Holocaust in the Netherlands

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Some people believe that when the Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940 the life of its Jewish population changed over night.

This however was not the case. Like in other European countries the undermining and eventual eradication of Jewish life was a gradual process.

Until September 1940 very little changed,It was only then when the German occupation of the Netherlands started to have an impact of the 170,000 Jews living there.  A series of anti-Jewish measures started to male life  difficult.

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Throughout 1941, the situation for Jews in the Netherlands got worse.  Jews were banned from public places, subjected to nighttime curfews and travel restrictions. Jewish students were also thrown out of schools and universities. Then, during late 1941, the Joodse Raad(Jewish Council) was tasked with providing lists of workers as the Germans opened a number of forced labour camps.

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In may 1942 Jews were ordered to wear a yellow Star of David containing the word Jood (the Dutch word for Jew). As a sign of protest some Non Jewish Dutch also wore the Yellow star.

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Deportations of Jews from the Netherlands began in the summer of 1942 and lasted until September 1944. Approximately 75% of the Dutch Jews did not survive the war.

A Substantial albeit minority part of the Dutch population being sympathetic to the Nazis ideology(or idiocy) .The NSB were the dutch equivalent of the NSDAP in Germany, they subscribed to the same Fascist  ideas.

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However there were many Dutch who risked their own lives and that of their families to save their Jewish neighbours. he NV-Groep (Nameless Company). The group was set up by by the brothers Jaap en Gerard Musch.(picture is of Jaap}Jaap.JPG

They were a resistance group dedicated to helping Jewish children find hiding places. Many of the children they helped hide, survived the war. The picture below is a picture of some of the children being a bit brave but cheeky by forming the letters NV in a field, this picture was taken in 1943 while the war was at its height.NV

Unfortunately not everyone was as lucky as these children were.The geography of the Netherlands made escape difficult. The ruthless efficiency of the German administration and the willing cooperation of Dutch administrators and policemen doomed the Jews of the Netherlands.

I have come across many pictures of Dutch Jews being killed in death camps or pictures of their remains, and initially my thought was to end this blog with some of those pictures. However I changed my mind, although I do think it is important ti show the horrors of the Holocaust in the graphic ways, we do sometimes forget that the victims weren’t always victims., they were also people like you and me. Therefore below pictures of my  some of my fellow human beings as they were before they were butchered.

Etty Hillesum

Julius Spier and  Evaristos Glassner

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Jaap Hillesum brother of Etty on his 21st birthday.

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Bram Beem

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Eva and  Bram Beem

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Students of a Jewish secondary school during summer recess in 1940. I don’t know how may ,if any, survived the war.

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Sources

Joods Monument

Yad Vashem

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Give us your bicycle or die- The story of the Bicycles in WWII in the Netherlands.

 

30.-stalen-ros-met-houten-bandenThe Dutch are known for their love of bicycles, for most Dutch people it is the first choice of means of transport.

Needless to say that the bicycle did play an important role in WWII. There is a long running joke about the Germans giving back dutch bikes, this comes from WWII, The German occupiers demanded all Men’s bikes to be handed over to the Germans. In July 1942 additionally to the demand of the confiscation of bikes, all Jews were also forbidden to even ride a bike.

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Some exemptions were made to some groups who were allowed to keep their bikes, often they would be people working with the Germans or people working on a farm. A pamphlet was distributed  in Amsterdam in relation to those exemptions.

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As the end of the war approached the Germans stole a great number of bikes either to escape to Germany or to get to the allies to surrender.

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At the later stages the reprisals of not handing over bicycles to the German occupiers became more severe. The picture below shows a notification posted in the town of Heilo sating that all bicycles had to be delivered to the town hall on October 9th 1944 at before 15:30, failure to fully comply would result in 10 citizens being executed.

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The bicycle was also used by many Dutch to generate light during times of power outages.

The German occupier abolished freedom of the  printed press. An illegal press was established  in response to this. The first newspapers appeared occasionally , however  by the end of the war the number of illegal publications had increased to 1300.

Creating and distributing these papers was very dangerous work, punishable by death. Even having a single copy in your possession put your life at risk. Along with the growing shortages caused by the war, for instance of paper, these illegal presses also faced other difficulties. Members of the Amsterdam Resistance used a bicycle-powered mimeograph machine to stencil underground newspapers, most likely from late 1944, when the electricity in the city was cut off more and more frequently.

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So next time you visit the Netherlands and you see the millions of bicycles, just remember it is not just a means of transportation, It is also a cultural heritage that people have died for in order to preserve it.

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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

Verzets Museum

“Dear all, I have to tell you the worst – today I and my friends got the death sentence”

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Hitler expected very little resistance from the Dutch because he saw them as kindred spirits and fellow aryans. When he decided to invade the Netherlands he expected a similar reception as he got in Austria, but he was wrong.

Although the invasion only took 3 days the Germans suffered heavy losses.

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As in the other occupied countries there were some who embraced the German occupation and were more then willing to comply to the laws imposed by the Nazi regime.

However there were many who did not and were willing to give their lives for it.

On March 9, 1943, Dutch policeman Hendrik “Henk” Drogt refused to comply with an order to arrest seven Jews in Grootegast.Drogt and 11 fellow Dutch police officers refused to participate in the round-up of Jews.

The Nazis gave the local Marechaussee(-the Marechaussee is a police force with Policing the military and also with border control as well as other civilian police matters-) officers orders to bring the Jews to the nearby city of Groningen, but the 12 officers tasked with the duty refused. At first they gave excuses, saying the Jews in the area were sick, and they even brought a doctor to authenticate the story on their behalf .

Failing to convince their superiors, the higher command  started  pressuring them one-on-one and even threatened them with deportation to concentration camps.

The officers wouldn’t give in , however. All of them refused and were taken to the Kamp Vught concentration camp.

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All except one. After abandoning the police unit, Drogt managed to escape and subsequently joined the Dutch resistance. During his time on the Nazi regime’s wanted list, he helped smuggle downed Allied pilots to the Belgian border where they could escape to Britain. Additionally , working at night around the towns of Grijpskerk, Kommerzijl and Pieterzijl – in between the main northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden – Drogt helped move Jews to safety by taking them from hiding place to hiding place.

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Not long after, however, the Nazis tracked down Drogt and other resistance members in August 1943. After being held up in the Oranjehotel prison in Scheveningen, the 24-year-old was put on trial and sentenced to death.

Before his execution on April 14, 1944, he wrote to his family:

“Dear all, I have to tell you the worst – today I and my friends got the death sentence. It is terrible that we have to part from all those who are dear to us in this way… I always had hope that I could be with you for one more time, but the Lord wanted differently…”

Decades after the war, in 1988 Yad Vashem recognized the officers as Righteous Among the Nations, but because Drogt had managed to escape he wasn’t on the list submitted to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.

Twenty years later, El Al pilot Mark Bergman met Drogt’s son, Henk Brink, on a flight to South Africa. Brink told Bergman the stories that he had heard from his mother about the father whom he had never met, and Bergman in turn advised Yad Vashem of the former military police officer’s courageous deeds.

Finally, on Monday September 22, 2008, Yad Vashem posthumously named Drogt as a Righteous Among the Nations, recognizing the brave acts he had done to save members of the Jewish faith.

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It’s because of men like Hendrik Drogt I feel immensely proud to be a Dutch man. I know there were plenty of fellow Dutch country men who were just too eager to please their Nazi masters and did evil things, but the majority of the Dutch did not subscribe to the Nazi point of view.

 

Many thanks to Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the story.

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Source

Jerusalem Post

The Jetten Family-Risking their lives to safe others.

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It is a question I often ask myself “Would I do it, would I risk my life and the life of my Family to safe others? ” Honestly I don’t know. Risking my own life is one thing, but risking the lives of my Family is a different ballgame all together.

And yet that is exactly what the Jetten family did and especially their oldest Daughter Truus.

The Jetten family lived in the South East of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg near the city Roermond. To give a geographical indication of the area,below a map. As you can see it borders to Germany.

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When the war broke out, Mr. and Mrs. Hiegentlich were living with their three sons in Roermond, Limburg, where they owned a textile business. There, they employed a young girl, Truus Jetten, as secretary. Her parents owned a farm in the nearby village of de Weerd.

Cesar Hiegentlich did assiste many Jewish refugees who fled Germany since 1933 to either stay in the Netherland or move further afield to the UK or USA. Because of the discussions he had with the refugees,Hiegentlich had a good understanding on what the fate of the Jews would be0

After the “aryanization” of the Hiegentlichs’ business, the family left Roermond for Amsterdam. In 1942, the Hiegentlich grandparents contacted Truus and asked if her parents would agree to shelter their granddaughter Rosalie, born in 1938, on their farm.

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Without hesitation the Jetten family agreed. Truus whowas just 17 traveled to Amsterdam to collect Rosalie who was 3 years of age at the time.Truus renamed Rosalie to Lieke. and tookher back to the Jettsn’s farm. Hub and Maria Jetten had nine children, the youngest only a few years older than Rosalie, who was treated as their tenth child. Truus had helped initiate a rescue project creating a network of local people prepared to harbor Jews.

As the  war progressed the entire Jetten family was involved in assisting and housing fugitive Jews. Sometimes as many as 23 people were hidden on their farm waiting for a permanent hideout. Truus was pivotal in bringing people, mainly children, to the farm and her sister Ella helped her mother run the home and provide for the ever-growing household.

Among the many Jews who were afforded shelter on the Jettens’ farm were Rosalie’s aunt, Gedula Blum-Grunewald; the two young Cohen de Lara sisters; Mr. de Groot, his sons, and his sister Kitty; and sixteen-year-old Marietje de Man.

In August 1944 Truus moved to the more southern city of Heerlen where she started a course in midwifery. On Sept 17 1944 Heerlen was liberated.

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In 1944, Roermond and its environs, situated at the confluence of the Roer and Maas Rivers, became a war zone being defended by the Germans and the Jettens themselves became refugees. The entire household moved to Horn, to the home of Maria’s brother, Paul Hendrix, where they stayed in the cellar. After the war, Rosalie’s mother, who survived, came to collect her daughter. Rosalie  maintained a close relationship with the Jettens after the war.

On November 30, 1997, Yad Vashem recognized Hub Jetten, his wife, Maria  Jetten-Hendrix, and their daughters Truus Maria El Biyadi-Jetten and Ella Muysers-Jetten as Righteous Among the Nations.

 

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Heerlen Vertelt

Yad Vashem

Gabrielle Weidner-Forgotten Hero

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The more I do these WWII stories the more I realize how littIe I  actually know.. It was by chance I came across the name Gabrielle Weidner. Today when I tried to open a page on her it came up blank, just like my brain.I never heard of her or her brother Jean nor had I heard of the resistance group he had founded “Dutch-Paris” a group of Dutch,Belgian and French resistance fighters.

But this blog is about Gabrielle Weidner although she was Dutch she was born in Brussels, Belgium on  17 August 1914.

The second child born to a family that included her older brother Jean, and younger sister Annette. Her father was a minister who taught Greek and Latin at what is now Saleve Adventist University in Collonges, France, .

As a devoutly religious girl, she was living and doing church work for the Seventh-day Adventists in Paris at the outbreak of World War II. With the ensuing German occupation of France, she fled with her brother Jean , South to Lyon, in the unoccupied part of France. Following the 22 June 1940 signing of the agreement with the Nazis to create Vichy France, she returned to Paris while her brother went to Lyon where he established the “Dutch-Paris” underground.

In Paris, she resumed her work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, from which she secretly with the help of her brother and other volunteers coordinated escapes for Dutch-Paris. As a significant contributor to the French resistance she has been responsible for the rescue of at least 1,080 persons, including 800 Dutch Jews and more than 112 downed Allied airmen.

On February 26, 1944, the Gestapo arrested Ms. Weidner and was sent to Fresnes Prison.

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Ms. Weidner was forced to endure physical and mental torture at Fresnes prison in Paris. Shortly after she was moved to a Ravensbrück sub-camp where she passed away on February 17, 1945 due to malnutrition

 

Her arrest had come about after a female courier who against all rules carried a notebook with a great number of names of the resistance in it. After being tortured extensively the courier did succumb to pain and divulged the names.

On 24 May 1950, Gabrielle Weidner posthumously received the Dutch Cross of Resistance for her efforts in the war. On the Dutch Orry-la-Ville honorary cemetery (north of Paris), her name is recorded on a plaque dedicated to the Dutch resistors.

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Sources

Adventistreview.org

Raoulwallenberg.net

The wooden shoes of Jan Smit-AKA Lt. Claude C. Murray jr.

PhotoDotandDash

Every once in a while you encounter a story which puts you in conflict with yourself. You wonder “can I really tell the story?”

For me this is one of those stories. I am not going to use the word ‘Hate’ because that would be too harsh of s description, but I do really, really,really dislike Jan Smit, He is a Dutch ‘singer’ he would be the Dutch equivalent of Justin Bieber but with even less talent and even more annoying.

Thankfully the Jan Snit in this story is not that Jan Smit, but Lt. Claude C. Murray jr. pilot with the Eight Air Force.

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Claude C. Murray jr  born in Spokane,Washington USA. He graduated in November 1943 at  the Wiliams Field Army Advanced Flying School in Chandler, Arizona. He had enlisted after the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941.

During World War II he served with the 8th Air Force, 7th Photo Recon Group as a photo reconnaissance pilot, flying P-38s, assigned to Mount Farm, England.He was a crew member, 2nd Lieutenant,of “Dot & Dash” a well known aircraft within the 7 Photo Reconnaissance Group. This because it was used on the so called ‘shuttle missions’, trips from England, over Berlin, landing in Russia for fuel and back again. This until it was shot down by an Me-262 jet and came down in Lake IJsselmeer (Old Zuyder Sea), in the Netherlands.

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After a night at drift rolling along with the waves,  Claude C. Murray drifted ashore in his small rubber boat on the unmanned fortress island ‘Pampus’. He took a look in the abandoned bunkers and spend the night there, but left next morning in his dinghy again to the nearby mainland. Underway he encountered a small fishing boat with three young men inside: Jan Dobber, Jacob Dobber and Jan Bijl. He was handed over by them to resistance leader Joh. (Johannes) Rozendaal in Muiden. He spend a week there and received false papers with  the name ‘Jan Smit’. A deaf and dumb sales man

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In Naarden he was in hiding at Mrs. Dietz-Kluyver’s for 2 months until 15 December 1944. This was on the Paulus Potterlaan no. 35. Because the front line stabilized on the big rivers in the centre of Holland and could not be passed, the resistance had to hide Murray until liberation, that came on May 5, 1945. The last 5 months of hiding  was  at a farm in village Weesp. This was the farm of Gijs Regtuyt on the Korte Muidenweg C.34, where he wore wooden shoes with his new name on them.

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On the 9th of May 1945, Murray was brought to the villa of medical doctor Kruize in Blaricum. Here he met a group of other airmen in hiding and together they joined up with the Canadian troops. The others were 1Lt. John H. Quinn and 2Lt. Mel O. Simmons of B-24 42-95180 “Satans little Sister” 446 BG, crashed south in the Lake 21 November 1944 and Captain Gene Maddocks of B-24 42-51495 crashed in the Northeast Polder on 24 February 1945, Eddy Kryskov (RAF) and Captain Dick Jones (RCAF).

The irony is although the singer Jan Smit was born decades after this, there is some resemblance between the two!

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PS .Anyone who knows me. knows what a true sacrifice this is for me even to look at Jan Smit’s(the singer) face, as I said I am not a fan to put it mildly.

Claude C. Murray Jr died age 87 May 13, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona

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The Dutch Jews who fought back

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In the Netherlands, the only pre-war group that immediately started resistance against the German occupation was the communist party. During the first two war years, it was by far the biggest resistance organization, much bigger than all other organizations put together. A major act of resistance was the organisation of the February strike in 1941, in protest against anti-Jewish measures.

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In this resistance, many Jews participated. About 1,000 Dutch Jews took part in resisting the Germans, and of those, 500 perished in doing so.

Among the first Jewish resisters was the German fugitive Ernst Cahn, owner of an ice cream parlor. Together with his partner, Kohn, he had an ammonia gas cylinder installed in the parlor to stave off attacks from the militant arm of the fascist NSB, the so-called “Weerafdeling”(“WA”). One day in February 1941 the German police forced their entrance into the parlor, and were gassed. Later, Cahn was caught and on March 3, 1941 he became the first civilian to be executed by a Nazi firing squad in the Netherlands.

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Benny Bluhm, a boxer, organized Jewish fighting parties consisting of members of his boxing school to resist attacks. One of these brawls led to the death of a WA-member, H. Koot, and subsequently the Germans ordered the first Dutch razzia (police raid) of Jews as a reprisal. That in turn led to the Februaristaking, the February Strike.

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Bluhm’s groupBluhm-Benny was the only Jewish group resisting the Germans in the Netherlands and the first active group of resistance fighters in the Netherlands. Bluhm survived the war, and strove for a monument for the Jewish resisters that came about two years after his death in 1986.

Numerous Jews participated in resisting the Germans. The Jewish director of the assembly center in the “Hollandsche Schouwburg”, a former theatre, Walter Süskind, was instrumental in smuggling children out of his centre. He was aided by his assistant Jacques van de Kar and the director of the nearby crèche, Mrs Pimentel.

Within the underground communist party, a militant group was formed: de Nederlandse Volksmilitie (NVM, Dutch Peoples Militia). The leader was Sally (Samuel) Dormits, who had military experience from guerrilla warfare in Brazil and participation in the Spanish Civil War.

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This organisation was formed in The Hague but became mainly located in Rotterdam. It counted about 200 mainly Jewish participants. They made several bomb attacks on German troop trains and arson attacks on cinemas, which were forbidden for Jews. Dormits was caught after stealing a handbag off a woman in order to obtain an identification card for his Jewish girlfriend, who also participated in the resistance. Dormits committed suicide in the police station by shooting himself through the head. From a cash ticket of a shop the police found the hiding place of Dormits and discovered bombs, arson material, illegal papers, reports about resistance actions and a list of participants. The Gestapo was warned immediately and that day two hundred people were arrested, followed by many more connected people in Rotterdam, The Hague and Amsterdam.

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The Dutch police participated in torturing the Jewish communists. After a trial more than 20 were shot to death; most of the others died in concentration camps or were gassed in Auschwitz. Only a few survived.

The trail left behind by Dormits also let ti the textile factory Hollandia Kattenburg where soem of the suspects were arrested and sentenced to death. Additionally 367 Jewish labourers of the factory were deported together with their families to Westerbork transit camp, in total there were 826 persons.

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Dunes of Death

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Waalsdorpervlakte, in the dunes by the Dutch seaside village of Scheveningen, was one of the most notorious spots during the Second World War. On this desolate sand plain more than 250 people were killed by the Germans.

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Most were members of the Dutch Resistance who risked their lives in the struggle against the Nazi occupier. In their last moments they walked across the sand, were bound to wooden poles and waited for the firing squad to line up. The shots that followed put an end to their lives. The first execution carried out here was on 3 March 1941 when the Germans shot Ernst Cahn, who had organized Resistance activities from his ice cream parlour in Amsterdam.

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In 1945, out of respect and appreciation for the fallen, five large memorial crosses were fashioned from the wooden execution poles. These wooden crosses were replaced by bronze copies in 1981.

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The forged identity cards that saved lives.

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Most of the Holocaust related stories are bitter tragedies,however every once in a while a positive tale of survival during the world’s darkest era pops up.

On 8 October 1941, the Jewish cattle dealer Salli Schwarz narrowly escaped a roundup on Molenstraat in the town of Winterswijk,the Nerherlands.. Sneaking through backyard after backyard, he embarked on a journey that would last the rest of the war. Salli, followed by his wife Betty and daughter Ria, went from one hiding place to another.

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Sadly Ria could not stay with them, she had to be hidden elsewhere. Salli and Bettie left their daughter behind with the Resistance. Members of the Resistance provided them with ration coupons and fake I.D. cards, which were needed whenever they changed hiding places.

The members of the resistance would put their lives at risk for doing this. Being caught with false papers was punishable by death,leave alone creating them.

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Salli was given a false identification with the name Pieter de Graaf. Salli and Bettie survived the war and found Ria safe and sound in the care of a childless minister and his wife, with whom they kept in contact for many years.

 

Ernst Cahn- the Koco affair.

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Ernst Cahn, a German-Jewish refugee,son of Salomon Cahn and Rosa Katzenstein. He married in 1914 and had two children who survived the war.

He lived with his family from 1924-1928 in Amsterdam. In 1936 he returned to the Netherlands, to Huizen, from Germany because of the persecution of the Jews.

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Ernst Cahn co-owned ice-cream parlour Koco in the Van Woustraat in Amsterdam with business partner Alfred Kohn.They  were well liked by both Jews and gentiles of Amsterdam. After the Germans occupied the city, several customers purchased weapons for the owners and installed a 20-inch ammonia flask to the parlor wall to ward off unwanted visitors. When a German police patrol was sprayed with ammonia, a riot ensued. The event became known as the Koco affair.

On Wednesday, 19 February 1941, a patrol of the Nazi Ordnungspolizei carried out a raid on the ice-cream parlour. Inside, a bunch of heavies were waiting for them, as they had expected an attack by pro-Nazi Dutchmen. Ammonia was squirted from the ice-cream parlour. Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn were arrested and condemned by a Nazi court after they endured serious physical abuse in Amsterdam and in the penal barrack in Scheveningen’s prison.

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Despite being tortured ,Ernst Cahn did not divulge the name of the technician who had designed and installed the ammonia flask. Ernst Cahn was condemned to death. He was executed on 3 March 1941. Ernst Cahn was the first person in the Netherlands to die in front of a firing squad.Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz in April 1945.

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The “Koco Affair” in Amsterdam instigated the Nazis’ first roundup of Dutch Jews. German troops entered the Jonas Daniel Meyer Square in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam on February 22, 1941.

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They arrested and physically abused approximately 400 Jews, most of whom were then deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.