The brave words from a Mother to her Daughter.

olga

This story is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Heartbreaking because it is a story about a mother who knew she was going to die. Uplifting because her last words were so positive and courageous, despite the fate that awaited her.

Olga Bancic was born on May 10, 1912 to a large Jewish family living in the Bessarabia province when it was still part of the Russian Empire.

In 1936, she traveled to France, where she supported communist activists in transporting weapons to Spanish Republican forces fighting in the Spanish Civil War. Shortly before the outbreak of WWII she gave birth to her Daughter Dolores, the child’s father was Alexandru Jar. After the outbreak of the war Olga left Dolores in care with a French family. Olga joined a resistance group.

She was arrested on November 6, 1943 by the Gestapo, during the interrogation she was tortured.Despite the torture she refused  give information about her comrades.

On February 22,1944 Olga and 22 others were sentenced to death. All male defendants were executed later that day at Fort Mont-Valérien. Olga had been the only female defendant and due to a loophole in the French law which prevented women from being executed on French soil, Olga was deported to Stuttgart. She was executed in Stuttgart on May 10,1944 , her 32nd birthday. She was decapitated with an axe in the local prison’s courtyard.

One of her last deeds was throwing a letter out of a window during her transportation to her place of execution. The letter had a note attached to it saying.:

“Dear Madame: I ask you to please give this letter to my little girl Dolores Jacob after the war. This is the last wish of a mother who will only live twelve more hours.”

Miraculously the letter did reach Dolores, who had been given the name Dolores Jacob, the letter said the following:

“My dear little daughter, my darling little love

Your mother is writing the last letter, my dear little daughter; tomorrow at 6:00, on May 10, I will be no more.

Don’t cry, my love; your mother doesn’t cry any more either. I die with a peaceful conscience and with the firm conviction that tomorrow you will have a happier life and future than your mother’s. You will no longer have to suffer. Be proud of your mother, my little love. I always have your image before me.

I’m going to believe that you will see your father, and I have hope that he’ll meet a fate different from mine. Tell him that I always thought of him, as I always thought of you. I love you both with all my heart. Both of you are dear to me. My darling child, your father is, for you, also a mother. He loves you a lot. You won’t feel the loss of your mother. My darling child, I finish this letter with the hope that you will be happy all your life, with your father, with everyone.

I kiss you with all my heart, a lot a lot.

Farewell my love.

Your Mother”

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Hermine Santruschitz aka Miep Gies

Miep

The name Hermine Santruschitz will mean very little to most, however the name Miep Gies is a well known name, a name which would forever be linked to a teenage diarist called Anne Frank.

Miep Gies born  Hermine Santruschitz would have celebrated her 110th birthday today, she did not get that old but she still reached the age of 100.

She was born in Vienna on February 15,1909.Her parents Mathias and Genofeva (née Jakuschitz) Santruschitz sent her to Leiden in the Netherlands in 1920. Austria was stil suffering the consequences of World War 1, there were a lot of shortages including food.

The Netherlands had remained neutral during WWI and was reasonably affluent. Hermine was sent to The Nieuwenburg family, consisting of 2 parents and 5 children. The The Nieuwenburg family initially agreed to take Hermine in foster care for 6 months, but due to bad health this was extended to one year. In that time Hermine got very attached to the family and the decision was made for Hermine to remain with the family. They called her by the shortened version of her name Miep.

In 1922 Miep moved with her foster family to Amsterdam.Miep was a bright student and after  graduating high school she got a job as an accountant.

In 1933, Otto Frank had been appointed Managing Director of Opekta, a German company which had expanded into the Netherlands.

Jam

In need of a secretary the Dutch branch, headed by Otto Frank hired Miep in 1933.

In 1933 Miep gad also met Jan Gies but due the fact that Jan had to go into the Dutch Social Services, the couple didn’t meet socially again until 1936.

Jan and Miep became close friends yo the Frank family. Shortly after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Miep was urged to  to join a Nazi women’s group. But she refused to do so, because of this threatened with deportation back to Vienna. Jan and Miep decided to get married, this would secure Miep’s residence in the Netherlands. They got married  in Amsterdam on 16 July 1941, The Frank family was in attendance at the wedding.

Frank

Less than a year later the lives of both the Frank and the Gies family would change forever. All of them faced death , the Frank’s simply because they were Jewish, Miep en Jan Gies for helping the Frank , the Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer , hide.

The fate of all those hiding in that little secret annex in an office in Amsterdam is well documented

Miep died on January 11,2010 aged 100.

An unassuming, immigrant foster child who became an icon for heroism.

Happy Birthday Miep.

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There is nothing more beautiful then the smile of a child.

ema

Being a Parent is the hardest job in the world. The sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the countless times being peed on.Also the worries when your baby has a bit of a temperature, the millions of scenarios of what could go wrong with your child.

But all of that is forgotten the second you see that very first smile. Nothing on this earth is more valuable or could replace its beauty.

A smile so pure and full of innocence and unconditional love, it could melt every one’s heart.

Yet there are those who saw this token of purity and innocence as a threat to their very existence.

The love was answered with hate.

The pureness was answered with filth.

The innocence was answered with death.

How could anyone look at a smiley face like that of Emma Zilverberg and feel compelled and righteous enough to destroy that life?

It breaks my heart to think that the last minutes of this 18 month old girl were filled with pure evil. Evil in its most barbaric, inhumane form.

The really disturbing aspect of this that those who killed her possibly had young children themselves, or may have been an uncle or aunt to a niece or nephew.

Emma Zilverberg was killed in Sobibor she was still a baby. If we forget Emma and all those countless children who died in the Holocaust and other genocides, we will have failed as a society.

 

Source of picture

Ancientfaces.com

 

Freud’s sisters.

freud

When you think of psychiatry one of the names you think of first is Sigmund Freud. A controversial but a successful Austrian Jewish neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, who created an entirely new approach to the understanding of the human personality.

Although his work will have saved many from mental health issues, he was not able to save some of his own family. Some of them were plagued by mental health.

Sigmund Freud died on September 23,1939 he had been able to escape the claws of the Nazi regime, 4 of his sisters were not so lucky.

Regina Debora aka Rosa

Rosa had  married a lawyer, Heinrich Graf . They had one  son, Hermann  who was killed in the First World War; their only daughter, Cacilie , committed suicide in 1922 after an unhappy love affair. Rosa was killed in Treblinka in 1943.

Marie aka Mitzi

Mitzi married her cousin Moritz Freud . They had three daughters: Margarethe (, Lily , Martha and one son, Theodor  who died in a drowning accident. Martha, took er own life after her husband committed suicide.Mitzi was killed in Treblinka in 1942

Esther Adolfine  aka Dolfi

Dolfi never married  and stayed in the family home to care for her parents. She died in Theresienstadt concentration camp in 1943.

Pauline Regine aka Pauli

Pauli married Valentine Winternitz  and emigrated to the United States where their daughter Rose Beatrice (1896–1969) was born. After the death of her husband she and her daughter returned to Europe. Pauli was killed in Treblinka in 1942

Anna

Anna was the only sister who survived the Holocaust

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The shoe of a child

shoe

There are so many horrific images of the Holocaust, Films and pictures of corpses on carts. Photographs of women and children being executed. There is a disturbing photograph of a Jewish lady with ripped clothes being chased by young children.

All of these images are very powerful but I have decided to limit those images in my blogs. Not because I don’t find them important because they are, but basically for 2 reasons.

  1. After doing these blogs for 2+ years I found they had an impact on my well being,both physically and mentally.
  2. It is so hard to fathom these pictures that people get desensitized by them , and they become more like raw data and the stories behind them are forgotten.

Other images , although not graphic in nature, can be more powerful and heartbreaking. Pictures of daily objects.

Pictures like the picture of a child’s shoe which  was found near the gas chambers at Auschwitz.

It is not just a shoe but also a story. The story of a child whose name is forgotten.

The story of a human being whose life was cut short because of hate.

A shoe which was put on every day, sometimes with the laces untied because the child was so eager to go outside and play with friends or to kick a ball.

On the other hand that same shoe was put on and the child was deliberately delaying putting it on and tying the laces, because he or she did not want to go to school.

A child whose future was robbed, and whose potential was denied to flourish.

What is even more heart breaking it was only one shoe that was found, It became a symbol of a broken life, a life interrupted.

So you see it is not just a shoe but a chronicle of the short life of a child,

 

 

 

Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

mAX

Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

KO

Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

KO2

During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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Alfred Delp-“Vincula amoris” -chains of love.

Alfred Delp

I know the Catholic church has quite a few questions to answer when it comes to WWII, but there were many within the church who stood up against the Nazi regime, knowing that it could cost them their lives and for many it did.

Alfred Delp was a German  Jesuit priest. Witnessing at  first hand his country being turned into something he could not stand, Alfred Delp opposed bitterly the rising tide of Nazism, which eventually cots him his life.

He was a member of the inner Kreisau Circle resistance group(a group of about twenty-five German dissidents led by Helmuth James von Moltke, who met at his estate in the rural town of Kreisau)

estate

He was arrested in Munich on 28 July 1944, with other members of the circle after the attempted assassination of Hitler on July 20 1944. After suffering brutal treatment and torture, Delp was brought to trial. Even though he knew nothing of the attempted assassination.

He was transferred to Tegel Prison in Berlin. Whilst in prison, he secretly began to say Mass and wrote letters, reflections on Advent, on Christmas, and other spiritual subjects,which were smuggled out of the prison before his trial. On 8 December 1944.

On the day of his trial he got  visit from Franz von Tattenbach SJ, sent by Augustin Rösch, Father Delp’s superior in Munich  to receive his final vows to the Jesuit Order. This was forbidden by the Nazis, but the attending policemen did not understand what was going on.Delp wrote on the same day, It was too much, what a fulfillment, I prayed for it so much, I gave my life away. My chains are now without any meaning, because God found me worthy of the “Vincula amoris” (chains of love)

Delp was offered his freedom if he would renounce the Jesuits. He refused and was hanged February 2, 1945. His body was cremated and his ashes spread on an unknown field.

Martyr

 

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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

Jesuits in Ireland

Ignatius Insight

Wikipedia

ignatianspirituality.com

17 Million deaths- Not just statistics

Holocaust

I have to make this clear upfront, some of this blog is not based on facts I can proof. It is purely based on my presumptions but also a good dose of common sense,for lack of a better description.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum estimates that the total of deaths during the Holocaust is 17 Mullion, 6 million of which were Jewish. The second biggest group deaths were Soviet citizens 4.5 million.Followed by 2.8–3.3 million Soviet prisoners of war and 1.8–3 million Polish followed by several other groups which the Nazis deemed subhuman.

The above numbers are estimates,verified and  compiled by the USHMM and also other Holocaust organisations.

But I believe the overall number must have been higher. In those stats are not included the number of  the unborn children. Many pregnant women were killed immediately after arriving at the camps. Or otherwise they were forced to have abortions.And sometimes babies were killed straight after birth.

Additionally not all the victims of the einsatz gruppen were registered either. Nor is taken in consideration the number of survivors who committed suicide after the war,because of survivors guilt or otherwise.

One thing I do know for certain though. There are many people who just can’t fathom the amount of victims and great numbers like that become statistics.

The statistics become more of a mathematical equation. Merely a scientific footnote and as times passes the human stories are forgotten. All that is spoken about is the Holocaust statistics.

But these victims deserve better, they are not a statistic but a human being who once were flesh and blood.

Human beings like the 2 sisters Eva and Leah(Liane) Münzer.

Ssiters

In February 1944 they were sent to Auschwitz and were killed three days after arrival. They had been in hiding with a friend of a neighbour. But as a result from a domestic dispute the girls were betrayed. The husband of the woman ,in whose house they were hiding, denounced her and the girls to the authorities. All three were arrested and sent to Westerbork. On February 8, 1944 eight year old Eva and six year old Leah were deported to Auschwitz where they were killed three days later

On the other hand there was their baby brother Alfred who survived the war, but nearly wasn’t born.

Alfred

His parents  were from Galicia but  moved to the Netherlands in the early 1930’s.Alfred was born November 23, 1941. But his mother’s obstetrician had urged her to have an abortion. “It would be immoral,” to bring another Jewish life into the world.” he told her. But his Mother Gisele did have Alfred and he was rescued by an Indonesian family living in the Netherlands, Indonesia was a Dutch colony at the time.

Only Alfred and his Mother survived.

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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

USHMM

Forward.com

 

 

 

 

 

Jews in World War 2

bomb

As the title suggests, this blog is about Jews in WWII. However it is not about Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust. This is about the Jews who fought on both sides, for the allied troops but also for the Axis powers.

This may sound crazy but some Jews even got awarded an Iron Cross.

Major Leo Skurnik was a Jewish soldier/medical officer in the Finnish army.

leo

In September 1941 he organized an evacuation of a German field hospital when it came under Soviet attack. In excess of  600 patients, including SS soldiers, were evacuated.For this action he was awarded the Iron Cross.

Skurnik was one of  three Finnish Jews who were bestowed the Iron Cross class 2 . All refused to accept the award.

More then 300 Finnish Jewish soldiers found themselves ‘allied’ to  the Nazis when Finland, who had a mutual enemy in the Soviet Union, joined the war in June 1941.

Despite Germany demanding that Finland introduce anti-Semitic laws like in the rest of Nazi-controlled Europe, the Finns refused, treating their Jewish soldiers with respect. They even allowed the Jewish soldiers to practice their religion.

There was even a field synagogue for these soldiers,  some German soldiers  sometimes even visited the synagogue and showed respect for the Jews who prayed there, despite the propaganda they had subjected to for years.

synagogue

It was not so much the case that these Finnish Jewish soldiers subscribed to the Nazi philosophy ,but more of a case of fighting an enemy which was feared more in Finland, the Soviet Union.

On the other hand there were Jews fighting for the allies. About 500,000 American Jews served in the various branches of the United States armed services. approximately 52,000 of these received U.S. military awards/ They fought in Europe and the Pacific.

usarmy

One of the American Jewish soldiers was private Leo Lichten. He was killed in action just outside the village of Prummern,in Germany near the Dutch border.

On November 20,1944.Leo’s company, Company A, received the  order, 1944, to attack pillboxes (small bunkers).The weather conditions were severe , and the ground was muddy, making the battle even more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Leo stormed one of the pillboxes, and was killed by machine gun fire. His body was laid to rest in the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten. Last year I visited his grave and paid my respects.

leolichten

The Jewish Infantry Brigade Group,also  known as the Jewish Brigade Group or Jewish Brigade, was a military division of the British Army during  World War II. It was formed in late 1944 and consisted of  recruits  of  Jews from the then Mandatory Palestine and was  commanded by Anglo-Jewish officers. It served in the latter stages of the Italian Campaign.

jewishbritish

In October 1944, led by Brigadier Ernest F. Benjamin, the brigade group was sent to Italy where it  joined British 8th Army in November 1944, which was engaged in the Italian Campaign under 15th Army Group.

The brigade group did partake in the Spring Offensive of 1945.  On March 19–20, 1945, it initiated two attacks. It moved to the Senio River sector, where it fought against the German 4th Parachute Division commanded by General lieutenant Heinrich Trettner. On April 9, the brigade crossed the river and established a bridgehead, widening it the following day. At the duration  of the  operations in Italy the Jewish Brigade suffered 30 casualties and 70 wounded.

troops

 

Donation

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

The Telegraph

Haaretz

Wikipedia

 

Remember

watch

January 27 the day designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I could post thousands of pictures of victims.

Or disturbing and very graphic pictures, some of them just too horrific to look at and rather then look at them we turn away because we cannot fathom that evil on display in front of us. Impossible to comprehend how any human being could commit these crimes to any other human being.

And that is just it and it may be an uncomfortable truth but both victims and perpetrators were human beings. It is easy and in a way logical to call those who did these unfathomable evil deeds monsters, but I believe that would be wrong, because that gives them an excuse.  For what do we expect from monsters? We expect them to do bad things.

Many of them were clerical workers, bakers, butchers,painters,husbands,wives,mothers and fathers. They were not all political leaders or dictators. Often they were ‘common people’

As for the poor misfortunes who just happened to be Jewish,Jehovah Witness,Homosexual, Disabled,Roma or just people standing up to the regime. They were innocent human beings, victims of hate and warped ideologies.

Human beings like the owner of the pocket watch found among  the belongings of inmates from Auschwitz. The owner of the watch had an anticipation of time. Time to celebrate a birthday. Time to meet a friend. Time to go for lunch or go to the shop to buy a newspaper. But in an instant this anticipation of time was taken away from him or her. The only time that was left to wait for were the days,hours,minutes or seconds left to live.

Our duty as human beings and citizens of the world is to remember that we as humans can cause so much hurt and chaos but equally we are also the solution. If we let this happen again , we have failed and alas at the moment it is starting to look like we are making the same mistakes again.