David Koker- Not just a diarist.

David Koker

There are probably quite a few people who will have heard of David Koker,  or at least will know about the diary he wrote during his imprisonment at camp Vught, in the Netherlands.

The diary was published in 1977 with the name Dagboek geschreven in Vught and was published in 2012 it was translated into English and published wit the title  At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944.It was written between 11 February 1943 and  8 February 1944.

On the night of 11 February 1943,David and his family were arrested in Amsterdam and arrested and transported to camp Vught. For this transport they actually received a train ticket, and if you see the ticket it looks like something nice was done to the Koker family. It appears to be an act of charity.

urn-gvn-EVDO01-MMNIOD01-244_1657-medium

It was issued by the ‘Centre of Jewish emigration Amsterdam, and ordered by the Hauptsturmbahnführer Woerlein.

The text of the ticket says ” The keeper of this permit and ticket referring to call up of the same number, has the right to travel free of charge by allocated train to the Station of Hoogthalen. The permit and ticket have to be shown without being asked to the train staff at the station of Hooghalen. The inspector will then tear the ticket from the permit”

At  the bottom it says “If you show this ticket you can avail at cost of transport via tram or bus at the above mentioned date”

Hooghalen

If you wouldn’t know the history you could be forgiven that the ticket was a charitable thing to do, but in fact it was the first step to the transition of systematic murder.

I won’t post anything from his diary. I leave it up to all of you to find the diary and read it yourself. However I will put down below 2 pieces he wrote. The first piece I belive is either from 1939 or early 1940. It illustrates David’s awareness of what was happening around him and in Germany.

“The finest experts of the human heart,can’t make me out.I’m quite a thing apart/ They say that from them I perhaps should quit. “You sir, don’t fit our system one small bit””

On 2 June 1944, while the family was being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, David managed to throw a letter from the train. Below is an excerpt of that note.

“Dear friends, we are close to the border now. It is very disappointing, but we were prepared for it and remain hopeful. I think a lot about you. (…) I’ve got all your letters and photos with me. My dearest possessions. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. (…) Lots of love guys, thanks for everything. Goodbye.”

Auschwitz Birkenau would not be the final destination for David.On February 23 1945 he died in Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was aged 23. David’s mother and brother Max survived the war.

Ending the blog with a picture taken in 1930 in Amsterdam of the Koker family..

koker

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/507940/about-david-koker

https://geheugen.delpher.nl/nl/geheugen/view/oorlogsdagboek-koker-david-koker-david?coll=ngvn&maxperpage=36&page=2&query=Auschwitz&identifier=EVDO01%3AMMNIOD01-244_1657

https://books.google.ie/books?id=-cT2yHpiSgUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://www.coenraadrood.org/nl/westerbork/aankomst-in-kamp-westerbork

http://www.stationsweb.nl/station.asp?station=Hooghalen

 

 

 

 

Does it really matter who betrayed Anne Frank?

anne frank

The question who betrayed Anne Frank and the others hiding in the annex, has never really been conclusively answered. There are plenty of well founded speculations but there has not been a 100% certainty yet to who betrayed them.

There is also still a possibility that no one betrayed them but that they were discovered by accident. Contrary to popular believe it can actually get quite hot in the Netherlands during the summer months. The early days in August 1944 the average temperature was 21 degrees Centigrade(72 Fahrenheit). In the big cities it often feels hotter. There was no air conditioning in the small annex, there were 8 people in there. Maybe someone just briefly opened  a window a bit for some fresh air and this may have been spotted.

I know this theory adds to more speculation ,but here is the thing. Does it really mater who betrayed them?

I believe the only thing that matters is that they should not have been in that annex in the first place. They should have been able to walk around freely wherever they so desired. Their rights should never have been taken away, They were human beings just like anyone else.

It is true that the Nazi regime who had occupied the Netherlands at the time persecuted all the Jews in the country, but this regime would not have been so successful if they hadn’t received assistance from the public servants who insisted in doing their jobs to their best ability. Maybe this was out of fear, and to an extent it was but there were those who endorsed the ruthless regime.

Of course there were more people who were totally horrified by the evil deeds  they witnessed, and often were crippled by fear.

If we keep on asking who betrayed Anne Frank, we also have to look why did they receive so little help from others, before they had to go into hiding. This question has answers which not many people want to hear, because that implicates governments including the US government who refused to give Otto Frank and his family Visas.

So the real answer to who betrayed Anne Frank is, nearly everyone.

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Profiting from the Holocaust.

puls

In any war or crisis there are companies that make a profit, To some people this may sound disgusting but unfortunately it is a fact.

Abraham Puls owned a removal company in Amsterdam. He had been a member of of the NSB , the Dutch Nazis, since 1934. His company was responsible for the ransacking of the homes of Jewish families in Amsterdam. In fact it is estimated that 29 000 homes of Jewish citizens were cleaned out by  A. Puls’s company.

A few days after the raids on Jewish homes, truck’s from the Puls company would show up and empty the homes. The goods would then be handed over to the Nazis to Einsatzstab Rosenberg,the Nazi organization assigned to appropriating cultural property during World War II. It was led by  Alfred Rosenberg.

rr

The plundering of the Jewish home soon became known as “Pulsen” named after Puls.

One of Puls’s trucks also showed up at the annex where Anne Frank had been hiding, after they had been arrested on August 4,1944.

There were reports that some Amsterdam citizens tried to recover prpoerties of their Jewish neighbours,, before Puls would show up, the aim was to return the properties to their Jewish friends but most of the Jews who survived never saw anything belonging to them ever again.

It does sicken me to the corps to know there were companies like that without any scruples or moral compass stealing from fellow citizens and handing it to the enemy, in order to make a profit.

Abraham Puls was sentenced to death on June 4,1947 but his sentence was changed on February 4,1949 to a life sentence . He was released on May 25,1959.

puls a

a puls

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Abraham Puls; van verhuizer tot rovershoofdman

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/detail/4dcd3d4e-025a-11e7-904b-d89d6717b464/media/cbee5313-fe4b-adad-3a8e-60523adda2f8?mode=detail&view=horizontal&q=joden&rows=1&page=345

 

 

Just a happy girl

vega

Just a happy girl without a care in the world.

Nor should she have any cares or worries.

Her job is to be a child, go to school, do homework but most of all to be a child.

At a desk with a peaceful picture of grazing Frisian cows behind her, Maybe they ere the cows she got her milk from she might ponder.

A smile that would melt anyone’s heart. a smile that would bring anyone joy and not hate.

Yet it was hate that killed her.

Nelly Vega born in Amsterdam on 2 April 1934, killed in Sobibor 9 July 1943.

Just a happy girl without a care in the world, it was too much to deal with for the evil men that killed her. Happy was not on their agenda, Joy was not on their agenda, Love was not on their agenda, at least not for those they deemed subhuman  and to be less then them. But in reality it was those evil men who were subhuman.

But this happy girl without a care in the world. Makes me realize that evil will not prevail.

 

Louis Asscher-Bergen Belsen victim

Louis

Bergen Belsen was liberated 75 years ago on April 15,1945. For many it was a true liberation but for others liberation came too late. Even for many of those who were liberated on that day it was still too late.

They were either so ill or malnourished that they did not survive,  After liberation nearly 14,000 people died.

Louis Asscher was one of those 14,000 , he died on April 19, just 4 days after liberation. He was an office clerk when the war broke out he and his wife took German Jewish refugees into their home in Amsterdam

But it wasn’t long before he and his family had to prepare for deportation themselves.He packed his phylacteries, prayer books, 25 sheets of paper and pieces of charcoal in his backpack.

Although Louis was an office clerk he was also an artist and while he was in Bergen Belsen he drew a series of sketches, some are as haunting as they are beatutidul.

Half a loaf of bread

brood

Roll call square and barrack 11- “the Hunger barrack”

role call

Watchtower

watchtower

Death bed

death bed

Louis has 4 children, they all survived. If there is one small consolation, and I mean a tiny one at least Louis died a free man.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/?mode=gallery&view=horizontal&q=Bergen%20Belsen&rows=25&page=1&record=d201597e-025a-11e7-904b-d89d6717b464

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/515544/about-louis-asscher

 

Not all heroes wear uniforms.

sam

When you look at the above picture you may think there is nothing extraordinary about it. However when you delve only slightly into the history of the picture you quickly how realize how amazing the picture really is.

The picture is of a Jewish male choir of the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam, it was taken in March 1942 and although the deportations of Dutch Jews had not started yet at the that time,  the life of Dutch Jews had been nearly made impossible at that stage.

Yet these men kept going and tried to lift the spirits with their singing. Heroically they maintained their cultural legacy despite the looming threat of being killed.

It particularly touched me because one of my hobbies is singing, in fact I used to be a conductor of a mixed choir, and when I saw the style of the conductor of this choir it reminds me of my own style.

The conductor’s name is Samuel Henri Englander he was appointed as the conductor when he was aged 20.Under his leadership the choir became well known, it soon got the nick name ‘Englander’s choir’. They performed at shul services but also weddings and even  in concerts where they  primarily  would sing religious music from Eastern Europe and Yiddish folk songs. Some of the concerts WERE  even be broadcast by the BBC.

bbc

I don’t know what happened to the choir, I can only presume they did not survive. Samuel Henri Englander was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943.

So much talent has been destroyed by the Nazis, depriving not only the world but also themselves of so much good.

Koor

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Source

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/137039600/samuel-henri-englander

NIOD

My letter to Anne Frank

anne

Dear Anne,

You don’t know me, but I know you.In fact nearly everyone knows you, and yet no one really knows you.

We know you  through your personal stories you wrote in your diary. We see each word, each letter and each paragraph, but we don’t see your hopes, your fears or your anxiety. You write about them , however we cannot really imagine how it must have been. I know I can’t.

Although because of a virus which has engulfed the world now, we are all told to stay at home as much as possible, we get a bit of an inkling how it must have been for  you and your family, but not really. All we have to do is to stay at home and enjoy ourselves. We can write like you did, but we don’t have to stay silent, we don’t have to be afraid to be dragged out of our house.We can do whatever we want to do.

In your time there was also a virus,it was fueled with and by hate, a sickening ideology.

I have a daughter who is about the same age as you, she even looks a bit like you. I really don’t know what I would do if something would happen to her, I am sure I would be devastated, sad and angry and more then likely would want some sort of revenge, but those are just speculation for I try not to think of an event like that.

I once passed by your house or rather the place you hid in, I could not get in because there was a queue of several hundred meters of people who had booked a ticket to see the annex. A thought then came to me, what if there had been a similar queue on the morning of 4 August 1944, the day you and your family were arrested, and what if all the people in that queue would have protested against the arrest, would have made a difference?

You’ll be happy to know your book has become one of the biggest selling books ever, only in recent time it has been surpassed by the books about another teenager, a boy called Harry Potter, but his story is fictional whereas yours is a brutal reality. I am sure though you would have loved his stories.

Even now there are people who dispute the genuinity of your writing. They say your father tempered with it. I am not angry with those people, I pity them, their indifference blinds them to the power of your words, the lessons to be learned from them.

What saddens me the most is not so much that you died a horrible death but the fact it is not even known when you died, it says about the date February or March 1945.

Dear Anne, I am not going to say you are a hero because you weren’t really. You were a young teenage girl whose diary should never have published, but whose life should have been lived to the fullest. Nothing excuses your death, it should not have happened.

Maybe one day when I leave my earthly coil behind we may meet ,but for now know this your memory lives on. Evil was not able to silence you.

 

Yours truly

Dirk de Klein, a father of a teenage girl.

What is the point of killing a 102 year old.

clara

The picture above is taken from a local Dutch newspaper. It is a small article from April 30,1942. Although it is a small notification it gives a wealth of information. The article is about Klara(or Clara) Borstel-Engelsman, born in Amsterdam  the piece announces her 100th birthday and how it is celebrated.

It tells us she was staying in the hostel of the Morpurgo family, I believe this was a Jewish family. It continues to say that she still has all her faculties and still likes to play a game o Domino and that she loves to chat with the the fellow residents hostel. Her chair was decorated and above the chair there was a Jewish wish “ad meea weësriem sjana” meaning up to 120 years.

What it doesn’t say but yet makes it clear is that until that date April 30,1942 the Jewish population still had some normality in their lives. It was only a day before her 100th birthday the Jews had to wear the yellow star.This was nearly 2 years after  the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.

In May 1942 construction started on Vught Concentration camp, and in the summer of 1942 the deportations started.

In March 1944 Klara was deported to Westerbork where she celebrated her 120th birthday. From Westerbork she was sent to Auschwitz, on a cattle train, where she dies on October 12 1944, aged 102.

clara 102

Now some may say that she lived a long life, which is true. However what sense does it make to put a 102 year old woman on a train so she can get killed inn a place hundreds of kilometers away from where she was. Taken away all the emotions and looking at it with a purely clinical view, not only is it a waste of resources and time , it also makes no economical sense, she was likely to die soon anyway. And that’s another bit of information the article doesn’t give us but it blatantly , the Nazis were so full of hate that they forgot all sense of proportionality.

Klara would be the oldest Dutch Jewish citizen to be murdered during the Holocaust.

Below is another notification of her pending 100th birthday.

Clara verjaardag

Many thanks to Norman Stone for pointing out the story of Klara to me on the Facebook  page Holocaust Educators of America.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/228136/klara-borstel-engelsman

https://www.facebook.com/groups/418106361560509/permalink/2776891269015328/

 

When enough was enough-The February strike.

2020-02-25 (1)

On February 25, 1941 the Dutch decided that enough was enough. No longer would they stand idly by to see their Jewish neighbours being treated they way they were.

The first 8 months of the Nazi occupation did not see that much change to the Dutch, The changes were all gradual.However there were increased tensions. The WA(Weerbaarheidsafdeling-defense section), the para  military arm of the Dutch Nazi party NSB,were actively involved  provocative and intimidating actions  in Jewish areas in Amsterdam. This resulted in one of the members of the WA, Hendtik Koot being killed by a local resistance group in Amsterdam on 11 February 1941.

koot

The day after on February 12,1941, German soldiers assisted by Dutch police besieged the old Jewish quarter  and blocked it off from the rest of the city by putting up barbed wire fences , opening draw bridges and erecting police checkpoints. The neighbourhood was now forbidden for non-Jews.

a'dam

A week later on the 19th of February the German Grüne Polizei stormed into the Koco ice-cream salon, which was owned by Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn, both were Jewish refugees who had fled Germany. . A fight ensued and some ammonia gas escaped in the incident and several police officers were injured.

The head of the SS in the Netherlands,Hanns Albin Rauter. reported the incident to Heinrich Himmler on February the 20th, and indicated that the 2 men Cahn and Kohn had willfully attacked the police officers.

The death of Hendrik Koot and the incident at the ice cream salon were used as an excuse to initiate the first raids on Jews in the Netherlands on February 22 and 23,1941.

427 Jewish men, age 20-35 were arrested and sent to Kamp Schoorl.

raid

raid 1

Most of then were deported eventually sent to  Mauthausen concentration camp, the majority of  them died within the year, only 2 survived.

Ernst Cahn was executed on March 3,1941 and Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz.

Following this raid, the Communist Party of the Netherlands called  for action on 24 February, during an open-air meeting they did this at their own peril because the party had been made illegal by the Nazi occupiers. Nonetheless they organised a strike to be held on February 25 and 26, 1941 in Amsterdam as a protest against the pogrom and also the forced labour in Germany.

The Dutch population listened to the call for strike and about 300,000 workers did go on strike.

On Tuesday, February 25, tram drivers and sanitation workers started it. Followed quickly by dockworkers . Workers on bicycles rang the doorbells at homes and halted traffic in the streets, imploring drivers to join them.

Rauter ordered harsh actions against the strikers and orders SS troops to shoot, 9 people were killed. The strike initially started in Amsterdam, but the following day workers in Hilversum,Zaandam,Haarlem and Utrecht.

Additionally to the 9 people killed during the strike, another 24 were injured and on March 13,1941 , 3 of the organizers were executed. Ironically those 3 actually saved 3 minors who had members of a group of 18  of the resistance group “De Geuzen” . Because of their young age their death sentence were changed to life imprisonment.

The Nazis decided to execute ,Hermanus Coenradi, Joseph Eijl en Eduard Hellendoorn, who were 3 of the organizers of the February strike instead, together with the other 15 of De Geuzen.

The Nazi regime finally showed its real face to the Dutch.

The strike was the first and only direct action against the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in Europe.

This monument called “De Dokwerker” the Dockworker is dedicated to the struikers of the February strike. It is situated on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein, the square where most of the 427 Jewish men had been arrested.

dokwerker

February 25, 1941 the day when the Dutch said “Enough is enough” unfortunately despite the brave efforts and the sacrifice of those who were killed for it, it did not stop the murder of 104,000 Dutch Jews.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

 

https://web.archive.org/web/20110929140015/http://www.joodsmonument.nl/page/274192

https://historiek.net/februaristaking-1941-protest-jodenvervolging/7124/

https://www.verzetsmuseum.org/museum/nl/tweede-wereldoorlog/begrippenlijst/achtergrond,stakingen/februaristaking

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/amsterdam-general-strike-february-1941

https://www.npostart.nl/2doc/22-02-2016/KN_1678989

 

 

 

 

 

And the world watched and did nothing.

affiche

No one in their right mind would argue that it was the Germans who are responsible for the Holocaust. However when it comes to the Holocaust there are a lot more countries that can’t say they had no blame.

They may not have started it but they did very little to stop it. It suited them better to look away and do nothing or very little.

I have heard the arguments that no one could have possibly know what Hitler and his henchmen had planned for the Jews. But that argument doesn’t hold water.

The poster at the start of the blog is from 1933, the year Hitler took power, it was issued by a Dutch organisation with the name ‘The committee for special Jewish Interests’ The organisation was set up on March 23,1933 by Dr David Cohen, a lecturer of History and Classic languages at the University of Amsterdam

The poster is an appeal for funding to help Jewish refugees and Jews who were persecuted . On the poster there is a sign in German which translates Entrance forbidden for Jews.

The appeal is for 200,000 Dutch guilders which is the equivalent of about €91.000 or $98,000. Taking in consideration an inflation between 1933 and 2020 it would be the equivalent of $1,965,000

This is a clear indication that in 1933 the fate of the Jews was already known. In 1933 Hitler had just come to power, 6 years before the war and 9 years before the Wannsee conference where the Nazis came up with the blue print for the Final Solution.

The world already knew and decided to look away.

Dr David Cohen ended up in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943, fortunately he survived the war.

cohen

Below another fundraising poster also from 1933. The poster of artist Samuel Schwarz was published at the occasion of a night of art for funding The Jewish Refugees, which was held in City Theater of Amsterdam on 29 May 1933.

art

The Nazis and especially Hitler never made it a secret what they were planning to do with the Jews. Anyone who read Mein Kampf would have known, but even before he published Mein Kampf he published anti-Semitic articles.

If this hadn’t been ignored, more then likely the Holocaust could have been stopped.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

NIOD

https://joodsecanon.nl/34z/1933-Komst-Duitse-Joden/