This is how close the Holocaust still is to me.

The picture is of a vacant building in the town center of Geleen in the Netherlands. The building wasn’t always empty. It used to be a clothes shop called “Modehuis” or Fashion House. It was really a shop which catered more for the older ladies, my mother liked to shop there A few doors next to it, there used to be a hairdresser, where I got my haircut several times.

Across from it there used to be a video store where I would rent my favourite movies. The address of the shop was Raadhuisstraat 16.

All of this will mean absolutely nothing to you, and even until today the historical reference of the place was not known to me.

The shop was known as “Kousenhuis” (Stockingshouse) in the 1930s, the owner was Paul Siegfried Willner and his wife Charlotte Sophia Walter. Paul was Jewish but Charlotte was Roman Catholic . They were married on April 17,1934 in Geleen, the maximum temperature that day was 21 degrees centigrade, so it was a warm spring day. Aside from the shop they also ran a wholesale business in cleaning products.

The shop was initially situated somewhere else, but due to subsidence caused by mining they moved to the Raadhuisstraat. On January 11,1939 Paul sold the shop to Julius Jacob Wolff.

Paul and his wife moved to Molenstraat 27 in Geleen. Below is a recent picture of that address.

As a young kid in secondary school, I actually had a friend living in Molenstraat 25, which is next door. The house is also near my favourite restaurant, swimming pool, and a few other places I would have visited several times a week.

Paul Siegfried Willner was born in Aachen in Germany, near to the Dutch border, on June 5,1902. He had moved in February 1934 from Aachen to Geleen. On November 25,1941 Paul lost his German citizenship as per new Reichs citizens law. As a Jew he was no longer considered to be a German.

On February 5,1942 Paul and Charlotte divorced, I don’t know why but I can only imagine that this was to safe Charlotte. If she was no longer married to a Jew, she would more then likely be safe.

On August 25, 1942 ,Paul had to register for labour in Germany, A day later on August 26, he ended up in Westerbork transit camp. Two days later he was deported to Auschwitz. But shortly before arriving there he was taken of the train at the labour camp in Kosel. It is not clear where he was murdered. His date of death was registered as April 30 1943, but that was a generic date used for many whose death date wasn’t known.

On October 5,1942 the RAF mistakenly bombed Geleen, assuming it was Aachen, Paul’s house was destroyed as was the house of his ex wife.

Julius Jacob Wolff who was also Jewish, survived the war, His shop was still thriving when I left Geleen in 1997.

When I said at the start ‘how close the Holocaust still is to me, I meant it in a physical way as in buildings I have been in or have been close to, but also in a emotional way, because I never knew this bit of history. I had to emigrate to find out the significance of the actual buildings, which is a pity.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/137523/paul-siegfried-willner

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Paul-Siegfried-Willner

https://www.openarch.nl/rhl:54839896-93a6-84fb-e6c6-a4540cb3b0a6

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Where I was born.

Although I have not lived there since 1997, I still call the place where I was born home.

Geleen is a town in the Province of Limburg, in the south east of the Netherlands. A former mining town and since 2001 it has been part of the bigger municipality of Sittard-Geleen. It fused with the neighbouring town of Sittard in 2001.

There is an old saying in Surinam, a former Dutch colony, the saying goes “Where my umbilical cord is forever my home” That’s what I can identify with.

Does this mean I don’t consider Limerick to my home? Of course it doesn’t I equally see Limerick as my home. I can be both a proud Geleen man and a proud Limerick man, but Geleen will always have a special place in my heart,

I think due to the travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid 19 virus, I have been thinking of Geleen a bit more then I did before.

Below are just a few impression of Geleen.

84 killed by ‘Friendly’ fire.

Friendly fire or amicicide is an attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccuracy. I hate the term ‘friendly’ fire because the end result is still death and destruction

On October 5, 1942 the town of Geleen in the most southern province of the Netherlands ,Limburg. Fell victim to the ‘misidentifying of the target as hostile’

A squadron of 257 RAF bombers were on the way to Aachen in Germany , to bomb the mine ’Anna’ in the German city near the Dutch border. However due to bad weather , and limited vision 30 of the 257 bombers had deviated from their course, When they had reached Geleen and saw the States mine ‘Maurits’ they mistakenly believed they had reached Aachen and therefore they dropped their load.

It resulted in the death of 84 citizens, including an unnamed 12 year old Jewish boy. I have done pieces on this event previously, today I want focus on some of the victims, by means of their prayer cards or the death notifications in the local newspaper.

Maria Gerda Alberigs born on June 25,1925 in the nearby village of Elsloo. She was buried on October 9,1942.

The Lemmns-Voncken family.

Father Frans Lemmens, born 18 January 1897;Mother Elisa Voncken, born in the nearby village of Beek on 72 February 1905.

Children: Rob, born 26 July 1930;Mia born exactly a year later then Rob, July 26, 1931;Jacq, born October 2, 1933; Tini, born October 5, 1934;Annie. Born 26 October 1935;Lenie, Born April 9, 1937.

Tini was killed on her 8th birthday. The funeral mass was carried out by Bishop Guillaume Lemmens. given the fact he has the same surname I presume he was related. Although ‘Lemmens’ is a reasonably common name.

Bishop Guillaume Lemmens was known to be a vocal opponent to the Nazi regime. He wrote several letters in where he accused the Nazis of criminal acts. He also urged parishioners not to to co-operate with the Nazi occupiers in any way shape of form.

Geleen is where I was born and where I grew up. It will always be my hometown it is forever anchored as such in my heart, even though L live in Ireland now.

I only found out about the bombing a few years ago. And only today I found out there is a monument was erected in honor of the victims. The monument also commemorates the gas boiler of the Maurits mine that was shot in flames on September 1st 1944.

sources

https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/13837/Monument-the-Burned-Gas-Boiler.htm

Bombardement 5 oktober 1942

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Where I grew up-I was so ‘privileged’.

This is going to be a bit of a rant.

I am just getting so fed up to hear that racism is only a white thing and to imply that every white man is basically born a racist. There is this notion that every white man on the planet has a very privileged background.

Let me tell you about my privileged background. Or rather let me illustrate it. The picture above is a picture of the place where I grew up . At the top of the picture you can set a few apartment blocks in the background. I have circled the one I grew up in.

As you can see straight behind the apartment block , is a massive chemical plant, part of it was basically my playground, that and the steel factory between the plant and our apartment.

I was going to post pictures of all my toys. Then I remembered and I didn’t have any . A wooden tree branch is what I used for a toy gun.

Yes I was soooo privileged.

Yet I actually do consider myself privileged, because I grew up not having a notion of entitlement, or being offended by every word or insult that was thrown at me, What I did with insults, I insulted myself even more taking away all power from those other insults.

Rory Gallagher- One of my few regrets

There are very few regrets I have, but I do regret that I did not buy tickets on January5,1995 for Rory Gallagher in my hometown of Geleen, in the Netherlands. The concert was in de Hanenhof which would not be world’s best venue but it could hold a decent amount of music fans.

At the time I thought, I will catch him another time, He did tour the Netherlands a lot. In fact he was popular all over Europe except for Ireland, which ironically is where he was born and grew up.

In the later years of his life, Gallagher had developed a phobia of flying(something I can identify with) . To overcome this, he was prescribed various drugs. By the time of his final performance on 10 January 1995 in Nighttown, Rotterdam the Netherlands ,he was visibly ill with severe abdominal pain and the tour had to be cancelled. He was prescribed paracetamol for the pain, a drug that can be extremely harmful to the liver, especially with a heavy drinker such as Gallagher.[

Gallagher was admitted to London’s King’s College Hospital in March 1995, and it was only then that the extent of his ill health became apparent; his liver was failing and the doctors determined that, in spite of his young age, a liver transplant was the only possible course of action.[52] After thirteen weeks in intensive care, while waiting to be transferred to a convalescent home, his health suddenly worsened when he contracted a staphylococcal (MRSA) infection, and he died on 14 June 1995, at the age of 47.

Today marks his birthday, he would have been 73.

source

https://concerts.fandom.com/wiki/January_10,_1995_Nighttown,_Rotterdam,_NED

Not Just Numbers

The approximate number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust by nation .

Poland 3,000.000; Ukraine 900,000;Hungary 450,000; Russia 352,000;Romania 300;000;BaltIc countries 228,000;Germany/Austria 210,000;the Netherlands 105,000;France 92,000;Slovakia 75,000; Greece 54,000;Belgium 40,000;Yugoslavia 26,000;Bulgaria 14,000 ;Italy 8,000,Luxembourg 1,000;Norway 900. Total 5,907,900.

These numbers are just estimates. I believe the number is actually higher, because not all suicides are included n this number nor are all the numbers of those who died during the transport.

However when I saw these numbers I had 2 questions. My first question was “How come there are no numbers for the Danish Jews?” The Danes had been very successful in saving their Jewish neighbours. Many of then were enabled to escape to Sweden with help from their Danish neighbours .Like 19 year old Henny Sinding who used hos boat ‘Geda III’ to smuggle Jews from Denmark to Sweden.

This is not to say that no Danish Jews died. Some did die either by suicide or they didn’t survive the escape journey to Sweden. There will also have been Danish Jews who lived elsewhere who would have been deported .

My second question was “Who was responsible for the Holocaust? ” The answer to that is not as easy as one might think. No one will doubt or deny that the Nazi regime in Germany and Austria were responsible for the death of millions, however their counterparts in other European countries also did play a part in this. The excuse of being occupied they had to do as they were told is often used, but the fact is many European governments were willing participants.

Even the countries which weren’t occupied played their part. The picture below and at the start of the blog are pictures of Jewish refugees Not much is known about the group of mostly Jewish refugees who came from the region of Moravská Ostrava/Mährisch Ostrau in former Czechoslovakia, and arrived in Great Britain on March 29 1939 ,shortly after Germany had invaded Czechoslovakia, but a day after the British Police deported them at and put them on a plane at Croydoen airport.

Although the exact number of murdered Jews will never really be known, in a way it doesn’t really matter. Because each of these numbers represent a person, a human being with a living soul. A human being like any other human being, but because they were seen as a lesser life form by a sick and twisted ideology they were murdered.

A human being like Max Baum a cattle dealer who was born in Linnich, Germany , 18 August 1907 but lived in Doenrade in the Netherlands and spent some time in Geleen. Maz was murdered in Auschwitz, 18 December 1943. His wife survived

sources

Donation

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

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https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/227984/max-baum

Frieda Goldschmidt-Jakob-bombed by the RAF and Victim of the Nazis.

Frieda

It is strange how things can come full circle. My first real blog was about an event during WWII in my hometown of which I was blissfully ignorant about, until I stumbled upon it by accident.. I came across the story of Frieda Goldschmidt-Jakob which actually ties into that story.

On October 5,1942 the RAF accidentally bombed the town of Geleen in the Netherlands. They mistakenly thought it was Aachen in Germany, which is only about 25 km  away from Geleen.The bombing resulted in 83 being killed, 57 houses totally destroyed , severely damaging 227 more house and causing further damage to another 1728 homes.

Frieda Goldschmidt-Jakob and her husband lived on Groenstraat 7. which also functioned as a shop.

(the building in the middle is No 7.)Groenstraat 7

During that RAF bombing the Goldschmidt’s house was one of the homes which were hit and were destroyed. However they both survived.

Groenstraat 5

https://dirkdeklein.net/2018/10/07/october-51942-the-bombing-of-geleen/

Frieda and Joseph Goldschmidt fled Germany in 1936 and moved to the Netherlands where they setlled in Geleen . The oldest son Louis fled to the Netherlands in 1934, it is not known where exactly he moved to. The 2 oldest daughters also moved to Geleen in 1936, The 3 youngest children Alma , Hubert  and Irene Initially moved to Utrecht and then moved in with their parents in Geleen in 1937.Irene moved to a different address in Geleen

Frieda’s oldest daughter Elsa and her husband Adolf Markus managed to emigreat to the US in 1940.

In 1941, new laws restricted the movement of Jews  Hubert and Alma were transported to Toulouse in France. Frieda and her husband Joseph did not need to move because of their old age Irene was deported to Poland . When Frieda and Joseph’s house was bombed they moved into Irene’s house

On 9 April 1943 Joseph and other remaining Jews in the province of Limburg were sent to Vught and a few weeks later to Sobibor via Westerbork, He was immediately gassed when he arrived in Sobibor, aged 75.

All the stress must have got the better of Frieda because she became ill and rather then to be sent to Vught she was sent to a hospital in Maastricht by ambulance. She died in Maastricht on October 7 1943, age 74 just over a year after her house and shop was mistakenly bombed by the RAF.

It is believed that Hubert and Alma Goldschmidt and Elsa and her family have survived the war.

De Goenstraat is the street I often walked across to get to town centre, in fact it is actually where the twon centre starts. Yet another placed I passed by daily and never knew the significance of the place. I had to immigrate to Ireland to discover these things.

Donation

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

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sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Frieda-Goldschmidt-Jakob

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/137530/frieda-goldschmidt-jakob

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/detail/1bc53612-025a-11e7-904b-d89d6717b464/media/c1af75f9-4762-f57c-7bfd-ac9828699f8e?mode=detail&view=horizontal&q=Geleen&rows=1&page=1

This is how close the Holocaust still is.

no5

May 10, 2020 is Mother’s Day in most countries, with only a few exceptions like the UK and Ireland who had it on March 22. May 10 1943 is the date when one Jewish Mother and Grandmother was killed at Westerbork, aged 83. Her name was  Jeanette Meyer-Cahn, wife and  widow of Daniel Meyer. Daniel had died on 10 March 1941 in Geleen, the Netherlands.

Although Jeanette was originally from Leutesdorf, near Koblenz in Germany in 1938 Jeanette, Daniel and their youngest child, Max, and his in laws, the Kaufmann family moved to the Netherlands, initially to Sittard and on June 21,1939 to neighbouring Geleen. The address Jeanette and Daniel moved to was Graaf Huynlaan 5. The picture above is of that address. This is where suddenly the Holocaust comes very near to me again.

Not only passed I by that address a lot, because it was actually in the city centre, I even bought sunglasses a few times in the sunglasses shop right next to the house. It is also in the direct vicinity of the bank, ABN AMRO where I had an account, and in fact still have, but also my favourite restaurant, Akropolis, as the name suggest a Greek restaurant.

graaf

It was also near a bistro, named ‘t Wittebroodje, which served a great French onion soup.

Jeanette and Daniel had 5 children Walter, Rosa, Mathilde, Leo en Max Meyer, and 2 grand children Erich Meyer and Bruno Nathan(picture below)

btuno Walter was killed in WWI during the battle of Verdun. Leo and his wife had emigrated to South America in the 1930’s.

On August 25, 1942 Max and his wife Berta reported to the Market in Geleen, from there they are first deported to Maastricht and then to Poland via Westerbork, where in Poland they ended up isn’t clear. All we know is that they did not survive.

Jeanette’s 2 daughters and grandsons were all killed during the Holocaust.

Jeanette died  on 10 May 1943 in Westerbork transit camp, due to illness and exhaustion and she was cremated on 12 May 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery on field U, row 6, grave nr. 6.

Only Leo survived the war.

The war may have ended 75 year ago and with it also the Holocaust, it is a fact that decades on people like me can still find a connection with it.

REMEMBER ALWAYS

Donation

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

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SOURCES

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Jeanette-Meyer-Cahn

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/514769/about-jeanette-meyer-cahn

Karl(Karel) Zaicsek-Defiant immigrant miner.

karel

As many of you will know by now I was born and raised in a small mining town in the south east of the Netherlands, the town is called Geleen. But like many other towns in the world Geleen is divided in several neighborhoods, the neighborhood I grew up in, is called Lindenheuvel.

DSC_0697

In the 1926 the Dutch government opened a state run coal mine called Maurits adjacent to Lindenheuvel. This created employment for not only the Dutch but also other nationalities, Geleen became an attractive option for immigrants.

Karl Zaicsek,s  parents were some of those immigrants.They moved from Hungary to Lindenheuvel in Geleen. It is not known when exactly Karl and his parents to Geleen, all we know is that Karl’s father died on the 9th of February 1939, Karl was only 17 at the time. So I presume it was up to him then to provide for his family. He got a job in the mine.

On May 10th 1940, German troops invaded the Netherlands, and a few days later after the bombing of Rotterdam, the Dutch army capitulated . The Dutch government had already gone in exile in London.

Karl  continued working  in the mine during the war but he also became a member of the council of resistance, he had the code name Koenen.

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 September 12th ,1944  Karl 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 thought that Karl  had a basket of butter on his bicycle.

The pair however did not want to be escorted to the German HQ and decided to make a run for it.Jan Barning threw his bike at the German soldier who escorted them  and then he and Karl made a run for it. Jan was nearly shot in the head but managed to run into a nearby hostel for mine workers.

Unfortunately Karl Zaicsek was not as lucky  and was caught again  between Sittard and Hoensbroek and was executed on the 12th of September 1944 but other sources say the 16th of September. The sad thing about this Geleen was liberated only a few days later on September 18th.

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

In Lindenheubel a street was named after Karl.

sraat

I only found out about Karl a few years ago. I easily could have discovered his story a long time ago if I had only looked at the names on the monument in the center of Lindenheuvel, his name is one of the names of the soldiers and resistance fighters mentioned on the monument. A place I passed by and visited hundreds of times.

lheuvel

Even if I had been a bit more inquisitive about the street name I so often walked on I would have known the story of Karl. Only after I became an immigrant myself I discovered his heroic actions and that of so many other from Geleen.

 

Donation

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

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https://www.wo2slachtoffers.nl/bio/56599/Zaicsek-Karl-Karel.htm

 

 

 

 

Simple acts of defiance in Geleen-Greeting the Jewish neighbours.

Ster

Every once in a while I come across a story which makes me immensely proud to be a native from Geleen.

Those of you who read my blogs on a regular base, know that I was born in the town of Geleen in the south East of the Netherlands.

Most of the Jews who lived in Geleen during World War 2 were killed during the Holocaust. I am not saying that the Dutch could not have done more to save more of their Jewish neighbours , because there is more they could have done.

However on May 10,1940 the Netherlands got a rude awakening. They were too naive to believe that the Nazis would honour the Dutch neutrality. On may 10,1940 the Germans invaded the country.

Initially there was not that much change, not even for the Jewish population. But gradually new laws were introduced and often any breach of those laws was punished by death. It eventually became clear how evil the Nazis were and they ruled by instilling fear in the population.

However there were several times where the Dutch defied the Nazi regime . The biggest act of defiance was the February strike in 1941, where over 300,000 people joined the strike in protest against the treatment of the Jews. The strike was violently stopped by the Nazis.

But there were other small acts of defiance in the Netherlands. On May 2,1942 the Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their clothes, to be visible at all time in public.

A citizen of Geleen,Rie op den Camp wrote in his diary on May 9,1942, “Silent resistance against the Jewish star. Many people greet all Jews they meet, Even if they don’t know them. Some non Jewish citizens even wear a star too. In may places people have removed the signs saying “Forbidden for Jews” The krauts have arrested some of these ‘offenders’ on several places.

verboden

I never knew about this, it is times like this when I feel a bit more proud to be from Geleen.

Donation

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

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Sources

http://members.home.nl/w.brasse/vergeten_joden_van_geleen.htm#Jodenvervolging