Liberation of Geleen-Sept 18 1944

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On this day 73 years ago my hometown Geleen was liberated. Geleen is a town in the south east of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg situated in the most narrow part of the Province in between Belgium and Germany.

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The liberation actually happened by chance. The Germans did hide behind several objects, ready to take on the approaching American troops.

They did hide quite well ,therefore a friar from the nearby monastery ventured outside assuming the Germans had fled the scene. He then brought out a big orange banner to celebrate, which was the signal for the neighbours to follow suit and hang out the Dutch flag and the national colors.

When the Germans saw this they assumed that the Americans had already arrived and were on their heels, so they frantically fled although not one of the allied troops had actually been seen yet.

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Below are just some impressions of that day. The liberation day where no shot was fired.

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Below an image of Vincent DiPaquale of the 116th Infantry Regiment,born in Buffalo New York. He was one of the liberators.

Vincent DiPaquale

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Just an “unknown” place but it is where I was born-Geleen.

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For most people the name Geleen will mean nothing, but to me it means the place where I was born and raised.

Although it is far from perfect, my roots are there and I am proud of that.

It is a city in the southern part of the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. With 33,960 inhabitants, it is part of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen. Geleen is situated along the river Geleenbeek, a right tributary to the river Meuse. The Latin name for Geleenbeek is Glana, meaning “clear river”. The town centre is situated at about 60 m above sea level.

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Until the end of the 19th century, Geleen was a small village. The remains of one of the oldest prehistoric farms in the Netherlands were found here. In the 20th century the exploitation of coal mines in this area (the State-owned coal mine “Maurits”, the biggest in Europe, was located in Geleen) brought a fast population increase. During the 1960s and 1970s all Dutch coalmines, that were all located in this part of this province, were closed.

Throughout the years it has seen some changes but this blog is looking at its rich industrial history.

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Greek immigrant workers employed by DSM showing of their dancing skills.

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The DSM and it subsidiary SBB were so big that it needed its own Police force.

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Working in a coalmine was one of the most dangerous jobs, not everyone lived a long life.

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The record shop where I spent quite a bit of money,but every cent spent there was well worth it,Limburgs Platenhuis.

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The heroes of Geleen- The fallen.

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Geleen  is a city in the southern part of the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. With 33,960 inhabitants, it is part of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen. Geleen is situated along the river Geleenbeek, a right tributary to the river Meuse. The Latin name for Geleenbeek is Glana, meaning “clear river”.

At the start of WWII Geleen was a small mining town with a population of approximately 15,000.

I could have picked any town or city to remember the fallen ,but Geleen is where I was born and it will forever hold a special place in my heart.

The Soldiers who died.

In the first hour of the occupation a soldier died,he wouldn’t be the only one to give his life

De Bie,Jacobs,Molin,Poelstra

Tergouw,van der Heide,van Meer,Wassenberg,de Morte van Lierde

The resistance fighters

They were determined to fight for freedom despite the risks connected to it. These men sacrificed their lives so that I didn’t have to.

Brouns,Janssens,Linders

van Hilten,Veerman

Zaicsek, Karl (Karel) Born 18 Juli 1921,Pecsbanyatelep Hungary,, died 12 September 1944 just before Geleen was liberated.His codename was Koenen.

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The ones who died in Asia.

They lost their lives fighting for the Dutch colonies thousands of miles away. Although they had never lived there and probably knew no one there, they felt it was their duty to defend their country’s interest.

Burgers,Cornelessen,de Boer

Meex,Perbooms,Schuman

Teuns and Zelen

I salute all these 23 men for the sacrifices they made not only for the people of Geleen but for everyone who believes and lives in freedom.

Bedankt mannen.

Pinkpop: the death of an institute.

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PinkPop is the oldest and longest running annual dedicated pop and rock music festival in the world.

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It started in 1970 in the former mining town of Geleen in the south east of the Netherlands. It stayed there until 1986. In 1987 it moved north a bit to Baarlo and since 1988 it has been held in the town of Landgraaf.

This year though it has decided to commit artistic and musical suicide by announcing that the 2017 headliner will be Justin Bieber.

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It is sad to see this legendary institution which originated in my home town taking its own life.

Let’s just have a look back at some of the legendary bands who performed there in the past.

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RIP Pinkpop, it was good while it lasted.

 

Famous bands that changed their names.

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Starting off with probably the best known band from the low countries”Golden Earring”. Their name change was very subtle, they were formed in 1961 as the “Golden Earrings” they dropped the S in 1969.

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The next name change is a bit less subtle but still subtle enough “the Cranberries” started off as “the Cranberry Saw Us” in 1989. When their male lead singer left and was later replaced with the one and only Dolores O’Riordon history was made as Limerick’s biggest ever Rock act.

1957,Liverpool a group of teenagers called themselves “the Quarry men” after they had tried names like ‘The Blackjacks, Johnny and the Moondogs, Japage 3’ However this skiffle band eventually became known as “the Beatles”. You may have heard of them.

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Continuing on a Dutch theme with Van Halen. Eddie and Alex Van Halen formed their first band with three other boys, calling themselves The Broken Combs, performing at lunchtime at Hamilton Elementary School in Pasadena, whereEddie Van Halen was in the fourth grade. Eddie Van Halen would later say that this was when he first felt the desire to become a professional musician.In 1972, The Van Halens formed another band, originally called “Genesis.” The name was changed to “Mammoth” when they became aware of the English progressive rock band of the same name. Mammoth consisted of Eddie Van Halen on guitar and lead vocals, his brother Alex on drums and bass guitarist Mark Stone. Mammoth had no P.A. system of their own, so they rented one from David Lee Roth,a service for which he charged by the night. Eddie Van Halen became frustrated with singing lead vocals, and decided they could save money by adding Roth to the band.Michael Anthony later replaced Mark Stone on the bass guitar. The band opted to change its name because Roth suggested that the last name of the two brothers “sounded cool.”

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U2 Ireland’s biggest band. I can hear you say “What’s the Hype?” and you’d be correct. What is the Hype? That would be U2. The Hype started off as a 5 piece band. The Edge’s older brother,Dik Evans, used to be part of the band. After he left the band was renamed U2.

Even though they were called V2 on the posters for their first gig in the UK. About 6 people showed up.

This is the Dublin 4 in my hometown ‘Geleen’ in 1981.

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Led Zeppelin were not always called Led Zeppelin, in fact the had several incarnations.The first one being “the Yardbirds”. The band that included 3 of the world’s best guitarists ever. Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and the man musicians refer to as “God” Eric Clapton. Jimmy Page was actually the bassist.

In 1968 the Yardbirds played their last gig and “the New Yardbirds” were born with Robert Plant on vocals.However the name ‘the New Yardbirds’ didn’t stick, it went down like a lead balloon or even a Led Zeppelin.

 

 

4th of May-Remembering the Dead

Every May 4th at 20.00 PM 2 minutes of silence is observed in the Netherlands to remember those who died in WWII and other military conflicts.

In today’s blog I will remember those who died in the province of Limburg  in the South East of the Netherlands and its surrounding areas.Those who fought and died for my liberty and those who became victims of the Holocaust.

Rather then naming all  the thousands of soldiers and victims I will Just post a poem followed by  some of the names picked randomly ,and a brief description of who they were. Nothing fancy, no bells and whistles just a simple dignified remembrance.

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The Fallen Hero

Thank you soldier for setting my country free.

You did not want to die but yet you gave your life.

It was for strangers you sacrificed yourself, who weren’t even family.

Your ambitions were cut short never again did you see your wife.

 

Thank you, young man to liberate my land.

Your youth stolen from you by a violent act of hate.

A picture of a young girl you held in your hand

The blood drenched battlefield sealed both your fate

 

Thank you proud parents for sending us your son.

The pain you feel is something I will never be able to comprehend

But know this your child did not die in vain, his memory will go on

Even if everyone else forgets, I will remember until my end.

Buried in the War Cemetery in Sittard

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WO Edward Victor AddisNote: 2734194. Warrant Officer Class II (C.S.M.), Welsh Guards, 1st Bn. Age 26. Son of John William and Martha Addis; husband of Selina Addis of Kenley, Surrey. L. 9.

 

Sgt Patrick Ahern Note: EX/1251. Royal Marines, No. 45 R.M. Commando. Age 31. Son of John Ahern and of Margaret Ahern (nee Fitzgerald); husband of Margaret Ahern, of Burley, Hampshire. D. 8.

Pvt Wilfred Bell.Note: 4538024. Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), 6th Bn. D. 20

Guardsman Kenneth Jack Edwards:Welsh Guardsman

Private David D Hendry: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment)

Corporal James J McKENZIE: Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment)

Private Kenneth Annan: Note: 1105515. Gunner, Royal Artillery, 107 (The South Notts. Hussars) Medium Regt. Age 33. Husband of Annie K. Annan of Rothesay, Bute. L. 14

 

Buried in War Cemetery Margraten

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Private Howard Byron Wilkison: Service number:6918369,Hometown ,Gibson County,Indiana

Private 1st Class Charles ZAKRZEWSKI: Service number:13125052 ,Hometown Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania

Private Abram Roy Cohen: Service number:42112987 Hometown Bergen County, New Jersey

Private Sylvan van Aalten(born in Belgium): Service number 42070964 Hometown Queens County, New York

Private 1st Class Antonio Vasquez:Service number 38247207 Hometown Victoria County, Texas

Leonard M Weinstein: Service number 32996631 Hometown Bronx County, New York

 

The Jewish holocaust victims of Geleen.

You are not different than me.

You eat the same food.

You read the same books.

But yet you are not free.

 

You are not free because of someone’s idea of you.

You are given a yellow star

You are catalogued and numbered like cattle.

But yet you’re not an animal but a human too.

 

You are being killed in the vilest of ways.

You are a man, a woman, a child, a parent.

You are erased as if you were never here.

But yet you are remembered on many days.

 

You are not different to me but you are also not the same.

You are merely a number and a name on a list.

You are not listened to for you have no voice

But I pledge I will shout for you in loud acclaim.

  Last name First name Born Died*
1 Freimark-Adler Hermine 12-12-1876 Urspringen (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
2 Baum Max 04-01-1907 Bauchem (D) 31-03-1944 Auschwitz
3 Cohen-Ten Brink Esthella Carolina 05-06-1904 Ootmarsum 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
4 Meyer-Cahn Jeanette (Jetta) 18-12-1859 Leutesdorf (D) 10-05-1943 Westerbork
5 Claessens Albert 19-04-1905 Obbicht 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
6 Cohen Frieda 11-07-1924 Vaals 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
7 Cohen Henny 30-10-1925 Vaals 26-09-1942 Auschwitz
8 Cohen Josephine 09-07-1930 Geleen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
9 Cohen Simon 01-05-1889 Midwolda 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
10 Freimark Ernst 12-08-1936 Frankfurt (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
11 Freimark Friedrich 27-10-1902 Marktheidenfeld (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
12 Freimark Kurt 21-12-1939 Heerlen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
13 Levy-Goldschmidt Irene 15-02-1907 Rheda (D) 30-11-1943 Auschwitz
14 Goldschmidt Josef 24-10-1867 Rheda (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
15 Goldsteen Frederik 09-07-1918 Rheydt (D) 15-08-1942 Auschwitz
16 Levi-Harf Rosalie 27-10-1880 Mönchengladbach (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
17 Goldschmidt-Jacob Frieda 19-02-1869 Rheda-Wiedenbrück (D) 07-10-1943 Maastricht**
18 May-Jacobsohn Klara 14-05-1871 Neckarbischofsheim (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
19 Meyer-Kaufmann Berta 03-01-1912 Köln (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
20 Kaufmann Margard 10-11-1928 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
21 Kaufmann Richard 30-06-1886 Moers (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
22 Heimberg-Klestadt Bertha 28-12-1891 Büren (D) 25-01-1943 Auschwitz***
23 Claessens-Krzanowska Ajga 17-03-1909 Zawiercie (Polen) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
24 Lebenstein Ida 16-05-1888 Ochtrup (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
25 Levy Arnold 27-05-1880 Wuppertal-Elberfeld (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
26 Levy Hans Erich 22-03-1911 Düsseldorf (D) 31-03-1944 Polen
27 Löwenfels Luise 05-07-1915 Trabelsdorf (D) 30-09-1942 Auschwitz
28 Freimark-May Gertruda 16-02-1902 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
29 Winter-May Irma Johanna 30-08-1908 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
30 Goldsteen-Mendel Carolina 06-07-1880 Tetz (D) 22-10-1943 Auschwitz****
31 Meyer Max 23-01-1900 Remagen-Oberwinter (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
32 Roer Helene 14-09-1921 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
33 Roer Ilse 20-02-1925 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
34 Baum-Salmagne Sophia 12-06-1867 Eilendorf (D) 16-11-1943 Bergen-Belzen
35 Willner Paul Siegfried 05-06-1902 Aachen (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
36 Winter Gustav 01-11-1897 Korschenbroich (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
37 Kaufmann-Zilversmit Adele 07-12-1890 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz

 

Forgotten History-The Jews from Geleen 1940-1944.

During the war Geleen was a small mining town in the South-East of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg. Below are 2 maps the first one is of the Netherlands and the other one is of the greater Geleen Sittard area, just to give you a geographical sense of the place.

 

Due to the close proximity to Germany many Jews escaped to Limburg in the 1930’s. The Netherlands was a neutral country so the Jewish community thought they were safe.

Geleen itself had a relatively small Jewish community but significant enough for a town with a population of approximately 15,000 at the time.The exact number of Jews living in Geleen is not known but it is estimated there were 67.

Rather then going in to each individual account I will be showing the timeline of events relating to the Jews in Geleen. This timeline would be identical for Jewish communities in other towns and cities in the country and indeed throughout Europe. It is a good indication of the systematic dehumanization of the Jews by the Nazi’s. In total there are 42 events, I will not mention all of them but will highlight , for a lack of a better description, the most important ones.

22 June 1940: All Jewish shop are besmirched by the Nazi’s with the text ” Jüdisches Geschäft” (Jewish Shop)

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1 July 1940: Jews have to leave the Bomb shelters

26/27 July: During night time the windows of Jewish shops are shattered.(Below a news paper article about it)

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31 July 1940: Ban on ritual slaughter

6 September 1940: The general secretaries of most Government departments promise not to hire Jews in pubic office jobs.

5 October 1940: Government personnel have to sign an ‘Arian’ declaration

21 November 1940: An announcement is made that all Jews working in the public and civil service are to be fired.

10  January 1941: Compulsory Registration is introduced, by the 21st of February all Jews need to be registered. Mayor Damen announces on the 15th of April that 67 Jews have been registered.

4 June 1941: The freedom of movement is restricted for Jews

1 September 1941: Jewish children are no longer allowed to attend regular schools. A make shift school is set up in the teachers residence next to the synagogue.

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15 September 1941: Signs with “Verboden voor Joden” forbidden for Jews are put up. Jews are forbidden to go to cinemas,sports ground,libraries,concert hall and most other public places.

 

 

Also in 1941 Richard Kaufmann is picked up by the Nazi’s and sent to a labor camp in the Netherlands. On October the 3rd he is deported to Westerbork.

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Shortly afterwards he is deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

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Richard Kaufmann dies on the 3rd of September 1943 in Auschwitz.

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2 May 1942: All Jews are ordered to start wearing the yellow star of David.

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19 May 1942: Radio builder Frederik Goldsteen is been arrested after it is found out he kept building radio’s after he was forbidden to do so, and also because of his criticism of Adolf Hitler.Via Camp Amersfoort he is sent to Westerbork and from there to Auschwitz where he dies on 15 August 1942.

12 June 1942: Jews are no longer allowed to buy vegetables in Non Jewish shops

2 August 1942: In all of the Netherlands Jews who have been converted to Catholicism are picked up. In Geleen there were 4 one of then was a Nun who is transported to Auschwitz and dies in the gas chamber. The other 3 are released because they are from mixed marriages.

9 August 1942: Luise Löwenfels aka Sister Maria Aloysia dies in the Auschwitz gas chambers.

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https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/forgotten-history-luise-lowenfels/

25 August 1942:approximately 20 Jewish citizens were deported from City Hall by the Germans. Only 1 survives the war.

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10 November 1942: Guus van Dam is picked up and sent to Groningen in the North of the country, from there he is deported to Auschwitz via Westerbork. His fate is unknown. On the 17th of August 1945 some of his family members put an ad in a newspaper to see if anyone has information.

 

 

21 January 1943: The Jewish mental asylum “Het Apeldoornse Bos” is evaucuated. Two patients were from Geleen. They are all send to Auschwitz where they all perish.

 

September 1943: Jews with mixed marriages are exempt of wearing the yellow star of David

March 1944: Jews from mixed marriage are ordered to be sterilized or to proof they are infertile

18 September 1944: Geleen is liberated by the Combat Command (B) 2nd Armored Division

 

Below is the list of all those who were deported from Geleen and never returned.

De vergeten joden van Geleen, 1920-1950

  Name  First Name Born Died
1 Freimark-Adler Hermine 12-12-1876 Urspringen (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
2 Baum Max 04-01-1907 Bauchem (D) 31-03-1944 Auschwitz
3 Cohen-Ten Brink Esthella Carolina 05-06-1904 Ootmarsum 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
4 Meyer-Cahn Jeanette (Jetta) 18-12-1859 Leutesdorf (D) 10-05-1943 Westerbork
5 Claessens Albert 19-04-1905 Obbicht 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
6 Cohen Frieda 11-07-1924 Vaals 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
7 Cohen Henny 30-10-1925 Vaals 26-09-1942 Auschwitz
8 Cohen Josephine 09-07-1930 Geleen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
9 Cohen Simon 01-05-1889 Midwolda 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
10 Freimark Ernst 12-08-1936 Frankfurt (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
11 Freimark Friedrich 27-10-1902 Marktheidenfeld (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
12 Freimark Kurt 21-12-1939 Heerlen 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
13 Levy-Goldschmidt Irene 15-02-1907 Rheda (D) 30-11-1943 Auschwitz
14 Goldschmidt Josef 24-10-1867 Rheda (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
15 Goldsteen Frederik 09-07-1918 Rheydt (D) 15-08-1942 Auschwitz
16 Levi-Harf Rosalie 27-10-1880 Mönchengladbach (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
17 Goldschmidt-Jacob Frieda 19-02-1869 Rheda-Wiedenbrück (D) 07-10-1943 Maastricht**
18 May-Jacobsohn Klara 14-05-1871 Neckarbischofsheim (D) 14-05-1943 Sobibor
19 Meyer-Kaufmann Berta 03-01-1912 Köln (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
20 Kaufmann Margard 10-11-1928 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
21 Kaufmann Richard 30-06-1886 Moers (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz
22 Heimberg-Klestadt Bertha 28-12-1891 Büren (D) 25-01-1943 Auschwitz***
23 Claessens-Krzanowska Ajga 17-03-1909 Zawiercie (Polen) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
24 Lebenstein Ida 16-05-1888 Ochtrup (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
25 Levy Arnold 27-05-1880 Wuppertal-Elberfeld (D) 28-05-1943 Sobibor
26 Levy Hans Erich 22-03-1911 Düsseldorf (D) 31-03-1944 Polen
27 Löwenfels Luise 05-07-1915 Trabelsdorf (D) 30-09-1942 Auschwitz
28 Freimark-May Gertruda 16-02-1902 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
29 Winter-May Irma Johanna 30-08-1908 Niedermendig (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
30 Goldsteen-Mendel Carolina 06-07-1880 Tetz (D) 22-10-1943 Auschwitz****
31 Meyer Max 23-01-1900 Remagen-Oberwinter (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
32 Roer Helene 14-09-1921 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
33 Roer Ilse 20-02-1925 Zülpich (D) 31-08-1942 Auschwitz
34 Baum-Salmagne Sophia 12-06-1867 Eilendorf (D) 16-11-1943 Bergen-Belzen
35 Willner Paul Siegfried 05-06-1902 Aachen (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
36 Winter Gustav 01-11-1897 Korschenbroich (D) 30-04-1943 Midden-Europa
37 Kaufmann-Zilversmit Adele 07-12-1890 Gronau (D) 03-09-1943 Auschwitz

Courtesey of http://members.home.nl/w.brasse/vergeten_joden_van_geleen.htm#SlachtoffersGeleen

Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp

I don’t really like to post horrific images but on this day the  anniversary of the liberation of Bergen Belsen it is important that we are reminded how cruel humanity can be.

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As a child I had heard some  war stories from my parents and my aunts and uncles and was always intrigued by those stories. They were tales on how some of my family avoided being shot by the Germans ,after stealing food, by jumping into big barrels and hiding in there until it was safe to come out again. Or the time that one of my grandfathers was nearly shot by the allies after liberation by telling him he was Deutsch rather then Dutch(his English wasn’t great) luckily one of the soldiers figured he meant to say he was Dutch. These stories tough gave me a more romantic and nostalgic sense for the era.

It wasn’t until one day , I think I was 13 at the time,I saw a documentary of Bergen Belsen’s most well known victim,Anne Frank, I realized the true horrors of WW2 and the Holocaust.

This article will be about Bergen Belsen but I will also briefly touch on Auschwitz because in several ways the camps were connected.

Bergen-Belsen was first established in 1940 as a prisoner of war camp. From 1943, Jewish civilians with foreign passports were held as ‘leverage’ in possible exchanges for Germans interned in Allied countries or for money. It later became a concentration camp and was used as a collection centre for survivors of the death marches. The camp became exceptionally overcrowded and, as a result of the Germans’ neglect, conditions were allowed to deteriorate further in the last months of the war, causing many more deaths.

APRIL 15, 1945

The 63rd Anti-tank Regiment and the 11th Armoured Division of the British army liberate about 60,000 prisoners at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

As it drove into Germany, the 11th Armoured Division occupied the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 15, 1945, pursuant to an April 12 agreement with the retreating Germans to surrender the camp peacefully. When the 11th Armoured Division entered the camp, its soldiers were totally unprepared for what they found. Inside were more than 60,000 emaciated and ill prisoners in desperate need if medical attention. More than 13,000 corpses in various stages of decomposition lay littered around the camp.

The discovery of the Bergen-Belsen camp and the horrendous conditions there made on powerful impact on public opinion in Great Britain and elsewhere. One member of a British Army Film and Photographic unit recalled the masses of unburied corpses:

“The bodies were a ghastly sight. Some were green. They looked like skeletons covered with skin—the flesh had all gone. There were bodies of small children among the grown ups. In other parts of the camp there were hundreds of bodies lying around, in many cases piled five or six high”.

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When British and Canadian troops finally entered they found over 13,000 unburied bodies and (including the satellite camps) around 60,000 inmates, most acutely sick and starving. The prisoners had been without food or water for days before the Allied arrival, partially due to allied bombing. Immediately before and after liberation, prisoners were dying at around 500 per day, mostly from typhus. The scenes that greeted British troops were described by the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them:

…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days.This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.

Initially lacking sufficient manpower, the British allowed the Hungarians to remain in charge and only commandant Kramer was arrested. Subsequently SS and Hungarian guards shot and killed some of the starving prisoners who were trying to get their hands on food supplies from the store houses.The British started to provide emergency medical care, clothing and food. Immediately following the liberation, revenge killings took place in the satellite camp the SS had created in the area of the army barracks that later became Hohne-Camp. Around 15,000 prisoners from Mittelbau-Dora had been relocated there in early April. These prisoners were in much better physical condition than most of the others. Some of these men turned on those who had been their overseers at Mittelbau. About 170 of these “Kapos” were killed on April 15, 1945.:62On April 20, four German fighter planes attacked the camp, damaging the water supply and killing three British medical orderlies.

Over the next days the surviving prisoners were deloused and moved to a nearby German Panzer army camp, which became the Bergen-Belsen DP (displaced persons) camp.

delousing

Over a period of four weeks, almost 29,000 of the survivors were moved there. Before the handover, the SS had managed to destroy the camp’s administrative files, thereby eradicating most written evidence.

The British forced the former SS camp personnel to help bury the thousands of dead bodies in mass graves.

Bergen_Belsen_Liberation_01

ss guards

 

Some civil servants from Celle and Landkreis Celle were brought to Belsen and confronted with the crimes committed on their doorstep.

 

Military photographers and cameramen of “No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit” documented the conditions in the camp and the measures of the British Army to ameliorate them. Many of the pictures they took and the films they made from April 15 to June 9, 1945 were published or shown abroad. Today, the originals are in the Imperial War Museum. These documents had a lasting impact on the international perception and memory of Nazi concentration camps to this day.According to Habbo Knoch, head of the institution that runs the memorial today: “Bergen-Belsen became a synonym world-wide for German crimes committed during the time of Nazi rule.

Bergen-Belsen concentration camp was then burned to the ground by flamethrowing”Bren gun” carriers and Churchill Crocodile tanks because of the typhus epidemic and louse infestation. As the concentration camp ceased to exist at this point, the name Belsen after this time refers to events at the Bergen-Belsen DP camp.

In spite of massive efforts to help the survivors with food and medical treatment, led by Brigadier Glyn Hughes, Deputy Director of Medical Services of 2nd Army, about another 9,000 died in April, and by the end of June 1945 another 4,000 had died. (After liberation 13,994 people died.)

Two specialist teams were dispatched from Britain to deal with the feeding problem. The first, led by Dr A. P. Meiklejohn, included 96 medical student volunteers from London teaching hospitals who were later credited with significantly reducing the death rate amongst prisoners.A research team led by Dr Janet Vaughan was dispatched by the Medical Research Council to test the effectiveness of various feeding regimes.

The British troops and medical staff tried these diets to feed the prisoners, in this order:

  • Bully beef(Corned Beef) from Army rations. Most of the prisoners’ digestive systems were in too weak a state from long-term starvation to handle such food.Corned-beef-1
  • Skimmed milk. The result was a bit better, but still far from acceptable.
  • Bengal Famine Mixture. This is a rice-and-sugar-based mixture which had achieved good results after the Bengal famine of 1943, but it proved less suitable to Europeans than to Bengalis because of the differences in the food to which they were accustomed. Adding the common ingredient paprika to the mixture made it more palatable to these people and recovery started.

Some were too weak to even consume the Bengal Famine Mixture. Intravenous feeding was attempted but abandoned – SS Doctors had previously used injections to murder prisoners so some became hysterical at the sight of the intraveneous feeding equipment.

On the 25th of August 1942 approximately 20 Jewish citizens from my hometown Geleen,were deported from City Hall by the Germans.

HITACHI Digital Camera

Shortly afterwards 12 more were picked up and deported. Only 1 survived. In total 37 Geleen Jews were killed during the holocaust. Most of them were killed in Auschwitz , a few in Sobibor. Others died during the transport.

Sophia Baum Salmagne was the only one who died in Bergen Belsen. The reason why I mention her is because the only things I know about her that she was born on the 12th of June 1867 in Eilendorf Germany and that she died on the 16th of November 1943 in Bergen Belsen. Noting else, no picture, not even when she moved to Geleen. Just a name on a list of victims. This was the fate of millions of victims ,names on a list, as if they hardly ever existed. It is all our duty to be the voice of these whose prove of existence were nearly erased.

 

The Dutch Resistance-WWII

I think the 2 monuments above probably are the best indicators of what the Dutch resistance entailed during WWII. On the left is the monument called “de Dokwerker” the Dockworker . This was erected in Amsterdam to remember those who died during the “February strike” in 1941. On the right is a monument to remember the resistance fighters and soldiers  from my hometown of Geleen who fell during WWII and subsequent war in Indonesia, which was a Dutch colony at the time. The monument was built in the suburb of Lindenheuvel because the ones who fell were from that part of town.

The Dutch resistance movement came about because of two simple facts – outrage that their country had been invaded and sheer horror at what happened to the Dutch Jews. Holland had swiftly fallen as a result of the onslaught of Blitzkrieg in 1940. There were many in Nazi Germany, including Joseph Goebbels, who had hoped that many Dutch people would absorb National Socialism into their culture. In this they were wrong. The Dutch rallied around their exiled royal family and the Dutch resistance was to provide the Allies with valuable intelligence information.

Ir would simply be impossible for me to tell all the individual stories because there are literally thousands of them. I have already touched upon the stories of Hannie Schaft,Pierre Schunk, Frits Philips and Major Bosshardt in earlier articles(I’ll put the links at the bottom of this one) I will go into a few events and people though in this blog.

24 February 1941 The February Strike

staking

The Netherlands surrendered to Nazi Germany in May 1940, and the first anti-Jewish measures (the barring of Jews from the air-raid defence services) began in June 1940. These culminated in November 1940 in the removal of all Jews from public positions, including universities, which led directly to student protests in Leiden and elsewhere. At the same time, there was an increasing feeling of unrest amongst workers in Amsterdam, especially the workers at the shipyards in Amsterdam-Noord, who were threatened with forced labour in Germany.

Cause

As tensions rose, the Dutch pro-Nazi movement NSB and its streetfighting arm, the WA (“Weerbaarheidsafdeling” – defence section), were involved in a series of provocations in Jewish neighbourhoods in Amsterdam.

This eventually led to a series of street battles between the WA and Jewish self-defence groups and their supporters, culminating in a pitched battle on 11 February 1941 on the Waterlooplein in which WA member  Hendrik Koot was badly wounded. He died of his injuries on 14 February 1941.

On 12 February 1941, German soldiers, assisted by Dutch police, encircled the old Jewish neighbourhood and cordoned it off from the rest of the city by putting up barbed wire, opening bridges and putting in police checkpoints. This neighbourhood was now forbidden for non-Jews.

On 19 February, the German Grüne Polizei(Ordnungspolizie) stormed into the Koco ice-cream salon in the Van Woustraat.

 

In the fight that ensued, several police officers were wounded. Revenge for this and other fights came in the weekend of 22–23 February, when a large scale pogrom was undertaken by the Germans. 425 Jewish men, age 20-35 were taken hostage and imprisoned in Kamp Schoorl

and eventually sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps, where most of them died within the year. Out of 425, only two survived.

The strike

Following this pogrom, on 24 February, an open air meeting was held on the Noordermarkt to organise a strike to protest against the pogrom as well as the forced labour in Germany.

haarlemmerstraat_opwegnoordermarkt

The Communist Party of the Netherlands, made illegal by the Germans, printed and spread a call to strike throughout the city the next morning. The first to strike were the city’s tram drivers, followed by other city services as well as companies like De Bijenkorf and schools.

bijenkorf-dam-amsterdam

Eventually 300,000 people joined in the strike, bringing much of the city to a halt and catching the Germans by surprise.Though the Germans immediately took measures to suppress the strike, which had grown spontaneously as other workers followed the example of the tram drivers,

staking1

it still spread to other areas, including Zaanstad, Kennemerland in the west, Bussum, Hilversum and Utrecht in the east and the south.The strike did not last long. By 27 February, much of it had been suppressed by the German police. Although ultimately unsuccessful, it was significant in that it was the first and only direct action against the Nazis’ treatment of Jews in Europe.

 

februaristaking

The Dutch resistance made its mark with the collection of intelligence that could be useful to the Allies. It was the Dutch resistance who informed the Allies of the fact that the SS IX and X divisions were in the region of Arnhem in September 1944 – information that was essentially ignored with disastrous consequences.Picture below is of some members of the 101st airborne and resistance fighters in Eindhoven.

300px-101st_with_members_of_dutch_resistance

The Dutch resistance also helped Dutch Jews to escape – especially children. Nine organisations were created to do this and they specialized in hiding people, forging identity papers etc. This, along with its intelligence work, proved to be its most important work as opposed to the classic image of resistance units blowing up bridges etc.

Karl(Karel) Zaicsek Born 18 july 1921 (Pecsbanyatelep/Pécs (Hungary.), died 12 september 1944 ,Near Brunssum Netherlands.

Zaicsek

Very little is known about this man. but yet is one the people whose name is mentioned on the monument in Lindenheuvel.

He was born in Hungary but he moved with his parents to the south East of the Netherlands, when is unknown but we do know his Father died on the 9th of February 1939, Karel was only 17 at the time.

Karel worked in the mine during the war but he also was a member of the council of resistance.

HIs acts of defiance against the German oppressors consisted of distributing illegal literature,ammunition and delivery of food to those who were in hiding.

On the 12th of September Karel and his mate Jan Barning were caught by German soldiers outside  the entrance of the SBB-Stikstofbindingsbedrijf(Nitrogen Fixation factory).

sbb

They had just come back with supplies, it is believed Karel had a basket of butter on his bicycle.

Rather then waiting to be brought to the German HQ the 2 decided to make a run for it eventhough they were escorted by a German soldier. Jan Barning threw his bike at the soldier and the pair ran for their lives. Jan was nearly shot in the head but managed to run into a nearby hostel for mine workers.

gezellen

Karl Zaicsek was less fortunate and was caught between Sittard and Hoensbroek and was executed on the 12th of September 1944 although this sometimes is disputed because it is believed that the date of execution could also have been the 16th of Sepetember 1944.

It is widely believed that he was executed in the Brunssummerheide which is heath near the town of Brunssum.

brunssummerheide_by_zweuds-d5o3hmb

His family only received confirmation of his death in 1951. On the 20th of July 1951 they held a funeral service for them.

The sad thing about this is  that the area would be liberated only a few days after his execution. The town of Geleen was liberated on 18 September 1944.

 

Previous articles

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/forgotten-history-hannie-schaft-resistance-fighter/

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/08/forgotten-history-pierre-schunck-resistance-fighter/

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/27/forgotten-history-major-bosshardt/

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/15/forgotten-history-frits-philips/

 

Forgotten History-Luise Löwenfels

This is a WWII story from my hometown of Geleen in the Netherlands about a lady called Luise Löwenfels although she was known as Maria Aloysia Löwenfels AKA Sister Aloysia.

Luise Löwenfels (Trabelsdorf,Germany  5 juli 1915 – Auschwitz-Birkenau, ca. 9 augustus 1942). She was born in a small village called Trabelsdorf in Germany in a Jewish family.

Even though she was Jewish she attended a Roman Catholic school. When she was 10 her father passed away, in that time she did get consolation from her Catholic friends at school.

She was very attracted to the Roman Catholic faith and often visited Catholic churches and would attend mass on a regular base, this to the dismay of her family.She would often be punished by her Mother and Brothers for this. Later when she still didn’t conduct herself in the manner her family expected her to she was disowned by them.

She sought refuge in nearby convents. In the 1930’s due to the Nazi imposed laws on the Jews she regularly had to change her place of residence.

Eventually she found refuge in a convent in Mönchengladbach

skyline

On 25 November 1935 she was baptized and received the name Maria Aloysia.

Due to increasing threat of the Nazi regime many Jews decided to leave Germany. Maria Aloysia’s plan was to move to England but she ended up in the Netherlands  in the small mining town Geleen near the Dutch-German border in the convent of ‘Arme Dienstmaagden van Jezus Christus’ – which translates to Poor Maidens of Jesus Christ. Who she joined on the 8th of December 1937, on the 12th of September 1940 she gave her first vows as a Nun.

klooster geleen

Because of her Jewish origin her religious live was made increasingly difficult, she was no longer allowed to teach at the local junior infant school and she was forced to wear the yellow star of David.

ster

Although the German occupiers had promised not to pursue the Jews who had converted to Christianity , they deviated from this decision after the Dutch Bishops had openly protested against the German actions.

Together with dozens of other Catholic converted Jews including  Edith Hedwig Stein [St. Teresia Benedicta of the Cross, OCD] and her sister Rosa Adelheid Stein, who both lived in the nearby convent of Echt, Sister Aloysia was arrested and were brought to Kamp Amersfoort.

 

Then they were transported to Westerbork .

wester

On the 7th of August 1942 they were all transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they most certainly were led straight to gas chambers when they arrived on the 9th of August.

Sister Aloysia died the tender age of 27. Her only ‘crime’ was being born in a Jewish family.

Although the story of Edith Stein had been well known and documented, the story of Sr. Aloysia had been largely ignored.

The convent had been destroyed in October 1942 by a bombing campaign by the allies who had mistaken Geleen voor nearby Aachen in Germany.

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/03/10/forgotten-history-battlefield-geleen/

The convent was rebuild in 1950 but closed again in the 80’s, however the Sisters still have a community in Geleen and involve themselves mainly with looking after refugees.

On the 28th of June 2006 a monument in remembrance of Sr. Maria Aloysia Löwenfels. It was placed approximately where they old Convent once stood.

Luise_Löwensfels_monument

In 2015 the Apostolic administrator of the German diocese Limburg has started the canonization procedure (The official process for declaring someone a saint)for Sr Aloysia. To have a declared a Martyr.