Dutch Olympian Athletes Murdered during the Holocaust

It is strange sometimes how one thing can draw your attention to another. I did a piece recently on the German national anthem, that led me to look at the Dutch national anthem. “Wilhelmus van Nassouwe”, usually known just as “Wilhelmus” is the national anthem of the Netherlands. It dates back to at least 1572, making it the oldest national anthem in use today.

I mostly associate it with sporting events like the Olympics. It still give me the goosebumps every time I see the Dutch flagged being raised and the anthem is played during the Olympics, or any other sporting event for that matter. Although the Dutch do punch above their weight when it comes to sport, considering the size of the country. it only hosted the Olympic games once, in 1928. It was held from 28 July to 12 August 1928.

It was the first time that female athletes were competing in the field of gymnastics. Five women on the Dutch Olympic gymnastics team were Jewish: Helena-Lea Nordheim, Ans Polak, Estella-Stella Agsteribbe, Judikje-Judik Simons and Elka de Levie. The team’s trainer, Gerrit Kleerekoper, was also Jewish. The team won the gold medal for women’s gymnastics at the 1928 Olympics, and the Dutch press elevated the women to the status national heroines.

“Everything was taken care of down to the last detail. Nice practice material – not too heavy – logically composed, neatly executed in class, wonderful order and leadership, in one word sublime. …The jury was also enthusiastic and awarded the Kleerekoper corps a total score of 316.75 points, leaving the other teams far behind. With their well-deserved success the gymnasts were the first female Olympic champions in the Netherlands. At a quarter past five, the Dutch flag fluttered above the Olympic Stadium and the National Anthem sounded over the central area. However, the cheers rose when HRH Prince Hendrik stepped forward and shook hands with each of the participants. …and then they, our ladies, to whom we owe the first victory, disappeared under the grandstand to their dressing rooms.”

The Dutch Olympic women’s gymnastics team at the Amsterdam Olympics, 1928. The team won the gold medal. The coach was Jewish, as were five of the team members.The Jewish team members are standing on the first row: From left: Helena-Lea Nordheim (second), Anna Polak (third), Estella Agsteribbe (fourth), Judik Simons (last) and Elka de Levie (second row, first from right). Courtesy of NOC-NSF Gelderland collection

Less then 12 years later that status was forgotten. On May 10 German troops invaded the Netherlands and a few days later the country was fully occupied by the Germans who quickly found collaborators and a Nazi regime was put in place.

Leah, Estella and Elka trained at the “Bato” sports club in Amsterdam, which had been established in 1902 and was one of the largest Jewish sports clubs in the city. In September 1941, the Germans banned Jews from all sports activities, but even after the club’s closure, Jews continued to train and exercise illegally until 1942. From the summer of 1942, Dutch Jews were deported to the East.

Judik Simons married Bernard Solomon Themans in 1935, and they had two children, Sonja (b. 1937) and Leon (b. 1940). After the team’s win, Simons and her husband ran an orphanage in Utrecht, where they lived with their own two children. During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the family was given a chance to escape deportation to the death camps, but Simons and her husband refused to leave the orphans. On March 3, 1943, the entire family and dozens of children from the orphanage were gassed at Sobibor.

Helena Nordheim married Abraham Kloot, and their daughter Rebecca was born in 1933. Lea and Abraham were both hairdressers. In 1943, they were arrested and sent to Westerbork. On 29 June 1943, a deportation train left Westerbork, arriving at Sobibor three days later. The deportees included Helena Kloot, her husband and their ten-year-old daughter, and Gerrit Kleerekoper-the coach of the team- his wife Kaatje and their 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth. They were all murdered. There were no survivors from this deportation. Gerrit and Kaatje’s 21 year old son Leendert was murdered on 30 July 1944 at Auschwitz, according to the Totenbuch des KL Auschwitz-Monowitz (death register)

In 1936, Anna-Ans Polak married Barend Dresden, a tailor, and in 1937 their only daughter Eva was born in Amsterdam. In May 1943, the family was arrested and sent to the Vught concentration camp in the Netherlands. Approximately one month later, Anna and Eva were transferred to Westerbork. On 20 July 1943, a deportation train left Westerbork, arriving at Sobibor three days later. Among the deportees were Anna Dresden and her six-year-old daughter Eva. They were both murdered. There were no survivors from this deportation. Anna’s husband Barend was deported from Vught to Auschwitz on 15 December 1943. He survived the selection, and was sent to forced labor in Auschwitz III: Buna-Monowitz. On 30 November 1944, Barend was murdered at Auschwitz.

In 1928, Stella Agsteribbe competed in the first ever Olympic gymnastics competition for women. Despite placing 13th in the Dutch team selection event, she was elected to compete in the group competition. The Dutch quite comfortably earned the gold in the five-team competition. Individually, Agsteribbe placed 3rd at the Dutch all-around championships in both 1930 and 1934. At the latter event, she competed as Stella Blits, having married Samuel Blits, also a gymnast with her club BATO. Like several of her team mates (Lea Nordheim, Ans Polak, Elka de Levie, alternate Judikje Simons and coach Gerrit Kleerekoper, Agsteribbe was Jewish. During World War II, she was deported to Auschwitz with her husband and children. She was killed shortly after arrival on 17 September 1943, along with her six-year-old daughter Nanny, and two-year-old son Alfred. Her husband, Samuel Blits, died at Auschwitz on 28 April 1944.

Elka de Levie managed to evade the tragic fate of her fellow Jewish teammates, and survived in the Netherlands. She passed away in Amsterdam in 1979.

Mozes Jacobs competed in the men’s gymnastics team. He didn’t win any medals, I believe he came 8th. He taught physical education. He joined the resistance and participated in acts of sabotage and helped those in hiding. On 1 April 1943 he was caught in Vierhouten and held at the house of detention in Arnhem. From there he was deported to Germany via Westerbork. He was murdered on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

Cornelis Compter was of Jewish descent. He was a truck driver by profession. He competed in the featherweight weightlifting event at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, where he achieve the 19th place. Hewas a memer of the the Hague communist resistance. He was involved in the distribution of the resistance magazine De Vonk. He was arrested on August 4, 1941 by Johannes Hubertus Veefkind, a member of the Hague Police Intelligence Service before the war. Compter was arrested as a result of an infiltration action by Johannes Hubertus van Soolingen, ordered by Mayor De Monchy in May 1940. In March 1942 he was transferred from the Oranjehotel to Kamp Amersfoort. The same month he was transferred to Buchenwald. In 1944 he was transferred to the Nacht und Nebelkamp Natzweiler. In September 1944 he was transferred to Dachau and shortly afterwards to Mauthausen, where he died of exhaustion on 23 February 1945.

Elias Hyman Melkman was a member of the gymnastics association Plato in Amsterdam. He took part as a gymnast in the Olympics of 1928 in Amsterdam. He was murdered in Auschwitz on January 3,1942.

Israel Wijnschenk was also a member of the Dutch men’s gymnast team. He competed in seven events at the 1928 Summer Olympics. He was murdered in Auschwitz on January 31,1943.

Pierre Marie Robert Versteeghwas a Dutch horse rider who competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics and in the 1936 Summer Olympics. In the 1928 Summer Olympics he won the bronze medal in the team dressage with his horse His Excellence after finishing ninth in the individual dressage. Eight years later he finished fifth with the Dutch team in the team dressage and placed eighth in the individual dressage.

Pierre Versteegh trained for the Dutch military, enrolling at the Royal Military Academy in Breda in 1906. In June 1909 he was appointed second lieutenant and assigned to the Third Division in Ede. In the years before World War I, and also after the conflict, Versteegh became an active equestrian participant, winning numerous local competitions. In 1925 he was promoted to captain and in 1936 to major in the Army. In 1931 Versteegh had been awarded the Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau with Swords.

When the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, Versteegh held the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and was also concerned because his wife was Jewish. After the Dutch Army surrendered, Versteegh joined the Dutch Underground, working with the Ordedienst (OD), a fusion of several underground groups. On 2 May 1941 Versteegh was arrested after being found to be a member of the OD. He and several other OD members were kept in the state prison in Scheveningen, later called the Oranjehotel. In March-April 1942 Versteegh and many of his compatriots were tried in Amersfoort, and all were found guilty, and sentenced to death.

On 1 May 1942 the convicted OD members, among whom were included Richard Schoemaker, a Dutch fencing Olympian, were taken by train to Oranienburg, near Berlin, and then transported by truck to the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. On 3 May 1942 all of the convicts were executed by firing squad, in groups of 12 each. Pierre Versteegh was among them.

Jan Geert Ankerman was a Dutch field hockey player , he was born in Wommel in Friesland, the Northwest of the Netherlands. He competed in the 1928 Summer Olympics. He was a member of the Dutch field hockey team, which won the silver medal. He played all four matches as halfback.

He did not die in any of the Nazi deathcamps. He was murdered in another concentration camp, by another axis power. He died on December 27,1942 in a Japanese prisoners of war camp in Burma.

Although the Japanese camps were not to the scale as the Nazi camps, they were nonetheless horrific and inhumane and often described as hell on earth

sources

https://www.olympedia.org/lists/3/manual

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/535112/about-elias-hyman-melkman

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/158818/israel-wijnschenk

https://peoplepill.com/people/pierre-versteegh/

https://www.timesofisrael.com/the-jewish-olympians-among-hitlers-victims/

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/sport/dutch-gymnastics-team.asp

https://peoplepill.com/people/jan-ankerman

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Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw-Murdered in Auschwitz

I usually include a photograph when I write about the youngest victims of the Nazi regime. But I could not find a picture of poor little Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw. In a way I am happy about that, I have looked into too many eyes of the innocent souls that were brutally murdered ,and regardless how tough I think I am, it does take a toll.

The story of Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw is particularly sad because she could have been saved. Mirjam was given up by her parents as a foundling aged 1, to save her from the Nazis. However when her parents were arrested they felt the desire to be reunited with their daughter. I know that some people may ask themselves ” Why, did they want to be reunited?” I can totally understand why, they were more then likely first sent to Westerbork, where things weren’t ‘too bad’ , and there must have been hope that they would all survive.

The de Leeuw family lived on “Stations Laan 25′ in Stadskanaal in the Northern Dutch province of Groningen. As you can gather from the address they lived near the station.

One of their neighbours ,a 12 year old girl who kept a diary, wrote the following of Mirjam and her family.

“I want to return to that time during in the war in Stadskanaal. When the first Jews were rounded up in Stadskanaal in 1942 and brought to Westerbork, panic broke out among these people.

Bertus de Leeuw, newly married, lived opposite us with his wife Nannie. They had a baby Mirjam. This woman was so panicked she didn’t know what to do. She put the child in the pram with some clothes and walked off. But where was she to go? At one point we saw her walking on the rails pushing the pram desperately in front of her . Mother sent me there to help her. She was so scared she could hardly walk. It was very difficult to get home as the boulders between the rails prevented us from making progress. She stayed with us for a while and afterwards her husband and father talked for a long time. Then they went back home and in the following days in the evening when it was dark, a bed with accessories was brought and placed in the empty back room. Two of Bertus de Leeuw’s aunts would be housed here for a few weeks. Unfortunately, these two women did something very stupid. Instead of quietly disappearing, they brought their cats to acquaintances and when asked where they were going they said that they would be staying with the Mulder family in Stadskanaal, this went around like wildfire through the village and also was brought to the attention of bad people, strangers to the family. This is why father was arrested by Blomberg(a police officer and detective in Stadskanaal during World War 2). These two ladies were arrested that same night by the S.D. the same evening. and deported.

The corner cupboard in the front room was also cleared and food from the de Leeuw family was stored there, as well as in the basement where their weck(a jar used to conserve fruit or vegetables) was kept. The de Leeuw family went into hiding. The child was abandoned (we only learned this much later, when they were arrested.) In that winter 1942/1943 Bertus de Leeuw came from time to time via the rail tracks, in the pitch darkness to get food. He would be dressed all in black with a hat pulled far over his head.”

Mirjam would have celebrated her 80th birthday today, but she and her Mother were both murdered in Auschwitz on November 19,1943. Mirjam was just 2 year old.

Mirjam’s death was registered in Stadskanaal after the war.

Her Father was murdered in Sobibor on May 28,1943. It is disturbing to know that the rail tracks he used to navigate his way to the places where he would get food, were the same rail tracks that carried him to his death. What happened to his aunts I don’t know but I presume they were murdered too.

Except for the family name I do not know the identity of the neighbour nor do I know what happened to her Father. I do know the name of her daughter who posted the Dutch text of her mother’s letter on Joods Monument.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/128978/mirjam-rosalie-de-leeuw

https://stolpersteine-guide.de/map/biografie/2353/stationslaan-25

https://www.openarch.nl/gra:5f37c20e-209c-6041-671b-4b7deff998c8

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Playing music for Mengele and the SS.

Gustav Mahler is one of the most famous classical music composers and conductors of all time. Yet, his music was considered as degenerate by the Nazi regime, and was therefore banned in Germany and all the occupies territories. It was not because Mahler was a bad composer but because he was Jewish.

However the Nazis had no issues being musically entertained by Mahler’s niece, Alma Rosé. In fact Alma was selected to play in and conduct the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.

The orchestra was formed in April 1943 by SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel, supervisor of the women’s camp in Auschwitz, and SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Franz Hössler, the women’s camp commandant. The Nazis wanted a propaganda tool for visitors and camp newsreels and a tool to boost camp morale.

Rosé’s arrival at the camp’s railway siding was in bitter contrast to her previous engagements in nearby Krakow, Poland, just a 45-minute drive away. She had appeared there at least twice – as a violinist appearing with her former husband, the Czech violin virtuoso Váša Příhoda, and in 1935 as a conductor of her celebrated women’s orchestra, the elegant Wiener Walzermädeln which she founded and led throughout Europe.

The orchestra had 20 members by June 1943; by 1944 it had 42–47 musicians Its primary role was to play (often for hours on end in all weather conditions) at the gate of the women’s camp when the work gangs left and returned. They might also play during “selection” and in the infirmary.

They would rehearse for up to ten hours a day to play music regarded as helpful in the daily running of the camp. They also held a concert every Sunday for the SS.

For the orchestra’s concerts the women wore blue pleated skirts, white blouses and lavender-coloured kerchief head coverings.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was a cellist in the orchestra and she recalled in her memoirs, and in a documentary called “We want the light” the orchestra being told to play Schumann’s Träumerei for Josef Mengele.

According to one report of a concert in the bath-house, a number of SS women were joking and interrupting the performance in which Alma Rosé was playing a solo. She stopped and angrily said: ‘Like that, I cannot play.’ Silence followed; she then played, and no one disciplined her.

Alma Rosé was even able to convince the Nazis to spare her musicians from selections for the gas chambers. When mandolin player Rachela Zelmanowicz was in the infirmary with typhus,which would be a death sentence for any other prisoner,Josef Mengele was prepared to send her to the gas chambers. “What’s with this one?” he asked during his rounds. “She’s from the orchestra.”

Mengele continued on his way without any further discussion. As a member of Rosé’s orchestra, Zelmanowicz was untouchable even by him. Her life was spared.

Alma Rosé died suddenly on 5 April 1944, possibly from food poisoning, after a birthday celebration for a kapo

On 1 November 1944, the Jewish members of the women’s orchestra were evacuated by cattle car to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where there was neither orchestra nor special privileges.Three members, Charlotte “Lola” Croner, Julie Stroumsa and Else, died there.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/camps/death-camps/auschwitz/camp-orchestras/

https://www.facinghistory.org/music-memory-and-resistance-during-holocaust/birkenau-womens-camp-orchestra

https://www.thestrad.com/alma-rose-the-violinist-who-brought-music-to-auschwitz/341.article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0074r0r

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The shoe of a boy-The story of murder.

I always found it hard to understand why the Nazis kept the shoes of those they murdered. Of all clothing items, shoes are the most personal. Even today you don’t go to a shoe shop and just pick a pair of the shelves. You sit down and you fit them first to see if they fit and if they are comfortable.

It baffles me therefore that the shoes were kept, they had no real value, they could not really be sold to others. Then why keep them? Of course the whole Nazi ideology made no sense.

In July 2020 staff in Auschwitz could match a shoe to the name of a 6 year old victim, Amos Steinberg,

Experts at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial found a pair of children’s shoes with a handwritten inscription detailing the child’s name, their mode of transport to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and their registration number.

But Amos was not just the owner of a pair of shoes. He was a human being, a young child with a future cut short.

Amos Steinberg was born in Prague on June 26, 1938. On August 10, 1942, Amos, his father Ludwig aka Ludvik , and his mother Ida were first imprisoned in Theresienstadt, and then deported from Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz. Amos was deported to Auschwitz along with his mother in the same transport on 4 October 1944, where they were most likely murdered in the Gas chambers when they arrived.

Researchers believe that Ida Steinberg put the note inside her six-year-old’s shoe to show to whom it belonged.

Those shoes should never have been taken off little Amos. He should have lived a full live, Kicking a ball with those same shoes, maybe even breaking a neighbour’s window because he accidentally kicked the ball through it.

Amos was one of the 1.5 million children murdered. 1.5 million, potential artists, athletes, , fathers, mothers, footballers, painters, electricians ,plumbers. The Nazis did not only murder these kids but also their future and the potential history we could have had.

Amos’s Father, Ludwig, was put on another transport, From Auschwitz to Dachau on October 10,1944. He survived the war. He was liberated from the Kaufering sub-camp. He emigrated to Israel in May 1949. He became a teacher and principal of several schools in Israel. He was highly valued and liked by his pupils and teachers who worked with him. He still loved music and worked as a cantor in several synagogues. He also conducted choirs. He passed away in 1985.

sources

https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/identity-of-child-murdered-in-auschwitz-found-scrawled-inside-old-shoe-14295

http://auschwitz.org/en/museum/news/little-shoe-and-suitcase-the-story-of-amos-steinberg-continues-,1446.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/note-in-murdered-boys-shoe-lets-auschwitz-museum-match-with-fathers-briefcase/

https://www.foxnews.com/science/auschwitz-discovery-childrens-shoes

Four murdered babies.

Whoever has the youth has the future. Whoever kills the youth destroys the future.

I can never understand the mindset of murdering innocent lives. No matter what ideology, any normal human being must know that killing a little healthy, happy child is wrong, more then wrong, it is evil and despicable.

Yet there were so called sophisticated people who had no issues murdering babies. They more then likely had children themselves, because having children was one of the priorities in the Nazi doctrine. Yet they murdered infants who were not considered ‘pure’. They did not realized that every child is pure?

The picture above is of Margaretha Bertha Aussen, she was born October 4,1941 in Amsterdam and was murdered in Auschwitz, September 10,1942 aged 11 months.

Jack Vleeschdrager was also born in Amsterdam on October 4,1941 and was murdered in Sobibor on June 4,1943 aged 20 months.

Abram Winnik, another child born in Amsterdam on October 4,1941. He was murdered in Sobibor on April 23,1943 aged 17 months.

Eva Kövesi another young citizen of the Dutch capital ,Amsterdam, also born on October 4,1941. Murdered in Auschwitz September 21,1942, aged 11 months.

All these 4 kids would have been 80 today, but they didn’t even make it to age 2. I hope that by writing down their names they will be remembered for generations to come.

source

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 Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot

Dear Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot, today there should have been 80 candles on a birthday cake. 80 candles for you to blow out and make a wish on your 80th birthday. But you never had any candles on any of your birthday cakes.

You were born on September 20,1941 in Arnhem, in the Netherlands , just over a year later you were murdered in Auschwitz, on October 19,1942. There are no pictures of you blowing out any candles, in fact there are no pictures of you to be found. The only picture we have to associate you with , is a picture of that horrific place where you were murdered.

We don’t know much about you but we do know you had a life insurance policy. your parents must have already been concerned for you on the day you were born. The life insurance policy is still open to be cashed in. But no one will because no one in your family survived the Holocaust. Your big sister Grietje, aged 3, was also murdered on October 19,1942, as was your Mother.

You last name is the opposite of mine, your names indicates big, where as mine indicates little. Yet it is me who became big and you who was murdered when you were still little.

Wherever you are up there between the stars, I want you to know, I will be looking up to you tonight and will celebrate you short life.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/151740/catharina-vrouwtje-de-groot

Chaim Herzog-Irishman and President of Israel.

On may 26,1992,Israel’s President Chaim Herzog unveiled a rock from Jerusalem, at Auschwitz. The rock serves as a permanent memorial to the 1.65 million Jews who were murdered there.

Visibly anguished and tearful, President Herzog said the following words during the unveiling.

“In this dread place, I stand here brokenhearted. This ground on which we stand was drenched in the blood of the pure and holy. In this place, a fearful fire consumed all that was generously supplied by the Nazi annihilation machine. I stand here representing the state that came into being for us, the Jewish people, three years after the conclusion of the ineffable crime,”

The slab of rock from Jerusalem, inlaid with a memorial plaque, was intended for Auschwitz. But it took the Israeli president six months before his visit to convince the Polish authorities to place it at the site. The Poles agreed only after the personal intervention of President Lech Walesa.

Chaim Herzog was born in Belfast on September 17,1918. The family moved to Dublin when his father became chief rabbi of Ireland. Isaac Herzog was an ardent Zionist and Irish nationalist. Chaim was bar mitzvahed in Adelaide Road synagogue, and received his secular education at Wesley College. Proficient in cricket, rugby and boxing, he was Irish youth bantamweight champion.

Sent by his parents in 1935 to attend a Talmudic academy in Jerusalem, he joined the Haganah, the underground Jewish paramilitary force. He studied law at London University and was called to the bar in November 1942. Enlisting in the British army, after lengthy training he was posted in 1944 to Normandy as an intelligence officer.

Herzog participated in the liberation of several Nazi concentration camps as well as identifying a captured German soldier as Heinrich Himmler. After the German surrender, he was assigned to identify and interrogate top Nazi officials.

He left the British Army in 1947 with the rank of Major.

In Israel he directed Israel’s Labour Party’s public relations office in the 1981 general election, and won election to a Knesset seat. As Labour’s 1983 presidential candidate he attracted cross-party support, and was elected as the sixth president of Israel. After the deadlocked 1984 general election he played a major role in the formation of the “national unity” government.

On a 1985 state visit to Ireland he inaugurated the Irish Jewish Museum on Walworth Road in Dublin, and in 1987 became the first Israeli head of state to visit Germany. He was re-elected unopposed to a second five-year term in 1988.

He died on April,17 1997. His son Isaac Herzog is the current President of Israel.

sources

Click to access 1992-05-27_101.pdf

https://www.ushmm.org/information/about-the-museum/mission-and-history/herzog

https://www.irishtimes.com/life-and-style/abroad/the-belfast-man-who-became-president-of-israel-1.3433703

https://www.rte.ie/news/world/2021/0602/1225566-isaac-herzog/

https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/90645/Memorial-Stone-Chaim-Herzog.htm

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Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Coping by using humour.

A few years ago , on the 22nd of June 2016, to be precise I wrote a blog titled “Holocaust and Humour” . I got a lot of criticism for that. The thing I found extraordinary the criticism didn’t come from people who read the blog, but only from people who read the title.

I didn’t mean to disrespect any of the Holocaust victims and survivors, the opposite was true. I wanted to show my deepest respect because despite all the horrors so many still had a sense of humour.

This blog is also meant as a way of expressing my deepest respect for all Holocaust victims and survivors.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Through decrees and laws, the Nazis abolished these civil rights and destroyed German democracy. Starting in 1934, it was illegal to criticize the Nazi government. Even telling a joke about Hitler was considered treachery. People in Nazi Germany could not say or write whatever they wanted.

The Treachery Act of 1934 was a German law established by the Third Reich on 20 December 1934. Known as the Heimtückegesetz, its official title was the “Law against Treacherous Attacks on the State and Party and for the Protection of Party Uniforms” (Gesetz gegen heimtückische Angriffe auf Staat und Partei und zum Schutz der Parteiuniformen). It established penalties for the abuse of Nazi Party badges and uniforms, restricted the right to freedom of speech, and criminalized all remarks causing putative severe damage to the welfare of the Third Reich, the prestige of the Nazi government or the Nazi Party. Anyone ,regardless if you were Jewish or Non Jewish, could face the death penalty for breaking this law.

Father Josef Müller, a Catholic priest, was executed for telling some of his parishioners the following story:

A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

I just love it how some Jewish people defied the Nazi regime and coped with the horrors of the Holocaust by using humour.

In some of the the ghettos, Hitler’s self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His ides of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. These are just a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Cutting the hair of the prisoners was one of the ways the Nazis tried to dehumanize their victims. It was like taking away their dignity and a sense of identity. But even that act did not stop some women to cope with it in a humorous way. This is just an anecdote on how one woman coped with the ordeal.

“When they cut our hair in Auschwitz, that was something terrible. After they cut off my hair, suddenly I saw some of my girlfriends (as in female friends) who I had known for a very long time, many cried. They cried after long hair and then I started laughing and they asked ‘What, are you out of your mind, what are you laughing about? ‘ I said’ This I never had before, a hairdo for free? Never in my whole life’ And I still remember how they looked at me, they looked at me as if I was crazy”

Another anecdote from a survivor was in relation to the transport on the trains.

“This whole situation, they shoved us into those trains. It was like cattle, it was something awful inside the train. When we have just arrived in Auschwitz everybody ran to the window, to see something, but you couldn’t. The window had shutters, a small window. I also wanted to see where we were. Then a girl friend asked ‘what do you want to see so badly?’. I said: ‘I simply want to see the conductor, ’cause I don’t have a ticket, I want to see when he comes in…’

I have quite a good sense of humour myself, albeit sometimes a bit on the dark side and filled with sarcasm, and I have used in many tragic episodes in my life. However I don’t know if I would have the courage to use humour if I was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust.

sources

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Laughter%20in%20a%20Time%20of%20Tragedy_%20Examining%20Humor%20during%20the%20Holocau%20(1).pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-propaganda-and-censorship

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