Philip Silbernberg -Murdered in Auschwitz

Just a picture of a soldier with his family. One could easily dismiss this photograph as just someone’s memory. A father who loved to smoke, a mother all dressed up and 2 well dressed children, a boy and a girl.

This picture could have easily been a picture of my Grandfather and part of his family. Like the man in the picture my Grandfather had something in common. The man in the pictures is Philip Silbernberg. The picture was taken in 1939. the Dutch army was mobilized for fear of war. My Grandfather was also called up that same year.

War did come to the Netherlands, on May 10.1940 German troops invaded the Netherlands. The fighting continued for 4 days, on May 14 the Dutch army capitulated.

In a way Philip and my Grandfather may have been relieved that the fighting only lasted 4 days. They realised that things would change. The Germans set up a new government, a Nazi regime with both German and Dutch members. But in general things would not change all that much, and for a short time that was true.

On May 12 1942 there was a notification in the newspaper “Het dagblad van het Zuiden! the daily newspaper of the south, that all men who served in the Dutch army on May 10,1940(, the day the Germans invaded the Netherlands, and who were up to the age of 55, had to report to the occupying authorities by May 15th 1942. It had been the 2nd notification

That same day May 12, my Grandfather died, for years I thought he was executed but now I believe there is a possibility he committed suicide.

I do not know if Philip Silbernberg had seen that notification, he probably did because he lived in the same area as my Grandfather, only a short cycle distance. Philips outcome was different though.

Philip was born in Ophoven-Sittard. Where his father had a shop in draperies and colonial goods since 1890, later also for men’s fashion. His father died in 1934. Philip and his brother Les took over the business in 1929.

In August 1929 Philip married Jenetta (Jettie) van der Stam from Rotterdam. They settled in Sittard though, where there daughter Roosje was born in 1930, and their son , Herman was born in 1934. Les married in 1937 and started his own shop in Geleen, my hometown, while Philip continued his parents’ business.

Mother Rosalie, affectionately called ‘den Engel’,(the angel) moved in 1939 with daughter Else and her family to Nieuwer-Amstel, near Amsterdam, where she died in November 1941.
In the spring of 1939, Rosalie’s brother Albert and his wife Hedwig Schwarz-Wihl had emigrated from Dortmund to the Netherlands and had moved in with Philip’s family.

When the Nazis force the Jews to wear the yellow star. Philip goes purposely to city photographer Wulms in Sittard to be photographed in his suit with the Star of David. He told his son Herman: “Boy…you should be proud of it”.

In August 1942 the Silbernbergs escaped the first major deportation round in Limburg because Philip had recently been registered as an employee of the Jewish Council. Nevertheless, Philip and Jettie decided to have their children go into hiding in Heerlen, and in October they also went into hiding. Philips brother in Geleen and his sisters in Amsterdam and Nieuwer-Amstel also went into hiding with their families.

The mayor of Sittard issued a warrant for Philip and his wife, to be arrested, detained and brought to trial.

The charge was having changed their place of residence from October 20, 1942, without having the required authorization to do so. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding. It was also requested that the two children of the Silbernbergs be located.

March 6, 1944 they were betrayed while in hiding in Heerlen and arrested; deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz on March 23. The exact date to when he and his wife is not known, they have put it on the August 31,1944.

The two children survived, they were able to escape and go into hiding in Belgium. After the war they were taken in by Nathan and Else Wijnperle-Silbernberg.

The more I do research on the victims the more I realize it could have easily been my family. Sittard used to be the neigboring town of my hometwon Geleen, but in 2001 the 2 towns merged together and are now known as the city of Sittard-Geleen.

A few weeks ago a grandson send me a few more pictures

Philip and jenetta honeymoon in bruxelles. Philip’s brother was Ies (Isidore) who is pictured with his wife Greta and children of Philip and Jenetta, Herman and Roos. The photo must have been taken in Liège at the end of the war.



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  1. historiebuff says:

    Very real, very close, very emotional.


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