Where I was born.

Although I have not lived there since 1997, I still call the place where I was born home.

Geleen is a town in the Province of Limburg, in the south east of the Netherlands. A former mining town and since 2001 it has been part of the bigger municipality of Sittard-Geleen. It fused with the neighbouring town of Sittard in 2001.

There is an old saying in Surinam, a former Dutch colony, the saying goes “Where my umbilical cord is forever my home” That’s what I can identify with.

Does this mean I don’t consider Limerick to my home? Of course it doesn’t I equally see Limerick as my home. I can be both a proud Geleen man and a proud Limerick man, but Geleen will always have a special place in my heart,

I think due to the travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid 19 virus, I have been thinking of Geleen a bit more then I did before.

Below are just a few impression of Geleen.

84 killed by ‘Friendly’ fire.

Friendly fire or amicicide is an attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccuracy. I hate the term ‘friendly’ fire because the end result is still death and destruction

On October 5, 1942 the town of Geleen in the most southern province of the Netherlands ,Limburg. Fell victim to the ‘misidentifying of the target as hostile’

A squadron of 257 RAF bombers were on the way to Aachen in Germany , to bomb the mine ’Anna’ in the German city near the Dutch border. However due to bad weather , and limited vision 30 of the 257 bombers had deviated from their course, When they had reached Geleen and saw the States mine ‘Maurits’ they mistakenly believed they had reached Aachen and therefore they dropped their load.

It resulted in the death of 84 citizens, including an unnamed 12 year old Jewish boy. I have done pieces on this event previously, today I want focus on some of the victims, by means of their prayer cards or the death notifications in the local newspaper.

Maria Gerda Alberigs born on June 25,1925 in the nearby village of Elsloo. She was buried on October 9,1942.

The Lemmns-Voncken family.

Father Frans Lemmens, born 18 January 1897;Mother Elisa Voncken, born in the nearby village of Beek on 72 February 1905.

Children: Rob, born 26 July 1930;Mia born exactly a year later then Rob, July 26, 1931;Jacq, born October 2, 1933; Tini, born October 5, 1934;Annie. Born 26 October 1935;Lenie, Born April 9, 1937.

Tini was killed on her 8th birthday. The funeral mass was carried out by Bishop Guillaume Lemmens. given the fact he has the same surname I presume he was related. Although ‘Lemmens’ is a reasonably common name.

Bishop Guillaume Lemmens was known to be a vocal opponent to the Nazi regime. He wrote several letters in where he accused the Nazis of criminal acts. He also urged parishioners not to to co-operate with the Nazi occupiers in any way shape of form.

Geleen is where I was born and where I grew up. It will always be my hometown it is forever anchored as such in my heart, even though L live in Ireland now.

I only found out about the bombing a few years ago. And only today I found out there is a monument was erected in honor of the victims. The monument also commemorates the gas boiler of the Maurits mine that was shot in flames on September 1st 1944.

sources

https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/13837/Monument-the-Burned-Gas-Boiler.htm

Bombardement 5 oktober 1942

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This is how close the Holocaust still is.

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May 10, 2020 is Mother’s Day in most countries, with only a few exceptions like the UK and Ireland who had it on March 22. May 10 1943 is the date when one Jewish Mother and Grandmother was killed at Westerbork, aged 83. Her name was  Jeanette Meyer-Cahn, wife and  widow of Daniel Meyer. Daniel had died on 10 March 1941 in Geleen, the Netherlands.

Although Jeanette was originally from Leutesdorf, near Koblenz in Germany in 1938 Jeanette, Daniel and their youngest child, Max, and his in laws, the Kaufmann family moved to the Netherlands, initially to Sittard and on June 21,1939 to neighbouring Geleen. The address Jeanette and Daniel moved to was Graaf Huynlaan 5. The picture above is of that address. This is where suddenly the Holocaust comes very near to me again.

Not only passed I by that address a lot, because it was actually in the city centre, I even bought sunglasses a few times in the sunglasses shop right next to the house. It is also in the direct vicinity of the bank, ABN AMRO where I had an account, and in fact still have, but also my favourite restaurant, Akropolis, as the name suggest a Greek restaurant.

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It was also near a bistro, named ‘t Wittebroodje, which served a great French onion soup.

Jeanette and Daniel had 5 children Walter, Rosa, Mathilde, Leo en Max Meyer, and 2 grand children Erich Meyer and Bruno Nathan(picture below)

btuno Walter was killed in WWI during the battle of Verdun. Leo and his wife had emigrated to South America in the 1930’s.

On August 25, 1942 Max and his wife Berta reported to the Market in Geleen, from there they are first deported to Maastricht and then to Poland via Westerbork, where in Poland they ended up isn’t clear. All we know is that they did not survive.

Jeanette’s 2 daughters and grandsons were all killed during the Holocaust.

Jeanette died  on 10 May 1943 in Westerbork transit camp, due to illness and exhaustion and she was cremated on 12 May 1943. The urn with her ashes was placed on the Jewish cemetery on field U, row 6, grave nr. 6.

Only Leo survived the war.

The war may have ended 75 year ago and with it also the Holocaust, it is a fact that decades on people like me can still find a connection with it.

REMEMBER ALWAYS

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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

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SOURCES

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Jeanette-Meyer-Cahn

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/514769/about-jeanette-meyer-cahn

Unclaimed life insurance policy

Hermann

I came across a website which a list of approximately 2,000 unpaid or unclaimed life insurance policies of mainly Dutch  Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It was so profoundly sad to see so many families on that list. So much unfulfilled potential, it was heartbreaking.

I looked for a name I could somehow find a connection with,and I did. Herman Wolff, his last known address was Landweringstraat 15,Sittard,the Netherlands. A street I would have passed by many times when I was working at Philips in Sittard and I actually had a friend who lived  in that same street.

This might sound strange but in a way I was glad to see his name on that list, because he was the only person mentioned for that address, so I presumed that if he had a family they would have survived.

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But I was wrong, Herman’s whole family was killed.

Herman died in Auschwitz,  on 31 January 1944.His wife Rosette Wolff-Koopman died on September 3,1943 in Auschwitz. His son Isaac Wolff died on the same day as his Rosette, he was aged 14.

Herman and Rosette’s youngest son also died on September 3,1943 he was aged 7.Benjamin was born on August 11, 1936 and in good Dutch tradition his proud parents announced his birth in a local newspaper.

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It was a week before their 9th wedding anniversary.

A whole family wiped out because of some sick and twisted ideology , and to add insult to the suffering there in not even one person left to claim the insurance money owed to the family. After doing some research there doesn’t appear anyone of the Wolff or Koopman family left alive.

Herman was just one name on a list of thousands.

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

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Sources

https://stichting-sjoa.nl/?lang=en

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123056/herman-wolff

 

Albert and Ida Claessens-Pastoor Vonckenstraat 51-Geleen

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One of the difficulties I have in telling or writing stories about the Holocaust is the sheer volume of victims. I believe the best way of keeping the memories alive is to personalize the stories. Rather then talk about millions ,talk about individuals and show that they were human beings like every one else.

To give an indication, if I would only focus on the 6 million Jewish victims and I would tell 5 stories a day, it would take me more then 3000 years to tell them. That’s why I am focusing on the stories that are near to me in an emotional way or in a geographical way.

The story of Albert and Ida Claessens is one I have geographical ties to. Yet another story I was blissfully unaware of ,despite the fact I would have passed by the house they lived in at least once a week. In the map below I have highlighted how, Circled in red is the Supermarket I would frequent at least once a week, Circled in yellow is the area of the apartment block I lived in. The white line is Pastoor Vonckenstraat, the Claessens lived on number 51.

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It would take me 5 minutes to cycle that route.

The story of Albert Claessens is also a good way of dispersing the myth that all Jews were wealthy. Albert worked as an Excavation worker in the coalmone Maurits in Geleen, anyone who has worked in a mine or knows someone who worked in a mine will know how dirty and dangerous that work is.

On April 4 1938 Albert married the Polish immigrant Ajga (Ida) Krzanowska. They got settled in -Pastoor Vonckenstraat 51-Geleen.

On May 10,1940 the Netherlands was invaded by the German army. Initially not much changed for the Dutch Jews, but gradually new laws were introduced by the Nazi regime. On April 1,1941 Albert was fired from his job in the mine.

Some Jews had already gone in hiding at that stage, but Albert did not think he needed too.He still thought that the Jews were brought to work camps in Germany.On August 25 Albert,Ida and Albert’s brother and wife were all put on transport via Maastricht to Westerbork and then from there to Auschwitz on August 28,1942.

In a Police report from the Police department in Geleen it states that all perishable goods were removed from the Claessens home on August 25,1942 , the same day they were put on transport.

Ida and her sister in law arrived in Auschwitz on August 31, 1942  were gassed immediately.

Albert and his brother were taken off the transport on the journey to work in the work camp  Kosel, abut 80 kilometers away from Auschwitz.

It is not clear where Albert died nor is the exact date known. His death was only registered in 1952 and the date of death was et on April 30,1943. Place of death was registered ad middle Europe.

1951

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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

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Source

 

http://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/

 

 

You could have been one of my teachers

Nathan

You only lived a few miles down the road from me.

You could have been my teacher.

You could have been my Doctor

You could have been my plumber.

You could have been the father of a girl friend

You could have been the uncle of my best friend.

You could have been a scientist who discovered the cure for cancer or dementia.

You could have been a baker who bakes lovely cakes.

You could have been a waiter in a bistro.

You could have been anything

But you became an object of hate for a sick regime.

They did not see as a human being

They did not see you fit for life.

They killed you in Auschwitz when you were just 3.

You could have been my teacher, in fact you are my teacher.

You have taught me that an innocent life means nothing to those who only seek destruction.

You taught me that there could be someone writing something similar about me, because it was just an accident of being born on a certain time in history. It could have been me.

You became a soul nearly forgotten, but not by me, never by me.

You are Nathan Herman Sassen born on  August 12  1940 in Sittard.

Murdered on September 24 in Auschwitz

 

 

 

The final destination for the Cohen family from Geleen-Auschwitz

Geleen Limburg

This blog will be based on facts and some presumptions, but the presumptions are more then likely correct.

I was going over the history of the deported Jews from my birthplace Geleen, south east of the Netherlands. when I noticed the name of the Cohen family. There is not a lot I know or could find out about them except for the fact they used to have a clothing shop in Geleen and Maastricht  prior to  World War Two.

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I do know they were a family of 6. The Father Simon, the Mother Esthella Carolina Cohen-ten Brink. Daughters Josephine, age 12, Henny age 16.Frieda age 17 and 1 son Gerrit. Gerrit is the only one who survived the war. He died on September 22, 1998, age 76. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Beek, a town a few miles from Geleen.(Picture courtesy of Frank Janssen)

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On 25 August 1942, approximately 20 Jewish citizens were brought to and then deported from town hall by the Germans. The Cohen family were among them. They were then taken to Maastricht.

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On that same day they were put on transport to Westerbork on the 25th of August 1942. On the 28th of August they left Westerbork for Auschwitz where they arrived on the 30th of August.

Simon,Esthella Carolina,Josephine and Frieda all died on the 31st of August. Henny died on the 26th of September.

Gerrit Cohen had escaped on August the 25th  1942. When the Nazis had come for the family he managed to escape via a roof window and went into hiding.

When I mentioned presumptions earlier I was referring to the transport dates, for I do believe they are correct but I could not fully verify them. The transport date from Westerbork  to Auschwitz is correct though.

Treinbord_Westerbork-Auschwitz_Auschwitz_State_Museum

Such was the evilness of the Nazi regime that they even gave people on the transport hope, pretending there was a possible return journey.

One of the citizens of Geleen,Rie op den Camp, mentioned in her diary of the 25th of August 1942, when the Jews were put on transport to Maastricht, she overheard one of the German soldiers saying  “Arme Menschen, wir müssen uns schämen, dass wir zu so eines Volk gehören”, which translates from German to English is “Poor people. we should be ashamed to belong to a people like ours” This indicates that not all Germans subscribed to Adolf Hitler’s ideology but also that they were aware what fate awaited the people on those transports.

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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

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How the 1953 North Sea flood resulted in a professional football league.

Watersnoodramp_1953

On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953, many dykes in the province of Zeeland, the southern parts of the province of South Holland and the northwestern parts of the province of North Brabant ,in the Netherlands,proved unable to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm.

It was to become the biggest natural disaster to date in the Netherlands.It was  estimated that  the flooding killed 1,835 people and forced the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more. Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land. An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage is estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.

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Although my hometown, Geleen, in the southeastern province Limburg in the Netherlands, was not directly impacted by the storm and floods. Indirectly it was affected by it but in a positive way.

Geleen is the home of Fortuna 54 which was the first professional football team in the country.

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One of the key players was Cor van der Hart.

Van der Hart was one of the players participating in the Watersnoodwedstrijd(Flood disaster match) of 12 March 1953.This was a match played in the Parc des Princes stadiumWatersnoodwedstrijd_Aufstellung_L'Equipe_1953-03-13-2 in Paris and was played in honour  of the victims of the North Sea flood of 1953, and to raise money for the relief work and survivors of the disaster. Van der Hart, who still played as a professional in France those days, together with several others like Bram Appel, Theo Timmermans, Bertus de Harder and Kees Rijvers  heard the news of the flood  on the radio and realised his home country needed help .The KNVB (the Dutch football association) still prohibited professional players within the country.

Five days earlier, the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Denmark in another match held in Rotterdam. This time at Paris’ Parc des Princes, the Netherlands trailed 1-0 when de Harder tied the game on a 58th-minute goal. Then Appel, who along with Theo Timmermans helped orchestrate bringing this game, scored the winning goal in the 81st minute.

8,000 Dutch fans travelled to Paris to witness the match and saw their team beating the strong French team 2–1 with goals scored by De Harder and Appel.

Watersnoodwedstrijd-1953

 

The match was the breakthrough to introduce professional football in the Netherlands. Only 17 months later the first professional match in the country was played.

When professional football started in the Netherlands Van der Hart returned to his native country to play for Fortuna ’54,

Cor_van_der_Hart_(10_april_1966)

 

Fortuna 54 no longer exists ,on July 1 1968  it merged with RKSV Sittardia of the neighboring town of Sittard and was renamed “Fortuna Sittard” and Sittard became the home of the newly founded football team.

In 2001 both towns Geleen and Sittard also merged and formed the municipality of Sittard-Geleen  and is currently  the second most populated municipality in Limburg.

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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

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Just an “unknown” place but it is where I was born-Geleen.

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For most people the name Geleen will mean nothing, but to me it means the place where I was born and raised.

Although it is far from perfect, my roots are there and I am proud of that.

It is a city in the southern part of the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. With 33,960 inhabitants, it is part of the municipality of Sittard-Geleen. Geleen is situated along the river Geleenbeek, a right tributary to the river Meuse. The Latin name for Geleenbeek is Glana, meaning “clear river”. The town centre is situated at about 60 m above sea level.

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Until the end of the 19th century, Geleen was a small village. The remains of one of the oldest prehistoric farms in the Netherlands were found here. In the 20th century the exploitation of coal mines in this area (the State-owned coal mine “Maurits”, the biggest in Europe, was located in Geleen) brought a fast population increase. During the 1960s and 1970s all Dutch coalmines, that were all located in this part of this province, were closed.

Throughout the years it has seen some changes but this blog is looking at its rich industrial history.

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Greek immigrant workers employed by DSM showing of their dancing skills.

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The DSM and it subsidiary SBB were so big that it needed its own Police force.

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Working in a coalmine was one of the most dangerous jobs, not everyone lived a long life.

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The record shop where I spent quite a bit of money,but every cent spent there was well worth it,Limburgs Platenhuis.

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Sittard & Geleen during WWII

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To most of you the names of these 2 towns will mean virtually nothing but it is where my roots are. I was born and raised in Geleen.

Sittard-Geleen  is a municipality in the southeastern Netherlands. It was formed in 2001 from the former municipalities Sittard, Geleen and Born.

The Netherlands was a neutral country, during WWI this neutrality had not been breached, however on the 10th of May 1940 the Germans breached the Dutch neutrality by invading the country.

Below are some pictures and stories of the period just before the start of WWII,during and after WWII of the Geleen Sittard regions and its surrounding villages.

Church wedding of a dutch Soldier in 1939 at the St Catharina Church,Grevenbicht. His comrades form a guard of honor.

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Dutch soldiers on parade on the Market square in Sittard, shortly before the invasion. Dutch troops had been mobilized for the eventuality the Germans would invade

 

10th of May 1940. German occupying troops are taking a toilet break. On the background the Church of Sittard can be seen.

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German occupying forces on the Market square in Sittard, with the City Hall in the background.

German troops on Steenweg in Sittard  heading for the station

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In April 1941 it becomes compulsary for every Dutch citizen age 15 years and older to carry an ID card, as required by the German occupiers.The ID card would include address and finger prints of the ID holder.

This is the ID card of Anna, Barbara Augenbroe from Geleen.

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The Dutch resistance manufactured many false identification papers to save fellow resistance members or Jewish citizens.The papers below are from Viktor Handgriff, alias A.T.J. Boumans , a Jewish immigrant who lived in de Pesch straat in Geleen at the time.As far I am aware he survived the war and passed away in 1977.

 

 

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Friendly Fire

On October 5 1942 approximately 30 bombers of the RAF carried out a bombing raid between 21:55 and 23:10, killing 83 and severely injuring 22 other. Leaving about 3000 people homeless.

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/01/20/forgotten-history/

 

Warren Kappen.

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T/5 Warren R. Kappen, son of Robert E. and Mildred Patanude
Kappen, who was 24 years of age at the time of his death, was born March 28, 1920, at Unionville. He completed his 8th grade education and at the age of 14 went to Detroit to live. He was employed as a welder with Ceco Steel Co. when
he entered the army Nov. 26, 1941. He trained at battle Creek, at Fort Knox, Ky., and in Carolina before going to the African Theatre in 1942. In 1943 he went to England
and as part of the 67th Armored Regiment(Hell on Wheels), 2nd Armored Division went on to the European mainland with the first invasion.He died in Geleen on the 18th of September during the liberation of the town.

Monday Sept 18, the first American tanks drive in to Geleen and are cheered by an ecstatic crowd , Op de Vey.

After the war some of the German prisoners of War and especially the SS troops were made to work in the coal mine Staatsmijn Maurits in Geleen

These pictures are dared October 1948. They show SS officers on the way back from the mine to the POW camp, Graetheide,just outside Geleen.

Capture

 

graetheide

 

https://dirkdeklein.net/2017/06/11/the-heroes-of-geleen-the-fallen/