A Family Murdered— February 1, 1943

Julius, Esther, Renate and Brigitte Chaim

Sometimes I struggle with finding a suitable title for a post. As it was for this post, but then he thought using just the raw data as the title is probably the best tribute for this family.

The Family is the Chaim family
Julius Chaim moved to Nijmegen on October 15, 1940, from Amsterdam. He was married to Esther Tannenhaus and was the father of three daughters, Renate, Elfride and Brigitte. The family originally came from Germany. In 1939, two daughters had already been sent to the Netherlands and taken care of in children’s homes or with families. At the end of the 1930s, German Jews often did not get permission to emigrate to the Netherlands. To be able to flee Germany, some parents saw no other option other than to send their children to the Netherlands on their own, which may mean, that the parents were given permission at a later date and allowed to enter the Netherlands. The parents and the youngest daughter arrived in the Netherlands in 1940.

Elfride and Renate Chaim were sent to the Netherlands ahead of their parents and younger sibling in 1939, as was often the case in those days. The Netherlands hardly let any Jews in, but children who arrived alone were taken care of by families or placed in children’s homes. The idea was that the children would be safe in the Netherlands and there was hope that the rest of the family would also be able to settle in the Netherlands.

On October 9, 1940, the parents Julius Chaim and Esther Chaim-Tannenhaus and their three daughters settled in Nijmegen, coming from Haarlem. The family originally came from Duisburg. Brigitte was the youngest of the daughters and in 1940 she arrived in the Netherlands with her parents.

The Chaim-Tannenhaus family was arrested and on December 31, 1942, they were deported to Westerbork. From there they were put on Transport #46 to Auschwitz. The transport consisted of all Jews, including 42 children. The majority were murdered in the gas chambers, and only two men survived.

Julius Chaim was born in Tarnow, Poland, on March 21, 1892, and murdered in Auschwitz on February 1st, 1943. He reached the age of 50 years.

Esther Chaim-Tannenhaus was born in Bajazesty, Romania on May 14, 1897. She was murdered in Auschwitz on February 1, 1943. She reached the age of 45 years.

Renate Chaim was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany on February 16, 1928. She was murdered in Auschwitz on February 1, 1943, at the age of 14 years.

Elfride Chaim was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany on February 17 1930. She was 12 years old when she was murdered in Auschwitz on February 1, 1943.

Brigitte Brigithe Chaim was born in Duisburg, Germany on January 19, 1935. She was eight years old when murdered in Auschwitz on February 1, 1943.

sources

https://www.oorlogsdodennijmegen.nl/zoekjaar/1943

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/129769/julius-chaim

The Murder of a 12-Year-Old Girl

The number 12 is significant in religious, mythological and magical symbolism, generally representing perfection, entirety, or cosmic order in traditions since antiquity. It is also the number of full lunations in a solar year, thus the number of months in a solar calendar, as well as the number of signs in the Western and the Chinese zodiac.

It is also significant in both Judaism and Christianity. The significance is especially pronounced in the Tanakh. Ishmael, the first-born son of Abraham, has 12 sons/princes (Genesis 25:16), and Jacob also has 12 sons, who are the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This is reflected in the Christian tradition, notably in the twelve Apostles. When Judas Iscariot is disgraced, a meeting is held (Acts) to add Saint Matthias to complete the number twelve once more. The Book of Revelation contains much numerical symbolism, and many of the numbers mentioned have 12 as a divisor. 12:1 mentions a woman—interpreted as the people of Israel, the Church and the Virgin Mary—wearing a crown of twelve stars (representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel). Furthermore, there are 12,000 people sealed from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (the Tribe of Dan is omitted while Manasseh is mentioned), making a total of 144,000 (which is the square of 12 multiplied by a thousand).

According to the New Testament, Jesus had twelve Apostles. The “Twelve Days of Christmas” count the interval between Christmas and Epiphany.

There are 12 units on a clock. Twelve was also the number of years that Keetje van Zanten lived. She was born in Rotterdam on 16 May 1930. Twelve years after she was born on 16 May 1942, the Sobibór extermination camp became operational.

Keetje’s Mother was Esther van Zanten-Bekkers born in Rotterdam on 10 December 1898, murdered at Sobibor, 11 June 1943. Her father was Marcus van Zanten born in Rotterdam on 7 February 1899 and murdered in Auschwitz on 28 February 1943.

Keetje also had 2 older brothers, Aron van Zanten born on 17 Augusts 1923 and Benjamin van Zanten on 24 February 1927. Both were murdered in the aforementioned, Sobibor Camp on 9 July 1943.

In her 12 years, she witnessed the invasion of the Netherlands on 10 May 1940.

She also witnessed societal changes. On 7 January 1941, the Dutch Cinema Association decided that Jews would no longer be allowed access to cinemas. On 12 January 1941, this measure was published in the newspapers.

From 1 September 1941, Jewish children had to go to separate schools and were no longer allowed in public schools. In Amsterdam, this became law on 1 October 1941.

The Compulsory Star of David was introduced on 3 May 1942 and required to be worn by all Jews over the age of six. It had to be visibly at chest height. The star was distributed by the Jewish Council and cost 4 cents each.

In July 1940, the freedom of Jews in the Netherlands was curtailed by the introduction of anti-Jewish measures, the first of which was the ban on working for the air defence service. From 1942, the measures followed each other in rapid succession, with the most visible on 3 May 1942: the introduction of the Star of David.

About 104,000 Jews from the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust. Keetje was one of them. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 28 January 1943. She had reached 12 years of age.

A 12-year-old girl was murdered only because she was Jewish.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Keetje-van-Zanten/02/176698

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/125673/keetje-van-zanten

The 73 Days of Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum

We now live in an era when we consider 73 years a young age to die. Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum lived for only 73 days. He was born in Amsterdam on 19 January 1943. He was murdered in Sobibor on 2 April 1943.

His father was Ephraim Izak Levie Rosenbaum, who lived with his wife and children until 1943 at 13 JD Meierplein (Houtmarkt 13 at the time). He was a pharmacist in the building on the Hoek Amstel–Nieuwe Heerengracht 1, Amsterdam.

His wife Johanna Frederika Suzanna Zion and son Izak Michel Max went into hiding in Neede (Gelderland). They were betrayed and sent to Sobibor via Westerbork, where they both were murdered on 2 April 1943.

Ephraim Isaac Levie Rosenbaum was murdered three weeks later in Sobibor.

73 Days- 7 + 3 = 10, that’s what you were Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum—a perfect 10.

73 days, just over two months, you were a product of love, but you became a victim of hate.

73 days, but it should have been 80 years because that is what you would be today. Happy Birthday, young Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum—no longer a human made from flesh and bone, but a star in heaven.

His sister survived the Holocaust.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/200751/izak-michel-max-rosenbaum

Then Suddenly, the Classroom was Empty

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.

Ivan Martynushkin—One of the Liberators of Auschwitz

On 27 January 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Auschwitz. Ivan Martynushkin was one of the liberators of Auschwitz. Below are some excerpts about what he witnessed.

“We beat back the Germans in one village, passed through, and came out onto some kind of enormous field almost completely surrounded by electrified barbed-wire fences and watchtowers, we saw buildings beyond the barbed wire. And as we got closer, we began to see there were people.”

“We saw emaciated, tortured, impoverished people. Those were the people I first encountered…We could tell from their eyes that they were happy to be saved from this hell. Happy that now they weren’t threatened by death in a crematorium. Happy to be freed. And we had the feeling of doing a good deed—liberating these people from this hell.”

“It was hard to watch them. I remember their faces, especially their eyes which betrayed their ordeal. But what did I feel when I saw these people in the camp? I felt compassion and pity understanding how these people’s fate unfolded. Because I could have ended up in the same situation. I fought in the Soviet army. I could have been taken prisoner and they could have also thrown me into the camp.”

“At first there was wariness, on both our part and theirs. But then they apparently figured out who we were and began to welcome us, to signal that they knew who we were and that we shouldn’t be afraid of them, that there were no guards or Germans behind the barbed wire. Only prisoners.”

sources

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/26/auschwitz.liberator/index.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/russian-veteran-recalls-soviet-liberation-of-auschwitz-/26807978.html

https://www.timesofisrael.com/soviet-veteran-recounts-horrors-of-auschwitz-liberation/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/01/27/what-a-soviet-soldier-saw-when-his-unit-liberated-auschwitz-70-years-ago/

Pogroms

I had a chat a few days ago with a friend. We were talking about the Holocaust and we both agreed that the Germans, specifically the German Nazis, were the main instigators and culprits of the world’s biggest crime. Without them, there may not have been a Holocaust or at least not on the scale.

However, the hate for Jews is not solely a German thing, there were many violent against the Jewish population of Europe and beyond. These acts have been happening for centuries. Even in the 11th and 12th centuries, there were Pogroms.

Before I go into some of the more recent Pogroms, it is important to understand what a Pogrom is. There are several definitions, following are just a few of them:

An organized massacre and looting of helpless people, usually with the connivance of officials, specifically, such a massacre of Jews.

A pogrom is generally thought of as a cross between a popular riot and a military atrocity, where an unarmed civilian, often urban, population is attacked by either an army unit or peasants from surrounding villages, or a combination of the two… Jews have not been the only group to suffer under this phenomenon, but historically Jews have been frequent victims of such violence. In mainstream usage, the word has come to imply an act of antisemitism.

Originally used to describe violent and often murderous anti-Jewish persecutions (the most important of which took place in Kishinev) in Russia following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, more recently the term ‘pogrom’, from the Russian pogrom (total destruction, devastation) has also been used to refer to attacks on other groups.

As I stated earlier this was not just a German phenomenon, the actual word comes from the Russian language. There were pogroms everywhere in Europe and other parts of the world. Even in a peaceful place like Limerick in Ireland, my hometown.

The Limerick Pogrom

On the evening of 11 January 1904, Fr John Creagh took the pulpit during mass at the Redemptorist church at Mount St Alphonsus in Limerick. His congregation comprised the weekly meeting of the ‘Monday Division’ of the Arch-Confraternity of the Holy Family, a 6,500-strong male sodality which, under his then spiritual direction, was a powerful force in the city’s Catholic life. John Creagh, a Redemptorist and Spiritual Director of the Arch Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, gave a sermon at their weekly meeting attacking Jews. He repeated many Anti-semitic conspiracy theories, including that of ritual murder, and said that the Jews had come to Limerick “to fasten themselves on us like leeches and to draw our blood”. Dermot Keogh describes what happened after Creagh delivered his lecture calling for a boycott on 11 January 1904.

In 1904 there were roughly 35 Jewish families, about 150 people, in the Limerick urban area. They lived in Collooney Street (now Wolfe Tone Street), not far from the present-day O’Connell monument, and had established a Jewish burial ground at Kilmurray, near Castleconnell. The first attack on them came in January, a few days prior to Fr Creagh’s sermon, when, following a colourful Jewish wedding, Judge Adams commented on their commercial success and vibrancy. This led to a sour report in the Limerick Leader, which compared their prosperity to the poverty of the native population.

A few days later the matter was taken up by Fr John Creagh CSSR, spiritual director of the Arch Confraternity of the Sacred Heart, which had a membership of around 6,000.
From the pulpit Fr Creagh stated:

‘The Jews were once chosen by God. But they rejected Christ, they crucified Him. They called down the curse of His precious blood on their heads. They were scattered over the earth after the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and they bore away with them an unquenchable hatred for the name of Jesus Christ and his followers. The Jews came to Limerick apparently the most miserable tribe imaginable, with want on their faces, and now they have enriched themselves and can boast a very considerable house property in the city. Their rags have been exchanged for silk. How do the Jews manage to make their money? Some of you may know their methods better than I do, but it is still my duty to expose these methods. They go about as peddlers from door to door, pretending to offer articles at very cheap prices, but in reality, charging several times more than in the shops…They forced themselves and their goods upon the people and the people are blind to their tricks.”

Collooney Street where most Limerick Jews lived, was only a few minutes’ walk from the Redemptorist church. The hundreds who left the church after the meeting had to pass the top of Collooney Street on their way home; many were fired up by Creagh’s incendiary sermon. The Jewish community immediately sensed the menacing mood of the crowd-turned-mob and remained locked in their homes as the church militants passed by. Jewish shops, however, remained open and their owners felt menaced. One old Fenian, a member of the confraternity, single-handedly defended a shop from attack until the police arrived to mount a guard.

John Raleigh, a teenager (15 years of age), was arrested and incarcerated in Mountjoy Prison for one month for throwing a stone at the rabbi (which struck him on the ankle). Once released he returned home to a welcoming throng who were protesting that the teenager was innocent and that the sentence imposed was too harsh. While in prison Raleigh was called a “Limerick Jew slayer” by a warder, but Raleigh, who claimed he was innocent, was insulted by this and reported the incident to the chief warder. Later, after 32 Jews had left Limerick due to the pogrom, Creagh was disowned by his superiors, who said that “religious persecution had no place in Ireland”

The Jedwabne Pogrom

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, issued orders on 29 June and 2 July 1941, for German forces to support ‘self-cleansing actions’ by the local population to rid itself of people alleged to have collaborated with the Soviet occupation, communists and Jews.

“No obstacles should be made for the efforts aimed at self-cleaning among anti-communist and anti-Jewish circles in the newly occupied territories. To the contrary, they should be instigated without leaving a trace, and if need be – intensified and directed on the right track, but in such a manner so that the local ‘self-defence circles’ could not refer to the orders or political promises made to them.” —Reinhard Heydrich

On 10 July 1941, hundreds of Jewish men, women, and children were massacred by local Poles in the town of Jedwabne.

Prior to the Holocaust, Jews made up between 60 and 70 per cent of the overall population of some 2,000 in Jedwabne. The town was situated in an area that was a hotbed of the antisemitic National Democratic Party (Endecja). After the German-Soviet invasion of Poland, Jedwabne was taken by the Soviets.

Shortly after the Soviets retreated, Polish townspeople rounded up hundreds of their Jewish neighbours and forced them to dismantle a monument of Vladimir Lenin that the Soviets had installed. From there the Jews were forced into a barn, where they were burned to death.

There is general agreement that German secret police or intelligence officials were seen in Jedwabne on the morning of 10 July 1941, or the day before, and met with the town council. Szmuel Wasersztajn’s witness statement in 1945 said that eight Gestapo men arrived on 10 July and met with the town authorities. Another witness said four or five Gestapo men arrived and “they began to talk in the town hall”. “Gestapo man” was used to refer to any German in a black uniform, Persak writes. The witnesses said they believed the meeting had been held to discuss murdering the town’s Jews.

According to the IPN’s( Institute of National Remembrance) report, on 10 July 1941 Polish men from nearby villages began arriving in Jedwabne “with the intention of participating in the premeditated murder of the Jewish inhabitants of the town”. Gross writes that a leading role in the pogrom was carried out by four men, including Jerzy Laudański and Karol Bardoń, who had earlier collaborated with the Soviet NKVD and were now trying to recast themselves as zealous collaborators with the Germans. He also writes that no “sustained organized activity” could have taken place in the town without the Germans’ consent. The town’s Jews were forced out of their homes and taken to the market square, where they were ordered to weed the area by pulling up grass from between the cobblestones. While doing this, they were beaten and made to dance or perform exercises by residents from Jedwabne and nearby.

The massacre is a controversial topic in Poland; as the main perpetrators of the massacre were Poles, it goes against the commonly accepted Polish narrative of the Holocaust.

The Kielce pogrom

The Kielce pogrom was an outbreak of violence toward the Jewish community centre’s gathering of refugees in the city of Kielce, Poland on 4 July 1946 by Polish soldiers, police officers, and civilians during which 42 Jews were killed and more than 40 were wounded. Polish courts later sentenced nine of the attackers to death in connection with the crimes.

The Pogroms of 1189 and 1190

From 1189 to 1190, the anti-Jewish pogroms in London, York, and numerous other cities and towns displayed cruelty and barbarity never before seen by English Jews. Indeed, these acts of violence distinguished themselves as some of the worst atrocities committed against European Jews in the Middle Ages

The catalyst for the anti-Jewish violence in 1189 and 1190 was the coronation of King Richard I on September 3, 1189. In addition to Richard’s Christian subjects, many prominent English Jews arrived at Westminster Abbey to pay homage to their new king. However, many Christian Englishmen harboured superstitions against Jews being present at such a holy occasion, and the Jewish attendees were flogged and thrown out of the banquet following the coronation. After the incident at Westminster Abbey, a rumour spread that Richard had ordered the English to kill the Jews. Christians attacked the predominantly Jewish neighbourhood of Old Jewry, setting the Jews’ stone houses on fire at night and killing those who tried to escape. When news of the slaughter reached King Richard, he was outraged, but only managed to punish a few of the assailants because of their large numbers.

When Richard left on the Third Crusade, the Jews of the village of King’s Lynn attacked a Jew who converted to Christianity. A mob of seafarers rose up against Lynn’s Jews, burned down their houses, and killed many. Similar attacks occurred in the towns of Colchester, Thetford, Ospringe, and Lincoln. While their houses were ransacked, the Jews of Lincoln managed to save themselves by taking refuge in the city’s castle. On March 7, 1190, attacks in Stamford, Lincolnshire killed many Jews, and on March 18, 57 Jews were massacred in Bury St. Edmonds. However, the bloodiest of the pogroms took place from the 16th to the 17th of March in the city of York, staining its history forever.

sources

https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Pogroms-1189-1190/

https://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/this-week-in-jewish-history–hundreds-of-jews-massacred-in-jedwabne-pogrom

https://www.jpost.com/diaspora/antisemitism/article-711642

Click to access jews%20of%20limerick%2050.pdf

https://www.theirishstory.com/2020/07/05/revisiting-the-limerick-pogrom-of-1904/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kielce_pogrom

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Two Murdered Families

There were, of course, millions of families murdered during the Holocaust. The reason why I am focusing on only two families today is that they were young families. Both families had a child who would have had their 80th birthday today.

I am only giving the details of their births and their deaths, The only thing that we have to know is that there was absolutely no reason for these families to be murdered.

André Schelvis was born in Amsterdam on 9 January 1943. He was murdered in Sobibor on 23 July 1943 reaching the age of six months.

Aron Schelvis was born in Amsterdam on 4 May 1915 and murdered in Sobibor on 23 July 1943. He reached the age of 28.

Julie Schelvis-de Rosa was born in Amsterdam on 14 December 1915 and died at Sobibor on 23 July 1943. She was 27 years old.

Elisabeth Julia Benavente was born in Amsterdam on 9 January 1943 and murdered in Birkenau on 10 February 1944, reaching the age of one.

Rebecca Benavente-Roselaar was born in Watergraafsmeer on 19 July 1919. She was murdered at Birkenau on 10 February 1944. She reached the age of 24 years.

Benjamin Benavente was born in Watergraafsmeer on 1 October 1911. He was murdered at Birkenau on 30 April 1944, reaching the age of 32. He was a physician.

Dina Benavente was born in Amsterdam on 26 June 1941 and murdered at Birkenau on 10 February 1944. She was two years old.

Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/31953/andr%C3%A9-schelvis

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/160652/elisabeth-julia-benavente

Tattoo Z-1557

(courtesy of John Davis)

This is an excerpt of John Davis’s book “Rainy Street Stories”

It tells the story of a survivor he met at Flossenburg, who had survived Auschwitz, Ravensbruch, and finally Flosssenburg

“Z-1557
While vacationing many years ago my wife Jane and I decided to visit Flossenburg, West Germany. This charming little town is nestled in among rolling hills, fresh brooks, and quaint farmhouses. In the late 1930s, though, the Nazis chose Flossenburg as the site of a concentration camp. It was for that reason we drove along a particularly pleasant road in search of this place.

The German town is, from all outward appearances, wholesome, sturdy and solid. It was difficult to find the old camp. We finally asked a pedestrian where the former concentration camp was and he indicated it was up a hill on the way out of town. We drove there and parked in a shaded lot. A guided path led us along memorials to the thousands of Europeans murdered there. Indeed, the actual incinerator was still in place. The strange feelings that overcame us were difficult to get a handle on.

The symbolic crosses and memorial tablets were fitting. Fitting is the appropriate word. Not moving. Not horrifying. A few flowers, recently placed, were what moved us. They were, in this park-like setting, perhaps the only scene that associated the place with the dread and terror of those many years ago. Real people, just like us, were rounded up, beaten, whipped, hung, shot and hacked to death there. Yet there was no sense conveyed that any of that had happened. Except, of course, from the anonymous people who placed the flowers. They had lost someone, and still felt the loss.

One of the last stops at the concentration camp is a re-created barracks building. Inside is a museum. Scenes in black and white somehow make it all seem distant and unreal. We stopped at a marker dedicated to famous inmates killed there – Admiral Wilhelm Canaris and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoffer. And then we turned to go.
As we arrived at the parking lot, we were approached by two strangers. They’d been in the museum at the same time we were. He asked me what I thought of the memorial. He thought we were English, and were surprised to discover we were Americans. I told him I really had gotten no sense of the dread reality of events at this place.

“No,” he said in German. “It is like a park. We were recently in Auschwitz. I can tell you that as a retired engineer, with one company of engineering soldiers I could have Auschwitz fully operational in 30 days.”Yet at Flossenburg, I said, there didn’t seem to be any sense of what it had really been like.

“Nor for us,” he said. “My wife could not even recognize the place when we drove in. You see, she was an inmate here.”

It was then that I noticed the woman. She was dark, small, and very thin. She wore long sleeves on a hot August day. I asked how she came to be put there. “Racial hatred,” she said. “I was a Roma, a gypsy, living in Danzig. In 1941 my entire village was rounded up. We were put into cargo trains and brought to Auschwitz, where they kept us crammed like animals in barracks for five months.”

She pulled up her sleeve, revealing the tattoo – Z-1557. Z for zigeunerin, or Roma, a gypsy. “Then, one day, they had a formation to select women who could work,” she continued. “I was chosen and sent at 3 o’clock by train to Ravensbrueck, a concentration camp for women. I only learned this week, due to the remarkable records the Nazis kept, that my family together with all the other Romani then held in Auschwitz were massacred four hours later that very evening.”

My wife and I were stunned. We’d never met an actual inmate of such a place. We didn’t know what to say. She finished her story. “After being held in Ravensbrueck, I was sent to Buchenwald, and after that to this place.”

“Did you see the photographs inside?” her husband asked. “Did you see the one where the commandant and guards of Flossenburg were being tried?”

I recalled a photograph that showed about 50 German prisoners being tried by an American tribunal. “Did you see the look on the Germans’ faces?” He inquired. “They looked like bored opera viewers. Their faces said, ‘So what are you going to do to me?’ Only a dozen or so of those tried received the death penalty. Three times that number were free men within eight years. They really did escape from justice. I think that the whole lot of them should have been finished off,” he said.

“We’ve just visited all the places where my wife was once held. She could not bring herself to go into Auschwitz,” he said.

That camp, in Poland, and some others – Buchenwald, in what was East Germany, for another – seem more as they might have been when in use. Not Flossenburg. “This place is a park,” he continued. “Who can even tell that there was a camp here? I think that here in the West the memory of such a place will go away in another generation.”

The tears his wife cried that day were for the murdered who were still part of her life after all these years. Can we imagine ourselves there? Can we imagine our own families in such a place?

Such places as Flossenburg were huge operations during the war. They were immense and readily visible from afar. Whether those who were alive back then knew, is a question for the past. Whether those of us alive today remember and do all in our power to stop such things from ever happening again, anywhere, is a question that we must answer for.

It has been said that to do good and avoid evil is not enough. We have to do good and undo evil. Why did we meet these strangers in a parking lot in Flossenburg?
I think the sensation I had at Flossenburg was an awareness of evil. That evil was smug, and evil was present. It was smug because it was waiting. Waiting for us to forget in the park that is Flossenburg”

source

Born and Murdered in Captivity

There are no ratings in relation to which Holocaust story is saddest. Each death was a tragedy and a reminder of how cruel man can be. However, there are some stories that punch right in the gut.

Friedel Levie was the daughter of Jozef Levie and Else Metzger. She was born in Westerbork transit camp. There are no cute baby pictures of Friedel only a certificate mentioning her birth and her death.

Friedel’s mother, Else Levie-Metzger, was 32 years old and pregnant from Friedel during the deportation to Westerbork, in early October 1942. After her flight from Germany in 1938 to the Netherlands, Else lived with her husband Joseph and daughter Marga at the H.W. Mesdagstraat 13 in Groningen. Friedel’s grandparents and aunt Rosa also lived at this address.

Friedel was born in camp Westerbork on 6 January 1943. Her sister Marga was then six years old. By that point, almost all of her father’s family has already been killed. When Friedel was four months old, her father took his own life in Westerbork.
Three weeks later, Friedel, her mother and her sister were deported to Sobibor, where all three were murdered immediately upon arrival on 21 May 1943.

Friedel was four months old when she was murdered.

sources

https://www.openarch.nl/gra:22e3e1f1-dbf5-73ca-be76-3db4ea073280/en

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/217301/friedel-levie

Just a Girl

Just a girl, not a soldier or a politician.

Just a girl, the only threat she posed is that one day her smiley face would melt someone’s heart.

Just a girl, no hate to be seen in her eyes.

Just a girl, the only wish she had was to grow up.

Just a girl, just a girl, just a girl.

A girl with no political agenda

A girl with no weapons

A girl whose life was cut short.

A girl who could not even blow out eight candles on a birthday cake.

A girl who was hated and feared by idiots who did not recognize her value.

A girl who was murdered.

Just a girl, a sister and a daughter

Just a girl who is now an eternal memory. She has a place among the stars.

Sarah Eva Vleeschhouwer
Born in Rotterdam on 1 September 1936. Murdered in Auschwitz, on 11 February. She reached the age of seven years.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/123895/sarah-eva-vleeschhouwer