The Sounds of WWII

In every war music is very important, the same applied to WWII. Music lifted the spirit and boosted the morale of the troops. Organisations like USO(United Service Organisation) and the British equivalent ENSA(Entertainments National Service Association) provided much needed entertainment for the troops.

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Starts like Vera Lynn,Bob Hope and Irving Berlin would often perform for soldiers all over the world.

Often these entertainers would do this at the risk of their own lives.Dancer Vivian Hole (stage name Vivienne Fayre) was killed in the Netherlands in 1945 when the scenery truck in which she was travelling ran over a land-mine.

But the sounds of WWII were more then just songs or jokes, they were also broadcasts by the resistance to convey messages .Below are some of the sounds of WWII.

Broadcasts would begin with “Before we begin, please listen to some personal messages.” It was clear to nearly everyone that they were coded messages, often amusing, and completely without context. Representative messages include “Jean has a long mustache” and “There is a fire at the insurance agency,” each one having some meaning to a certain resistance groups.

Excerpts from Radio Londres. These messages were inserted with the radio program in the form of personal greetings, they were often peculiar and obviously had hidden meanings intended to a specific audience. The last two messages (taken from the poem, Chanson d’automne) was to inform the underground movement that Operation Overlord (D-Day landings) was to commence in 24 hours.

 

1945: Churchill announcing the end of World War II in Europe

Vera Lynn

Irving Berlin

George Formby

The Andrew Sisters

Bob Hope and Jerry Colonna

BBC D-day announcement

Nicolette Bruining-WW2 Hero, Theologian and Broadcaster.

Nicolette Bruining was a truly remarkable woman and her legacy still lives on to this day, although in ways not necessarily how she had envisaged.

 

Nicolette Adriana Bruining (27 August 1886 – 12 April 1963) was a Dutch theologian and founding president of the Liberal Protestant Radio Broadcasting Corporation (Dutch: Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep) (VPRO).

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She was also a teacher and humanitarian, assisting Jews during the Second World War. Her aid was acknowledged by the state of Israel, which posthumously awarded her as Righteous Among the Nations in 1990.

The VPRO is still broadcasting and has a number of controversial shows. Some of the programs are very cutting edge and often just go too far and I presume they don’t really reflect what Nicolette Bruining had envisaged. It showed the first nudity on Dutch TV in 1967.

Nicolette Adriana Bruining was born on 27 August 1886 in Stompetoren, Netherlands to Aida Helena Elisabeth (née Huygens) and Albertus Bruining.She graduated from Barlaeus Gymnasium in Amsterdam and decided to follow in her father’s footsteps, pursuing her university studies in theology. She enrolled at the University of Amsterdam, where her father was a professor, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1912. That same year, she began teaching religion at various schools, including the teacher training school of the Haagsch Genootschap (The Hague Society) In 1916, she presented her dissertation on the Dutch dogmatic Lutheran theologian Franz Hermann Reinhold von Frank (De Theologie van F.H.R. von Frank).She joined the Association of Liberal Protestants and served as chair of The Hague’s chapter. She also began preaching in various municipalities for both the liberal branch of the Dutch Reformed Church and the Netherlands Protestant Association.

In 1923, she helped establish the Vrijzinnige Geloofsgemeenschap NPB(Liberal Community of Faith NBP)to broaden the scope of the church. In particular, she proposed that the new medium of radio be used to disseminate the liberal Christian view.In 1925, Bruining and E. D. Spelberg set up a committee to investigate the possibility of broadcasting programming in support of their cause; they discovered that the government body responsible for broadcast licensing would only grant airtime to legally established organizations. As a result, the Central Committee went on in 1926 to establish the Vrijzinnig Protestantse Radio Omroep (Liberal Protestant Radio Broadcasting Corporation, VPRO); Bruining was president, and Spelberg secretary.Bruining publicized their approach both in their broadcasts and in the articles frequently published in the radio magazine Vrije Geluiden (Free Sounds), advocating non-sectarianism and inviting all intellectual movements to participate.

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During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II, VPRO was banned from broadcasting.

Bruining had been teaching Hebrew to upper level classes at the municipal high school in The Hague, but in 1941,

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all Jewish students were expelled and she quit teaching in protest. She transferred the course to her own home so that all her former pupils could continue studying Hebrew after school hours. After a while, Elisabeth’s former classmates stopped attending Hebrew lessons.

However, Nicolette insisted that Elisabeth should continue studying with her, on a private basis, and the two became close friends. In July 1942, when Elisabeth’s father refused to report for work in Germany, he was forced to find a hideout for himself and his family. He turned to Nicolette for assistance. For the following three years, Nicolette became the intermediary between Elisabeth, her eight-year-old sister, Anita, and the underground movement.

Nicolette found a hiding place for Anita with Hermina Heinen-Rots in Aalten, Gelderland. However, finding a hideout for Elisabeth was more complicated because she was over 16 years old and therefore required forged papers. During this time, Elisabeth was forced to relocate several times and each time Nicolette, often with her friend Jacoba van Tongeren*, was instrumental in the move. On more than one occasion, Nicolette accompanied Elisabeth to her new hideout by train.

This was especially dangerous because she was well known as the head of the Liberal Protestant Radio Organization and as a vociferous opponent to the occupation. Throughout this time, Nicolette provided Elisabeth with food coupons, the price of which was astronomical. Nicolette also delivered letters between Elisabeth, Anita, and their parents, before the latter were deported. One Sunday in April 1943, Nicolette took upon herself the task of telling Elisabeth that her parents had been betrayed and sent to Westerbork.

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Nicolette, who was not married and had no children, became very attached to Elisabeth and Anita during the war. They all remained in contact afterwards.

Like anyone else aiding or harboring Jews, Nicolette would have surely faced the Death penalty if she had been found out. The fact that she was a prominent figure in the Netherlands multiplied those risks manifold.

In 1945, VPRO was allowed to go back on the air. Bruining and Spelberg were fully reinstated in 1947. In 1951, when the Dutch Television Foundation was established, Bruining served on its board as a representative of VPRO. Throughout the 1950s, she hosted a program known as Today; owing to her preferences, the program was broadcast live.

She was very disciplined and committed to her work, this earned her the nickname of the Golda Meir of Liberal protestant movement.

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Between 1948 and 1957 she was the President of the International Union of Liberal Christian Women, which was part of the International Association of Religious Freedom

In 1945, VPRO was allowed to go back on the air. Bruining and Spelberg were fully reinstated in 1947. In 1951, when the Dutch Television Foundation was established, Bruining served on its board as a representative of VPRO. Throughout the 1950s, she hosted a program known as Today; owing to her preferences, the program was broadcast live. She retired in 1956 and was made honorary president of VPRO for life.Bruining died on 12 April 1963 in The Hague.

Posthumously, she was honored by the government of Israel on 7 March 1990 as one of the Righteous Among the Nations,an award granted to recognize non-Jews for assisting Jews in surviving the Holocaust,for her assistance to the Waisvisz family.

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Nancy Wake-AKA The White Mouse

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Nowadays people look at the likes of Beyoncé,Lady GaGa,Rihanna,etc and think Girl power.

Now,Nancy Wake that was Girl power , the real deal and thank god she was on our side.

 “I don’t see why we women should just wave our men a proud goodbye and then knit them balaclavas.”

Nancy Grace Augusta Wake AC, GM (30 August 1912 – 7 August 2011) served as a British Special Operations Executive agent during the later part of World War II. She became a leading figure in the maquis groups of the French Resistance and was one of the Allies’ most decorated servicewomen of the war.

After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into occupied France Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves.

 

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Nancy Wake was a hard-drinking, hard-fighting World War II special agent, saboteur, and resistance commander who survived four days of Gestapo interrogation, saved over two hundred downed Allied pilots from falling into the clutches of the Nazi penal system, blew up a couple German supply depots, had a bounty of five million Francs placed on her head, and then killed an SS stormtrooper with her bare hands by apparently dishing out a judo chop to the throat.

Born to a poor family in New Zealand in 1912, Nancy Wake’s family moved her to Australia at the age of two.  Then her dad promptly abandoned Nancy, her mom, and her five brothers and sisters.  Growing up in poverty, Wake left home at 16 to go work as a nurse in Sydney, then at 20 she moved to London with about $300 in her pocket to try and make a new life.  By 22 this globetrotting Aussie/Kiwi was living in Paris, working as a freelance newspaper journalist.

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In 1933, Wake’s newspaper assignment took her to Vienna to do a story on the new German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, so she headed out to see what the big deal was.  Wake interviewed Hitler, got the official party line, and then watched as gangs of Nazi thugs roamed the streets of Vienna beating up Jewish men and women for no good reason.  Wake, horrified by what she was seeing, vowed to oppose this Hitler fellow at any opportunity.

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In 1937, Wake met wealthy French industrialist Henri Edmond Fiocca (1898–1943), whom she married on 30 November 1939. She was living in Marseille, France when Germany invaded. After the fall of France in 1940, she became a courier for the French Resistance and later joined the escape network of Captain Ian Garrow. In reference to Wake’s ability to elude capture, the Gestapo called her the White Mouse. The Resistance exercised caution with her missions; her life was in constant danger, with the Gestapo tapping her phone and intercepting her mail.

In November 1942, Wehrmacht troops occupied the southern part of France after the Allies’ Operation Torch had started(the British-American invasion of French North Africa).

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.This gave the Gestapo unrestricted access to all papers of the Vichy régime and made life more dangerous for Wake. By 1943, Wake was the Gestapo’s most wanted person, with a 5 million-franc price on her head. When the network was betrayed that same year, she decided to flee Marseille. Her husband, Henri Fiocca, stayed behind; he was later captured, tortured and executed by the Gestapo.Wake described her tactics: “A little powder and a little drink on the way, and I’d pass their (German) posts and wink and say, ‘Do you want to search me?’ God, what a flirtatious little bastard I was.”

According to her fake French ID her name was  Lucienne Carlier.

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Finally, in 1943, the Germans started to figure out who The White Mouse really was, and planned to arrest her.  Luckily for Ms. Wake, the British spymasters intercepted the Gestapo communication ordering her arrest, and were able to relay a “get out” message to Nancy before Nazis knocked on her front door.  Wake ran for it, made a break for the Pyrenees, and then, despite leaping from a moving train to evade them, she was shot at and captured by the Germans and hauled off to the local Gestapo police station.

They tortured her for four days.  An acquaintance  managed to have her let out by making up stories about her supposed infidelity to her husband. She succeeded, on her sixth attempt, in crossing the Pyrenees to Spain, and from there she managed to get to Britain.

After reaching Britain, Wake joined the Special Operations Executive. Vera Atkins Vera-Atkins, who also worked in the SOE, recalls her as “a real Australian bombshell. Tremendous vitality, flashing eyes. Everything she did, she did well.” Training reports record that she was “a very good and fast shot” and possessed excellent fieldcraft. She was noted to “put the men to shame by her cheerful spirit and strength of character.

On the night of 29/30 April 1944, Wake was parachuted into the Auvergne, becoming a liaison between London and the local maquis group headed by Captain Henri Tardivat in the Forest of Tronçais. Upon discovering her tangled in a tree, Captain Tardivat greeted her remarking, “I hope that all the trees in France bear such beautiful fruit this year,” to which she replied, “Don’t give me that French shit.” Her duties included allocating arms and equipment that were parachuted in and minding the group’s finances. Wake became instrumental in recruiting more members and making the maquis groups into a formidable force, roughly 7,500 strong. She also led attacks on German installations and the local Gestapo HQ in Montluçon. At one point Wake discovered that her men were protecting a girl who was a German spy. They did not have the heart to kill her in cold blood, but when Wake insisted she would perform the execution, they capitulated.

 

From April 1944 until the liberation of France, her 7,000+ maquisards fought 22,000 German soldiers, causing 1,400 casualties, while suffering only 100 themselves. Her French companions, especially Henri Tardivat, praised her fighting spirit, amply demonstrated when she killed an SS sentry with her bare hands to prevent him from raising the alarm during a raid. During a 1990s television interview, when asked what had happened to the sentry who spotted her, Wake simply drew her finger across her throat. “They’d taught this judo-chop stuff with the flat of the hand at SOE, and I practised away at it. But this was the only time I used it – whack – and it killed him all right. I was really surprised.”

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On another occasion, to replace codes her wireless operator had been forced to destroy in a German raid, Wake rode a bicycle for more than 500 kilometres (310 mi) through several German checkpoints.

At the head of a group of dedicated, gun-toting Frenchmen, Nancy Wake spent most of 1944 – both before and after D-Day – leading daring guerilla attacks on Nazi supply depots, rail stations, and communications facilities deep behind enemy lines.  She sabotaged factories, raided depots, cut train tracks, and performed countless espionage and sabotage missions against the enemy. In another attack she and some Maquis fighters rolled up to the local Gestapo headquarters in Montlucon, France, shot the place up, lobbed some grenades, and killed 38 members of the Reich’s notorious secret police.

decades/PCD1731/031When enemy spies were captured, Wake was the one who interrogated them and determined whether they would live or die.  When supply drops were parachuted behind enemy lines by Allied transport planes, Wake was the one who received the coordinates, made sure guys were there to pick up the gear, and distributed it to the men.  On yet another occasion, Wake took command of a battle after her section leader died, then coordinated a strategic withdrawal that got her men out of a hardcore shootout with SS storm troopers without taking any further casualties.

Immediately after the war, Wake was awarded the George Medal, the United States Medal of Freedom, the Médaille de la Résistance, and thrice the Croix de Guerre.

 

She learned that the Gestapo had tortured her husband to death in 1943 for refusing to disclose her whereabouts. After the war, she worked for the Intelligence Department at the British Air Ministry attached to embassies in Paris and Prague.Being unable to adapt to life in post-war Europe, she returned to Australia in January 1949 aged 37. Shortly afterwards she ran for the Liberal Party against Labor’s ‘Doc’ Evatt and, having been narrowly defeated, made a second attempt in 1951, again unsuccessfully.

'Doc' Evatt

Unsatisfied with life in Australia, Wake returned to England. In 1957 she married John Forward, an RAF officer. The couple returned to Australia in 1959. A third attempt to enter politics also failed and she and Forward ultimately retired to Port Macquarie where they lived until his death in 1997. In December 2001 she left Australia for England where she lived out her remaining years.

Wake was appointed a Chevalier (knight) of the Legion of Honour in 1970 and was promoted to Officer of the Legion of Honour in 1988.

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Initially, she refused offers of decorations from Australia, saying: “The last time there was a suggestion of that I told the government they could stick their medals where the monkey stuck his nuts. The thing is if they gave me a medal now, it wouldn’t be love so I don’t want anything from them.” It was not until February 2004 that Wake was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.

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In April 2006, she was awarded the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association’s highest honour,the RSA Badge in Gold. Wake’s medals are on display in the Second World War gallery at the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra

On 3 June 2010, a “heritage pylon” paying tribute to Wake was unveiled on Oriental Parade in Wellington, New Zealand, near the place of her birth.

Seasons 1 and 2 of the 1980s British television series Wish Me Luck were based on her exploits and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography.

 

Wake’s story was told in a 1987 television movie, Nancy Wake, released as True Colors in the US. She was played by Australian actress Noni Hazlehurst.

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Wake criticized the way in which the film portrayed her, for instance as cooking breakfast for the men or as being romantically involved with another resistance member.

Sebastian Faulks’s 1999 novel Charlotte Gray is thought to be based on Wake’s war-time exploits,[ as well as those of Pearl Cornioley, a British secret-service agent.

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The pictures below were  taken at the premiere of Charlotte Gray at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square in 2002.

 

Rachael Blampied portrayed Nancy Wake in the TVNZ docu-drama Nancy Wake: The White Mouse.

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Wake died on Sunday evening 7 August 2011, aged 98, at Kingston Hospital after being admitted with a chest infection. She had requested that her ashes be scattered at Montluçon in central France. Her ashes were scattered near the village of Verneix, which is near Montluçon, on 11 March 2013.

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Nancy Wake a true hero, we salute you.

 

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Zegota- WWII Heroes

Would you risk your own life 

and your family’s to save another human being?

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That is the question anyone aiding Jews would have asked themselves each day.

Would you risk your own life
and your family’s to save another human being?

I am not sure if I would.

Zegota is a story of thousands of those who did. It happened during World War II under the brutal Nazi Germany occupation of Poland. The risk takers were Polish Christians who saved Polish Jews destined for Shoah. They came from all areas of life, educated or not, religious or not, from large cities or small villages, as members of Polish resistance or as unorganized individuals. They all knew the possible price to be paid, nevertheless they acted.

 

“Żegota” (also known as the “Konrad Żegota Committee”, was a codename for the Polish Council to Aid Jews , an underground organization of Polish resistance in German-occupied Poland active from 1942 to 1945.

The Council to Aid Jews operated under the auspices of the Polish Government in Exile through the Government Delegation for Poland, in Warsaw. Żegota aided the country’s Jews and found places of safety for them in occupied Poland. Poland was the only country in Nazi-occupied Europe where there existed such an organization.

The Council to Aid Jews, Żegota, was the continuation of an earlier secret organization set up for this purpose, called the Provisional Committee to Aid Jews (Tymczasowy Komitet Pomocy Żydom), founded in September 1942 by Zofia Kossak-Szczucka and Wanda Krahelska-Filipowicz (“Alinka”) and made up of democratic as well as Catholic activists. Its members included Władysław Bartoszewski, later Polish Foreign Minister (1995, 2000).

Władysław Bartoszewski

Within a short time, the Provisional Committee had 180 persons under its care, but was dissolved for political and financial reasons.

Founded soon after in October 1942, Żegota was the brainchild of Henryk Woliński of the Home Army (AK).

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From its inception, the elected General Secretary of Żegota was Julian Grobelny, an activist in prewar Polish Socialist Party. Its Treasurer, Ferdynand Arczyński, was a member of the Polish Democratic Party. They were also the two of its most active workers. Żegota was the only Polish organization in World War II run jointly by Jews and non-Jews from a wide range of political movements. Politically, the organization was formed by Polish and Jewish underground political parties.

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Jewish organizations were represented on the central committee by Adolf Bermann and Leon Feiner. The member organizations were the Jewish National Committee (an umbrella group representing the Zionist parties) and the socialist General Jewish Labor Union. Both Jewish parties operated independently also, using money from Jewish organizations abroad channelled to them by the Polish underground. They helped to subsidize the Polish branch of the organization, whose funding from the Polish Government-in-Exile reached significant proportions only in the spring of 1944. On the Polish side, political participation included the Polish Socialist Party as well as Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Demokratyczne) and a small rightist Front Odrodzenia Polski. Notably, the main right-wing party, the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe) refused to participate.

Kossack-Szczucka withdrew from participation from the onset. She had wanted Żegota to become an example of pure Christian charity and argued that the Jews had their own international charity organizations. She went on to act in the Social Self-Help Organization (Społeczna Organizacja Samopomocy – SOS) as a liaison between Żegota and Catholic convents and orphanages, where Catholic clergy hid many Jews.

It is estimated that about half of the Jews who survived the Holocaust in Poland (thus over 50,000) were aided in some shape or form by Żegota founded in 1942. Żegota had around one hundred (100) cells, operating mostly in Warsaw where it distributed relief funds to about 3,000 Jews. The second-largest branch was in Kraków, and there were smaller branches in Wilno (Vilnius) and Lwów (L’viv). In all, 4,000 Jews received funds from Żegota directly, 5,600 from the Jewish National Committee and 2,000 from the Bund (because of overlaps, the total number of Jews helped by all three organizations in Warsaw was about 8,500). This aid reached about one-third of the Jews in hiding in Warsaw, but mostly not until late 1943 or 1944. The systematic killing of Jews began to take place, so it was hard to save Jews already in the ghetto. That is why they only protected Jews located in hiding in Poland.

Concealing Jews was punishable in Poland by death for all the persons living in the house where they were discovered. A difficult problem therefore was to find hiding places for persons who looked Jewish. Zegota was on a constant lookout for suitable accommodations. No estimate can be given of the magnitude of this form of aid by Zegota, but it appears to have been great. Children were put in the care of foster families, into public orphanages or similar institutions maintained by convents. The foster families were told that the children were relatives, distant or close, and they were paid by Zegota for the children’s maintenance. In Warsaw, Zegota had 20-500 children registered whom it looked after in this way.

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The head of the children section was Polish Nurse and Social worker called Irena Sendler.

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Assisted by some two dozen other Żegota members, Sendler smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and then provided them with false identity documents and shelter outside the Ghetto, saving those children from the Holocaust.

Żegota helped save some 4,000 Polish Jews by providing food, medical care, relief money and false identity documents for those hiding on the so-called “Aryan” side of German-occupied Poland. Most of its activity took place in Warsaw. The Jewish National Committee had some 5,600 Jews under its care, and the Bund an additional 1,500, but the activities of the three organizations overlapped to a considerable degree. Between them, they were able to reach some 8,500 of the 28,000 Jews hiding in Warsaw, as well as perhaps 1,000 elsewhere in Poland.

Help in the form of money, food and medicines was organised by Żegota for the Jews in several forced labour camps in Poland as well. Forged identity documents were procured for those hiding on the ‘Aryan side’ including financial aid. The escape of Jews from ghettos, camps and deportation trains occurred mostly spontaneously through personal contacts, and most of the help that was extended to Jews in the country was similarly personal in nature. Since Jews in hiding preferred to remain well-concealed, Żegota had trouble finding them. Its activities therefore did not develop on a larger scale until late in 1943.

Medical attention for the Jews in hiding was also made available. Zegota had ties with many ghettos and camps. It also made numerous efforts to induce the Polish government – in – exile and the Delegatura to appeal to the Polish population to help the persecuted Jews.Below is a letter they sent to the exiled government,asking for funding.

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“The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland”, by the Polish government-in-exile addressed to the wartime allies of the then-United Nations, 1942″

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Over 700 Polish heroes, murdered by Germans as a result of helping and sheltering their Jewish neighbors, were posthumously awarded the title Righteous Among the Nations[6] They were only a small percentage of thousands of Poles reportedly executed by the Nazis for aiding Jews. According to differing research “the number of Poles who perished at the hands of the Germans for aiding Jews” was as high as fifty thousand. Nonetheless, “Władysław Bartoszewski,

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who worked for Żegota during the war estimates that ‘at least several hundred thousand Poles, participated in various ways and forms in the rescue action [for Jews].’ Recent research suggests that a million Poles were involved” in giving aid, “but some estimates go as high as three million” of those passively protective.More specific estimates indicate that some 100,000 of those who meet Yad Vashem’s criteria, to 300,000 Poles were directly engaged in rescuing Jews even though the threat of death did act as a deterrent.

Many members of Żegota were memorialised in Israel in 1963 with a planting of a tree in the Avenue of the Righteous at Yad Vashem. Władysław Bartoszewski was present at the event.

The third anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising with members of Żegota,Warsaw, April 1946. Seated, from right to left: Piotr Gajewski, Ferdynand Marek Arczyński, Władysław Bartoszewski, Adolf Berman and Tadeusz Rek.

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I think all these brave men and women have taught us one vital lesson that there is always a choice. You can choose to just look away or act like they did and I know it is not alwaysan easy choice but a choice nonetheless.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer- The Good German

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Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer stands out among the Christian leaders during the Nazi era, for he was one of the few to actively resist the racist actions of the Nazi regime. In addition to his legacy of courageous opposition to Nazism, Bonhoeffer’s theological writings are still widely read in Christian communities throughout the world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the sixth child of Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer, born in Breslau,Germany, on February 4, 1906. He completed his studies in Tübingen and Berlin. In 1928, he served as vicar in the German parish in Barcelona; and in 1930, he completed his theological examinations at Union Seminary in New York. During this period, he became active in the ecumenical movement and accumulated international contacts that would later aid his efforts in the resistance.

In 1931, Bonhoeffer took a teaching position with the theological faculty in Berlin. There he produced many of his theological writings, in which he took a traditional viewpoint in Jewish-Christian relations, believing that the Jewish people must ultimately accept Jesus as the Messiah. This theological work greatly increased his prominence in the Christian German community.His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential, and his book The Cost of Discipleship became a modern classic.

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After years of political instability under the Weimar republic, most Christian institutions were relieved with the ascent of the nationalistic Nazi dictatorship. The German Evangelical Church, the foremost Protestant church in Germany, welcomed Hitler’s government in 1933. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, however, although a member of the German Evangelical Church, was not complacent. In his April 1933 essay, The Church and the Jewish Question, he assailed Nazi state persecution.

Bonhoeffer was born on 4 February 1906 in Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland), into a large family. In addition to his other siblings, Dietrich had a twin sister, Sabine Bonhoeffer Leibholz: he and Sabine were the sixth and seventh children out of eight. His father was psychiatrist and neurologist Karl Bonhoeffer. His mother Paula Bonhoeffer, née von Hase, was a teacher and the granddaughter of Protestant theologian Karl von Hase and painter Stanislaus Kalckreuth. His oldest brother Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer became a chemist, and, along with Paul Harteck, discovered the spin isomers of hydrogen in 1929. Walter Bonhoeffer, the second born of the Bonhoeffer family, was killed in action during World War I, when the twins were 12. The third Bonhoeffer child, Klaus, was involved in the 20 July plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, along with Dietrich; he, too, was executed by the Nazis.

Bonhoeffer completed his Staatsexamen, the equivalent of both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, at the Protestant Faculty of Theology of the University. He went on to complete his Doctor of Theology degree (Dr. theol.) from [Berlin University] in 1927, graduating ‘summa cum laude’

Still too young to be ordained, the 24-year-old Bonhoeffer went to the United States in 1930 for postgraduate study and a teaching fellowship at New York City’s Union Theological Seminary. Although Bonhoeffer found the American seminary not up to his exacting German standards (“There is no theology here.”),he had life-changing experiences and friendships. He studied under Reinhold Niebuhr and met Frank Fisher, a black fellow seminarian who introduced him to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, where Bonhoeffer taught Sunday school and formed a lifelong love for African-American spirituals, a collection of which he took back to Germany. He heard Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., preach the Gospel of Social Justice and became sensitive to not only social injustices experienced by minorities but also the ineptitude of the church to bring about integration.Bonhoeffer began to see things “from below”—from the perspective of those who suffer oppression. He observed, “Here one can truly speak and hear about sin and grace and the love of God…the Black Christ is preached with rapturous passion and vision.” Later Bonhoeffer referred to his impressions abroad as the point at which he “turned from phraseology to reality.”He also learned to drive an automobile, although he failed the driving test three times.He traveled by car through the United States to Mexico, where he had been invited to speak on the subject of peace. His early visits to Italy, Libya, Spain, the United States, Mexico, and Cuba opened Bonhoeffer to ecumenism.

After returning to Germany in 1931, Bonhoeffer became a lecturer in systematic theology at the University of Berlin. Deeply interested in ecumenism, he was appointed by the World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches (a forerunner of the World Council of Churches) as one of its three European youth secretaries.

At this time he seems to have undergone something of a personal conversion from being a theologian primarily attracted to the intellectual side of Christianity to being a dedicated man of faith, resolved to carry out the teaching of Christ as he found it revealed in the Gospels.On 15 November 1931—at the age of 25—he was ordained at the Old-Prussian United St. Matthew’s Church (German: St. Matthäuskirche) in Berlin.

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 In The Church and the Jewish Question (1933), Bonhoeffer pledged to fight political injustice. The Nazi injustice must not go unquestioned, and the victims of this injustice must not go unaided, regardless of their religion, Bonhoeffer wrote.

Two days after Hitler was installed as Chancellor, Bonhoeffer delivered a radio address in which he attacked Hitler and warned Germany against slipping into an idolatrous cult of the Führer (leader), who could very well turn out to beVerführer (mis-leader, or seducer). He was cut off the air in the middle of a sentence, though it is unclear whether the newly elected Nazi regime was responsible.

With Hitler’s ascent, non-Aryans were prohibited from taking parish posts, and when Bonhoeffer was offered such a post in the fall of 1933, he refused it in protest of the racist policy. Disheartened by the German Church’s complacency with the Nazi regime, he decided to accept a position at a German-speaking congregation in London.

The opponents of Nazi interference in Church affairs formed the “Confessing Church,” and some members, including Bonhoeffer, advocated open resistance against Nazism. The more moderate Protestants made what they saw as necessary compromises to retain their clerical authority despite expanding Nazi control. But under increasing Gestapo scrutiny, the Confessing Church was soon immobilized.

Bonhoeffer returned to Germany to teach at Finkenwalde, a Confessing Church seminary, where he continued to train clergy for the Confessing Church. But the official church barred his students from taking its clerical posts. In August 1937, the regime announced the Himmler Decree, which declared the training and examination of Confessing ministry candidates illegal. Finkenwalde was closed in September 1937; some of Bonhoeffer’s students were arrested.

Bonhoeffer went into hiding for the next two years; he traveled secretly from one eastern German village to another to help his students in their small illegal parishes. In January 1938, he was banned from Berlin, and in September 1940, he was forbidden to speak in public.

In the midst of political turmoil, Bonhoeffer continued to question the proper role of a Christian in Nazi Germany. When German synagogues and Jewish businesses were burned and demolished on Kristallnacht, November 9, 1938, Bonhoeffer immediately left for Berlin, despite having been banned by the Gestapo, to investigate the destruction.

1938_Interior_of_Berlin_synagogue_after_Kristallnacht

After his return, when his students were discussing the theological significance of Kristallnacht, Bonhoeffer rejected the theory that Kristallnacht had resulted from “the curse which had haunted the Jews since Jesus’ death on the cross.” Instead, Bonhoeffer called the pogrom an example of the “sheer violence” of Nazism’s “godless face.”

The Confessing Church resistance expanded its efforts to help “non-Aryan” refugees leave the country. One member of the resistance movement was the passionate anti-Nazi, Hans von Dohnanyi, a lawyer married to Bonhoeffer’s sister.

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In early 1939, Dohnanyi was transferred from the Justice Department to the Armed Forces High Command Office of Military Intelligence, and used his new post to inform Bonhoeffer that war was imminent. Bonhoeffer, knowing that he would never fight in Hitler’s army, left the country in June 1939 for a teaching position at Union Seminary in New York.

But upon arrival in the United States, Bonhoeffer realized that he had been mistaken, that if he did not lead his people during the difficult years of war and turmoil, then he could not partake in the postwar revival of German Christan life. His place, he decided, was in Germany; he returned only a month after his departure, in July 1939. He undertook a more active effort to undermine the regime. With international contacts in the ecumenical movement, he became a crucial leader in the German underground movement.

In October 1940, despite previous Gestapo tracking, Bonhoeffer gained employment as an agent for Hans von Dohnanyi’s Office of Military Intelligence, supposedly working for the expansion of Nazism. In reality, he worked for the expansion of the anti-Nazi resistance. During his 1941 and 1942 visits to Italy, Switzerland, and the Scandinavian countries, he attempted to gain foreign support for the resistance movement.

While plans to topple Hitler progressed only slowly, the need to evacuate more Jewish refugees became increasingly urgent. In early 1943, however, the Gestapo, which had traced Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi’s large monetary sums intended for Jewish immigrants, foiled plans for a new refugee rescue mission. Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were arrested in April 1943.

Initially, the Gestapo believed that Bonhoeffer and Dohnanyi were embezzling money for their own interests. Then the truth began to leak out, and Bonhoeffer was subsequently charged with conspiring to rescue Jews, using official travel for other interests, and abusing his intelligence position to keep Confessing Church pastors out of the military. But the extent of Bonhoeffer’s resistance activities was not fully realized for months.

In October 1944, Bonhoeffer was moved to the Gestapo prison Tegel in Berlin.

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In February 1945, he was taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp, and then to the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenbürg concentration camp.He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945.

Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard, where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris’s deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, GeneralFriedrich von Rabenau,businessman Theodor Strünck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre. Bonhoeffer’s brother, Klaus Bonhoeffer, and his brother-in-law Rüdiger Schleicher were executed in Berlin on the night of 22–23 April as Soviet troops were already fighting in the capital.

 

His brother-in-law Hans von Dohnányi had been executed concentration camp  on 8 or 9 April.

Eberhard Bethge, a student and friend of Bonhoeffer’s, writes of a man who saw the execution:

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“I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

Flossenbürg concentration camp, Arrestblock-Hof: Memorial to members of German resistance executed on 9 April 1945

Flossenbürg_April_9_1945_Memorial

Memorial of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in front of St. Peter’s Church, Hamburg

Dietrich_Bonhoeffer,_Skulptur_an_der_Hauptkirche_Sankt_Petri_(Hamburg)

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The metaphor of the “wrong train” is commonly taken to refer to his country under the Third Reich. How was one ever to turn the train around and make it go the opposite way?

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Forgotten History- Boy Ecury: Dutch Aruban resistance fighter

Segundo Jorge Adelberto Ecury, better known as Boy, was born in Oranjestad, Aruba on April 23, 1922. He was an Aruban-Dutch resistance fighter in the Netherlands during the Second World War.

Ecury Boy Herman Morssink

He was born in Oranjestad, Aruba, an island of the Dutch Antilles.

His given name was Segundo Jorge Adelberto Ecury. But he went by the nickname Boy and it is by that name that he is remembered.

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Ecury, was born the seventh of thirteen children from a Catholic family as the son of a wealthy businessman Dundun Ecury. He went from high school here to the Netherlands in 1937, where he graduated in trade education at the boarding school St. Louis Institute in Oudenbosch.

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Being confronted early with violence, misery, domination and discrimination it led him on to be active in the resistance at the beginning of the war. Initially with his best friend, Luis de Lannoy, a fellow student from Curaçao and later Delfincio Navarro joined them. Luis was a part of a student resistance group, and was the one to introduce Boy into the fight for freedom. They communicated through letters written in Papiamento planning out several acts of sabotage.

The group carried out sabotage operations, planting bombs on German trucks and roads. Members of the underground movements also went out of their way to help injured allied troops and civilians who needed help.

Ecury sometimes went along and helped out on covert operations and later became a member of the Resistance Council in Oisterwijk. Like his resistance colleagues, Ecury had to live a life in hiding, and lived in various places around The Netherlands, working on a number of dangerous missions.

Some members betrayed their colleagues, and many of them were captured by the Nazis, including Luis, who was arrested, imprisoned and tortured in Utrecht. Ecury tried, but was unsuccessful in his attempts to free his friend. Luis later managed to escape

 

In 1942 Tilburg started to be unsafe for someone as dark-skinned as Boy, and hiding was the only option. Boy had traveled to different addresses for instance to Oisterwijk, Delft and Rotterdam and joined a resistance group in Oisterwijk. He kept contact with Luis by sending letters whenever he was able. Along with his fellow rebels, Boy continued to sabotage the Axis army in any way they could. They would rip up railroad tracks, and make bombs to blow up the German vehicles and equipment. The men of the resistance council would also aid and protect any allied pilots and soldiers they encountered, along with victims of the Nazi’s

After Boy returned to Oisterwijk, it was clear that his dark skin was drawing too much attention, so he returned to Tilburg in October of 1944 as the allied army approached. Later that month the allied forces fought their way into Oisterwijk regaining control of the city. Boy could have joined his friends in liberation, but decided he would rather stay in the occupied territories to aid the struggle for freedom.

On 5 November 1944,after visiting the H. Elizabeth Parochie in Rotterdam,Boy  was arrested and taken to the Scheveningen prison.He had been betrayed by his ‘friend’ Kees Bitter.

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Bitter had also betrayed Frits Ruys and Marijke Zwagerman 2 other fellow resistance fighters. He had been working undercover for the SD  probably since August 1942 after he had been arrested by the SD. He was executed by the resistance on the 5th of January 1945. Initially they used chloroform and a cyanide injection but these didn’t work so they decided to shoot him twice in the head.

 

On 5 November 1944, Ecury, was arrested and taken to the Scheveningen prison. was interrogated and tortured but refused to betray his friends. On the following day he was executed by a German firing squad at Waalsdorp a field next to the prison.

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He was 22 years old.

In 1947 his remains was reburied with military honors in Aruba

His father brought his son’s body back from the Netherlands and in 1947 he was given a funeral with military honors. Two years later a statue of the local hero was erected in the town and still stands today.

He is also the subject of an exhibition in the town’s war museum and his former family home houses the Archaeological Museum.

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The Dutch government also awarded Boy with a Resistance Commemorative Cross in 1984 for the way he aided the war effort. (below a picture of such a cross, although there are several other versions I am confident this would the version he received)

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Boy Ecury and his father’s quest for the truth about his son’s last years were subject of the 2003 movie Boy Ecury by Dutch film director Frans Weisz. Who made the movie with help from Ted Schouten one of Boy Ercury’s nephews.

In 2002 a stamp with an image of Boy Ecury was printed in Aruba

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RIP Roy Ecury, a true Hero.

Willem Arondeus-Dutch Resistance Fighter

 

Willem Arondeus,often referred to as the gay resistance fighter. This always puzzled me because I really don’t know why his sexual orientation would bear any relevance to the brave acts he did. Willem Arondeus was a Dutch resistance fighter who gave his life trying to protect his Jewish countrymen from the Nazis

Willem Arondeus (22 August 1894 – 1 July 1943) was a Dutch artist and author, who joined the Dutch anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II. He participated in the bombing of the Amsterdam public records office to hinder the Nazi German effort to identify Dutch Jews. Arondeus was caught and executed soon after his arrest.

 

One of six children, Willem grew up in Amsterdam where his parents were theater costume designers. When Willem was 17, he fought with his parents about his homosexuality. In a time when nearly all gay people were in the closet, Willem’s parents could not accept his choice to live openly. Their rejection led Willem to run away from home.He left home and severed contact with his family. He began writing and painting, and in the 1920s was commissioned to do a mural for the Rotterdam town hall. In 1932 he moved to the countryside near Apeldoorn.

 

About 1935, he gave up visual arts and became an author. The poems and stories he had written in the 1920s went unpublished, but in the year 1938 he published two novels, Het Uilenhuis (‘The Owls House’) and In de bloeiende Ramenas (‘In the Blossoming Winter Radish’), both illustrated with designs by Arondeus himself. The year 1939 saw the publication of his best work, Matthijs Maris: de tragiek van den droom (‘The Tragedy of the Dream’), a biography of the painter Matthijs Maris, who was a brother of the Dutch artists Jacob and Willem Maris. Two years later, Figuren en problemen der monumentale schilderkunst in Nederland (‘Figures and Problems of Monumental Painting in the Netherlands’) was published, again with designs by the author. At that date, however, Arondeus was already involved with the Dutch resistance movement.

A concerted operation was underway to hide Jews among the local population, with various underground organizations preparing forged documents for Jews. Arondeus was a member of one such group, Raad van Verzet (Resistance Council), which also included openly lesbian cellist and conductor Frieda Belinfante and typographer Willem Sandberg, then curator at Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum.

 

Within a short while, the Nazis began to expose the false documents by comparing the names with those in the local population registry

Arondeus utilized his artistic skills by forging identity papers for Dutch Jews. (Being himself part of a persecuted minority, perhaps he felt a special kinship with them.) He urged other artists to stand up against the Nazi invaders.

On March 27, 1943, he and other members of his resistance unit set the Amsterdam General Registry Office on fire, trying to destroy all the original records so the false identity papers couldn’t be checked. They successfully destroyed about ten thousand records, but five days later the entire unit was arrested. Their conviction was a foregone conclusion.

Twelve, including Arondeus, were executed that July by firing squad.In his last message before his execution, Arondeus, who had lived openly as a gay man before the war, said, “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards

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In 1945, after the liberation of the Netherlands, Arondeus was awarded a posthumous medal by the Dutch government and was reburied in Erebegraafplaats Bloemendaal. In addition, in 1984, he was awarded the Resistance Memorial Cross. Further, on 19 June 1986, Yad Vashem recognized Arondeus as Righteous Among the Nations.

 

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Kurt Gerstein -Eye witness to the Holocaust

I tend to judge harshly on those who joined the German armed forces during WWII and especially those who joined the despicable SS. Although I can understand those who joined the regular Wehrmacht,since often they didn’t have a choice(but then again you always have a choice). The SS enjoyed what they did.

Although I am not inclined the change my view on this I have to admit there were some in the SS who did display a human side, none less so then Kurt Gerstein.

Kurt Gerstein (11 August 1905 – 25 July 1945) was a German SS officer and member of the Institute for Hygiene of the Waffen-SS and Head of Technical Disinfection Services. He witnessed mass murders in the Nazi extermination camps Belzec and Treblinka.

He gave information to the Swedish diplomat Göran von Otter, as well as to members of the Roman Catholic Church with contacts to Pope Pius XII, in an effort to inform the international public about the Holocaust.

In 1945, following his surrender, he wrote the Gerstein Report covering his experience of the Holocaust. He died, an alleged suicide, while in French custody.

Although his family was not a particularly religious one, Gerstein received Christian religious training in school. While at university, almost as an antidote to what he saw as frivolous activities of his classmates, he began to read the Bible.From 1925 onwards, he became active in Christian student and youth movements, joining the German Association of Christian Students (DCSV) in 1925 and in 1928 becoming an active member of both the Evangelical Youth Movement (CVJM-YMCA) and the Federation of German Bible Circles where he took a leading role until it was dissolved in 1934 after a takeover attempt by the Hitler Youth movement. At first finding a religious home within the Protestant Evangelical Church he gravitated toward the Confessing Church, which formed itself around Pastor Martin Niemöller in 1934 as a form of protest against attempts of the Nazis to exercise increasing control over German Protestants.His religious faith caused conflict with the Nazis and he spent time in prison and concentration camps in the late 1930.

Like many of his generation, Gerstein (and his family) were deeply affected by what they saw as the humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles and were attracted by the extreme nationalism of the Nazis. In July 1933, he enrolled in the SA, the Storm Troopers of the Nazi Party. Friedlander describes the contradictions in Gerstein’s mind at the time: “Firm defense of religious concepts and of the honour of the Confessional youth movements, but weakness in the face of National Socialism, with acceptance of its terminology and shoddy rhetoric; acceptance, above all, of the existing political order, of its authoritarianism and its hysterical nationalism”.

However, in early 1935 he stood up in a theater during a performance of the play Wittekind protesting against its anti-Christian message and was beaten by Nazi Party members in the audience.He also came into conflict with the Nazi government for distributing anti-Nazi material. He was arrested on 4 September 1936, held in protective custody for five weeks, and expelled from the Nazi Party. The loss of Nazi Party membership meant he was unable to find employment as a mining engineer in the State sector. He was arrested a second time in July 1938, but was released six weeks later because no charges could be found against him. With the help of his father and some powerful party and SS officials, he continued to seek reinstatement in the Nazi party until in June 1939, when he obtained a provisional membership.

In early 1941, Gerstin enlisted in the SS. Explanations for this are varied and confusing. One document indicates it was the result of his outrage over the death of a sister-in-law, who apparently was killed under the euthanasia program directed at the mentally ill, Action T4.However, other documents suggest he had already made his decision before she died and that her death reinforced his desire to join the SS to “see things from the inside”, try to change the direction of its policies, and publicise the crimes they were committing.Gerstein was shocked by what he had seen and eventually risked his life to inform the Allies.

Because of his technical education, Gerstein quickly rose to become Head of Technical Disinfection Services, working with Odilo Globocnik and Christian Wirth on the technical aspects of mass murder in the extermination camps. He supplied hydrogen cyanide (Zyklon B) to Rudolf Höss in Auschwitz from the company called Degesch (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schädlingsbekämpfung, or Vermin-Combating Corporation) and conducted the negotiations with the owners.On 17 August 1942, together with Rolf Günther and Wilhelm Pfannenstiel, Gerstein witnessed in Belzec the gassing of some 3,000 Jews who had arrived by train from Lwow and the next day he went to Treblinka which had similar facilities where he observed huge mounds of clothing and underwear. At that time, motor exhaust gases were used for the purpose of mass murder in both extermination camps.

 

 During the war Kurt Gerstein continued to tell people what he had seen, anyone he felt would spread the word about the atrocities. He also urged members of the Dutch underground to broadcast his information by radio to Great Britain. But Kurt Gerstein was ignored – nothing happened. All were disinclined to believe his gruesome narrative of mass murder, it was rejected as atrocity propaganda.

All his efforts to inform the church, the Allies and the opinion abroad proved futile as did his premise that, if the facts became known, the extermination of the Jews would be stopped. A despairing Gerstein even risked his life destroying shipments of Zyklon B gas to be used for the extermination of thousands of Jewish people.As months continued to pass and still the Allies had done nothing to stop the extermination, Gerstein became increasingly frantic. He behaved in a desperate manner, risking his life every time he spoke of the death camps to persons he scarcely knew ..

He described how the Jews were forced to undress, the piles of shoes were allegedly 25 meters high, the women’s hair was cut off, the naked Jews were driven between two barbed wire fences to the gas chambers. Kurt Gerstein desperately tried to alert the world about the atrocities. After the war he wrote down his evidence on May 26, 1945:

“The train stopped, and 200 Ukrainians, who were forced to perform this service, tore open the doors and chased the people from the carriages with whips. Then instructions were given through a large loudspeaker: The people are to take off all their clothes out of doors and a few of them in the barracks, including artificial limbs and glasses. Shoes must be tied in pairs with a little piece of string handed out by a small four-year-old Jewish boy. All valuables and money are to be handed in at the window marked “Valuables,” without any document or receipt being given. The women and girls must then go to the barber, who cuts off their hair with one or two snips. The hair disappears into large potato sacks, “to make something special for the submarines, to seal them and so on,” the duty SS Unterscharfuehrer explained to me.

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Then the march starts: Barbed wire to the right and left and two dozen Ukrainians with rifles at the rear. They came on, led by an exceptionally pretty girl. I myself was standing with Police Captain Wirth in front of the death chambers. Men, women, children, infants, people with amputated legs, all naked, completely naked, moved past us. In one corner there is a whimsical SS man who tells these poor people in an unctuous voice, “Nothing at all will happen to you. You must just breathe deeply, that strengthens the lungs; this inhalation is necessary because of the infectious diseases, it is good disinfection!”

When somebody asks what their fate will be, he explains that the men will of course have to work, building streets and houses. But the women will not have to work. If they want to, they can help in the house or the kitchen. A little glimmer of hope flickers once more in some of these poor people, enough to make them march unresisting into the death chambers.

But most of them understand what is happening; the smell reveals their fate! Then they climb up a little staircase and see the truth. Nursing mothers with an infant at the breast, naked; many children of all ages, naked. They hesitate, but they enter the death chambers, most of them silent, forced on by those behind them, who are driven by the whip lashes of the SS men.

A Jewish woman of about 40, with flaming eyes, calls down revenge for the blood of her children on the head of the murderers. Police Captain Wirth in person strikes her in the face 5 times with his whip, and she disappears into the gas chamber …”

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On April 22, 1945, near the end of the war, Kurt Gerstein surrendered to the French, who arrested him as an alleged war criminal. They took him to the Cherche-Midi Military Prison on July 5, 1945. Twenty days later, Gerstein was found dead in his cell. Whether he committed suicide out of despair and guilt in not being able to stop the Holocaust or whether he was murdered by other SS officers in the prison remains a mystery.

Gerstein’s report has been used as evidence in a number of high-profile cases. It was used at the Nuremberg Trials against major Nazi war criminals such as Hermann Göring and Hans Frank.

It was also later used in the prosecution of Adolf Eichmann by an Israeli court.

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More recently in 2000 it was used by Christopher Browning in the Holocaust libel trial between David Irving and Deborah Lipstadt.

While some aspects of Gerstein’s report include false statements attributed to Odilo Globocnik, as well as inaccurate claims regarding the total number of Jews gassed at Holocaust locations where he was not an eyewitness, Gerstein’s claim that gassing of Jews occurred at Belzec is independently corroborated by SS-Standartenführer Wilhelm Pfannenstiel’s testimony given at the Belzec trials,as well as by the accounts of other witnesses that can be found in Gitta Sereny’s Into That Darkness, a biography of one-time Treblinka commandant Franz Stangl

Stangl,_Franz.

I do think a lot more questions should have been asked to the christian leaderships, both Catholic and Protestant, why they remained so inactive when they were told about these atrocities happening right under their noses.

 

Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema-Soldier of Orange

Today marks the 77th anniversary of Queen Wilhelmina arriving in the United Kingdom to take charge of the Dutch Government in Exile.

Koningin_Wilhelmina_Radio_Oranje_IIInitially I wanted to do a piece on that event but rather then focusing on the Queen, I decided to focus on Adjudant to the Queen,Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema.

Siebren Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema(3 April 1917 – 26 September 2007) was a Dutch wartime RAF-pilot, Dutch spy and writer.

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Acclaimed in the Netherlands as one of the nation’s greatest World War II heroes.He was a Knight 4th class of the Military William Order and also received a Distinguished Flying Cross.

In the Netherlands he became famous as the writer of the 1970 book Soldaat van Oranje(Dutch: Soldier of Orange, also know as Survival Run) in which he describes his experiences in World War II, and which was made into a 1977 film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Rutger Hauer.

Hazelhoff was born in Surabaya, on Java in the Netherlands East Indies (now Indonesia), the son of Siebren Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, senior, and Cornelia Vreede. His family moved to The Hague in the 1930s, and then Wassenaar. He travelled to the US in 1938, writing a book of his experiences in 1939, Rendezvous in San Francisco.

When the war broke out, Hazelhoff, was a law student at Leiden University, enjoying life to the full and keeping study to a minimum. As war loomed, he joined the army reserve. The university catered mostly for an upper and middle-class elite and stoutly opposed the German invasion. After the country was overrun, students seized a train loaded with supplies that was destined for the occupation administration and held a wild party, dressed up in stolen Nazi uniforms. However, the fun did not last long. The Germans closed the university.

Hazelhoff  managed to escape to the United Kingdom as a crew member aboard the SS St. Cergue, a Swiss merchant ship in June 1941, together with Bram van der Stok, Peter Tazelaar, Gerard Volkersz. and Toon Buitendijk

(No pictures available of Gerard Volkersz. and Toon Buitendijk)

In London, Hazelhoff Roelfzema, with the help of general François van ‘t Sant, director of the Dutch CID (Central Intelligence Service) and Col. Euan Rabagliati (Secret Intelligence Service) set up a secret service group known as the Mews, after Chester Square Mews where they lived in London.

The goal was to establish a contact with the Resistance in the Netherlands. Several agents were parachuted, others were put ashore at the beaches of Noordwijk and Scheveningen. Their actions included dropping off broadcast equipment for the Dutch resistance at the Dutch coast and also pick up people from occupied Netherlands, who were needed in the UK. They would motor gun boats from the UK Royal Navy to get as close to the coast as possible and use row boats for the last bit of the journey.Motor_Gun_Boat_314

Roelfzema did not receive much cooperation from the Dutch government.

The Mews was subsumed into the CID, the official Dutch central intelligence department, eventually led by Colonel MR de Bruyne.

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This combined the SIS-style function of intelligence gathering with the SOE one of sabotage. The two elements were later separated and, later still, recombined, and the CID and its components passed through a series of not always competent chiefs and sets of initials.

De Bruyne did not do a good job. He failed to recognize the fact that his agents were arrested and continued to broadcast messages – for the Germans. The usual procedure for transmitting messages was to include small errors. If an agent was forced to work for the Germans, he would leave out the errors. The result should be that contact was aborted immediately. De Bruyne, however, concluded that the agents simply forgot to use the security-checks and even sent messages to remind them. Other intelligence blunders were the maps he had attached to the wall in his London office, showing the landing sites of Noordwijk, Scheveningen and Walcheren in full detail.

Hazelhoff, strong-willed and outspoken, often fell out with de Bruyne. The colonel threatened to have him court martialled for insubordination in summer 1942, but he was saved by the award of the William order, the Netherlands’ highest decoration. Ultimately, the impatient Hazelhoff became disenchanted with the infighting and joined the air force as a pilot in 1944..

He returned to England in 1944, and joined No. 139 Squadron RAF, part of the elite Pathfinder Force, tasked with illuminating targets for the night bombers of RAF Bomber Command. He made 72 sorties in Mosquito bombers, of which 25 went to Berlin, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

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In April 1945, Hazelhoff Roelfzema was appointed adjudant (assistant) to Queen Wilhelmina.

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He accompanied her back to the Netherlands in May 1945, and piloted the airplane in which Princess Juliana, Prince Bernhard and their daughters Princess Beatrix and Princess Irene flew back to the Netherlands. Hazelhoff Roelfzema helped Beatrix walk her first steps on liberated Dutch soil.

Hazelhoff Roelfzema led a fairly restless life after the war, including a stint in Hollywood as an actor and then a writer. During the 1950s he worked as a writer for NBC’s Today Show and Tonight Show in New York City. He later wrote for Dutch newspapers. He was appointed director of Radio Free Europe in Munich in 1956. Later he was involved in a failed attempt by the CIA to support the South Moluccas Republic’s bid for independence from the rule of Indonesian dictator Sukarno He was involved in the creation of Racing Team Holland, attracting sponsors using his fame. His book Soldier of Orange (Soldaat van Oranje), published in 1970, relates his adventures during the war and the political turmoil of the Dutch government in exile. It attracted a lot of attention, even more so when it was made into a film by Paul Verhoeven in 1977, starring Rutger Hauer as Hazelhoff Roelfzema. The film brought Verhoeven, Hauer and Hazelhoff Roelfzema to wider public attention outside the Netherlands, and was nominated for a Golden Globe.

In 1980, Hazelhoff Roelfzema played a ceremonial role as one of two kings of arms at the coronation of Queen Beatrix. He was close to Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, whom he entertained frequently at his home in Maui.

He moved to Hawaii in early 1973, and joined energy company Barnwell Industries Inc. as a director in 1977. He wrote a second autobiography, In Pursuit of Life, in 2000. He died on 26 September 2007 at his home in Āhualoa near Honokaa, on the Island of Hawaii, at the age of 90.He was survived by his wife, Karin Steensma, daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter and great grandson.

His ashes were brought to the monument “Voor hen die vielen-for those who fell” in Wassenaar.

In November 2015, it became known from the upcoming biography of François van’t Sant , a trusted advisor to Queen Wilhelmina, that Hazelhoff Roelfzema together with others had planned a coup in 1947 to overthrow the democratically elected Dutch government out of disagreement with the Linggadjati Agreement, an accord between the Dutch government and the unilaterally declared Republic of Indonesia recognizing Republican rule over major parts of Indonesia under the Dutch crown.

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Anton de Kom, son of a slave and resistance fighter.

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It is a well known fact that the Dutch like the British, French and Portuguese were a colonial power for centuries. The Dutch influence is still noticeable around the globe.

One of the Dutch colonies was Surinam a small country (but yet considerably bigger then the Netherlands) in South America between Guyana(former British Guyana) and French Guyana.

A fact that a lot of Dutch historians appear to overlook or ignore that the Dutch were also one of the biggest slave traders in the world.Slaves were also used in Surinam by the Dutch for the rich colonial occupiers, this was until 1 July 1863 when the Dutch, like other European countries abolished slavery.

Cornelis Gerhard Anton de Kom Born  22 February 1898 (1898-02-22) Paramaribo, Suriname. Died  April 24, 1945, Sandbostel, Germany.Was the son of a former slave.

A Surinamese resistance fighter and anti-colonialist author.

De Kom was born in Paramaribo, Suriname, to farmer Adolf de Kom and Judith Jacoba Dulder. His father was born a slave. As was not uncommon, his surname is a reversal of the slave owner’s name, who was called Mok.

De Kom finished primary and secondary school and obtained a diploma in bookkeeping. He worked for the Balata Compagnieën Suriname en Guyana. On 29 July 1920 he resigned and left for Haiti where he worked for the Societé Commerciale Hollandaise Transatlantique. In 1921, he left for the Netherlands.

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He volunteered for the Huzaren (a Dutch cavalry regiment) for a year. In 1922 he started working for a consultancy in The Hague. One year later he was laid off due to a reorganization. He then became a sales representative selling coffee, tea and tobacco for a company in The Hague, where he met his future wife, Nel. In addition to his work, he was active in numerous left-wing organizations, including nationalist Indonesian student organisations and Links Richten (Aim Left)

De Kom and his family left for Suriname on 20 December 1932 and arrived on 4 January 1933.

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From that moment on he was closely watched by the colonial authorities. He started a consultancy in his parents’ house.Where the people from Surinam could complain about the poor living conditions they were subjected to. The colonial occupiers saw him as a threat and were afraid he might cause a revolt.

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On 1 February he was arrested while en route to the governor’s office with a large group of followers. On both 3 and 4 February his followers gathered in front of the Attorney General’s office to demand De Kom’s release. On 7 February a large crowd gathered on the Oranjeplein (currently called the Onafhankelijkheidsplein). Rumor had it that De Kom was about to be released. When the crowd refused to leave the square, police opened fire, killing two people and wounding 30.

On 10 May De Kom was sent to the Netherlands without trial and exiled from his native country. He was unemployed and continued writing his book, Wij slaven van Suriname (We Slaves of Suriname) which was published in a censored form in 1934.

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De Kom participated in demonstrations for the unemployed, traveled abroad with a group as a tap dancer, and was drafted for Werkverschaffing (unemployment relief work), a program similar to the American WPA, in 1939. He gave lectures for leftist groups, mainly communists, about colonialism and racial discrimination.

After the German invasion in 1940, De Kom joined the Dutch resistance, especially the communist party in The Hague. He wrote articles for the underground paper De Vonk of the communist party, mainly about the terror of fascist groups in the streets of The Hague (much of their terror was directed against Jews). On 7 August 1944, he was arrested. He was imprisoned at the Oranje Hotel in Scheveningen, and transferred to Camp Vught, a Dutch concentration camp.

In early September 1944, he was sent to Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen, where he was forced to work for the Heinkel aircraft factory.

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De Kom died on 24 April 1945 of tuberculosis in Camp Sandbostel near Bremervörde (between Bremen and Hamburg), which was a satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp.

He was buried in a mass grave. In 1960, his remains were found and brought to the Netherlands. There he was buried at the Cemetery of Honours in Loenen.

De Kom was married to a Dutch woman, Petronella Borsboom. They had four children. Their son, Cees de Kom, lives in Suriname.

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The University of Suriname was renamed The Anton de Kom University of Suriname in honor of De Kom.

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The University of Suriname also erected a statue in honor of Anton de Kom on the campus.

 

Anton de Kom was listed in De Grootste Nederlander (The Greatest Dutchman/Dutchwoman) as #102 out of 202 people.

In Amsterdam Zuidoost a square is named after him, the Anton de Komplein. It features a sculpture of Anton de Kom as a monument to his life and works, sculpted by Jikke van Loon.

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The  Surinam government print money bills in honor of De Kom .

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Pictures courtesy of the Family archive.