The Dutch Queen did offer some resistance to the Nazis, but very little.

Queen Wilhelmina was Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 until her abdication in 1948. She reigned for nearly 58 years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw both World War I, although the Netherlands was neutral during WW1, and World War II, as well as the Dutch economic crisis of 1933.

It is during World War 2 where ,in my opinion and that of others, she didn’t as much as she should or could have done.

On May 4, 2020, King Willem-Alexander gave a speech where he too criticised the role of his great grandmother.

Speech by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, National Remembrance Day, 4 May 2020
Speech | 04-05-2020

“It feels strange to be standing in an almost empty Dam Square. But I know that you all feel part of this National Remembrance Day, and that we are standing here together.

During these exceptional months, we have all had to give up some of our freedom. This country hasn’t experienced anything like this since the Second World War. Now, we are choosing our own path. For our lives and our health.

Back then, the choice was made for us. By an occupier with a merciless ideology that caused the deaths of millions of people. How did that total lack of freedom feel?

There is one testimony I shall never forget. It was given here in Amsterdam, in the Westerkerk, almost six years ago. A short, clear-eyed man – standing proud at 93 years old – recounted his journey to Sobibor, in June 1943.

His name was Jules Schelvis. There he stood, fragile but unbroken, in a full but utterly silent church. He spoke about the transportation of 62 people in a single railway wagon. About the barrel on the bare floor. About the rain that spattered in through the gaps. About the hunger, the exhaustion, the filth.

‘You began to look like a pauper,’ he said. And you could hear the heartbreak in his voice. He recalled the soldiers ripping the watches off prisoners’ wrists on arrival. And how he lost his wife Rachel in the ensuing chaos. He never saw her again.

‘What normal human being could have imagined this? How could the world allow us, honest citizens of the Netherlands, to be treated like vermin?’ His question lingered among the pillars of the church. I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t.

What I also remember is his account of what happened before his journey. Following a Nazi raid, he and his wife and many hundreds of others were taken to Muiderpoort station. I can still hear him saying: ‘Hundreds of onlookers watched as the overcrowded trams went by under heavy guard, and they didn’t once protest.’

Straight through this city. Straight through this country. Right before the eyes of their fellow countrymen. It all seemed so gradual. And with each new step it went further.
No longer being allowed to go swimming in public pools.
Being excluded as member of an orchestra.
No longer being allowed to ride your bike.
No longer being allowed to go to college.
Being put out on the street.
Then arrested and taken away.

Sobibor began in the Vondelpark. With a sign saying: ‘No Jews Allowed’. Certainly, there were many people who protested. Men and women who took action, bravely going against the tide and risking their own safety for the sake of others.

I also think of all the civilians and military personnel who fought for our freedom.
Of all the young soldiers who lost their lives on the Grebbelinie in those days of May.
The military personnel who served our Kingdom in the Dutch Indies and paid for it with their lives.
The resistance fighters who were executed by firing squad on the Waalsdorpervlakte or suffered inhuman treatment in labour and concentration camps.
The military personnel killed or severely wounded in peacekeeping operations.
True heroes who were prepared to die for our freedom and our values.

But there is also another reality. Fellow human beings, fellow citizens in need, who felt abandoned unheard. Who felt they should have received more support, if only by words. Also from London, and from my great-grandmother, despite her unwavering and fierce opposition. This is something that will always stay with me.

The impact of war lingers on for many generations. Even now, 75 years after our liberation, it remains with us. The least we can do is: not look away. Not justify it. Not erase it. Not brush it aside. Not normalise something that is anything but normal. And nurture and defend our democracy and the rule of law. Because only that can protect us from tyranny and chaos.

Jules Schelvis went through hell and yet managed to make something of his life as a free person. Much more than that. ‘I kept my faith in humanity,’ he said. If he could do that, then so can we. We can do it, and we will do it together. In freedom.”

However there were little acts of resistance or rather attempts, by the exiled Queen, to boost the morale of the Dutch civilians, from her residence in London.

Two (orange) packs of cigarettes, with the V-sign on the cover and the text ‘The Netherlands will rise again’. In the night of 30 to 31 August 1941, tens of thousands of orange packages are dropped over the Netherlands. Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday was on August 31. At the other side of the pack the letter W of Wilhelmina.

I know this was meant well, the goal was to boost morale. But on the other hand it also could have caused harm, anyone caught with these by the Nazis, would be severely punished, They could even face the death panalty.

Portrait of Queen Wilhelmina, published in the illegal press on her 61st birthday, August 31, 1941. The original portrait in pencil was made by Cor Visser. Dutch ‘war artist’ living in England.

The King mentioned Jules Schelvis.

He was a Dutch Jewish historian, writer, printer, and Holocaust survivor. Schelvis was the sole survivor among the 3,005 people on the 14th transport from Westerbork to Sobibor extermination camp, having been selected to work at nearby Dorohucza labour camp. He is known for his memoirs and historical research about Sobibor, for which he earned an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam, Officier in the Order of Orange-Nassau, and Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Below is one of his testimonies.

“The Jews of the Bahnhofskommando were very heavy-handed getting us of the train onto the platform. They let on they were Jewish by speaking Yiddish, the language of the Eastern European Jews. The SS men standing behind them were shouting ‘schneller, schneller’ (faster, faster) and lashed out at people once they were lined up on the platform. Yet the first impression of the camp itself aroused no suspicion, because the barracks looked rather like little Tyrolean cottages, with their curtains and geraniums on the window sills.

But this was no time to dawdle. We made our way outside as quickly as possible. Rachel and I, and the rest of our family, fortunately had no difficulty in swiftly making our way onto the platform, which had been built up of sand and earth. Behind us we could hear the agonised cries of those who could not get up quickly enough, as their legs had stiffened as a result of sitting in an awkward position for too long, severely affecting their circulation. But no one cared. One of the first things that occurred to me was how lucky we were to be all together and that the secret of our destination would now finally be revealed. The events so far did not hold out much promise though, and we understood this was only the beginning.

It was obvious we had arrived at our final destination : a place to work, as they had told us in the Netherlands. A place where the many who had gone before us should now also be working. Our presence must be of quite some importance, why else would the Germans have bothered to bring us all the way here, traveling for three days and nights, covering a distance of two thousand kilometres?

Yet the Germans were using whips, lashing out at us and driving us on from behind. My father -in-law, walking beside me, was struck for no reason. He shrank back in pain only for a moment , not wanting anyone to see. Rachel and I firmly gripped each other’s hand, desperate not to get separated in this hellish situation. We were driven along a path lined with barbed wire towards some large barracks and dared not look round to see what was happening behind us.

We wondered what had happened to the baby in our wagon , and to the people unable to walk; and what about the sick and the handicapped ? But we were given no time to dwell on these things and, besides, we were too preoccupied with ourselves. ‘What shall I do with my gold watch?’ Rachel said. ‘They will take it from me in a minute.’ I replied, ‘Bury it, because it could be worth a lot of money later.’ As she was walking, she noticed a little hole in the sand and quickly threw the watch down, using her foot to cover it up. ‘Remember,’ she said, ‘where I’ve buried it. We can try digging it up later when we have a little more time.’

Like cattle, we were herded through a shed that had doors on either side, both wide open. We were ordered to throw down all our luggage and keep moving. Our bread and backpacks, with our name, date of birth and the word ‘Holland’ written on them, ended up on top of the huge piles, as did my guitar, which I had naively brought and carefully guarded all the way. Quickly glancing around, I saw how it ended up underneath more luggage. It dawned on me then that there was worse to come. Robbed of everything we had once spent so much care and time in acquiring, we left the shed through the door opposite.

I was so taken aback and distracted by having had all our possessions taken from us, that although I had seen an SS man at some point, I never noticed, until it was too late, that the women had been sent in a different direction. Suddenly Rachel was no longer walking beside me. It happened so quickly that I had not been able to kiss her or call out to her. Trying to look around to see if I could spot her somewhere, an SS man snapped at me to look straight ahead and keep my ‘Maul (gob) shut.’

Along with the men around me, I was driven on at a slightly slower pace to a point just past an opening in a fence, where yet another SS man was posted. He looked the younger men up and down fleetingly, seeming to have no interest in the older ones. With a quick nudge of his whip, he motioned some of them to line-up separately by the edge of the field. Directly in front of me, my brother -in-law Ab was directed to join this growing group. My father-in-law, David, and Herman, my thirteen -year old brother-in-law, were completely ignored. My father-in-law was too old, Herman too young. Glancing at me for just a moment, he let me pass as well. He needed to select only eighty healthy-looking men.

Those who had not been selected had to move along into the field and sit down. That Friday 4 June 1943, the Sobibor sun beat down on our heads. It was midday and very hot already. There we were, defenceless, powerless, exhausted, at the mercy of the Germans, and completely isolated from the rest of the world. No one could help us out here. The SS held us captive and were free to do as they pleased.

The rows of men out on the field were getting bigger as those from the other wagons joined us. While we were waiting, I had a little time to collect my thoughts. Our harsh treatment seemed to be in conflict with the image of the Tyrolean cottage-like barracks with their bright little curtains and geraniums on the windowsills. They had had such a friendly and calming effect on me after all the tensions of the preceding days. The camp had seemed devoid of any other people, apart from the Germans and the Jews who had ‘welcomed’ us on the platform.

As I sat there, I noticed a few Dutch prisoners had approached from the other side of the barbed wire fence and were trying to make contact with us. I recognised Moos van Kleef, the owner of the fish shop on the corner of the Weesperstraat. My arms gestured a question: how are things here, what can we expect? To assuage us, he yelled out to us that it was all right here, no reason to be concerned. I heard him say: ‘We have a job here, everything is new or has to be built.’ My mind was ticking over faster. I thought: this must be the new camp for which they will require some sort of order service (police). That must be why they need those young men. My intuition told me I would want to be a part of that group. Not so much for the order service, but to be with my brother-in-law whom I could still see in the distance.

The field had become quite crowded and I had already come to terms with the idea of working in the camp when I saw the same SS man approaching. With his hands behind his back he ambled past the rows of men quite smugly, seeming quite pleased with himself. As he came closer, I suddenly remembered the order service. He had almost passed when I jumped up and put up my hand. I asked permission to ask him a question. Glancing back at me quite affably, he hesitated briefly and then nodded his approval. I requested in my best German, to join the other group. He stared into the distance, tapping his whip against his boot a few times. He turned around and asked: ‘How old are you?’ I replied: ‘Twenty-two, Herr Officer.’ Healthy? ‘Jawohl, Herr Officer.’ I had no idea what his rank was. ‘Can you speak German?’ Jawohl, Herr Officer.’

Not altogether disinterested, he searched me with his eyes for a moment, apparently lost in thought. Then nodding his head in the direction of the group, he said: ‘Na Los.’ I quickly ran towards it. The young men, relieved at finally being able to release some of the tension built up over the past few days, were chatting to an almost amiable SS man there. To my joy, my best friend Leo de Vries was also among them. The German looked surprised when I joined them, because he believed the eighty-strong group to be complete. A little incredulously he asked: ‘They sent you as well? So now we have eighty-one; one too many, because to my knowledge there should only be eighty.’

After standing around and exchanging thoughts for a while, we were cut off abruptly by the SS man, who, suddenly in quite a different tone of voice, told us to shut up. He continued: ‘My colleague has selected you to work at another camp not far from here. You will return to Sobibor every evening so you can meet and enjoy yourselves with your family and friends.’ Pointing towards the field , he carried on: ‘They are going to have a bath now. This is why the men have been separated from the women, because they obviously cannot bathe together. All the others who arrived today will stay here.

As he spoke, I also saw the SS man addressing the men out on the field, though I could not hear his exact words . Obviously they were being told to undress, because I saw them starting to take off their clothes. By the time ‘our’ SS man had lined us up in rows of five, all those out on the field had already removed their shoes and vests. Urged on by his loud Eins-Zwei-drei-vier cadence, he tried to get us to march smartly and in step towards the camp exit. He could not imagine how miserable we were after being scrunched up for days inside the cattle wagons. On our way to the train I must have passed the spot where Rachel had buried her watch. I could not remember it. But I thought I might remember again in a few hours’ time, when, on my return, I would be headed in the same direction as when we arrived.

Two wagons and an engine stood ready for departure. All traces of turmoil had been erased from the platform, as though it had never happened. The train arrived in Trawniki on the very same day, 4 June 1943. The group had to walk the remaining five kilometres from there to Dorohucza. Unlike other people, I never did see the narrow gauge railway at Sobibor, and neither did I see any people being thrown into rail carts. A possible explanation could lie in the fact that we were the first to enter the camp, so the sick and elderly would not have made their way onto the platform by then, and the tipper trucks were not yet required. They must have been there, ready for use, but without people screaming inside them I probably did not notice.”

sources

https://www.holocausthistoricalsociety.org.uk/contents/sobibor/julesschelvis.html

https://www.sobibor.org/en/postmortem-jules-schelvis/

https://www.royal-house.nl/documents/speeches/2020/05/04/speech-by-king-willem-alexander-national-remembrance-day-4-may-2020

https://www.timesofisrael.com/dutch-king-admits-jews-felt-abandoned-by-great-grandmother-during-holocaust/

A single act of resistance

The Dutch word ‘Moffen’ is a slur or derogatory term for Germans, pretty much in the same way as Krauts in the English language.

Where the word ‘moffen(or mof singular)’comes from is not clear but it had been around since the 16th century. It more or less disappeared from the Dutch vocabulary for about 100 years or so but it made a comeback in 1940.

This was due to the German invasion and occupation of the Netherlands. The Dutch Queen, Wilhelmina, often used it in her broadcasts on Radio Oranje, while she was in exile. Her son in law, Prince Bernhard, was also a German. Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, aka Soldier of Orange, a decorated war hero, said the following about Prince Bernhard.

“For Bernhard, the Prince of the Netherlands, the war was a frustrating business. Born a German, he had married Queen Wilhelmina’s only child, Princess Juliana, and in due time made a conscious and meaningful transition of loyalties to his new homeland. Because of this, and in view of the doubts his background initially evoked among some Britons, he longed more than anyone for a chance to get at Holland’s aggressors.”

Publishers of the ‘Koenen’ dictionary removed the word mof and related words from 1942 onwards.

The Nazi occupiers gradually started to impose laws against the Dutch Jews. One of those laws was to make it illegal and eve a criminal offence for Jews to enter public places, such as parks. Signs were posted all over the country with the text “Forbidden for Jews” like the sign at the start of the blog.

One day in 1941 , a defiant Dutch citizen, more then likely a member of the resistance painted another text on 6 signs which were erected in “Het Gooi” ,which is is an area around Hilversum, in the centre of the Netherlands.

This time the signs read “Forbidden for Moffen”. The following day the signs were repainted again. However this bit of ‘graffiti’ would have definitely resulted in the death penalty for this brave unknown artist.

Sources

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

The abdication of a Queen.

Wilhelmina

On 4 September 1948, after a reign of 58 years, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana, because of advancing age and declining health. The abdication meant that she would henceforth be known as addressed as “Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands”

She had been inaugurated as Queen aged 18 on September 6 1898.Technically she had been Queen since 1890, after the death of her Father ,King William III. But since she was only 10 at the time her mother,Queen Emma served as regent until Wilhelimina turned 18. Therefore technically her reign was for 58 years even though the first 8 years her Mother reigned in her stead.

Wilhelmina queen

During World War II she took charge of the Dutch government in exile,in the UK. On  August 5, 1942 She addressed the U.S. Congress and was the first queen to do so.

cONGRESS

In the night of 20/21 February 1944 she was nearly killed during Operation Steinbock, sometimes referred to as Baby Blitz, by a bomb that took the lives of two  of her staff and severely damaged her country home near South Mimms in England.

Junker

She was not a great fan of  politicians, instead stating a love for the people. When the Netherlands was liberated in 1945 she was disappointed to see the same political factions taking power as before the war.

Following the end of World War II, she made the decision not to return to her palace but to move into a mansion in The Hague, where she stayed for eight months. She traveled throughout the Netherlands to motivate people, sometimes using a bicycle instead of a car. But in 1947, as  the country was still recovering from  the woes of World War II, the revolt in the oil-rich Dutch East Indies saw sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite.

Around the same time, her  health started failing , forcing her to  temporarily cede her monarchial duties to Juliana at the end of 1947 (14 October tto 1 December). At that stage she already contemplated abdication, but Juliana convinced  her to stay on for the stability of the nation, urging her to stay on the throne until 1950 so she could celebrate her diamond jubilee. Wilhelmina had the intention of doing just that , but unfortunately exhaustion forced her to relinquish  duties as a monarch  to Juliana again on 12 May 1948. The timing wasn’t great  as it left Juliana to deal with the early elections caused by the demand for  independence by the Indonesian colonies.

Dismayed by the return to pre-war politics and the pending loss of Indonesia, Wilhelmina abdicated on 4 September 1948.

abdication

During the last years of her life  she wrote her autobiography entitled Eenzaam, maar niet alleen (Lonely but Not Alone), in which she gave account of the events in her life, and revealed her strong religious feelings and motivations.

Wilhelmina died in Het Loo Palace at the age of 82 on 28 November 1962.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

$2.00

Unusual WWII Facts-Part 11

The 1940 Summer Olympics had officially been scheduled be held from 21 September to 6 October 1940, in Tokyo, Japan, but were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II.

Poster_Olympische_Sommerspiele_Tokio_1940 (1)

Staying in the Olympic theme.The 1940 Winter Olympic games were also planned to be in hosted in Japan ,in Sapporo. But the Japanese organisers withdrew in 1938 because of the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The IOC tne  decided to give the Winter Olympics to St. Moritz, Switzerland. There were some problems between the Swiss organisers and the IOC so the Games were cancelled again. The IOC then gave the 1940 Winter Olympics to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Garmisch-Partenkirchen had hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics. The Games were to be held from February 2 – 11 1940.

The games were cancelled because of World War II.

Stalag Luft III

stalag-luft-iii-45

Stalag Luft III was a Nazi POW camp, mostly for allied airmen who’d been shot down and taken captive. However, these airmen were very crafty and over 600 had helped to organize an escape committee, which secretly began to dig tunnels and make plans. On March 24th, 1944, the plan was executed, but from the start, everything went wrong. Only 77 men managed to get into the escape tunnels, and were soon discovered. Of the 77, only 3 managed to get to safety. 50 escapees were executed by the orders of Hitler. This escape attempt was made into a 1963 film, “The Great Escape”.

Bat Man

url-1-45

Bat-Man Paratroopers – 1942

On the United States home front, particularly on the Pacific coast where the threat of a Japanese invasion seemed imminent, even a military expert’s creative juices could take a curious turn. Such was the case for the California State Guard and Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who dreamed up the idea of “bat-man”paratroopers.

The major’s concept of paratroopers using jump suits modified with bat-like “diving wings” was inspired by the trick parachuting stunts of American entertainers. Nicholson had observed that in free fall, sky divers using these wings were able to better control their speed and descent as well as their maneuverability before opening the their parachutes.

Nicholson envisioned winged paratroopers evading enemy fire by swooping through the air like their namesakes. In 1942, the California State Guard found the notion so intriguing, they asked famed jumper Mickey Morgan—whose career often included testing wingsuits—to head a bat-man paratrooper unit of their own.

President Roosevelt used Al Capone’s Limousine

enhanced-buzz-15558-1370978774-22

On the day of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Secret Service realized they did not have a have a bulletproof car to transport President Roosevelt safely to Congress to deliver his Infamy Speech. A quick thinking Secret Service agent realized that the U.S. Treasury had seized the bulletproof limo of Al Capone in 1931.

The car was still in working condition and safely transported the president to Congress. President Roosevelt reportedly quipped, “I hope Mr. Capone won’t mind.

Queen Wilhelmina.

Koningin_Wilhelmina_spreekt_het_Amerikaans_congres_toe_(cropped)

Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands becomes the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress, on the 6th of August 1942.

 

The SS ran a brothel named “The Kitty Salon,” that was frequented by foreign diplomats. They gathered intelligence by wiretapping it and training the prostitutes on how to get information from clients.

Kitty

Holocaust

Bergen-belsen (1)

Even after the Allies arrived, many concentration camp prisoners were beyond help. In Bergen-Belsen, for example, 13,000 prisoners died after liberation. Nearly 2,500 of the 33,000 survivors of Dachau died within six weeks of liberation.

Approximately 600,000 Jews served in the United States armed forces during WWII. More than 35,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing. Approximately 8,000 died in combat. However, only two Jewish soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in WWII.

NET-Margraten-American_Cemetery_04a

Ben L. Salomon

ben-salomon-congressional-medal-of-honor-r-c

The 3rd Jewish soldier who got awarded a Medal of Honor was Ben L.Salomon, but it was only awarded to him in 2002.

Medal of Honor citation

CAPTAIN BEN L. SALOMON
UNITED STATES ARMY

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Captain Ben L. Salomon was serving at Saipan, in the Marianas Islands on July 7, 1944, as the Surgeon for the 2nd Battalion, 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division. The Regiment’s 1st and 2d Battalions were attacked by an overwhelming force estimated between 3,000 and 5,000 Japanese soldiers. It was one of the largest attacks attempted in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Although both units fought furiously, the enemy soon penetrated the Battalions’ combined perimeter and inflicted overwhelming casualties. In the first minutes of the attack, approximately 30 wounded soldiers walked, crawled, or were carried into Captain Salomon’s aid station, and the small tent soon filled with wounded men. As the perimeter began to be overrun, it became increasingly difficult for Captain Salomon to work on the wounded. He then saw a Japanese soldier bayoneting one of the wounded soldiers lying near the tent. Firing from a squatting position, Captain Salomon quickly killed the enemy soldier. Then, as he turned his attention back to the wounded, two more Japanese soldiers appeared in the front entrance of the tent. As these enemy soldiers were killed, four more crawled under the tent walls. Rushing them, Captain Salomon kicked the knife out of the hand of one, shot another, and bayoneted a third. Captain Salomon butted the fourth enemy soldier in the stomach and a wounded comrade then shot and killed the enemy soldier. Realizing the gravity of the situation, Captain Salomon ordered the wounded to make their way as best they could back to the regimental aid station, while he attempted to hold off the enemy until they were clear. Captain Salomon then grabbed a rifle from one of the wounded and rushed out of the tent. After four men were killed while manning a machine gun, Captain Salomon took control of it. When his body was later found, 98 dead enemy soldiers were piled in front of his position. Captain Salomon’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

By the way, he was a dentist.