Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw-Murdered in Auschwitz

I usually include a photograph when I write about the youngest victims of the Nazi regime. But I could not find a picture of poor little Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw. In a way I am happy about that, I have looked into too many eyes of the innocent souls that were brutally murdered ,and regardless how tough I think I am, it does take a toll.

The story of Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw is particularly sad because she could have been saved. Mirjam was given up by her parents as a foundling aged 1, to save her from the Nazis. However when her parents were arrested they felt the desire to be reunited with their daughter. I know that some people may ask themselves ” Why, did they want to be reunited?” I can totally understand why, they were more then likely first sent to Westerbork, where things weren’t ‘too bad’ , and there must have been hope that they would all survive.

The de Leeuw family lived on “Stations Laan 25′ in Stadskanaal in the Northern Dutch province of Groningen. As you can gather from the address they lived near the station.

One of their neighbours ,a 12 year old girl who kept a diary, wrote the following of Mirjam and her family.

“I want to return to that time during in the war in Stadskanaal. When the first Jews were rounded up in Stadskanaal in 1942 and brought to Westerbork, panic broke out among these people.

Bertus de Leeuw, newly married, lived opposite us with his wife Nannie. They had a baby Mirjam. This woman was so panicked she didn’t know what to do. She put the child in the pram with some clothes and walked off. But where was she to go? At one point we saw her walking on the rails pushing the pram desperately in front of her . Mother sent me there to help her. She was so scared she could hardly walk. It was very difficult to get home as the boulders between the rails prevented us from making progress. She stayed with us for a while and afterwards her husband and father talked for a long time. Then they went back home and in the following days in the evening when it was dark, a bed with accessories was brought and placed in the empty back room. Two of Bertus de Leeuw’s aunts would be housed here for a few weeks. Unfortunately, these two women did something very stupid. Instead of quietly disappearing, they brought their cats to acquaintances and when asked where they were going they said that they would be staying with the Mulder family in Stadskanaal, this went around like wildfire through the village and also was brought to the attention of bad people, strangers to the family. This is why father was arrested by Blomberg(a police officer and detective in Stadskanaal during World War 2). These two ladies were arrested that same night by the S.D. the same evening. and deported.

The corner cupboard in the front room was also cleared and food from the de Leeuw family was stored there, as well as in the basement where their weck(a jar used to conserve fruit or vegetables) was kept. The de Leeuw family went into hiding. The child was abandoned (we only learned this much later, when they were arrested.) In that winter 1942/1943 Bertus de Leeuw came from time to time via the rail tracks, in the pitch darkness to get food. He would be dressed all in black with a hat pulled far over his head.”

Mirjam would have celebrated her 80th birthday today, but she and her Mother were both murdered in Auschwitz on November 19,1943. Mirjam was just 2 year old.

Mirjam’s death was registered in Stadskanaal after the war.

Her Father was murdered in Sobibor on May 28,1943. It is disturbing to know that the rail tracks he used to navigate his way to the places where he would get food, were the same rail tracks that carried him to his death. What happened to his aunts I don’t know but I presume they were murdered too.

Except for the family name I do not know the identity of the neighbour nor do I know what happened to her Father. I do know the name of her daughter who posted the Dutch text of her mother’s letter on Joods Monument.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/128978/mirjam-rosalie-de-leeuw

https://stolpersteine-guide.de/map/biografie/2353/stationslaan-25

https://www.openarch.nl/gra:5f37c20e-209c-6041-671b-4b7deff998c8

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Playing music for Mengele and the SS.

Gustav Mahler is one of the most famous classical music composers and conductors of all time. Yet, his music was considered as degenerate by the Nazi regime, and was therefore banned in Germany and all the occupies territories. It was not because Mahler was a bad composer but because he was Jewish.

However the Nazis had no issues being musically entertained by Mahler’s niece, Alma Rosé. In fact Alma was selected to play in and conduct the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.

The orchestra was formed in April 1943 by SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel, supervisor of the women’s camp in Auschwitz, and SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Franz Hössler, the women’s camp commandant. The Nazis wanted a propaganda tool for visitors and camp newsreels and a tool to boost camp morale.

Rosé’s arrival at the camp’s railway siding was in bitter contrast to her previous engagements in nearby Krakow, Poland, just a 45-minute drive away. She had appeared there at least twice – as a violinist appearing with her former husband, the Czech violin virtuoso Váša Příhoda, and in 1935 as a conductor of her celebrated women’s orchestra, the elegant Wiener Walzermädeln which she founded and led throughout Europe.

The orchestra had 20 members by June 1943; by 1944 it had 42–47 musicians Its primary role was to play (often for hours on end in all weather conditions) at the gate of the women’s camp when the work gangs left and returned. They might also play during “selection” and in the infirmary.

They would rehearse for up to ten hours a day to play music regarded as helpful in the daily running of the camp. They also held a concert every Sunday for the SS.

For the orchestra’s concerts the women wore blue pleated skirts, white blouses and lavender-coloured kerchief head coverings.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was a cellist in the orchestra and she recalled in her memoirs, and in a documentary called “We want the light” the orchestra being told to play Schumann’s Träumerei for Josef Mengele.

According to one report of a concert in the bath-house, a number of SS women were joking and interrupting the performance in which Alma Rosé was playing a solo. She stopped and angrily said: ‘Like that, I cannot play.’ Silence followed; she then played, and no one disciplined her.

Alma Rosé was even able to convince the Nazis to spare her musicians from selections for the gas chambers. When mandolin player Rachela Zelmanowicz was in the infirmary with typhus,which would be a death sentence for any other prisoner,Josef Mengele was prepared to send her to the gas chambers. “What’s with this one?” he asked during his rounds. “She’s from the orchestra.”

Mengele continued on his way without any further discussion. As a member of Rosé’s orchestra, Zelmanowicz was untouchable even by him. Her life was spared.

Alma Rosé died suddenly on 5 April 1944, possibly from food poisoning, after a birthday celebration for a kapo

On 1 November 1944, the Jewish members of the women’s orchestra were evacuated by cattle car to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where there was neither orchestra nor special privileges.Three members, Charlotte “Lola” Croner, Julie Stroumsa and Else, died there.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/camps/death-camps/auschwitz/camp-orchestras/

https://www.facinghistory.org/music-memory-and-resistance-during-holocaust/birkenau-womens-camp-orchestra

https://www.thestrad.com/alma-rose-the-violinist-who-brought-music-to-auschwitz/341.article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0074r0r

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Evil science

No mater how you twist or turn it, when you are complicit to a crime, you are just as guilty as the perpetrator, and perhaps even more guilty because you were an enable of that crime.

Hermann Stieve was Director of the Berlin Institute of Anatomy from 1935 to 1952, which was from the early days of the Third Reich until 7 years after the war.

His research on the female reproductive system is controversial, as some of his scientific insights derived from histological investigations on the genital organs of executed women. These investigations were made possible by the sharp increase in executions during the “Third Reich.” Stieve’s research was methodologically accurate and contributed significantly to contemporary scientific debates. Nevertheless, his use of the organs of execution victims, some of them resistance fighters, benefited from the Nazi justice system. He thus indirectly supported this system of injustice.

Charlotte Pommer , a young physician, who had been an assistant to Dr Stieve, reported after the war.

“On 22nd of December 1942 eleven men were hanged and five women decapitated. Fifteen minutes later they were laid out on the dissection tables in the anatomical institute. [She] lay on the first table, […] on the third table the big lifeless body of her husband […] I felt paralyzed and could hardly assist Professor Stieve, who – as always- carried out his scientific exploration with great care and uncommon diligence […] After the impressions of that night I resigned from my position”

Stieve wanted to study human organs. He was able to get some donated uteruses and ovaries from the bodies of accident victims, or from surgeons who had removed them. One of the best historical sources of organs for research, the bodies of executed criminals, had not been available during the early years of his research as the Weimar government made very minimal use of the death penalty, and did not execute any women. In a 1931 letter Stieve complained that it was difficult to get a set of ovaries from a healthy woman.

After the National Socialist regime came to power in January 1933, one of its first goals was the reorganization of the universities. Leadership of the universities was taken away from the individual German states and centralized within the Ministry of Education in Berlin, which was also responsible for the anatomical institutes. This included research funding, recruitment of faculty, and the professional society, the Anatomische Gesellschaft. In terms of the body procurement, the Ministry of Education shared this responsibility with the Ministry of Justice, when bodies from prisons and executions were concerned. All science was to be aligned with NS doctrine and to be utilized for war purposes.

Stieve, who had accepted a professorship at what is now Humboldt University of Berlin as well as the directorship of its anatomical institute, reached an agreement with administrators at Plötzensee Prison outside the city to accept all bodies of those shot, hanged or beheaded, many of them political prisoners. Others were “Polish and Russian slave laborers executed for such acts as socializing with German women,” according to Seidelman. Over the entire Nazi era that came to around 3,000 victims, many more bodies than Stieve needed for research purposes. It is alleged that during his research he claimed the corpses of 182 victims of the Nazi regime, 174 of whom were women at the age rank from 18 to 68, two thirds of victims were of German origin.

I just want to focus n 2 of his subjects.

Liane Berkowitz, a German resistance fighter and was most notable for being was a member of the Berlin-based pro-soviet resistance group that coalesced around Harro Schulze-Boysen, that was later called the Red Orchestra by the Abwehr. Arrested and sentenced to death, she was executed shortly after she gave birth to a daughter in custody.

The young mother was executed in Plötzensee Prison at 7.45 p.m on 5 August 1943, two days before her 19th birthday.

Liane’s daughter Irina was born on 12 April 1943 in the women’s prison on Barnimstraße.[The grandmother took care of the child from July 1943. As the Reichskriegsgericht pronounced the sentence recommendation when checking with Adolf Hitler to dismiss the pregnant Liane Berkowitz from prison, he expressly rejected any reprieve. The death sentence was confirmed by Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and countersigned. Her body was delivered to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for research. Her final resting place is unknown. Her daughter Irina died on 16 October 1943 in hospital in Eberswalde under unclear circumstances.

Mildred “Mili” Elizabeth Fish-Harnack was an American literary historian, author, translator, and resistance fighter, born in Wisconsin. After marrying Arvid Harnack, she moved with him to Germany, where she began her career as an academic. Fish-Harnack spent a year at the University of Jena and the University of Giessen working on her doctoral thesis. At Giessen, she witnessed the beginnings of Nazism. In 1930, the couple moved to Berlin and Fish-Harnack became an assistant lecturer in English and American literature at the University of Berlin. In the early 1930s, the couple became increasingly interested in the Soviet communist system. Harnack established a writers’ group that studied the Soviet planned economy, and the couple were able to arrange a visit to the Soviet Union during August 1932 and by 1933 they were fully committed to Soviet ideology. Through contacts at the American embassy, Fish-Harnack became friends with Martha Dodd, who became a part of her salon where they discussed current affairs. In 1936, Fish-Harnack’s translation of Irving Stone’s biography of Vincent van Gogh, Lust for Life, was published.

In 1938, the couple began to resist Nazism. They became friends with Louise and Donald Heath, who was First Secretary at the embassy, and to whom Harnack passed economic intelligence from his position at the Reich Trade Ministry. By 1940, the couple came into contact with other anti-fascist resistance groups and cooperated with them. The most important of these was run by German air force officer Harro Schulze-Boysen. Like numerous groups in other parts of the world, the undercover political factions led by Harnack and Schulze-Boysen later developed into an espionage network that collaborated with Soviet intelligence. Fish-Harnack became a resistance fighter as a member of a Berlin anti-fascist espionage group, later called the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) by the Abwehr. The couple were arrested in September 1942 and executed shortly after.

On 7 September 1942, the Harnacks were arrested by the Gestapo at the seaside village of Preila on the Curonian Spit.

Harnack was sentenced to death on 19 December after a four-day trial before the Reichskriegsgericht (“Reich Military Tribunal”), and was executed three days later at Plötzensee Prison in Berlin. Fish-Harnack was initially given six years in prison, but Adolf Hitler refused to endorse the sentence and ordered a new trial, which resulted in a death sentence on 16 January 1943.She was beheaded by guillotine on 16 February 1943. While she was imprisoned, She was the only American woman executed on the direct orders of Adolf Hitler.

After her execution, her body was released to Hermann Stieve to be dissected for his research into the effects of stress, such as awaiting execution, on the menstrual cycle. After he was finished, he gave what was left to a friend of hers, who had the remains buried in Berlin’s Zehlendorf Cemetery.

Unlike the research of Nazi scientists who became obsessed with racial typing and Aryan superiority, Stieve’s work didn’t end up in the dustbin of history. The tainted origins of this research, along with other studies and education that capitalized on the Nazi supply of human body parts—continue to haunt German and Austrian science, which is only now fully grappling with the implications. Some of the facts, amazingly, are still coming to light. And some German, Austrian, and Polish universities have yet to face up to the likely presence of the remains of Hitler’s victims, their cell and bone and tissue, in university collections that still exist today.

sources

https://web.archive.org/web/20150715183928/http://www.gedenkstaette-ploetzensee.de/zoom/09_6_dt.html

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/11/mildred-harnack-was-executed-by-hitler-for-resisting-the-nazis-now-we-know-what-happened-to-her-remains.html

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48215894

https://www.timesofisrael.com/microscopic-remains-of-nazi-victims-studied-by-german-doctor-buried-in-berlin/

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2013/11/nazi_anatomy_history_the_origins_of_conservatives_anti_abortion_claims_that.html?via=gdpr-consent

https://journals.uic.edu/ojs/index.php/jbc/article/view/10848/10058

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19173259/

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Four murdered babies.

Whoever has the youth has the future. Whoever kills the youth destroys the future.

I can never understand the mindset of murdering innocent lives. No matter what ideology, any normal human being must know that killing a little healthy, happy child is wrong, more then wrong, it is evil and despicable.

Yet there were so called sophisticated people who had no issues murdering babies. They more then likely had children themselves, because having children was one of the priorities in the Nazi doctrine. Yet they murdered infants who were not considered ‘pure’. They did not realized that every child is pure?

The picture above is of Margaretha Bertha Aussen, she was born October 4,1941 in Amsterdam and was murdered in Auschwitz, September 10,1942 aged 11 months.

Jack Vleeschdrager was also born in Amsterdam on October 4,1941 and was murdered in Sobibor on June 4,1943 aged 20 months.

Abram Winnik, another child born in Amsterdam on October 4,1941. He was murdered in Sobibor on April 23,1943 aged 17 months.

Eva Kövesi another young citizen of the Dutch capital ,Amsterdam, also born on October 4,1941. Murdered in Auschwitz September 21,1942, aged 11 months.

All these 4 kids would have been 80 today, but they didn’t even make it to age 2. I hope that by writing down their names they will be remembered for generations to come.

source

Camp Vught-Concentration camp in the Netherlands

Before I start writing about Camp Vught in the Netherlands, there is something I have to get off my chest. Two days ago I was watching the Irish news, they were talking about the Stutthof camp, in connection with the recent detention of 96-year-old Irmgard Furchner, who worked as a secretary in the camp’s office.. The news reader said “Polish camp”. I immediately said “There will be complaints about this” and sure enough a day after Poland’s ambassador to Ireland protested against Irish national broadcaster, RTE.

In a letter to RTE CEO Jon Williams, Ambassador Anna Sochańska pointed out that wartime concentration camps in Poland were built and run by the Germans, who were occupying Poland at the time.

“This is completely wrong, because the death camps were Nazi-German camps in occupied Poland. Poland was under German occupation at the time when several Nazi-German concentration and death camps were operating on its territory,” Sochańska wrote.

Except for Ireland, UK, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Sweden and Switzerland all other European countries were occupied, or axis powers. In all occupied countries there were Nazis and Nazi collaborators, even in Poland. If the Polish government keeps denying that, they are betraying the memories of the brave Polish soldiers and resistance fighters who died fighting the Nazis and their helpers. They are distorting their own history and that helps no one, past and future generations will not thank them for it.

As you can see the title of this blog is “Camp Vught-Concentration camps in the Netherlands” and not occupied Netherlands.

The prisoners at Camp Vught included Jews, political prisoners, Sinti and Roma gypsies, and resistance fighters. They were subjected to slave labour and were forced to make products for the German war industry, such as torches and radios. Despite their difficult circumstances, the prisoners managed to resist even in the prison camp by sabotaging the goods they were forced to make.

The as camp located in Vught near the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The camp was opened in 1943 and held 31,000 prisoners. 749 prisoners were murdered in the camp, and the others were transferred to other camps shortly before the camp was liberated by the Allied Forces in 1944. It is also known as ‘Herzogenbusch concentration camp’

After the war, the camp was used as a prison for Germans and for Dutch collaborators.

Camp Vught witnessed endless cruelty on order of the Nazi regime . One of the most infamous events was the bunker drama. On 15 January 1944, to punish prisoners for a women’s protest in the camp, the camp commander put 74 women in cell 115, a bunker measuring 9 square meters without ventilation. When the soldiers opened the bunker door the next morning, 10 of the women were dead.

Camp Vught was the only SS concentration camp outside Nazi Germany.

As I stated earlier every occupied country had indigenous people helping the Nazis, and to be honest I don’t know what I would do if I was put in that position. Many people helped the Nazis purely out of self preservation. The Dutch railways and the civil servants had a lot to answer for. Their actions enabled the murder of over 100,000 Jews and a great number of others. But the Dutch were not unique in this, the only difference is that the Dutch were more efficient because of a well oiled citizen registry.

It would have been physically impossible for the Germans to fight on 2 fronts, defend the Atlantic wall from Norway down to France. And control more than 44,000 incarceration sites, without getting help from the locals.

If we keep diluting history we will never learn from it.

sources

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/north-brabant/the-camp-vught-national-memorial.htm

https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/poland-protests-irish-broadcasters-polish-concentration-camp-misnomer-25086

17,000,000 + deaths.

An estimated 17.3 million people were murdered by the German Nazi regime and their collaborators between 1933 and 1945, according to data published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM). The estimates are based on the regime’s own reports as well as demographic studies of population loss during World War II.

The numbers are broken down in groups: Jews, Soviet civilians, Soviet prisoners of war, Non-Jewish Polish civilians, Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina), People with disabilities living in institutions, Roma & Sinti (Gypsies), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Repeat criminal offenders and so-called a-socials, German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory, Homosexuals. Then there were also some smaller groups like the Freemasons and Esperanto speakers. The number is likely to be higher because there are no determined numbers for the German political opponents and resistance activists in Axis-occupied territory. The numbers who died afterwards due to suicide and/or diseases contracted during the imprisonment in the camps.

However lets go with that number of 17.3 million. This number is just to big to fathom for most pictures, to put his in perspective. That number is approximately the same as the current population of the Netherlands, or Syria. It would also be about the same as the combined population of Belgium and the whole Island of Ireland. Just imagine within 12 years the Nazis wiped out a whole nation or even several nations combined. This number of 17.3 million does not include military casualties. They were mainly civilians who were murdered.

Four of those 17.3 million were the Olivier family. Mozes Olivier, born February 4, 1891 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Betje van Thijn Olivier, born May 23, 1895 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Jeannette Olivier, born September 12, 1923 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

Anna Olivier, born October 30, 1921 in Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, the Netherlands.

They were all murdered in Auschwitz on September 21,1942.

Sources

https://www.statista.com/chart/24024/number-of-victims-nazi-regime/

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/documenting-numbers-of-victims-of-the-holocaust-and-nazi-persecution

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/187373/mozes-olivier

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Happy Birthday Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot

Dear Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot, today there should have been 80 candles on a birthday cake. 80 candles for you to blow out and make a wish on your 80th birthday. But you never had any candles on any of your birthday cakes.

You were born on September 20,1941 in Arnhem, in the Netherlands , just over a year later you were murdered in Auschwitz, on October 19,1942. There are no pictures of you blowing out any candles, in fact there are no pictures of you to be found. The only picture we have to associate you with , is a picture of that horrific place where you were murdered.

We don’t know much about you but we do know you had a life insurance policy. your parents must have already been concerned for you on the day you were born. The life insurance policy is still open to be cashed in. But no one will because no one in your family survived the Holocaust. Your big sister Grietje, aged 3, was also murdered on October 19,1942, as was your Mother.

You last name is the opposite of mine, your names indicates big, where as mine indicates little. Yet it is me who became big and you who was murdered when you were still little.

Wherever you are up there between the stars, I want you to know, I will be looking up to you tonight and will celebrate you short life.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/151740/catharina-vrouwtje-de-groot

Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 80 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a change he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/649374/het-lot-van-lena-barend-haar-man-joseph-polak-en-hun-zoontje-aron.

https://geheugenvanoost.amsterdam/page/26420/geen-afscheid

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Coping by using humour.

A few years ago , on the 22nd of June 2016, to be precise I wrote a blog titled “Holocaust and Humour” . I got a lot of criticism for that. The thing I found extraordinary the criticism didn’t come from people who read the blog, but only from people who read the title.

I didn’t mean to disrespect any of the Holocaust victims and survivors, the opposite was true. I wanted to show my deepest respect because despite all the horrors so many still had a sense of humour.

This blog is also meant as a way of expressing my deepest respect for all Holocaust victims and survivors.

When the Nazis came to power in 1933, the German constitution guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Through decrees and laws, the Nazis abolished these civil rights and destroyed German democracy. Starting in 1934, it was illegal to criticize the Nazi government. Even telling a joke about Hitler was considered treachery. People in Nazi Germany could not say or write whatever they wanted.

The Treachery Act of 1934 was a German law established by the Third Reich on 20 December 1934. Known as the Heimtückegesetz, its official title was the “Law against Treacherous Attacks on the State and Party and for the Protection of Party Uniforms” (Gesetz gegen heimtückische Angriffe auf Staat und Partei und zum Schutz der Parteiuniformen). It established penalties for the abuse of Nazi Party badges and uniforms, restricted the right to freedom of speech, and criminalized all remarks causing putative severe damage to the welfare of the Third Reich, the prestige of the Nazi government or the Nazi Party. Anyone ,regardless if you were Jewish or Non Jewish, could face the death penalty for breaking this law.

Father Josef Müller, a Catholic priest, was executed for telling some of his parishioners the following story:

A fatally wounded German soldier asked his chaplain to grant one final wish. “Place a picture of Hitler on one side of me, and a picture of Goering on the other side. That way I can die like Jesus, between two thieves.”

The indictment against Müller called this joke “one of the most vile and most dangerous attacks directed on our confidence in our Führer. . . . It is a betrayal of the people, the Führer, and the Reich.”

I just love it how some Jewish people defied the Nazi regime and coped with the horrors of the Holocaust by using humour.

In some of the the ghettos, Hitler’s self proclaimed “masterpiece” was referred to as Mein Krampf (My Cramp). His ides of the “Master Race” was the subject of many jokes. These are just a few of them.

“There are two kinds of Aryan, Non Aryan and Barb-Aryan”

“Aryan, blond like Hitler, slender like Goering and tall like Goebbels”

Cutting the hair of the prisoners was one of the ways the Nazis tried to dehumanize their victims. It was like taking away their dignity and a sense of identity. But even that act did not stop some women to cope with it in a humorous way. This is just an anecdote on how one woman coped with the ordeal.

“When they cut our hair in Auschwitz, that was something terrible. After they cut off my hair, suddenly I saw some of my girlfriends (as in female friends) who I had known for a very long time, many cried. They cried after long hair and then I started laughing and they asked ‘What, are you out of your mind, what are you laughing about? ‘ I said’ This I never had before, a hairdo for free? Never in my whole life’ And I still remember how they looked at me, they looked at me as if I was crazy”

Another anecdote from a survivor was in relation to the transport on the trains.

“This whole situation, they shoved us into those trains. It was like cattle, it was something awful inside the train. When we have just arrived in Auschwitz everybody ran to the window, to see something, but you couldn’t. The window had shutters, a small window. I also wanted to see where we were. Then a girl friend asked ‘what do you want to see so badly?’. I said: ‘I simply want to see the conductor, ’cause I don’t have a ticket, I want to see when he comes in…’

I have quite a good sense of humour myself, albeit sometimes a bit on the dark side and filled with sarcasm, and I have used in many tragic episodes in my life. However I don’t know if I would have the courage to use humour if I was faced with the horrors of the Holocaust.

sources

file:///C:/Users/Dirk/Downloads/Laughter%20in%20a%20Time%20of%20Tragedy_%20Examining%20Humor%20during%20the%20Holocau%20(1).pdf

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/nazi-propaganda-and-censorship

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