Every time I see a picture of a sweet little angel like this, I feel like giving up on the research and reporting on the Holocaust I do. I get an overwhelming feeling of anguish, panic, anger and confusion, and I can feel physical pain.
It feels like someone just ripped out my heart. Then I remember I am not doing this for me but for them. If I will not tell their story, who will? What sickens me most is that I have these feelings 80 years after the murder of Mirjam. Why didn’t those responsible for her death didn’t have any of those feelings? Even if they had just one, Mirjam would still be alive today.
Mirjam Lewkowicz was born in Gouda, one of the most picturesque towns in the Netherlands, on 14 October 1940. Murdered in Auschwitz on 17 September 1943, she had reached the age of two years old.
How could anyone look into those eyes, and they must have seen them, and think that this little angel was a threat to their lives or a danger to their nations? How?
My fingers are getting wet because of the tears on my keyboard, tears that fell for you.
It is difficult for me to comprehend your murder. It makes no sense to me. You were born in Gouda, a place famous for its cheese, but I want to make it famous because it is where Mirjam Lewkowicz was born.
Your mother, Bettina, father, Herbert, and your six-month-old brother Hugo, who would have been celebrating his 80th birthday today, faced deportation to Auschwitz, where a gas chamber took the lives of your mother, brother and yourself.
I sincerely hope your story will ensure we never forget how evil mankind can be, or should I say man-cruel?
Rosette Levie was deported to Sobibor in June 1943 from Vught via Westerbork on the so-called children’s transport
She was born in Amsterdam on 24 February 1938. She was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943 at age five.
Dear Rosette, you never made it to your first school day.
You were denied your first bit of pocket money.
You were denied your first kiss.
You were denied your first dance.
I don’t know if you ever owned a bike, I doubt it because that would have been denied to you too.
You were denied a life.
I don’t see a threat to the nation in your eyes, yet there were some who did.
I see no potential for evil in your eyes, yet there were some who did. They were the ones who were evil.
You were one of 1.5 million children who were murdered by pure evil men and women.
Recently I heard a story about a pregnant woman who was shot. They managed to save her unborn baby, at least for a short while. Because when the Nazis found out that the baby was saved they killed not only that baby but all other babies that were hidden.
At least you had a few years, but that is just a meagre consolation.
The one I can’t get to terms with, and even refuse to get to terms with, is the murder of babies during the Holocaust.
I know one of the reasons behind it was the purification of the Aryan race. But, how pure are you as a race when you murder babies? Another reason was that they were afraid that when these babies grew up, they would possibly look for revenge for the death of their families. The only time you expect revenge is when you know you did something wrong.
The picture above is of Roosje van der Hal. She was born in Groningen on 17 March 1942 and murdered in Sobibor on 21 May 1943. She reached the age of one.
Nehemia Levy Cohen was born in Amsterdam on 20 December 1940. She was murdered in Sobibor on 7 May 1943. She had reached two years of age.
Both babies had been deported to Westerbork on 25 January 1943. From there they were deported to Sobibor where they both were killed. These were only two of the 1.5 million children. The scary thing is that there have been genocides, albeit on a smaller scale, after the Holocaust where babies once again were victims.
I want you all to look into the faces of these two sweet angels and ask yourself, “What can I do to stop this from happening again?”
The murder of children during the Holocaust is what haunts me the most. Sometimes I try to be poetic and philosophical when I try to memorialize them, but often seeing the raw cold data is the most effective way to remember these young innocent lives. So many futures were destroyed.
The picture above is from a class at the Joodsche School in Rotterdam. I don’t know if all children were murdered, I can only presume they were. Below is the data of those who certainly were murdered.
Hartog Berkelouw, born in Rotterdam on 5 January 1932. and murdered in Auschwitz on 14 January 1943. He reached the age of 11 years old.
Mijntje Belia Koppels, born in Rotterdam on 29 December 1931. He was murdered in Sobibor on 28 May 1943 at the age of 11 years.
Abraham Sanders was born in Rotterdam on 8 August 1932. He was murdered in Sobibor on 23 April 1943 at the age of 10 years.
Betsy Jacobs was born in Rotterdam on 2 May 1931. She was murdered in Sobibor on 23 April 1943 at the age of 11 years.
Sophia Aandagt was born in Rotterdam on 19 April 1932. Murdered in Auschwitz on 5 August 1942. She was 10 years old.
Hinda Sanders was born in Rotterdam on 18 August 1932. She was murdered in Sobibor on 23 April 1943 at the age of 10 years.
Kaatje Ensel was born in Rotterdam on 23 June 1932 at Auschwitz on 16 August 1942 at the age of 10 years.
Doortje van der Horst was born in Rotterdam on 7 March 1932. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 9 August 1942 at the age of 10 years.
Gizela Minc was born in Danzig on 12 December 1932. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 19 November 1943 at the age of 10 years.
David Ossendrijver was born in Rotterdam on 5 September 1932. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 8 April 1944 at the age of 11 years.
Never forget what a twisted ideology and false promises can do.
Rita and Sandor Joachim Krammer were both murdered in Auschwitz on October 26, 1942. Rita was born on 5 January 1935 in Groningen, the Netherlands. Her little brother, Sander Joachim, was born on 15 March 1937. Their mother, Regina Krammer-Gunsberger. was born in Deutschkreuz in Austria, and their father Jacob Krammer, in Coevorden. He was a traveling salesman selling jerseys.
An eyewitness and playmate of Rita mentioned that she often played outside in the evenings with Rita and Sandor (who was referred to as “Little Brother”).
When Rita was six years old, her father was put to work in the Kloosterhaar camp near Hardenberg in July 1942. She stands behind Groningen with her mother and her brother. Just three months later—on October 3, 1942, Rita, Sander Joachim, and their mother were deported to Westerbork. On October 26, 1942, they were killed in Auschwitz.
Their father managed to escape the labor camp and went into hiding until the end of the war. Only then he learned what happened to his wife and children. He died in Groningen on September 11, 1987.
Eva and Bram, born in 1932 and 1934, were the children of Hartog Beem and Retje Kannewasser in Leeuwarden. At the end of 1942 and at least until May 1943, Eva and Bram were still in hiding in the Veluwe, at ‘De Zwarte Boer’ near Elspeet. The children were arrested in February 1944 and murdered in Auschwitz on 6 March 1944.
Bram and Eva’s parents, Hartog Beem and Retje Kannewasser, survived the war by going into hiding.
Jansje and Benjamin Pais from Harlingen. The picture was taken shortly before deportation, 1942. Jansje was born in Harlingen on March 31, 1933.Benjamin was born in Harlingen on November 8, 1934.
Both children were murdered on November 23,1943 in Auschwitz.
Frits and Helen Sophie Reindorp, the picture was saved by neighbours, after the family was deported, hoping they could return the picture after the war. Unfortunately no one of the family returned .
Frits Reindorp born in Leeuwarden, 16 October 1934 .Murdered in Auschwitz, 2 November 1942. Helen Sophie Reindorp born in Leeuwarden, 11 May 1936.Murdered in Auschwitz, 2 November 1942.
It was only after I put the pictures together I realised that all these sets of siblings were from Friesland, in the Northwest of the Netherlands. It is the province my maternal grandparents were from. They moved to Limburg in the Southeast of the Netherlands in the late 1920’s. All of those children could have easily been related to me.
Eduard and Alexander Hornemann are two of the 20 Bullenhuser Damm children who were murdered on 20 April 1945. I have written about the Bullenhuser Damm children before, but I just want to focus on the two brothers now. The reason being, at another time it could have been my boys whose names would have been on that list.
Like Eduard and Alexander’s father, I too worked for Philips at one stage in my life.
Eduard, the elder of the two Hornemann brothers, was born on 1 January 1933. He was known as Edo in the family. Alexander was born on 31 May 1936 and was nicknamed Lexje. The family were from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
The father, Philip (aka Flip)Carel Hornemann, worked for Philips. After the occupation of the Netherlands by German forces, he and another 100 Jewish colleagues were deployed to a special department of the company. His wife Elisabeth hid on a farm with their son Alexander, whilst Eduard was taken in on another farm. When the Jewish employees of Philips were taken to the 18 Vught Concentration camp, Elisabeth Hornemann followed her husband with her two sons.
On August 18 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven and arrested all the Jews. Philip Carel Hornemann and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed more than 3,000 prisoners.
The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living together with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Alexander’s mother that the company could guarantee her family’s safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.
But prior to that their lives had already been interrupted. In 1942 the family lived in the Staringstraat in Eindhoven. The Nazis them to move to Gagelstraat because they have to make way for a Nazi-minded family.
On 3 June 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The two boys remained with their mother and were sent to the women’s barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food and disease was rampant. Alexander’s mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival and died soon after. Philip died from exhaustion on transport to another camp.
Kurt Heissmeyer was a SS physician and the nephew of the senior SS officer August Heissmeyer. He was working to obtain his Professorship, which required original research.
Although previous research was dismissed, Heissmeyer’s hypothesis was by injecting live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects, the bacilli would function as a vaccine. Another aspect of his experiment was based on the Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis. By proving his theory he injected live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of 20 Jewish children at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp. These were the 20 children selected by Joseph Mengele, amongst them were the two Hornemann boys. Eduard and Alexander Hornemann were brought to Neuengamme Concentration Camp on 28 November 1944.
On 20 April 1945, the children were taken to the abandoned Bullenhuser Schule. They were cheerful and happy to get out of the camp. The children were given a morphine injection that evening. Just before the injection, they were told that they would be “put to bed quickly.” That night, all twenty children were killed by hanging in the basement of the Bullenhuser Schule. On that same day, the British were less than three miles from the camp.
“I don’t think that the camp inmates are worth the same as other people,” said 61-year-old Kurt Heissmeyer on 21 June 1966. When asked, “Why didn’t you use laboratory animals?” he replied, “because there is no difference between laboratory animals and humans,” and then corrected himself, “between laboratory animals and Jews.”
The most beautiful announcement any parent can make, is the announcement of the birth of a child.
Mary Louise van der Horst-Beerenborg and Abraham Arthur van der Horst. must have been so proud when they put a notification in the Jewish weeklu(Het Joodsche Weekblad) on September 4.1942 that their son Hartog was born on August 29,1942 in the Hague, the Netherlands.
But from conception to death took only 18 months for Hartog. He was murdered aged 9 months, on June 7,1943 in Westerbork.
All that is recorded of Hartog is the newspaper notification and the notification of his death.
Both his parents were murdered just over a month later on July 16,1943 in Sobibor.
I wish I could write a biography of these 3 murdered children, but I can’t. They didn’t live long enough to have a whole lot of details. In fact most of their lives could be written down on a small registration card.The one thing they have in common they were all murdered on May 20,1943.
I know there will be people who will argue that these children were not murdered, but they died. These kid were forcibly taken from the safety of their homes, they were mistreated and put in a horrible place. To me that constitutes murder.
Mindel Altman, was the oldest of the 3. She was born on April 16,1942.She was murdered on 20 May 1943 in Westerbork transit camp and was cremated on 21 May 1943.
The urn with her ashes was placed at the Jewish cemetery in Diemen on field U, row 5, grave no. 24.
José Velleman’s parents Benedictus and Rebekka were married on 14-12-1938 in Amsterdam. The young family settled on 20th of December 1938 at the address Jodenbreestraat 24, 3-hoog. Rebekka’s parents live a few houses away, at number 35. In the years before the war, Benedictus was a market trader. From April 1939 he sold stockings on the Waterlooplein market. Their son José was born on April 28, 1942. Benedictus then managed to get a job at the Jewish Council,
In February 1943 disaster struck for the young family. On 24-02-1943 they are deported to camp Vught. From there on 04-05-1943 Benedict is forced to work in the Aussenkommando Moerdijk. Shortly afterwards, Rebekka and José are deported to camp Westerbork, on May 8,1943. A day later . On 09-05-1943 they are registered in Westerbork. A few weeks later, on May 20-1943, young José is murdered in Westerbork, aged 2.
Judith van Sister, is the youngest of the 3, she was only 10 months old when she was murdered. She was born on July 16,1942.
It is hard, if not impossible, to define what the most evil crime was during the Holocaust. It is not like there is a gradient scale you can apply. Without a doubt though the murder of children was among the most heinous of acts.
One especially comes to mind. On April 20,1945, on the 56th birthday of Adolf Hitler, 18 days before the end of the war in Europe.
At that time, 20 Jewish children who had been living in Neuengamme Concentration Camp outside Hamburg.Aged between five and 12 years. Ten girls and ten boys, including two pairs of siblings. For months, the SS doctor Kurt Heißmeyer has been maltreating them as test objects for medical experiments: he had injected live tuberculosis bacilli under their skin and used probes to introduce them into the lungs. These 20 children and 4 adult supervisors were sent to the Bullenhuser Damm subcamp, a disused school building.
Alfred Trzebinski was a Polish(a Polish history website states that the Trzebinski family belonged to the nobility of greater Poland) assistant physician at Auschwitz, Neuengamme and Madjanek concentration camp. Together with Kurt Heissmeyer and Arnold Strippel, he was held responsible for the murder of twenty Jewish children in the Bullenhuser Schule.
On the night of 20 April 1945, Trzebinski injected morphine into the children (to sedate them) after which they were hanged in the basement of the Bullenhuser Damm school.
After the war he tried to go underground, but was arrested on 1 February 1946 and sentenced to death in the Curio-Haus trial. During his trial he confessed in quite an arrogant maner, saying, “If I had acted as a hero the children might have died a little later, but their fate could no longer be averted” and admitted “you cannot execute children, you can only murder them” but they were “only” Jews. Trzebinski was executed by hanging on 8 October 1946 by Albert Pierrepoint at Hamelin prison.
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