Englandspiel Tragedy

The Englandspiel was a counter-espionage operation set up by the Germans that lasted from March 1942 to April 1944. Secret agents of the SOE who had been dropped over the Netherlands were often arrested immediately upon landing and forced to maintain radio contact with England. Despite hidden warnings in their broadcast messages, British intelligence continued to send secret agents, eventually over 50 of them were murdered in captivity. The majority in Mauthausen.

Churchill had set up the SOE in 1940 to “set Europe ablaze”, by helping the resistance movements in occupied countries. At its peak it had some 10,000 men and 3,200 women working for it, running agents and arranging resistance and sabotage behind enemy lines. The organisation had many successes, especially in France, but it had some failures, of which the disaster in the Netherlands was by far the worst.

Recently released records show that poor leadership of the Dutch section of SOE sowed the seeds of disaster. In the vital period Major Charles Blizard, who used the codename “Blunt”, headed the Dutch section, though he was replaced by a Major Bingham.

Under SOE’s “Plan for Holland” agents started to be dropped into the Netherlands in 1941. Among one of the first teams parachuted in, on a November night, was Thijs Taconis, a trained saboteur, and his wireless operator, Hubert Lauwers. The German security police then penetrated the embryonic Dutch underground movement and a stool pigeon informed on Lauwers, who was captured early in March 1942.

Portrait of secret agent Thijs Taconis, killed by the Englandspiel.
Born March 28, 1914 in Rotterdam. Sent by SOE, parachuted and arrested March 9, 1942. Died September 6, 1944 at Mauthausen.

He was forced to transmit messages to England, but was confident that SOE in London would spot a false security check. Unfortunately it did not. Shortly afterwards it told him to receive another agent. “Watercress” arrived on 27 March. He was captured and the process went on as further agents arrived. The lack of radio security checks was ignored by SOE in London. It was even stupid enough to radio back to one operator: “You ought to use your security checks,” thereby alerting the Germans to the existence of such checks.

The German operation was called Englandspiel – the England Game – and its chief strategist was Lieutenant Colonel H J Giskes. He reported daily to Hitler through Admiral Canaris, the head of the Abwehr – German intelligence. By April 1943 the Germans controlled 18 radio channels back to London.

H.J Giskes

For about 15 months, SOE’s Dutch section planned the creation of resistance in Netherlands , recruiting and training agents, sending and receiving intelligence and other wireless traffic, the dispatch of supply-laden aircraft, all the time confident that a vigorous underground movement was being built.

A memo of May 1943 says: “The sabotage organisation as planned is now complete. It comprises five groups containing 62 cells and totalling some 420 men. These groups are now well equipped with stores and are ready for action.”

In reality the entire operation was compromised. The files reveal that, up to October 1943, SOE sent 56 agents to the Netherlands of which 43 were given a “reception” by the Germans. Of the 56 only eight survived. Of those captured 36 were executed in September 1944, at Mauthausen concentration camp. Eleven RAF aircraft were shot down in the process. (A later War Cabinet note observed that RAF losses on these missions had been “abnormally high”.)

The phoney network was finally revealed to London after the escape from Haaren concentration camp in August 1943 of two SOE agents, Pieter Diepenbroek and Johan Ubbink – “Sprout” and “Chive”.

Files in the Public Record Office contain the debriefings of “Sprout” and “Chive”, which make clear that the Germans had controlled the Dutch “Underground” movement for more than 18 months.

The Germans realised that their double-cross network had been blown. Giskes signed off with this message to London on April Fool’s Day 1944:

“Messrs, Blunt, Bingham and Successors, Ltd. London. In the last time you are trying to make business in the Netherlands without our assistance. We think this rather unfair in view of our long and successful co-operation as your sole agents. But never mind, when you come to pay a visit to the Continent you may be assured that you will be received with the same care and result as all those you sent before. So long!”

The files also show the courageous “Sprout” and “Chive” were locked up in Brixton Prison upon their return to London in case they were German double agents.

“Sprout” and “Chive” were convinced that the Germans had help from Major Bingham, then the Dutch section’s head. “No one else was in such a good position to `play ball’ with the enemy,” Chive told his MI5 interviewers.

The British author of the memo was clearly angered by the assertion. The two had had the temerity to make an allegations against a British officer, “which it is fair to say they have failed to substantiate”. The two were later released and allowed to join the Dutch Armed Forces.

The SOE post-mortem examination shows that serious doubts had been raised about the network as early as July 1942 but the warning had been ignored by the section’s chief. “Not only, however, does there appear to have been a failure to look the facts squarely in the face but also failure when suspicion had once been aroused to test suspicions.”

England game. Interception of dropped weapons. SD men Hahn and Eenstroth look over the dumped containers with illegal weapons, which were dropped by the RAF shortly before.

Major Blizard had gone by the time of the denouement. Major Bingham was posted Australia.

The Germans’ chief gain from the fiasco was that until just before D- day they thwarted all attempts to build a Dutch resistance movement into Allied plans and to equip it ready for action.

Several files on the SOE in the Netherlands are still withheld.

Below are just some of those brave men. These few were all murdered in Mauthausen on September 6,1944.

Portrait of secret agent Klaas van der Bor, killed by the Englandspiel.
Born: May 24, 1913. Broadcast by: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 16, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen
Portrait of Roelof Christiaan Jongelie, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 25 February 1903 in Amsterdam. Broadcast : SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachute and arrest : September 24, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Leonardus Cornelis Theodoris Andriega, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: November 22, 1913 in The Hague. Broadcast : SOE. Parachute : March 29, 1942. Arrest : April 28, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 at Mauthausen
Portrait of Charles Hofstede, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: December 17, 1918, The Hague. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachute and arrest : October 24, 1942. Died : September 6, 1944 Mauthausen.
Portrait of Aart Hendrik Alblas, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: September 20, 1918, Middelharnis. Broadcast: MI-6/CID. Parachute : 5 July 1941. Arrest : 16 July 1942. Died : 6 September 1944 Mauthausen.
Portrait of Willem van der Wilder, killed by the Englandspiel
Born : July 1, 1910 in Kelichem. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 18, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Pieter van der Wilden, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 8 May 1914 in Haarlem. Broadcast: SOE/Plan-Holland. Parachuting and arrest: February 18, 1943. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Johannes Cornelis Buizer, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: September 11, 1918 in Almkerk. Broadcast: SOE. Parachuting and arrest: June 22, 1942. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.
Portrait of Gerard van Os, killed by the Englandspiel
Born: 2 May 1914, broadcast by: SOE/Plan-Holland, parachuting and arrest: 18 February 1943, died: 6 September 1944 in Mauthausen
Portrait of Jan Emmer, killed by the Englandspiel
Jan Emmer had escaped to England by boat in the autumn of 1941. He became a secret agent and was sent across the North Sea with Felix Ortt by the group Hazelhoff Roelfzema (Soldier of Orange).
Born: April 8, 1917 in Wormer. Broadcast by: MI-6/Contact Holland. Deposed March 12, 1942. Arrest: May 30, 1942. Died: September 6, 1944 in Mauthausen.

The fifty Dutch SOE agents that had been captured by the Germans were transported to Mauthausen concentration camp in September 1944 as allied military forces were advancing into the Netherlands, and eventually executed. Giskes, the Abwehr mastermind of Englandspiel, was arrested by the British, but after the war was employed by the United States during the occupation of Germany.

Some of the officials of the Dutch government-in-exile in London refused to cooperate with SOE when the details of Englandspiel became known to them. They were ordered to do so by the Dutch Prince Bernhard, and a fresh start was made in mid-to-late 1944 under new leadership at SOE. Twenty-five well equipped and trained sabotage teams of two Dutch agents each were parachuted into the Netherlands. However, engendered by Englandspiel the British distrusted the Dutch resistance which prevented it from having an impact in Operation Market Garden, the unsuccessful offensive by allied military forces in the Netherlands in September 1944. The spearhead of the British forces, the First British Airborne Division, was ordered not to cooperate with the resistance. Had it not been ignored, the resistance would have been helpful in providing badly needed intelligence and communications to the division which had to be withdrawn from the battlefield after heavy losses.

Conspiracy theories in the Netherlands alleged that a traitor in SOE caused the Englandspiel and that Dutch agents were sacrificed to conceal allied plans for an invasion of the Netherlands. “For many, it was simply impossible to fathom how the devastation caused by das Englandspiel could have been the result of stupidity and ineptness. “The contrary and more accepted view of M.R.D Foot is that “the agents were victims of sound police work on the German side, assisted by Anglo-Dutch incompetence in London.”

sources

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/spy-fiasco-cost-britain-50-agents-1199631.html

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Englandspiel

https://europeremembers.com/story/engelandvaarders-and-das-englandspiel/

The Dutch in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz

Before I go into the main story, I just want to point out the most disturbing aspect of the picture above. At the very front is a lady carrying a baby. We know now what her fate would have been. It is a disturbing sight on an old photograph, so just imagine how disturbing this most have been for those who were forced to help the Nazis in their crimes. These men would have also know what fate awaited the lady and her baby, and they could nothing about it, to safeguard their own survival and perhaps of their family. Or at least the notion that they perhaps would survive.

Sonderkommandos were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed of prisoners, usually Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust. The death-camp Sonderkommandos, who were always prisoners and victims themselves, were unrelated to the SS-Sonderkommandos, which were ad hoc units formed from members of various SS offices between 1938 and 1945.

This blog is not to judge those were forced into the Sonderkommandos, none of us can judge because we were never put in that situation. This blog is about a few of the Dutch Jews who were forced into the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz.

With the arrival of a deportation train in Auschwitz, the work of the Sonderkommandos began. They had to escort the victims to the gas chamber, reassure them and collect their belongings. After the victims were gassed, the members of the Sonderkommandos moved the corpses from the gas chamber and took them to the incineration pits or crematoria. For this arduous work, Jewish men are selected on the platform, including one hundred to one hundred and fifty Dutch. They were forced to become part of the Nazi killing machine at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

During the invasion of the German army of the Netherlands in May 1940, Josef van Rijk fought with the reserve company De Jagers in The Hague against the Germans. During that time Josef shot d a German paratrooper, and killed him. Maurice Schellekes is a tailor and didn’t notice much of the German invasion. But both Jewish men soon had to deal with the persecution of the Jews in the occupied Netherlands. Josef is fired from De Bijenkorf in The Hague and Maurice was sent the Jewish labor camp Kremboong on March 31, 1942.

Josef tries to flee to Switzerland, but is arrested during a check at Amsterdam Central Station. He is imprisoned in the prison on the Amstelveenseweg and is soon transferred to Camp Westerbork. Maurice also flees after rumors that Kremboong will be evicted. He goes into hiding in Amsterdam. On August 6, 1942, Maurice goes outside to get razors and is arrested. He also ends up in Camp Westerbork.

Josef and Maurice both only spent a brief time in Camp Westerbork. Because they were arrested after an attempt to flee and trying to go into hiding, the men are considered ‘criminal cases’. They were deported on 10 August 1942 from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz.

The following day they arrive at the extermination camp and are selected to work in the Sonderkommando. Maurice works at the mass graves in the open Sonderkommando of Bunker II. Josef buries the corpses after they are taken from Bunker II to the mass graves via a narrow gauge railway with a small wagon.

Working in the Sonderkommando was physically very demanding. In the scorching August sun, the men barely get a drink. The SS and Kapos guarding them constantly mistreated the men. But then suddenly there was a way out. All Dutchmen were called upon to participate. The men of the Sonderkommando were not allowed to leave at all.

This saved Josef and Maurice’s lives. The group of 1200 Dutch people had to undress and were inspected. The healthy men, including Josef and Maurice, were given clean camp clothes, leave Birkenau and walk to Auschwitz. The other Dutch were gassed. Josef and Maurice end up in the Kanada-Kommando.

–When the selection process was complete, a work group of prisoners called the ‘Kanada Kommando’ collected the belongings of victims and took them to the ‘Kanada’ warehouse facility for sorting and transporting back to Germany.

To prisoners Canada was a country that symbolised wealth. They, therefore, gave the ironic name Kanada (the German spelling of Canada) to the warehouse area as it was full of possessions, clothing and jewellery.–

Both Josef and Maurice survived the war.

“An intertwined mass of people – tangle of people – who could only be separated by moistening them. They were sprayed wet. (..) By just pulling you took the bodies out, like a bunch of animals. We have been horrified done that for a few days but by then we were already used to it.”: Josef van Rijk

“I realized that this mound was loose earth, shoveled from the ground where there was now a mass grave filled with rows of women’s bodies covered with quicklime. It was such a terrible sight that words on paper simply cannot describe it. There was the work that was waiting for me.”: Maurice Schellekes

At the end of 1943 a new group of Dutchmen ended up in the Sonderkommando. Including Samuel Zoute who arrived on 21 October 1943. Before the war, he sold fruit and vegetables on the Albert Cuyp market. On 19 October 1943, Samuel is deported from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz, together with his wife Doortje and four children. Doortje, Rachel, Abraham and Simon are gassed immediately. Eldest son Maurits is selected for labour, until he too is gassed. Samuel found his son Maurits among the gassed people and had to burn him.

On August 17, 1943, Abraham Beesemer, Joseph Peperroot, Salomon van Sijs and Louis Elzas arrived in Auschwitz. The men were first in the quarantine block and at the beginning of January 1944 they ended up together in the Sonderkommando. Jacob Beesemer, Abraham’s brother, was later also selected for the Sonderkommando.

These Dutchmen were also looking for a way out of the Sonderkommando. The number of incoming transports decreased and the Sonderkommandos were slowly reduced. The threat of the complete liquidation of the Sonderkommandos hung in the air. On October 7, 1944, a prisoner knocked down an SS man with a hammer and started the uprising. Several Sonderkommandos revolt. One of the crematoria is blown up and hundreds of Sonderkommando prisoners flee the camp. Three SS men and about 450 Sonderkommando prisoners were killed. The brothers Abraham and Jacob, Salomon, Joseph and Louis were murdered by the SS. Samuel Zoute and Hagenaar Henry Bronkhorst worked at other crematoria in other Sonderkommandos and managed to survive the uprising.

After the uprising, Henry Bronkhorst, Samuel Zoute, Maurice Schellekes and Josef van Rijk are still alive. As the Russians approach, the death marches begin to clear the camp. Henry Bronkhorst is the only one who manages to mix with the other prisoners and thus remain in Auschwitz until its liberation by the Russians on January 27, 1945. The rest are forced to join the death marches: Samuel, Maurice and Josef leave Auschwitz. Samuel ends up in Mauthausen, he is murdered on March 7, 1945. Maurice ends up in Ebensee, a satellite camp of Mauthausen, and is liberated by the Americans on May 6, 1945. Josef ends up in Leitmeritz, a subcamp of Flossenbürg and is liberated by the Russians on 9 May 1945.

sources

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/album_auschwitz/kanada.asp

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/artikel/nederlanders-het-sonderkommando-van-auschwitz

Donation

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Cruel and humiliating.

Himmler, Seyss-Inquart and Rauter decided to set an example: the first roundup against Jews became a fact. On Saturday afternoon, February 22, 1941, a column of German trucks appeared near Waterlooplein. The area was completely cordoned off. Young Jewish men were ruthlessly herded together on Jonas Daniël Meijerplein,in Amsterdam. Also on the following day many Jewish men were arrested. A total of 427 Jews between the ages of twenty and thirty-five were deported to the Schoorl camp.

It wasn’t enough to just round them up and deport them. The Nazis also felt the need to humiliate at least one of the young men. One German M.P. (Grüne Polizei) is seen to be dealing a blow in a man’s face. In front of his friends and family.

The men captured during the round up were transported in an army truck to the concentration camp Schoorl. The group of 427 people only stayed for four days after which they were deported to Buchenwald, where in June 1941 they were subsequently deported to Mauthausen concentration camp. Only two of this group survived the war.

It wasn’t enough for the Nazis to be cruel, they also had to humiliate.

source

July 6,1942- Mauthausen

On June 12,1942 64 people are transported from Camp Amersfoort on the Netherlands, to Mauthausen in Austria.

Of those 64 people, 12 were murdered on July 6,1942.

Nathan de Klijn. born in Amsterdam, 29 August 1905.Mirdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 36 years. His surname is pronounced the same as mine. Occupation: Transport bicycle hand

Louis Cohen, born on Amsterdam, 3 January 1918.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 24 years. Occupation: Office clerk

Alexander van der Stam, born in Antwerp, 30 September 1894.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 47 years. Occupation: Waiter

Jozua Klein, born in Wildervank, 3 April 1901.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 41 years Occupation: Merchant

David Abraham Drielsma, born on Elst, 18 September 1903.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 38 years

Marcus Cohen born in Groningen, 12 July 1907.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 34 years. Occupation: Debenture bond office owner

Maximiliaan del Valle, born in Amsterdam, 23 April 1897 .Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942.

Reached the age of 45 years. Occupation: Literary scholar

Levi Messcher, born in Haskerland, 28 June 1895.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 47 years.Occupation: Sales representative

Levie Godschalk, born in Amsterdam, 24 June 1906.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 36 years. Occupation: Livestock wholesale dealer.

Bernhard van der Kloot, born in The Hague, 16 November 1897. Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 44 years. Occupation: Merchant

Juda Schrijver, born in Amsterdam, 21 July 1915.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 26 years. Occupation: Dispatch boy

Albert Sluizer , born in Amsterdam, 12 August 1916.Murdered in Mauthausen, 6 July 1942

Reached the age of 25 years. Occupation: Manager

I only gave limited biographies on the men, but this is just to show that they weren’t members of political or terror groups, or criminals, or tax evaders. They were all just regular guys with regular jobs. Yet there were murdered because the Nazis thought they were different.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/mensen?transport_from=https://data.niod.nl/WO2_Thesaurus/kampen/3652&transport_to=https://data.niod.nl/WO2_Thesaurus/kampen/3682&transport_date=1942-6-12

The execution of Hans Bonarewitz

The saying goes “Music can soothe the savage beast”, but what if it is the savage beast that is using the music as a cynical form of evil and torture.

In July 1942 Hans Bonarewitz attempted to escape from Mauthausen concentration camp, he tried to hide in a box. He was captured on July 30 1942.The picture above is him forced to pose for a photograph standing next to the box he wanted to escape in.

He was going to be executed, but rather then just killing him he was paraded though the camp, as if he was some circus attraction.

He was led to the gallows on a makeshift cart pulled by fellow inmates.The camp orchestra had to continuously play the song ” J’attendrai ton retour” – I shall wait for your return.

Another song, the traditional German children’s song “Alle Vögel sind schon da” – All the birds are back again,” was played immediately before execution. It was just evil on top of evil just for the sake of being evil and nothing else. How disgusted the musicians must have been, being forced to do this.

The information was discovered by Aitor Fernandádez-Pacheco,film maker of the documentary film “Mauthausen, una mirada Española,” who interviewed the former Spanish prisoner Mario Constante for his documentary.

sources

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/pa1144948

https://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=10954

https://boyerwrites.com/tag/hans-bonarewitz/

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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Remembering Two Heroes

Two definitions of a Hero are :1. a person admired for achievements and noble qualities. 2. one who shows great courage. Both definitions apply to Józef Cebula and Sophie Scholl.

The reason why I am remembering these 2 people is because of today’s date May 9. Sophie Scholl was born on May 9,1921, Józef Cebula was murdered on May 9 1941.

Józef Cebula Józef Cebula was born into a modest family of Polish origin on March 23, 1902, at Malnia in southern Poland. He suffered tuberculosis as a child, and was in fact declared incurable . After an unexpected recovery, he visited an Oblate shrine where he shared his story with an Oblate priest. The priest advised Józef to study with the Oblates at the newly-established Oblate minor seminary.

He was ordained as a priest on 5 June 1927 while still in a seminary. Father Cebula became a superior at the Oblate seminaries in 1931, and became novice master at Markowice in 1937.

When the Nazis occupied Poland during the Second World War, they declared loyalty to the Church illegal. All Church associations were forbidden, and many priests were arrested. On May 4, 1940, the Oblate novices at Markowice were arrested by the Nazis and sent to the concentration camp at Dachau, Germany.

Fr. Cebula was forbidden to exercise his priestly ministry and obliged to work in the fields. But at night, the zealous priest celebrated the Eucharist and administered the sacraments in the surrounding villages, until he was arrested on April 2, 1941. He was taken to a concentration camp at Mauthausen in Austria.

Fr. Cebula was known for his humility ,he was a man of quiet prayer with a deep spiritual life. He radiated peace in the very middle of the death camp, even when he was tormented by the Nazis.

Father Cebula was forced to carry 60-pound rocks from the quarry to a camp two miles away. He had to climb a 144-step staircase called the Death Stairs, while being beaten and insulted by his tormentors. The guards humiliated and mocked him by ordering him to sing the texts of the Mass while he worked.

On May 9th 1941 , Fr. Cebula summoned up his strength and courage and said, “It is not you who are in charge. God will judge you.” The Nazis ordered him to run, with a rock on his back, towards the camp’s barbed wire fence, where a guard shot him with a sub-machine gun and declared that Fr. Cebula “was shot while trying to escape”. He died in this volley of bullets. His body was taken to a crematorium and burned.

Sophie Scholl, was only 11 years-old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany Sophie, like her brothers and sisters, were influenced by the changes that took place in their school.

Growing up in Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl had automatically become a member of the girl’s branch of Hitler Youth, the League of German Girls, at the age of twelve, and she was soon promoted to Squad Leader. She was an excited and happy follower of the National Socialist cult of youth. The teenager believed in the ideals propagated at the time, as did many of her peers.

However, as discrimination against the Jews grew, Sophie began to question what she was being told. When two of her Jewish friends were barred from joining the League, Sophie protested and as she grew older she became more and more disillusioned by the Nazi Party.

The strict rules opened her eyes to Nazi doctrine and their treatment of other peoples, and she became disillusioned with German education. She also served six months in the Auxiliary War Service, but this only strengthened her resolve against the Nazis.

She joined her brother, Hans and his Munich University friends when they formed a passive resistance group called ‘The White Rose’. Their actions against the regime included peaceful demonstrations, painting anti-Nazi slogans and distributing leaflets. It was the leaflet distribution that led to their arrest. They were observed by a university janitor collecting those which had not been taken, he denounced them.

The White Rose was a small endeavor with large consequences. At its core were siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, their fellow students Alexander Schmorell, Willi Graf, Christoph Probst, and a professor of philosophy and musicology at the University of Munich, Kurt Huber. Together they published and distributed six pamphlets, first typed on a typewriter, then multiplied via mimeograph. At first, they only distributed them via mail, sending them to professors, booksellers, authors, friends and others—going through phone books for addresses and hand-writing each envelope. In the end, they distributed thousands, reaching households all over Germany. Acquiring such large amounts of paper, envelopes, and stamps at a time of strict rationing without raising suspicion was problematic, but the students managed by engaging a wide-ranging network of supporters in cities and towns as far north as Hamburg, and as far south as Vienna. These networks were also activated to distribute the pamphlets, attempting to trick the Gestapo into believing the White Rose had locations all across the country.

The translated text of one of their pamphlets

“Our current ‘state’ is the dictatorship of evil. We know that already, I hear you object, and we don’t need you to reproach us for it yet again. But, I ask you, if you know that, then why don’t you act? Why do you tolerate these rulers gradually robbing you, in public and in private, of one right after another, until one day nothing, absolutely nothing, remains but the machinery of the state, under the command of criminals and drunkards?”

In January 1943, the group felt empowered and hopeful. Their activism seemed to be working, rattling the authorities and sparking discussions amongst their peers.

However ,on the 18th February 1943, Sophie and her brother Hans brought a suitcase full of leaflets to the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich main building. They hurriedly dropped stacks of copies in the empty corridors for students to find when they left the lecture rooms. Leaving before the lectures had ended, the Scholl siblings noticed that there were some left-over copies in the suitcase and decided to distribute them. Sophie flung the last remaining leaflets from the top floor down into the atrium. This spontaneous action was observed by the university maintenance man, Jakob Schmied.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were taken into Gestapo custody. A draft of a seventh pamphlet, written by Christoph Probst, was found in the possession of Hans Scholl at the time of his arrest by the Gestapo. While Sophie Scholl got rid of incriminating evidence before being taken into custody, Hans did try to destroy the draft of the last leaflet by tearing it apart and trying to swallow it down. But, the Gestapo recovered enough to match the handwriting with other writings from Probst, which they found when they searched Hans’s apartment. The main Gestapo interrogator was Robert Mohr, who initially thought Sophie was innocent.

But , after Hans had confessed, Sophie assumed full responsibility in an attempt to protect other members of the White Rose.

The Scholls and Probst were to stand trial before the Volksgerichtshof— the Nazi “People’s Court” infamous for its unfair political trials, which more often than not ended with a death sentence — on 22 February 1943. They were found guilty of treason. Roland Freisler, head judge of the court, sentenced them to death.

Sophie and the 2 others. were executed the same day by guillotine at Stadelheim Prison.

It takes real courage to stand up to evil, especially when you know it can result in death. It is this courage that make all these people real heroes.

Finishing up with a poem about courage by the American poet Edgar Albert Guest

Courage isn’t a brilliant dash,
A daring deed in a moment’s flash;
It isn’t an instantaneous thing
Born of despair with a sudden spring
It isn’t a creature of flickered hope
Or the final tug at a slipping rope;
But it’s something deep in the soul of man
That is working always to serve some plan.

Courage isn’t the last resort
In the work of life or the game of sport;
It isn’t a thing that a man can call
At some future time when he’s apt to fall;
If he hasn’t it now, he will have it not
When the strain is great and the pace is hot.
For who would strive for a distant goal
must always have courage within his soul.

Courage isn’t a dazzling light
that flashes and passes away from sight;
it’s a slow, unwavering, ingrained trait
with the patience to work and the strength to wait.
It’s part of a man when his skies are blue,
it’s part of him when he has work to do.
The brave man never is freed of it.
He has it when there is no need of it.

Courage was never designed for show;
it isn’t a thing that can come and go;
it’s written in victory and defeat
and every trial a man may meet.
It’s part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It’s the breath of life and a strong man’s creed.

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/sophie-scholl-and-white-rose

Mauthausen

In March 1938 Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany. The event is known as the Anschluß. On March 12 1938 the first German troops marched into Austria, they were met with no resistance, the majority of Austrians welcomed the Anschluß.

Five months later Mauthausen concentration camp went in to operation.

Mauthausen was a Nazi concentration camp on a hill above the market town of Mauthausen,approximately 20 kilometers east of Linz, Upper Austria. It was the main camp of a group with nearly 100 further subcamps located throughout Austria and southern Germany.

An estimated 197,464 prisoners passed through the camp system between August 1938 and May 1945. At least 95,000 died there. More than 14,000 were Jewish.

Mauthausen was one of the most brutal and severe of the Nazi concentration camps. The prisoners suffered not only from malnutrition, overcrowded huts and constant abuse and beatings by the guards and kapos,but also from extremely hard labour.

The work in the quarries ,often in unbearable heat or in temperatures as low as −30 °C (−22 °F)[35] – led to exceptionally high death rates.The food rations were limited, and during the 1940–1942 period, an average inmate weighed 40 kilograms (88 lb).

There were also a few Prisoners of War in the camp in 1944, 47 Allied military personnel (39 Dutchmen, 7 British soldiers and 1 US soldier), all of them agents of the British Secret Operations Executive. The one US soldier was Lieutenant Jack Taylor.

Jack would become the first Navy Seal. During the Mauthausen trials he was asked the question:

“How many ways did they execute them?”

He replied “Five or six ways: by gas, by shooting, by beating, that is beating with clubs, ah, by exposure, that is standing out in the snow, naked, for 48 hours and having cold water put on them, thrown on them in the middle of winter, starvation, dogs, and pushing over a hundred-foot cliff.”

Despite the war coming to an end, the camp authorities decided to carry out the last mass murder in the gas chamber on April 28, 1945. The victims were 33 Upper Austrian Social Democratic and Communist opponents of the regime. This was the last gassing of the Holocaust. One week later on 5 May 1945, it was liberated by the United States Army.

The camp commander Franz Ziereis had fled with his wife on 3 May 1945. He attempted to hide out in his hunting lodge on the Pyhrn mountain in Upper Austria. He was discovered and arrested on 23 May 1945, by an American army unit. He was shot three times in the stomach while trying to escape and brought to a U.S. military hospital set up at the former Gusen I camp , a sub camp of Mauthausen, where he died shortly after interrogation by a former inmate of Mauthausen, Hans Maršálek. His corpse was later hung on the fence of Gusen I by former prisoners of Gusen.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/mauthausen

http://www.whale.to/vaccine/jack_taylor_oss.html

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The murder of Jacob Hartog Morpurgo on April 7-1944

Jacob was born on October 19,1934 in Amsterdam. He was the youngest child and only son of Rachel Morpurgo-Kijl and Abraham Morpurgo. He had 2 siblings, sisters Carla Celina Morpurgo and Vogelina Morpurgo.

This family was just a regular family, the Father Abraham, was a draper by trade. Mother Rachel is what they call nowadays a stay at home mum, or home maker.

On May 9,1941 Jacob was issued with a passport, which was valid for 2 years, until May 9,1943.

I don’t know the exact date but at some stage Jacob and his family traveled to Belgium. This must have been after his passport had expired. But that would not have mattered because he didn’t ravel there for his holidays. The Morpurgo family was send to the transit camp Mechelen in Belgium. The last day they were there was April 3,1944, because the following day they were all deported to Auschwitz on transport 24. Jacob, his mother and two sisters were murdered upon arrival on April 7,1944.

Abraham was deported to Mauthausen at some point, where he was murdered on February 1,1945. He reached the age of 43. There is a tradition in the Netherlands when a man reaches the age of 50, they say he has seen Abraham. This Abraham never got to celebrate that birthday.

Rachel Morpurgo-Kijl. born in Amsterdam, 21 July 1895. Murdered in Auschwitz, 7 April 1944. Reached the age of 48 years

Vogelina Morpurgo , Born in Amsterdam, 19 February 1925.Murdered in Auschwitz, 7 April 1944.Reached the age of 19 years.

Carla Celina Morpurgo, born in Amsterdam, 4 November 1930.Murdered in Auschwitz, 7 April 1944.Reached the age of 13 years. She had been a student at the Joods Lyceum in Amsterdam.

Vogeltje Morpurgo-van Engel, was the Mother of Abrham, and the Grandmother of Jacob,Vogelina and Carla. She was also on the same transport from Mechelen to Auschwitz and was murdered also on April 7,1944. She reached the age of 68. Her name means little bird.

On April 7,194, thirteen Dutch Jewish citizens were murdered in Auschwitz. Sic were from the same family.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/530060/about-jacob-hartog-morpurgo

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Jacob-Hartog-Morpurgo/02/106333

https://archief.amsterdam/indexen/deeds/fe69ebd2-1ba4-45cf-95df-2522dbd4aa06

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The forgotten consequence of the Holocaust.

One aspect of the Holocaust which is often forgotten is the other damage caused. What I am referring to is the fatalities caused by a lack of qualified medical staff.

I am not sure if there is any data on that, but it stands to reason that aside of the 6 million or more Jews that were murdered. That there were doctors, surgeons and nurses among them. Medical staff who all could have saved lives during WWII.

Dr. med. Otto Hans Frank as born in Kellen, Germany, on the 8th of June 1916. At some stage he moved to the Netherlands. Kelle is just a short distance away from the Netherlands. I know his wife was Dutch so I assume that is why he moved and possible also to escape the rise of Nazism in Germany. He was a General Physician.

Dr Frank was murdered in Mauthausen on December 2,1941.

Dr. Frank was not the only Physician murdered by the Nazi regime. There were also several who committed suicide. In the Netherlands alone there were 226 medical professionals who were either murdered or ended their own lives by and as a result of the Nazi regime.

226 who could have helped and saved so many other, Jews and Non-Jews alike.

In Camp Amersfoort there were at least 30 Jewish Doctors imprisoned One Doctor, Carl Giesberts, who survived had kept a diary. These are just some of the excepts.

“In the middle and to the right on the terrain standing dead still, dressed in criminals outfits, men all shaved .Standing for 45 minutes, in the hot sun, burning on their bald heads. Not allowed to move, every once in a while an angry yell”

“About 30 Doctors had arrive, many of them from Deventer”

“For us young ones it was easy to endure, but seeing these sorry cyanotic old one slaving, would make you furious”

Cornelia Boekdrukker studied medicine in Amsterdam and sat for her medical finals on 20 January 1926. She lived and practised medicine at 264 Noorder Amstellaan in Amsterdam. Not only did she qualify as a Doctor she also had her own practice, which was quite rare for a woman.

She was murdered on November 1,1944 in Bergen Belsen.

Cornelia is the second on the left.

We will never know the true extend of the damage caused by the Nazi regimes across Europe. But the more I research these stories , the more I come do the conclusion that the number of fatalities caused by the Holocaust be it direct or indirect is much higher then the estimated numbers we know now.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/182920/otto-hans-frank

https://www.medischcontact.nl/nieuws/laatste-nieuws/artikel/een-gezicht-voor-de-gevangen-artsen-in-kamp-amersfoort-1.htm

https://www.medischcontact.nl/nieuws/laatste-nieuws/artikel/vanaf-1-mei-1941-ben-ik-niet-meer-te-consulteeren.htm

https://www.airbornemuseum.nl/nieuwsbericht/carl-giesberts-vertelt-over-oorlogsdagboek-van-zijn-vader

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/183910/cornelia-knorringa-boekdrukker#intro

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Remembering George Okker

George Okker would have celebrated his 100th birthday today . Although turning 100 is not that common, it is not that uncommon either.

However poor George Okker didn’t even reach his 20th birthday. There is quite a bit of data on George but strangely enough no photographs. The only pit of picture I could find was an entry of the open archive database of Amsterdam which gives his date of birth, birth place, date of death and where he was murdered.

George Okker went to the Ulo (=advanced primary education) where he learned French and English. He became an office clerk. He also was member of the banjo club.He was arrested in February 1941. He was part of a group of Jewish men that was arrested during the raid in Amsterdam. On the moment of his arrest he just was about to go fishing. He had no idea why he had to go with the men. He asked them if he was arrested because there was also war in the Dutch Indies(nowadays Indonesia) where he was born. George Okker was brought to camp Schoorl and then to Buchenwald and from there to Mauthausen.

There are two letters of George known. One of 1 August 1941 in which he wrote: ‘ich denke oft an Haus und an Homoet’.

Homoet was the baker in the Tweede Jansteenstraat 64-66. The second letter was from 31 August 1941. It was a very short one.

The family doctor notified George’s family that their son had died in Mauthausen on September 12,1941.

sources

https://www.openarch.nl/kbd:ef1849e6-38d8-2f8c-dd13-dc5f53ead871

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/112014/george-okker

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/26474/george-okker