm Koenraad was put as a foundling on the doorstep of the Van de Bunt family at Duinwijckweg 1 in Bloemendaal. Henk van de Bunt, father of the family, reported his discovery by telephone to police sergeant Henk Bikkel, after which an investigation was started into the origin of the child. By means of a notification in the Haarlemsche Courant of 20 October, the public was asked for information by the police.
The notification says that the boy was dressed in a pink jacket and a pink hat. In those days baby boys would wear pink and baby girls would wear blue.
National newspapers took over this report a day later. On October 26, Van de Bunt filed a declaration with the registry office of the municipality of Bloemendaal.[The foundling was given the first name Remi, after the main character from the book Alone in the world by Hector Malot ; the surname Van Duinwijck refers to the location of the child. His age was estimated at about eight months. Remi was lovingly welcomed into the family of Henk van de Bunt, his wife Jo and their children.
Four days later, the couple and Koenraad had to report to the head office of the Sicherheitsdienst in Amsterdam. The SD took the position that Koentje(short voor Koenraad) was not allowed to stay with his foster parents, because he was a Jewish child. Jo van de Bunt’s objection that this was not certain because the child had not been circumcised, was to no avail. The couple had to return home without Koentje.
In order to determine whether Koentje was actually Jewish, the doctor and alderman of Public Health Johan Lodewijk Strakwas ordered to physically examine the boy. He reported to the Plantage Middenlaan in the first week of 1943. On January 8, 1943, Strak, a member of the NSB and an SS member, reported that Koentje had not been circumcised, but could be called Jewish on the basis of external characteristics.
The boy was transferred by order of the Nazis to the nursery at Plantage Middenlaan 31, opposite the Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam.
The little boy stole the hearts of the nursery staff and of the German officers, who came to visit him regularly. All the attention the boy received made it impossible to send him into hiding.
In order to determine whether Koentje was actually Jewish, the doctor and alderman of Public Health Johan Lodewijk Strak was ordered to physically examine the boy. He reported to the Plantage Middenlaan in the first week of 1943. On January 8, 1943, Strak, a member of the NSB and an SS member, reported that Koentje had not been circumcised, but could be called Jewish on the basis of ‘physical attributes’. How he determined that is a puzzle to me. It is a myth that there are any specific Jewish ‘physical attributes’ ,then again the whole blonde blue eyed Aryan notion was a myth too. The original Aryans were from Indo-Iranian origin.
After a stay of more than five months in the nursery , Koentje was transferred to Camp Westerbork, where he arrived on 15 April 1943.
On May 18, 1943, the 12th transport departed from Westerbork for Sobibór. There were 2,511 adults and children on board the train. One of them was Remi van Duinwijck, his real name ,Koenraad Huib Gezang, was not yet known at the time. Koenraad was murdered on May 21,1943, age 1.
In 2002, the real name of Remi van Duinwijck finally was released as Koenraad Huib Gezang .
Koentje’s mother Florence went into hiding in October 1942, together with her parents and sister Helena. In December they were discovered, arrested by the Gestapo and transported to Westerbork. From there they were transported, together with the parents of her Husband, Maurits Gezang, to Sobibór on 6 April 1943, where they were all murdered three days later. Koenraad’s dad and brother, Maurits and Eddy, managed to move to Paris , where they lived under the name Wiedeman. Both survived the war. Maurits remarried and died in 1983. Eddy Gezang emigrated to Sweden in the early 1950s. After he stopped working in 1995, he investigated what had happened to his brother during the war. Initially he cherished the hope that Koentje was still alive, possibly under another name. Gradually he found out that the photos his father once gave him of his brother showed the same boy who was known as the foundling Remi from the nursery. In 2002 he resigned himself to the fact that Koentje alias Remi had been murdered in Poland. Eddy passed away in 2014.
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