Jewish Work Village

On 3 October 1934, George van den Bergh, one of the initiators of the Jewish Work Village, stated, “Then perhaps a simple stone will be placed here with the words ‘Here stood the Jewish Work Village Nieuwesluis.’ Then may all passers-by […] behold that stone with reverence,” after that, James McDonald, High Commissioner of the League of Nations for refugees, drove the first pile for the Jewish Work Village. It was a training institute for Jews fleeing Nazi terror in Germany and Austria. The Jewish pioneers would train as farmers, furniture makers, blacksmiths or other practical professions. With training, they could start new lives in Israel or other places in the world. Many residents of the Work Village succeeded, but for some, it ended badly.

The village was opened in 1934 and was managed by the Jewish Labor Foundation. It could house approximately 300 residents, who would follow a short, two-year course.

In 1937, the pupils of the Joods Werkdorp built the community building themselves after a design by the architects Bromberg and Klein. This is how they put their acquired knowledge into practice. The building was a cross between a school building and a Wieringermeer farm. In 1939, the dars( a space in a farmhouse that runs from front to back, sometimes from side to side) were sacrificed for an extra dining room and a dishwashing room. This division has remained intact over the years. The school for mechanical agriculture, part of the Oostwaardhoeve experimental farm, left no visible traces in the post-war period.

After the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands, the village was evacuated on 20 March 1941, except for about 60 stragglers. W. Lages and Claus Barbie were involved.

From August 1940 until the evacuation in March 1941, Abel Herzberg was director of the Jewish Work Village in Wieringermeer. Herzberg and his wife and three children were on the so-called Frederikslist and therefore enjoyed a certain protection.

Between 1934 and 1941, 780 people passed through the Work Village and of those, 197 were eventually murdered.



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March 1933 German Federal Election

On 5 March 1933, the Nazi Party won nearly 44 per cent of the vote, which gave them 288 seats in the Reichstag. Hitler formed a coalition with the National Party (8 per cent). The Communist party won 81 seats.

There were 44,685.764 entitled to vote. The voter turnout was 88.74%. The Invalid vote were 0.79%. The total valid votes was 39,343.331. Of those votes, 43.9% went to the NSDAP, the Nazi party. This means that 19,617.022 voted for the Nazis.

The 1933 election followed the previous year’s two elections (July and November) and Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor. In the months before the 1933 election, SA and SS displayed terror, repression and propaganda across Germany,  339  Nazi organizations “monitored” the voting process. In Prussia 50,000 members of the SS, SA and Der Stahlhelm were ordered to monitor the votes by acting Interior Minister Hermann Göring, as auxiliary police.

Despite the reign of terror and the first wave of arrests of Communists, Social Democrats and trade unionists, in the Reichstag elections of 5 March 1933 the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) obtained 12.3% of the vote and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 18.3%, while the moderate centre-right parties, namely the Centre Party and the Bavarian People’s Party (BVP), polled 13.9%

The Nazis did not receive enough votes to form a government so it needed the support of a coalition partner, the German National People’s Party (DNVP) who received 8% of the votes.

This would be the last contested election held in Germany until after World War II. Despite now holding a bare working majority in the Reichstag, Hitler wanted more. Two weeks after the election, he was able to pass an Enabling Act on 23 March with the support of all non-left-wing parties, which effectively gave Hitler dictatorial powers. Within months, the Nazis banned all other parties and turned the Reichstag into a rubberstamp legislature comprising only Nazis and pro-Nazi supporters.

Although there was violence around the elections, the Nazis were elected legally. Just think about that for a minute.

Very soon, on 31 March 1933, the Government adopted, without parliamentary involvement, the Act Establishing the Identity of the Länder(countries) with the Reich (Gesetz über die Gleichschaltung der Länder mit dem Reich), which abolished the autonomous rights of the Länder, replacing them with a stringent centralized rule. Ten months later, the Reich Restructuring Act (Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reichs) dissolved the parliaments of the Länder. This was followed on 14 February 1934 by the dissolution of the Reichsrat, the national representative assembly of the Länder. In the summer of 1934, another crucial step was taken towards the establishment of the ‘Führer state’ with the Night of the Long Knives at the end of June and the beginning of July, when Hitler had troublesome rivals removed from the political scene or murdered. Following Hindenburg’s death on 2 August 1934, a law amalgamating the offices of President and Chancellor – likewise adopted without parliamentary approval – enabled Hitler to assume the title of ‘Leader and Chancellor of the Reich’ (Führer und Reichskanzler). He also became commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, whose members henceforth swore an oath of allegiance to him personally and no longer to the Weimar Constitution.

After the adoption of the Enabling Act, the Reichstag only ever met on 19 occasions. It adopted seven laws, compared with 986 enacted by the Government. By the time of the Reichstag election of 12 November 1933, voters were already being presented with a single list of candidates whom they could approve or reject en bloc. Through the withdrawal of the mandates of Communist and Social Democrat members and the defection of representatives of the middle-class parties to the NSDAP, the Reichstag ultimately developed into a one-party parliament, whose members had to swear allegiance to the Führer. The insignificance of the parliament contrasted with the fact that a parliamentary seat carried great prestige and provided ample financial security, with which long-serving and distinguished party officials of the NSDAP were rewarded. The status attached to Parliament by the National Socialists is also reflected in the fact that the Reichstag building was never restored as a venue for plenary sittings. Instead, Parliament met in the Kroll Opera House, which had staged its last performance in 1931.

On that same day, 5 March 1933, Catharina Aldewereld was born in Amsterdam. About 9.5 years later on 5 October 1942, Catharina would be murdered in Auschwitz by that regime that was put in power in Germany by 19.6 million of its citizens.



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The 26 February Incident

A bit of history that was forgotten in the West, I believe.

In the early hours of 26 February 1936, a group of young radical Japanese army officers led approximately 1,400 troops, under their command, on an attack at the Prime Minister’s residence and other buildings in Tokyo, killing Home Minister Saito Makoto, Finance Minister Takahashi Korekiyo, and Army Inspector General of Military Training Watanabe Jotaro. They also entrenched themselves in the Nagatacho and Miyakezaka areas of central Tokyo, the hub of the country’s government and military.

The February 1936 military revolt in Tokyo marked the high point of the extremists and the consolidation of power by the Control Faction within the army. With the death of Korekiyo, whose monetary policies had spared Japan the worst effects of the Depression, opposition to additional inflationary spending by the government was silenced.

The Young Officers’ Movement (Seinen shōkō undō) was a loosely-knit organization, comprised of hardcore dedicated activists with a large following of a few hundred “comrades” (dōshi) and sympathizers. Its members maintained connections with each other and some of them were in contact with civilian organizations of radical rightists. Although the Young Officers’ Movement was a clandestine association, it was tolerated and often supported by higher military echelons.

The young officers believed that the problems facing the nation were the result of Japan straying from the Kokutai (national polity). To them, the privileged classes exploited the people, leading to widespread poverty in rural areas, and deceived the Emperor, usurping his power and weakening Japan. The solution, they believed, was a Shōwa Restoration modelled on the Meiji Restoration from 70 years earlier. The rise up of the officers to destroy the evil advisers around the throne would enable the Emperor to re-establish his authority The Emperor would then purge those who exploited the people, restoring prosperity to the nation. These beliefs were strongly influenced by contemporary nationalist thought, especially the political philosophy of the former socialist Ikki Kita. Almost all of the young officers’ subordinates were from poor peasant families and working classes and believed that the young officers truly understood their predicaments and spirits.

The loose-knit young officers‘ group varied in size but is estimated to have had roughly 100 regular members, mostly officers in the Tokyo area. Its informal leader was Mitsugi (Zei) Nishida. A former IJA lieutenant and disciple of Kita, Nishida had become a prominent member of the civilian nationalist societies that proliferated in Japan from the late 1920s. He referred to the army group as the Kokutai Genri-ha (National Principle) faction.

The Kokutai Genri-ha had long supported a violent uprising against the government. The decision to finally act in February 1936, was caused by two factors. The first was the decision announced in December 1935 to transfer the 1st Division, which most of the Kokutai Genri-ha’s officers belonged to Manchuria in the spring. This meant that if the officers did not strike before then, any possible action would be delayed by years. The second was Aizawa’s trial. The impact of his actions had impressed the officers, and they believed that by acting while his trial was still in progress, they could take advantage of the favourable public opinion it was engendering.[30][31]

The decision to act was initially opposed by Nishida and Kita when they learned of it. The pair’s relationship with most of the officers had become relatively distant during the years leading up to the uprising, and they were opposed to direct action. However, once it was clear that the officers were determined to act anyway, they moved to support them. Another barrier to be overcome was opposition to the involvement of troops from Teruzō Andō, who had sworn an oath to his commander not to involve his men in any direct action. Andō’s position in the 3rd Infantry Regiment (the largest source of troops) was essential to the plot, so Muranaka and Nonaka spoke with him repeatedly, ultimately wearing down his resistance.[32][33]

The date, 26 February, was chosen because the officers had been able to arrange to have themselves and their allies serve as duty officers on that date, facilitating their access to arms and ammunition.

From 22 February on, the seven leaders managed to convince eighteen officers to join the uprising with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were informed on the night of 25 February, hours before the attacks started. Although the officers insisted that all NCOs participate voluntarily and any orders given were merely pro forma, many of the NCOs argued later that they had been in no real position to refuse to participate. The soldiers themselves, 70% of whom were less than a month out of basic training, were not told anything before the coup began, though many were enthusiastic once the uprising began.

The bulk of the Righteous Army was made up of men from the 1st Infantry Regiment and 3rd Infantry Regiment. The only other significant contribution was 138 men from the 3rd Imperial Guard Regiment. including officers, civilians and men from other units. The total size of the Righteous Army was 1,558 men. An official count of 1,483 was given at the time; this number excludes the 75 men who participated in Nakahashi’s attempt to secure the Imperial Palace.

The coup leaders adopted the name “Righteous Army” (義軍, gigun) for this force and the password Revere the Emperor, Destroy the Traitors (尊皇討奸, Sonnō Tōkan), adopted from the Meiji Restoration-era slogan, Revere the Emperor, Destroy the Shogunate. Allies were also to display a three-cent postage stamp when approaching the army’s lines.

Early in the morning of 29 February, orders were given to subjugation at 5:10 and to start the attack at 8:30. The Martial Law HQ made neighbours take refuge from the area around and stationed military policemen NHK at Mt. Atago. From the sky, planes scattered fliers to persuade the troops to surrender. At 8:55 on the radio, an advisory titled, “Directive to Soldiers” (兵に告ぐ in Japanese) said, “The Imperial decree has been proclaimed. The command of His Majesty has already been dispatched”…[19] In addition, a balloon advertising, “Imperial Command was Dispatched. Not be Defiant Any Longer” (勅命下る軍旗に手向かふな in Japanese) was launched into the air.

The divisional commander and senior officers persuaded them with tears. Finally, the troops had gone back to their original units by 14:00. Captain Andō attempted to commit suicide but failed. At the army minister’s official residence gathered the rest of the activist officers. They determined to insist on their opinion in court. They, except for Captain Nonaka, who committed suicide, were arrested at 17:00, and also private citizens, Kita Ikki, Nishida Mitsugi, Shibukawa Zensuke and others. The incident had been completely suppressed.

On 4 March at 14:25, ex-reserve 2nd lieutenant Yamamoto Matashi turned himself in at Tokyo Military Police Headquarters. On 5 March, Captain Kōno attempted to commit suicide and died that morning at 6:40. The troops consisted of 20 officers, and 1528 NCOs and privates. 456 were from the 1st infantry regiment, 937 from the 3rd infantry regiment, 13 from the 7th artillery regiment, 61 from the 3rd infantry regiment of the imperial guards, and so on.

The Navy Ministry did a do-or-die resistance against the rebels on the morning of 26 February. For the defence of its building, they prepared for action. In the afternoon, they rushed the landing force to Shibaura and Tokyo from Yokosuka Naval District, whose commander in chief was Yonai Mitsumasa and the chief of staff was Inoue Shigeyoshi. Also, the IJN 1st Fleet was dispatched to Tokyo Bay. In the afternoon of 27 February, they were ready to bombard the troops from the sea. In addition, at 9:40 on 27 February, the IJN 2nd Fleet anchored to Osaka Bay for defence. Their duty finished on 29 February and returned to their work.

The Ni-ni-roku Coup attempt failed. The leaders were arrested; 19 were executed, more committed suicide, and dozens of their superiors in rank were purged for aiding and abetting the violence.

Most of the soldiers in the insurgents didn’t know the plan for the incident. They believed their actions as legal and followed the officers. Some soldiers were tried in the military court; on the other hand, many were killed at the front in the war.

On 28 February, Mutō Akira and others at military affairs in the Army ministry determined to set up a special court martial by Imperial Command of Urgency. It was realized on 4 March. Why it was by the Imperial Command of Urgency that a special court-martial could be set only under martial-law by ordinary law. Also, it solved the problems of jurisdiction, because the insurgents belonged to too many different units to deal with a normal court. Special court-martial could be characterized, compared to an ordinary one: in that, it is a one-tiered judicial system; completely closed; and defendants can’t recuse judges; and with no defence lawyer.

In Army Penal Code, article 25 defines the crime of rebellion:

Article 25
A person who assembles in a crowd and commits the crime of rebellion with armed forces, and shall be sentenced according to the following distinctions:
(i) A ringleader shall be punished by death;
(ii) A person who participates in a plot or directs a mob shall be punished by death or imprisonment without work either for life or for a definite term of not less than 5 years; a person who performs other leading functions shall be punished by imprisonment either with or without work for a definite term, not less than 3 years;
(iii) A person who merely follows others or otherwise merely joins in the rebellion shall be punished by imprisonment either with or without work for not less than 5 years.

Sakisaka Shumpei and other Judge advocate staff investigated the incident, commanding Military Police. In the special court-martial, the trial resulted in a judgement of guilt on most of the activist officers and citizens. Isobe Asaichi had been cursing this judgement until the execution of his death penalty. Also, Andō and Kurihara were greatly shocked at the death penalty on so many of their companions. They believed that the Emperor would be glad if they carried out direct action.

Despite the failure of the coup, the 26 February Incident had the effect of significantly increasing the military’s influence over the civilian government. The Okada cabinet resigned on 9 March and a new cabinet was formed by Kōki Hirota, Okada’s foreign minister. However, this transition was not without its problems. When the selection of Hirota was made clear and efforts began to assemble a cabinet, General Hisaichi Terauchi, the new cabinet’s Minister of War, made his displeasure with some of the selections clear. Hirota gave in to Terauchi’s demands and changed his selections, choosing Hachirō Arita over Shigeru Yoshida as Minister of Foreign Affairs.



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. Thank you. 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.


1936 Winter Olympics—The Forgotten Games in Photographs

Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936
Date: 6–16 FEBRUARY


Gerrit Kleerekoper—Gold Medalist Coach, Murdered in Sobibor

Below is a press cutting from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games.

“Everything was taken care of down to the last detail. Nice practice material—not too heavy—logically composed, neatly executed in class, wonderful order and leadership, in one word sublime. …The jury was also enthusiastic and awarded the Kleerekoper corps a total score of 316.75 points, leaving the other teams far behind. With their well-deserved success, the gymnasts were the first female Olympic champions in the Netherlands. At a quarter past five, the Dutch flag fluttered above the Olympic Stadium and the National Anthem sounded over the central area. However, the cheers rose when HRH Prince Hendrik stepped forward and shook hands with each of the participants. …and then they, our ladies, to whom we owe the first victory, disappeared under the grandstand to their dressing rooms”

In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games. This was the first time that women were competing in the field of gymnastics. Five women on the Dutch Olympic gymnastics team were Jewish: Helena-Lea Nordheim, Ans Polak, Estella-Stella Agsteribbe, Judikje-Judik Simons and Elka de Levie. The team’s trainer, Gerrit Kleerekoper, was also Jewish. The team won the gold medal for women’s gymnastics at the Amsterdam Olympics, and the women became national heroines. In just over 16 years later all but one would be murdered. Elka de Levie survived the Holocaust and died in 1979.

Front row, from left: W.E. Zandvliet, Nel van Randwijk, Lea Nordheim, Ans Polak, Stella Agsteribbe, Riek van Rumt.Back row, from left: Alie van der Bos, unknown, unknown, unknown, Elka de Levie

Kleerekoper’s team scored 316.75 points, defeating Italy and the United Kingdom.

Gerrit Kleerekoper was born in Amsterdam on 15 February 1897 was originally a diamond cutter, by trade, but earned his money as a gymnastics teacher at the Jewish Lyceum at the Amsterdam Stadstimmertuinen. In his spare time, he was a trainer at the gymnastics association Bato, which consisted almost entirely of Jewish members. In 1926 he organized the first women’s gymnastics championship in Amsterdam.

On 28 May 1919, Gerrit Kleerekoper married Kaatje Ossedrijver, together they had two children: Leendert on 15 January 1923, and Elisabeth on 14 October 1928, the year in which the gymnasts trained by Kleerekoper won gold at the Olympic Games. In preparation for the Olympic Games, from June 1928 he had his pupils conduct outdoor training sessions on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings to get used to the changing weather conditions.

A few years after the games, Gerrit Kleerekoper provided a daily gymnastics session on the radio. Early in the morning, at a quarter to seven, the VARA broadcasted its program with physical exercises. The session started with the question, “Listeners, are you all ready?” accompanied by a piano from the studio. He then had his audience perform bending and stretching exercises in their living rooms.

At the beginning of the war, a drama took place in the Kleerekoper family. After the Dutch capitulation on May 15, 1940, Gerrit’s sister Mina and her husband Louis Judels decided, together with their children Mia and Bert, to take their own lives on this day. In July, Gerrit wrote a letter about this to his brother Herman, who was a biologist in Sao Paolo:

“Dear Herman, Co and Children, On behalf of Dad and Mom and the family, I have the difficult task of informing you of the difficult days we have spent here and the great sadness we have to deal with. Under the circumstances, you must not have dared to hope for good news. However, the blow that has struck us all is heavier than we and you will have expected. In the first days of the war and immediately after the surrender, many people experienced great fear. Our dear sister Mina with Louis and both children preferred a gentle death to life in fear of the future. During the nights of 15–16 May, they left us. You understand that much writing is not possible at this time. The condition of all of us and Pa and Ma is pretty good considering the circumstances. We must now hold our heads together. We also wish you strength and health. You Gerrit.£

In November 1942 Gerrit, Kaatje and Elisabeth were forced to leave their house at 94 Rivierenlaan. In the last months before their deportation, the family lived at Transvaalstraat 136. On 20 June 1943, at nine o’clock in the evening, they were taken from their home. With their luggage, they walked to Krugerplein from where an overcrowded tram took them to Muiderpoort station. Because of the crowds, they struggled in the tunnel for about an hour to get into the hall. By now it was midnight. On the platform, they had to hand in their house keys to an official. After another hour of waiting, the train appeared and at 2 a.m. they were crammed into a boxcar with 53 others. Fresh air came in through a small crack. In the utterly dark Kaatje wrote a message with a pencil to her sister-in-law, “We are in a freight car and have not left yet. The mood here is perfect. I hope you can read this. We are sitting on the floor with Z. It’s probably a quarter past two. We’re sitting with a candle and I can’t see what I’m writing. Now Trien and Leo, a bunch of Ger, Ka, Elly”.

At five o’clock the train arrived at Zwolle and Gerrit wrote another postcard: “We hope to see each other again soon”. Before they could be registered in Westerbork, it was eight o’clock in the morning and the “scorching hot sun” was already burning above their heads.

Ten days later, on 30 June 1943, the names of Gerrit, Kaatje and Elly Kleerekoper were on the transport list. Daughter Elisabeth wrote to her Aunt Trien, “We have already packed everything for the transport. You can take a bread bag, blanket and handbag with you. The train is already there, almost cleaned. We don’t know where we are going. Maybe we won’t go at all tonight. At least I’m not afraid of it. But if something happens, you have to be strong. I saved the oatmeal cookies and rye bread to eat on the train”. Just before folding the letter, Elisabeth added a quick note to the bottom of the letter, “Left on Tuesday.”

On 2 July 1943, Gerrit Kleerekoper, along with his wife Kaatje and their fourteen-year-old daughter Elisabeth, were murdered by the Nazis at the Sobibór extermination camp. Leendert Kleerekoper had arrived in camp Westerbork more than two months before his parents and sister, that was on 13 April 1943. His registration card states that he had no religion. Leendert was an electrical engineer. His profession ensured that he was sent to camp Vught on 17 May 1943, and was placed with the Philips command. He was murdered in Auschwitz in July 1944 by exhaustion.



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. Thank you. 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.


The Survival Story of Ben Bril

It’s hard to believe that the only time the Olympics were held in the Netherlands, was nearly 100 years ago at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. One of the competing Dutch athletes was Ben Bril.

Ben (Barend) Bril was born on 16 July 16 1912, in Amsterdam, the host city for the 1928 Summer Olympics. He was one of seven children to Jewish parents Klaartie Moffie and Abraham Bril, who worked as a fish monger.

He grew up in one of the poorest parts of Amsterdam as the second youngest of seven children. It was a hard upbringing, according to Steven Rosenfeld, a relative of Bril’s through his wife Celia and has written a book about his life: Dansen om te overleven (Dancing to Survive). They lived in tenements, he didn’t sleep in a bed, he slept on straw, they didn’t have a toilet, he had to carry buckets down to the street,” Rosenfeld says.

Bril competed as a boxer in the 1928 Summer Olympics at age 15 in his home town, finishing fifth in the flyweight class, just out of medal contention. In his Olympic competition, after a first-round, he defeated Myles McDonagh from Ireland, before losing to Buddy Lebanon of South Africa.

McDonagh was 23. Bril had just turned 16 that day. He was the youngest ever boxer to take part in the Olympic Games.

For the young Bril, fighting was a part of daily life. There were scraps with friends, of course, and clashes with rival groups from different communities in the tightly packed city. Politics, discrimination and Bril’s Jewish faith were the reasons for 1928 being Bril’s only Olympic matches. He was not chosen for the 1932 squad, because the head of the boxing committee was a member of the NSB, the Dutch Nazi party. Bril boycotted the 1936 Berlin games being held in Nazi Germany, on his own accord.

As he got older, Bril found work in a butcher’s shop and used his new job to help develop his sport. Bril reached a milestone in his career by winning the gold medal at the Maccabi Games in 1935. He won the Dutch title in his division eight times. Years before it became mandatory for Jews, the proud champion Ben Bril had himself photographed with a Star of David on his boxing kit.

In 1934, Bril went with a Dutch Jewish group to compete in Germany.

The Nazis had been in power for a year. The state had already begun to discriminate officially against Jews. The atmosphere was hostile and daily life was being made increasingly difficult.

Bril was appalled by what he saw.

“We saw brown uniforms everywhere, swastika flags, the word ‘Jew’ on Jewish people’s businesses,” Bril told a Dutch newspaper many years later.

“I said then, as long as this regime is in power, I will never go to Germany.”

In May 1940 Germany invaded the Netherlands. Initially little changed, but gradually life for Dutch Jews became more restricted, and increasingly under threat.

There were restrictions on which public spaces Jewish people could enter, and in particular an attempt to force bars and cafes to ban Jews from their premises, which often ended in violence.

This sparked the creation of several Jewish defence groups, some centred around sports clubs like the one of which Bril was a member. On 11 February 1941, Dutch Nazis marched into the Jewish district of Amsterdam. A previous incursion two days earlier had resulted in attacks on Jewish homes and businesses.

In 1942, Bril, who was Jewish, was arrested by Jan Olij, the son of Sam Olij, a former 1928 Olympic teammate. He was first sent to the Vught Transit Camp, a concentration camp in Southern Holland with deplorable conditions, located Southeast of his home in Amsterdam. Once deported to Northern Germany and interned at the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp, Bril was able to get a job, and then a promotion to the position of Blockälteste, which put him in charge of his barrack. Looking to survive, he was selected to box at the camp, where he let known German boxers defeat him. Four of his brothers and a sister died in the camps.

There is one moment that stands out from Bril’s life during the war beyond all others. It was a moment fraught with danger, but one in which he acted instinctively. It came at the Nazi concentration camp at Vught, and we can hear about it through Bril’s own words because he told the story to Braber in the 1980s.

“A boy had attempted to escape, but they caught him,” said Bril.

“They placed him on a rack, and he was to get 25 lashes of a whip. Suddenly the commander called out: ‘Boxer – step forward!’

“I had to carry out the punishment, but I refused. The commander said that if I didn’t I would get 50 lashes, so I took the whip but when I hit him, I aimed to strike too high.

“The commander got mad: ‘Not so!’ he cried. He grabbed the whip and started beating like mad. I walked back to my line.”

Why Bril suffered no consequences for his refusal to carry out the order is not known, but those who witnessed it were under no doubt as to what they had seen.

“Ben Bril was the only man I saw during two and a half years in concentration camps or heard of, who risked refusing to carry out a formal order of the SS,” according to historian Braber who quotes the head of Vught’s Jewish administration as testifying after the war.

In January 1945, from Bergen-Belsen, the family were included in a prisoner exchange that saw them taken first to Switzerland, then to a United Nations camp in Algeria, before making it back to Utrecht.

Bril didn’t return to the ring as a fighter after the war, but he couldn’t leave boxing.

He became a senior official in the sport, acting as a referee and judge at fights around the world, all the way into the 1970s.

Bril went to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 (where he once again showed his character by leaping into the ring to protect a fellow referee who had been punched by a competitor), Mexico City in 1968 and Montreal in 1976.

He missed the 1972 Games in Munich, and its own tragic story, only because of a dispute with the boxing authorities in the Netherlands.

Ringside or on the canvas, he played a small role at the start of the careers of some of the greats, officiating in fights involving world champions Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Sugar Ray Leonard.

Thank you, Michele Kupfer Yerman for pointing out the story to me.


Hate is Mankind’s Worst Disease!

Ever since I was 13 or 14, I have played the guitar. Over the years, I have bought hundreds of songbooks. In one of those books, they put words to Beethoven’s 9th symphony or more precisely, the bit commonly known as Ode to Joy. In the book, they renamed it, Hate is Mankind’s Worst Disease.

The first few lines are as follows:
What’s the use of killing and fighting?
What’s the use of any war?
Oh, did history still did not show us,
nothing is worth dying for

As the title suggests, the song deals with war and the hate it creates, or rather war created by hate. I could give examples of so many wars, but I am focusing on the war, which had an unprecedented level of hate, and the period before it, World War II.

Below are some examples of the hate that triggered the Holocaust, and pictures of the Holocaust itself.

Nazi Propaganda Used in Education

A Jewish woman concealing her face sits on a park bench marked “Only for Jews.” 1938, Austria

In the early 1930s, Jewish hatred had spread to countries outside of Germany

Newspaper clipping with a pre-war caricature from the Dutch Press, but taken from the French satirical newspaper “Le Canard Enchaîné” The caption translates to, “The Berlin Chief Rabbi speaks in full independence and freedom on the radio” The article issued in 1933 or 1934 indicates that the world knew the fate of the German Jews several years before the war.

The Holocaust

12 April 1945—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, and George Patton were given a tour of the Ohrdruf concentration camp. Here they visit a burial pit containing the charred remains of prisoners burned to death at Ohrdruf.

April 12, 1945 – Dwight D. Eisenhower views the charred bodies of prisoners at Ohrdruf.

23 April 1945—Tattoo that was part of a man’s body. It was removed by Nazi SS men and then used as a decoration on the wall of their quarters at Buchenwald Concentration Camp.

The bodies of former prisoners piled outside the crematorium at the newly liberated Dachau concentration camp. Dachau, Germany, April-May 1945. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Marcy Haupsman

A survivor stokes smouldering human remains in a still lit crematorium oven. Dachau, Germany, 29 April—1 May 1945.
—US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Merle Spiegel

Corpses lie in one of the open railcars of the Dachau death train. The Dachau death train consisted of nearly forty cars containing the bodies of between two and three thousand prisoners transported to Dachau in the last days of the war.

What is of great concern and worry to me is that this hate has not gone away. It was dormant for a short time, but that monster called hate is waking up again. We can still stop it, as it’s not too late yet.



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1936 Winter Olympics

The 1936 Olympic summer games are a well-documented event. However, the 1936 Winter Olympics was not commonly discussed, yet it was just as controversial and steeped in propaganda as the summer games. From February 6 to February 16, 1936, Germany hosted the Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Bavarian Alps. It was held six months before the Berlin Summer Olympics

The 1936 Winter Games were organized on behalf of the German League of the Reich for Physical Exercise (DRL) by Karl Ritter von Halt, who had been named president of the committee for the organization of the Fourth Winter Olympics in Garmisch-Partenkirchen by Reichssportführer Hans von Tschammer und Osten.

Yielding to international Olympic leaders’ insistence on “fair play,” German officials allowed Rudi Ball, who was half-Jewish, to compete on the nation’s ice hockey team. Hitler also ordered anti-Jewish signs temporarily removed from public view. Still, Nazi deceptions for propaganda purposes were not wholly successful. Western journalists observed and reported troop manoeuvres at Garmisch. As a result, the Nazi regime would minimize the military’s presence at the Summer Olympics.

28 nations sent athletes to compete in Germany. Australia, Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Spain, and Turkey all made their Winter Olympic debut in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Estonia, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia all returned to the Games after having missed the 1932 Winter Olympics.

Rudi Ball initially did not qualify for selection in the German ice hockey team, due to his Jewish background. His good friend and teammate, Gustav Jaenecke, refused to play unless Ball was included. Ball also believed a deal could be struck to save his family in Germany if he returned to play in the games. The German selectors also realized that without Ball and Jaenecke the team would not stand a chance of winning. Another factor was that the Nazi party could not overlook the fact that Ball was without a doubt one of the leading athletes in his sport. With much controversy, Ball was included in the German team to play at the 1936 Olympic games. One report of the time proposed that Ball was playing against his will.[8] The deal for Ball’s family to leave Germany was also agreed upon. After Ball was injured, the Germans took 5th place in the Olympic tournament. Ball played four matches and scored two goals.

Ball followed his brother, Heinz, to South Africa in 1948. He died in Johannesburg in 1975.

Two other athletes who competed at the Winter Olympics ended up in concentration camps during World War 2. Polish skier Bronisław Czech, and
Norwegian ski jumper Birger Ruud.

Bronisław “Bronek” Czech was a Polish sportsman and artist. In 1934. He wrote a book about “Skiing and Ski Jumping Style”. In addition, he ran a sporting goods store in Zakopane. He also had musical and artistic talents, played violin and accordion, painted on paper and glass, carved wood and wrote poems. When war broke out in 1939, he joined the Polish resistance movement as a courier to Hungary. He was arrested by the German Gestapo in 1940 and was one of the first victims to be transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. During his imprisonment, he continued to paint landscapes of the Tatras from memory. He died in 1944 in the camp’s hospital ward.

Birger Ruud, with his brothers Sigmund and Asbjørn, dominated international jumping in the 1930s. At the Winter Olympics of 1936 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, 90,000 people watched Birger Ruud fly. Ninety thousand faces turned up towards him as the Norwegian added a second gold medal to the one he’d secured at Lake Placid four years earlier.

At the 1936 Olympic Winter Games, Ruud attempted an unusual double, competing in both Alpine and ski jumping events. The inaugural Alpine contest was the combined ski jumping and slalom. Ruud led the downhill race by 4.4 seconds, but when he missed a gate in the slalom, he was assigned a six-second penalty and ended up in fourth place. A week later, Ruud won the gold medal in the ski jump.

He was also part of a group of Norwegians holding their own clandestine events and competitions until in 1943 a Quisling sympathiser reported the skiers to the Gestapo and the three Ruud brothers were sent to the Grini concentration camp. Released after a year Ruud returned immediately to resistance activities, becoming close to one of its key leaders Ahlert Horn.

Amid preparations for the Games, the Garmisch-Partenkirchen town council passed an order to expel all Jews in its jurisdiction but decided to wait until after the Olympics to implement the decree. Anti-semitic signs and publications were removed from the region for the duration of the Games, as a concession to the International Olympic Committee.

It was the last year in which the Summer and Winter Games both took place in the same country (the cancelled 1940 Olympics would have been held in Japan, with Tokyo hosting the Summer Games and Sapporo hosting the Winter Games).



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.


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


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Laying the Foundation for Hate

When I see young people being very passionate about something that has a political undertone, I always wonder who is really behind that.

The Nazis understood that for them to successfully implement their racial ideas and policies, they would have to indoctrinate the youth. Hitler had a very strong viewpoint on education. The only teacher he liked at secondary school was his history teacher Leopold Potsch.

Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925): “Dr. Leopold Potsch, my professor at the Realschule in Linz, embodied this requirement to an ideal degree. This old gentleman’s manner was as kind as it was determined, his dazzling eloquence not only held us spellbound but carried us away. Even today I think back with gentle emotion on this gray-haired man who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, molded dry historical memories into a living reality. On such occasions, we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears. What made our good fortune all the greater was that this teacher knew how to illuminate the past by examples from the present, and how the past draws inferences for the present. As a result, he had more understanding than anyone else for all the daily problems which then held us breathless. He used our budding nationalistic fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor. By this alone he was able to discipline us little ruffians more easily than would have been possible by any other means. This teacher made history my favorite subject. And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a little revolutionary. For who could have studied German history under such a teacher without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation? And who could retain his loyalty to a dynasty which in past and present betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage?”

Leopold Poetsch began his history teaching career in Maribor and later moved to Linz. He held strong nationalist opinions on the subject and believed that all ethnic Germans should be united by a single government. He also held strong racist views and told his pupils that Jews and Slavs were members of “inferior races”. However in later years took some distance from his former pupil, and considered Hitler an enemy of Austria.

The Nazis went to great extents on teaching the German youth to be proud of their race through biology teaching, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) in particular taught in schools that they should be proud of their race and not to race mix.

Race biology was meant to encourage the Germans to maintain their racial purity, the NSLB stressed that as early as primary schools Germans have to work on only the Nordic racial element of the German Volk (people) again and again and have to contrast this with the racial differences that foreign peoples such as the Jews represent.

Every institution was infused with National Socialist ideology and infiltrated by Nazi personnel in chief positions. Schools were no exception.

Schools and universities were to:

indoctrinate young people into the racial ideas of Nazism and make children loyal to Hitler – this was in effect a form of brainwashing;
train girls to be good Aryan wives and mothers, and prepare boys to be effective soldiers.

Make young people “swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp steel”. All teachers had to join the Nazi Teachers’ Association, which vetted them for political and racial suitability. By 1939, 97 percent of teachers belonged to it.

Jewish teachers were fired.

Teachers had to go to summer school so they could teach Nazi ideas effectively. Pupils were encouraged to inform the authorities if teachers did not teach and support Nazi ideas.

There were even so-called Bride Schools. The Reich Bride Schools (German: Reichsbräuteschule) were institutions established in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. They were created to train young women to be “perfect Nazi brides”, indoctrinated in Nazi ideology and educated in housekeeping skills. The fiancées of prominent SS members and senior Nazi Party officials (and later a wider range of German women) were taught skills including cooking, child care, ironing, and to how to polish their husbands’ uniforms and daggers. They were required to swear oaths of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, to pledge to raise their children as Nazis, and to marry in what the Nazis alleged to be ceremonies based on the pre-Christian model.

The bride schools were a collaboration between Gertrud Scholtz-Klink and SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who was obsessed with German superiority over all races and the need for a “strong family life to create a strong, pure nation”.

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink

Regulations dictated that young women would be taught ‘washing, cooking, childcare and home design’ before they could walk up the aisle with the men who would staff death camps and rule conquered lands with an iron fist.

They were also instructed in social niceties – such as how to hold conversations at cocktail parties – and how to bring up their children worshipping not God or Jesus Christ, but Hitler. Although several bride schools were established in locations across Germany, the demands of the Second World War made it impossible for the Nazis to realize their ideal of women as being exclusively homebound.

Nazi racial policy did not always include degrading Jews but had to always maintain the importance of German blood and the Aryan race. This was often connected to the blood and soil ideology.

Whilst the young Germans were being taught about the importance of one’s blood, at the same time they were being taught about the dangers that the Jews represent in Germany and the necessary living space in the East, in particular Russia.

Novels portrayed the Germans as uniquely endowed and possessors of a unique destiny. The segregation of races was said to be natural, just as separate species did not come together in nature.

Der Giftpilz was a piece of antisemitic Nazi propaganda published as a children’s book by Julius Streicher in 1938. The title is German for “the poisonous mushroom/toadstool”.

The book explains that the Talmud discourages Jews from performing manual labor and encourages them to engage in trade instead; that it teaches Jews that non-Jews are meant to be slaves and asks Jews to enslave the non-Jewish population; and that Talmudic law allows Jews to cheat non-Jews. The book was sometimes used in German schools.

The indoctrination, or rather brainwashing, also happened in third-level education, in the Universities. On May 10, 1933 student groups at universities across Germany carried out a series of book burnings of works that the students and leading Nazi party members associated with an “un-German spirit.” Enthusiastic crowds witnessed the burning of books by Brecht, Einstein, Freud, Mann, and Remarque, among many other well-known intellectuals, scientists, and cultural figures, many of whom were Jewish. The largest of these book bonfires occurred in Berlin, where an estimated 40,000 people gathered to hear a speech by the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in which he pronounced that “Jewish intellectualism is dead”

The information in this post comes from a great number of sources. The reason why I did this article is to warn people. There are groups out there at the moment who are manipulating young people, to be foot soldiers for their political ideas. We need to check who is behind some of these movements, some of them have a noble veneer, but if you scratch the surface you might discover there is a different agenda behind it.

Of course, the vast majority of young people are decent human beings.



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. Thank you. 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.