17,000,000 + deaths.

An estimated 17.3 million people were murdered by the German Nazi regime and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945, according to data published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). The estimates are based on the regime’s own reports as well as demographic studies of population loss during World War II.

The numbers are broken down in groups: Jews, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, Non-Jewish Polish civilians, Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina), People with disabilities living in institutions, Roma & Sinti (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Repeat criminal offenders and so-called a-socials, German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory, Homosexuals. Then there were also some smaller groups like the Freemasons and Esperanto speakers. The number is likely to be higher because there are no determined numbers for the German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory. The numbers who died afterwards due to suicide and/or diseases contracted during the imprisonment in the camps.

However lets go with that number of 17.3 million. This number is just to big to fathom for most pictures, to put his in perspective. That number is approximately the same as the current population of the Netherlands, or Syria. It would also be about the same as the combined population of Belgium and the whole Island of Ireland. Just imagine within 12 years the Nazis wiped out a whole nation or even several nations combined. This number of 17.3 million does not include military casualties. They were mainly civilians who were murdered.

Four of those 17.3 million were the Olivier family. Mozes Olivier, born February 4, 1891 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Betje van Thijn Olivier, born May 23, 1895 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Jeannette Olivier, born September 12, 1923 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Anna Olivier, born October 30, 1921 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

They were all murdered in Auschwitz on September 21,1942.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/chart/24024/number-of-victims-nazi-regime/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/documenting-numbers-of-victims-of-the-holocaust-and-nazi-persecution

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/187373/mozes-olivier

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Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 80 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a change he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/649374/het-lot-van-lena-barend-haar-man-joseph-polak-en-hun-zoontje-aron.

https://geheugenvanoost.amsterdam/page/26420/geen-afscheid

Happy Birthday Wolf Blits

In my opinion the best way to remember the victims of the Holocaust is to personalize their stories. Rather then a number, show the human side. Because that is what they were ,all those millions were all individual human beings, just like everyone else.

I wish I could show you a picture of Wolf Blits. I could perhaps include a picture of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, but he is not the same person.

Perhaps Wolf Blits also could have been a reporter, journalist or news anchor. But he was never given that opportunity. He was murdered when he was 4.

Wolf was born in Amsterdam on August 24,1938. He was murdered on June 11,1943 in Sobibor.

In those 4 years he travelled more then many 40 year old. In 1943 he traveled from Amsterdam to Camp Vught near Den Bosch in the Netherlands, where he arrived on June 6,1943.

From Vught he traveled to Westerbork near Amersfoort, in the Netherlands where he arrived on June 8,1943.

From Westerbork he traveled to Sobibor in Poland, where he arrived on or just before June 11,1943. There he was murdered on June 11,1943.

At the start of this blog is a picture of a card from Vught. On the card 4 year old Wolf was registered as a prisoner, as if he was a hardened criminal. Of course he wasn’t a criminal, nor were his parents or anyone else of those millions who were murdered. The criminals were those who murdered them, The disturbing fact though is that these criminals followed the letter of the law.

A law made up up by sick individuals who followed a warped ideology, an ideology based on hate.

Poor Wolf traveled quite a bit. I remember moving when I was a kid, it was only a few blocks away from where I lived, but to me it was like moving to the other side of the world. I thought they spoke a different language. I was very anxious. But I moved to a nice place. Poor Wolf traveled to be murdered.

It is his birthday today. Dear Wolf whatever star you are up in the skies, I wish you a happy birthday.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/184678/wolf-blits

https://www.oorlogslevens.nl/tijdlijn/Wolf-Blits/02/13216

After the Holocaust

The one subject I find difficult to address is how the Dutch treated the Jews during the war. It is easy for me to say they didn’t do enough to help their Jewish neighbours, because that would be true. However I did not live in that time. I did not have to face severe punishments, even death, for helping my Jewish fellow man or woman.

In retrospect it is easy to judge. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be addressed properly, and it doesn’t mean we can look at it from a critical point of view.

It did take the Dutch government decades to apologize for the inaction of the Dutch government during the war.

On January 26,2020. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologised on behalf of his country’s government for its failure to protect Jews during World War Two.

Mr Rutte made the remarks at a Holocaust remembrance event in Amsterdam, ahead of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.

“With the last remaining survivors among us, I apologise on behalf of the government for the actions of the government at the time. I do so, realising that no word can describe something as enormous and awful as the Holocaust.” he said.

On the other hand it is easy for me to be very critical about the Dutch, on how they treated the Jews after the Holocaust. The only word to describe it is ‘disgusting’. Unlike the other Dutch who could start to rebuild their lives after the war. The Dutch Jews often faced bureaucratic stumble blocks. Many of them were not even allowed to move back into their own houses or apartments, because they had been given to others during or shortly after the war. There was no fear of punishments then to help their Jewish neighbours. There were no threats to their lives if they would give their Jewish fellow man or woman, a helping hand.

Of the 104,000 Dutch Jews, 75% were murdered during the Holocaust. The suicides are also included in the 75% but I still refer to them as being murdered, because if it wasn’t for the Nazi regime they would not have taken their own lives.

The picture at the start of the blog is off a service in a synagogue in Amsterdam ,shortly after liberation. Each single person attending that service would have lost family and friends. Just think about that for a minute. There was no exception, each one of them lost at least one person near and dear to them.

In the defense of the Netherlands, compared to other European countries, really all other European countries, and especially the Eastern European countries, the Dutch have been confronting the historical inaccuracies since the 1980. There has been an effort to disperse the myth of some of the Dutch ‘heroics’.

source

A Yellow star-marking the enemy

As of April 29, 1942, Jews in the Netherlands were required to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing. This was to single them out as different from the rest of society. Although the only difference between the Jews and the rest of the Dutch population was their religion. Other then that they were the same. In fact some of the Jews had been in the Netherlands for hundreds of years and were more Dutch then many Dutch themselves.

Freedom of religion was a part of the Dutch constitution but of course after May 1940, the Dutch government had gone into exile and the country was occupied by Nazis, and I deliberately say Nazis and not Germans because some of the Nazis were Dutch.

There was no difference between the Jews and the Dutch, they were all the same. They were all Dutch, some were Catholic, some were Protestant. some where were Jewish and some others were Atheists. The similarities and the common ground outweighed the differences.

The Nazi regime saw the Jews as enemies of the state. They were considered inferior to the Aryan race. The fact that the Aryan race actually originated in Asia was completely overlooked by the Nazis. Their version of the Aryan race was of their own construct and was based on old mythical Germanic characters , or in short fairy tale creatures. Yet they had so many believing that this so called Aryan race was superior to everyone else, even though it was a made up race.

But as I mentioned earlier the Nazis saw the Jews as their enemy, and not just an enemy but their biggest enemy. Of course one would suspect that this enemy was a war mongering people. A real threat to society. Below are some examples of the enemies to the Nazi state.

Jansje and Benjamin Pais from Harlingen murdered in Auschwitz on November 23, 1942. Aged 8 and 9.

Jewish musicians, their weapons; violins, clarinets and an accordion.

Nurses from the Jewish Hospital in Amsterdam.

I have heard people ask why there was a Jewish Hospital in Amsterdam, yet I have never heard anyone ask why there were several Catholic Hospitals across the country.

People should realize it was not the similarities that made the Netherlands but the tapestry of the differences that made is a prosperous nation.

source

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Edith Frank ,mother of Anne and Margot.

In late morning of August 4, 1944, Dutch police entered the “Secret
Annex” and arrested the Frank family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer, as well as Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who worked at Opetka, Otto Frank was the managing director of Opetka, and had been helping to hide the residents.

On August 8.1944 After several days in police custody in Amsterdam, the eight residents of the “Secret Annex” were deported by train to Westerbork, a large transit camp in the Netherlands. There, they were placed in a
punishment barrack, because going into hiding was considered a criminal act.

I have often though how horrific that time must have been for Edith Frank. Not knowing what was going to happen next to her daughters. I can only imagine that her main concern was the wellbeing of her children.

Edith was the youngest of four children, she was born on January 16,1900 into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer was a successful businessman in industrial equipment who was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community together with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern . The ancestors of the Holländer family lived in Amsterdam at the start of the 18th century, emigrating from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman” Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter ), and an older sister, Bettina. Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14. Both Julius and Walter made it to the United States in 1938, surviving the Holocaust. The Holländer family adhered to Jewish dietary laws and was considered to be religious. Nevertheless, Edith attended the Evangelical Higher Girls’ School and passed her school-leaving exams (Abitur) in 1916. Afterwards, she worked for the family company. In her free time, she read copiously, played tennis, went swimming and had a large circle of friends.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue. They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.

In 1933 the Frank family moved to the Netherlands worried about the Nazi persecution of German Jews, Otto Frank traveled to Amsterdam.

Although she returned to the home of her ancestors, Edith found emigration to the Netherlands difficult. The family lived in confined conditions and she struggled with the new language. She remained in contact with her family and friends in Germany, but also made new friends in Amsterdam, most of them fellow German refugees. Edith was an open-minded woman who educated her daughters in a modern way. Her mother Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam, where she died in January 1942.

Aachen is only a few kilometers away from the south eastern Dutch border.

Anne had not much little sympathy for her mother during their turbulent years in the annex, and she had few kind words to say about her, especially in the earlier entries of her diary. But then again what teenage girl has good things to say about her mother or father for that matter, teenagers always no best. Later on in her diary Anne, changes her view on her mother. As Anne gets older she gets a more objective a perspective, and has more sympathetic feelings for her mother.

On September 3,1944 Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork to Auschwitz, on the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

All of the “Annex” residents survived the initial selection, but the men were separated from the women. Edith Frank never saw her husband again. This was not the last separation for Edith. On October 30,1944 another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Edith managed to escape with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. Edith became very ill and died of illness and starvation on January 6,1945. 3 weeks before the Red Army liberated Auschwitz and 10 days before her 45th birthday.

sources

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/the-diary-of-anne-frank/character-analysis/mrs-frank

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/reconstruction-arrest-people-hiding/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annefrank/biogs/edithfrank.shtml

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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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Tuesday August 1,1944. Anne Frank’s last diary entry.

On August 4,1944 Anne Frank, her family and all the others hiding in the annex in the office building in Amsterdam are arrested.

Anne was 15 at the time, the same age my daughter is now. However my daughter is free to meet her friends, go to the shop, compete in rowing regattas and even free to go to school or the freedom to be embarrassed by her dad’s singing and dancing while he is cooking a dinner . Anne was denied all these freedoms that last years of her life.

Anne’s best friend was probably Kitty, not a human being ,but a diary. On August 1,1944 which was a Tuesday, 3 days before she was arrested, she wrote her last words to Kitty.

“Dearest Kitty,

“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.

The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.

As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me.

Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.

I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.

I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.

A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank”

sources

https://didyouknowfacts.com/hot-aug-1st-anne-franks-last-diary-entry-august-1st-1944-said/

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/diary/complete-works-anne-frank/

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/01/opinion/prose-anne-frank-final-diary-entry/index.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl

Jewish neighbours

It is easy to blame the Germans for the Holocaust and of course for the most part they are to blame for it. However there were many in the occupied countries who were very happy to lend a helping hand.

There were even more who did something worse then helping out. There were those who did nothing, they were just complacent and turned a blind eye. They didn’t realize or just didn’t want to know that by being complacent they became complicit. I don’t want to judge them because I don’t know how I would have reacted in the same situation, but that doesn’t mean I can be critical about it.

The picture at the start of the blog was taken some time in 1942.It is a picture of Jews in Amsterdam packed up and ready to be deported. These scenes happened a lot all over the Netherlands. As you can see in the photograph, there are 2 tea cups on the window sill, The occupant of that home, probably an apartment, took this picture of his or her neighbours.

Rather then helping them out he or she took a picture of the neighbours in distress, while the photographer him or herself was enjoying a cup of tea together with a friend, family member or spouse.

It was as if they were watching a play and they put down their cups of tea for the interval. The normality of this picture is just very disturbing, especially when you know the fate of those whose picture was taken.

source

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I am passionate about my site and I know 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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Gesina Groen-Murdered on her first Birthday.

Gesina Groen would have been 80 today. But she was murdered on her 1st birthday.

She was born on July 26,1941 in Amsterdam and murdered in Auschwitz July 26,1942, together with her mother.

There are no pictures of Gesina, just a picture of the house she lived in. The address is Nieuwe Keizersgracht 70, Amsterdam, which is a prime location in Amsterdam nowadays. The house would be too expensive to afford for most people now.

All I know though is that when Gesina lived there, there were in total 12 people living in that building. None of them survived.

The oldest resident was Sophia Cohen-Rosenberg, she was murdered April 9, 1943 in Sobibor, aged 78.

There may have been another child on the address, Abraham de Vries he was the foster son of Marcus Rooselaar. Abraham de Vries was murdered in Sobibor ,July 16, 1943, aged 11. However it is not certain that he lived on the address.

Sources

http://nieuw.schaduwkade.nl/app/fsm.php?vwr=lijst&mid=103

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/186652/gesina-groen

How a 1991 murder connected me to Peter R de Vries

This is probably my most personal blog. I will not mention the names of the people involved, but I don’t think knowing the names is actually relevant.

On June 13.1991 the partially covered body of 18 year old Jessica R was found near a dump in Bergen op Zoom, in the province of Noord Brabant in the south of the Netherlands. The young girl had been murdered on the 12th of June.

At that stage I had never heard of any of the people in relation to this story. The name Peter R de Vries did ring a bell because of the kidnap case of Freddy Heineken, but that was about it.

The following day on June 14,1991 I was actually at my mother’s wedding.

She married my stepfather that day.

Fast forward to 1996 . Peter R de Vries covers the case of Jessica on his TV show. A reconstruction is shown, and also some witnesses are interviewed. One witness says she knows who killed Jessica. She describes a man, and jokingly I tell me wife that this sound like a person we both know.

A few weeks later we get a call from the Noord Brabant Police force, they wanted to have a chat with us. The following day, 2 investigators call to our apartment. Obviously we knew it was serious, the 2 cops had to drive close to 2 hours to get to us. They advised us they arrested a man ,who was very near and dear to us, in relation to the Jessica R case. The irony is, it was the man I jokingly had referred to while watching the Peter R de Vries show. The cops asked us about the man, what kind of man he was. We both said he wouldn’t harm a fly leave alone brutally murder a girl.

After a few weeks he was released because the DNA proved it wasn’t him. However this ordeal had a major impact on his life, and a few years later he died of a heart attack, he was still a young man when he died.

The witness who had identified him as a suspect in the show, was an ex girlfriend of him, who had a grudge to bear.

I sent Peter R de Vries an email afterwards and told him the Jessica R case had claimed a second victim, our friend who was also a member of the family. I told Peter that his researchers messed up and believed the words of a vindictive ex girlfriend.

To be honest I didn’t think anything would come from my email. However to my surprise, during a business trip in Munich, I received a call from Peter. We had a good and frank chat about the case which lasted for about 30 minutes or so.

A few weeks later he also wrote an apology to the family in Panorama magazine, a Dutch current affair magazine.

Apparently there had been several suspects in the case, including the Father and Brother of Jessica R.

The killer was eventually caught in 2003 and was sentenced in 2004.

My connection with Peter R de Vries did not stop there. In 2005 one of my cousins was murdered, and although the Police know who is responsible for the murder, they have no evidence and no arrest has been made as of yet.

In May 2008 I emailed Peter and asked him if he could have a look at the case. He contacted me a few weeks later and told me he would look into the murder of my cousin.

Alas there was not much he could do because of some judicial and legal technicalities. But he did do as much as he could and as far as I am aware his team kept an eye on the case until quite recently.

Peter R de Vries, 64, was shot on Tuesday, July 6, after leaving a TV studio in Amsterdam. Three men were arrested, but police say one is no longer a suspect.

Peter R de Vries died of his injuries July 15.

Rust in Vrede Peter.

Rest in Peace.

My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.