The football tragedy of November 19,1944.

The history of Sittard-Geleen is a bit of a complicating one. The city used to be 2 towns, but in 2001 the towns of Sittard and Geleen merged and is now known as Sittard-Geleen.

On September 18,1944 both towns were liberated.

With the liberation of Sittard on 18 and 19 September 1944, the war did not end for this town. On the contrary, in the following five months hundreds more were killed because it was close to the front.

Nevertheless, an emergency football competition started in November 1944 with five clubs from Sittard and Geleen. “The proceeds go to the needy Netherlands,” says Limburgsch Dagblad. On 19 November, the Sittardse Boys and Maurits played on the then Baandert stadium, in the presence of several thousand spectators. After about half an hour Harry Ehlen of the Sittardse Boys dropped to the ground, because he heard a whooshing sound. Seconds later, shells hit around the field for nearly ten minutes. There were also impacts elsewhere in the city center.

Eleven people were killed throughout Sittard, most of the victims were on the Baandert, the exact number is unknown. In any case Karel Ermans died there, ten years old. His brother Sjeng and his father found him. The body of Peter Houben lay next to it, also ten years old.

This grenade attack is the only fatal wartime incident at a sports match in the Netherlands. In fact, it is the biggest disaster in Dutch sports history. There have never been more deaths during a match. And yet it is completely unknown, barring those directly involved in Sittard.

This is mainly due to the press censorship of the time. The newspapers only said that the match was ‘untimely halted’ and that the emergency competition had been stopped. In the obituary of Francisca Frissen, ‘a fatal accident’ was her cause of death. Her prayer card, still in the possession of brother Toine, escaped this censorship: ‘Born in Sittard on June 28, 1929 and there, hit by a shrapnel, died on November 19, 1944.’

After the national liberation in 1945, this football disaster was quickly forgotten. For example, a huge misunderstanding could arise about a memorial stone in the Bernadettekerk on the Baandert, which was always thought to contain the names of the victims of 19 November 1944. That is not correct: on this war memorial from 1952, the fifteen members of Sittardse Boys and Sittard, who died in the Second World War. Only Karel Ermans, Francisca Frissen and Bertha Simon are victims of 19 November 1944, the other twelve died on another day. The wrong people have been commemorated at this monument for decades, symbolizing the chaos of November 19, 1944.

At the end of 2019, it became clear to the Bernadette Church that a misunderstanding had arisen, after which the church placed a call for more information. Here is a summary of what we have found so far.

Eight names found so far of the victims of November 19, 1944:

Karel Hubertus Ermans (10 years)
Francisca Agnes Frissen (15)
Pieter Jouzef Houben (13)
Bertha John. Hubert Simon (16)
John Peter Ant. Simons (40)
André Carolus Maria Tummers (1)
Maria Neer-Vaessen (56)
Diena Zoer (16)
So there are still three names missing

And these are the fifteen names of Sittardia on the monument from 1952:

Paul Collard
Paul Crauwels
Tonny Hunnekens
De Heus
Piet Letschert
Karel Ermans
Harry Janssen
Charles Soesman
Jack. Hertz
Frans Schadron
Frans Eijck
Frits Clemens
Bertha Simon
Fransien Frissen
Mia Sprenger
I was never aware of this tragedy. I only came across it by chance because I was doing research on the liberation of Geleen. It is strange that this is such a forgotten event in both Sittard and Geleen, because Geleen is the cradle of professional football in the Netherlands.

sources

https://www.trouw.nl/sport/de-vergeten-voetbalramp-van-sittard~b40e12f4/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ie%2F

Philip Silbernberg -Murdered in Auschwitz

Just a picture of a soldier with his family. One could easily dismiss this photograph as just someone’s memory. A father who loved to smoke, a mother all dressed up and 2 well dressed children, a boy and a girl.

This picture could have easily been a picture of my Grandfather and part of his family. Like the man in the picture my Grandfather had something in common. The man in the pictures is Philip Silbernberg. The picture was taken in 1939. the Dutch army was mobilized for fear of war. My Grandfather was also called up that same year.

War did come to the Netherlands, on May 10.1940 German troops invaded the Netherlands. The fighting continued for 4 days, on May 14 the Dutch army capitulated.

In a way Philip and my Grandfather may have been relieved that the fighting only lasted 4 days. They realised that things would change. The Germans set up a new government, a Nazi regime with both German and Dutch members. But in general things would not change all that much, and for a short time that was true.

On May 12 1942 there was a notification in the newspaper “Het dagblad van het Zuiden! the daily newspaper of the south, that all men who served in the Dutch army on May 10,1940(, the day the Germans invaded the Netherlands, and who were up to the age of 55, had to report to the occupying authorities by May 15th 1942. It had been the 2nd notification

That same day May 12, my Grandfather died, for years I thought he was executed but now I believe there is a possibility he committed suicide.

I do not know if Philip Silbernberg had seen that notification, he probably did because he lived in the same area as my Grandfather, only a short cycle distance. Philips outcome was different though.

Philip was born in Ophoven-Sittard. Where his father had a shop in draperies and colonial goods since 1890, later also for men’s fashion. His father died in 1934. Philip and his brother Les took over the business in 1929.

In August 1929 Philip married Jenetta (Jettie) van der Stam from Rotterdam. They settled in Sittard though, where there daughter Roosje was born in 1930, and their son , Herman was born in 1934. Les married in 1937 and started his own shop in Geleen, my hometown, while Philip continued his parents’ business.

Mother Rosalie, affectionately called ‘den Engel’,(the angel) moved in 1939 with daughter Else and her family to Nieuwer-Amstel, near Amsterdam, where she died in November 1941.
In the spring of 1939, Rosalie’s brother Albert and his wife Hedwig Schwarz-Wihl had emigrated from Dortmund to the Netherlands and had moved in with Philip’s family.

When the Nazis force the Jews to wear the yellow star. Philip goes purposely to city photographer Wulms in Sittard to be photographed in his suit with the Star of David. He told his son Herman: “Boy…you should be proud of it”.

In August 1942 the Silbernbergs escaped the first major deportation round in Limburg because Philip had recently been registered as an employee of the Jewish Council. Nevertheless, Philip and Jettie decided to have their children go into hiding in Heerlen, and in October they also went into hiding. Philips brother in Geleen and his sisters in Amsterdam and Nieuwer-Amstel also went into hiding with their families.

The mayor of Sittard issued a warrant for Philip and his wife, to be arrested, detained and brought to trial.

The charge was having changed their place of residence from October 20, 1942, without having the required authorization to do so. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding. It was also requested that the two children of the Silbernbergs be located.

March 6, 1944 they were betrayed while in hiding in Heerlen and arrested; deported from Westerbork to Auschwitz on March 23. The exact date to when he and his wife is not known, they have put it on the August 31,1944.

The two children survived, they were able to escape and go into hiding in Belgium. After the war they were taken in by Nathan and Else Wijnperle-Silbernberg.

The more I do research on the victims the more I realize it could have easily been my family. Sittard used to be the neigboring town of my hometwon Geleen, but in 2001 the 2 towns merged together and are now known as the city of Sittard-Geleen.

A few weeks ago a grandson send me a few more pictures

Philip and jenetta honeymoon in bruxelles. Philip’s brother was Ies (Isidore) who is pictured with his wife Greta and children of Philip and Jenetta, Herman and Roos. The photo must have been taken in Liège at the end of the war.

sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Philip-Silbernberg

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123077/philip-silbernberg

https://www.maxvandam.info/humo-gen/family/1/F20693?main_person=I55913

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This is how close the Holocaust still is to me.

The picture is of a vacant building in the town center of Geleen in the Netherlands. The building wasn’t always empty. It used to be a clothes shop called “Modehuis” or Fashion House. It was really a shop which catered more for the older ladies, my mother liked to shop there A few doors next to it, there used to be a hairdresser, where I got my haircut several times.

Across from it there used to be a video store where I would rent my favourite movies. The address of the shop was Raadhuisstraat 16.

All of this will mean absolutely nothing to you, and even until today the historical reference of the place was not known to me.

The shop was known as “Kousenhuis” (Stockingshouse) in the 1930s, the owner was Paul Siegfried Willner and his wife Charlotte Sophia Walter. Paul was Jewish but Charlotte was Roman Catholic . They were married on April 17,1934 in Geleen, the maximum temperature that day was 21 degrees centigrade, so it was a warm spring day. Aside from the shop they also ran a wholesale business in cleaning products.

The shop was initially situated somewhere else, but due to subsidence caused by mining they moved to the Raadhuisstraat. On January 11,1939 Paul sold the shop to Julius Jacob Wolff.

Paul and his wife moved to Molenstraat 27 in Geleen. Below is a recent picture of that address.

As a young kid in secondary school, I actually had a friend living in Molenstraat 25, which is next door. The house is also near my favourite restaurant, swimming pool, and a few other places I would have visited several times a week.

Paul Siegfried Willner was born in Aachen in Germany, near to the Dutch border, on June 5,1902. He had moved in February 1934 from Aachen to Geleen. On November 25,1941 Paul lost his German citizenship as per new Reichs citizens law. As a Jew he was no longer considered to be a German.

On February 5,1942 Paul and Charlotte divorced, I don’t know why but I can only imagine that this was to safe Charlotte. If she was no longer married to a Jew, she would more then likely be safe.

On August 25, 1942 ,Paul had to register for labour in Germany, A day later on August 26, he ended up in Westerbork transit camp. Two days later he was deported to Auschwitz. But shortly before arriving there he was taken of the train at the labour camp in Kosel. It is not clear where he was murdered. His date of death was registered as April 30 1943, but that was a generic date used for many whose death date wasn’t known.

On October 5,1942 the RAF mistakenly bombed Geleen, assuming it was Aachen, Paul’s house was destroyed as was the house of his ex wife.

Julius Jacob Wolff who was also Jewish, survived the war, His shop was still thriving when I left Geleen in 1997.

When I said at the start ‘how close the Holocaust still is to me, I meant it in a physical way as in buildings I have been in or have been close to, but also in a emotional way, because I never knew this bit of history. I had to emigrate to find out the significance of the actual buildings, which is a pity.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/137523/paul-siegfried-willner

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Paul-Siegfried-Willner

https://www.openarch.nl/rhl:54839896-93a6-84fb-e6c6-a4540cb3b0a6

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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.

graaf

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.

list

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

Classens

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.

Pastoor Voncken str

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)

446px-Graf_Gerrit_Cohen_Beek

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.

kamp westerbork.jpg

 

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