Cycling in WWII-The story of 2 cyclists, one hero, one traitor.

German troops invaded the Netherland in May 1940. The Nazi regime stayed in power in the the Netherlands until May 1945. Although the southern provinces had already been liberated in the autumn of 1944.

Despite the occupation, for many life went ahead as usual, at least to an extend. Sporting events were still allowed by the Nazi occupiers. I have often wondered why that was, but of course sports were ideal for propaganda purposes. It created an illusion to show the citizens that the Nazis weren’t all that bad. Also sports functioned as a distraction.

Cycling has always been popular in the Netherlands. Many Dutch still use the bicycle as their preferred means of transport. But also in a sporting sense it has always been popular and there have been many successful Dutch cyclists throughout the decades.

It is no wonder therefor that the Dutch continued to organizes cycling events like the Cauberg Criterium, which was an annual race in the most south Eastern part of the Netherlands , the province of Limburg, in the town of Valkenburg.

Two cyclists who would have competed in these races were Jan van Hout and Cor Wals.

Jan van Hout was a professional cyclist between 1933 and 1940. He was born in Valkenburg on October 17,1908.

He made quite a good living as a cyclist. With the money he earned as a cyclist he was able to but a pub in Eindhoven. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands he closed his pub, he did not want to serve any drinks to the Nazis. He was a fervent anti Nazi. After he closed the pub Jan and his wife Anneke decided to join the Dutch resistance. They were involved in providing aid to refugees and people in hiding.

A few months before liberation Jan was arrested during a raid. He was sent to Neuengamme concentration camp where he died on February 22nd 1945.

Cor Wals was a Dutch cyclist, born February 26, 1911 in The Hague.

As early as 1931 Cor got contracts for the six-day races in Chicago and New York and made a name for himself as a six-day driver in the following years. Because of his unparalleled sense of balance, which stopped him from falling of the bike , he was nicknamed “Slingerplant” (Dutch: creeper). He took part in 39 races, of which he won seven, five of them with Jan Pijnenburg . In addition, he was three times Dutch master of the stayers(aka The pacemaker race, an endurance discipline of track cycling)

He was a fan favourite. However on July 21, 1941 during one of those stayers races, he took off his jacket and to the shock of the spectators ,they saw he was wearing a shirt with the SS symbol. He also gave the Hitler salute.

After winning the championship, he was whistled and booed during his lap of honor and cushions were thrown at him. He decided after that not to race again and to focus on a military career with the SS.

Initially he fought at the eastern front but he ended up working as a guard in several concentration camps. There was a rumour that he worked in Neuengamme when Jan van Hout was there, but this has never been verified.

After the war he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he was released in 1952.

He opened up a clothes shop in Eindhoven . One day Anneke van Hout-Louwers walked into the shop to buy some clothes for her son, Cor chatted with Anneke and cupid struck. The couple got married. Anneke van Hout-Louwers was the widow of Jan van Hout, there was a public outrage about the newly married couple. People were disgusted that Anneke married a traitor. The couple moved to Belgium soon after, they returned to the Netherlands in 1981.

sources

https://www.nu.nl/sport/2415527/sser-won-nk.html

https://amp.de.googl-info.com/5381126/1/jan-van-hout.html

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The other side of WWII

World War 2 wasn’t only death and destruction, there were a few occasions where there was some reprieve. Sports remained very important during the war , to keep up the morale . The above picture is of Private Leonardo Rodriguez of Cartaro, Arizona, roping a calf during the American Red Cross rodeo and “Wild West” show staged in Foggia Stadium in Southern Italy, July 4, 5 and 6, 1944. The steers were furnished by Italian veterans of the last war. All participants in the events were soldiers of the Allied Fifth Army in Italy or Allied flyers based in Italy.

Some Canadian soldiers checking out their ice skates.

Dutch KNIL(Royal Dutch Indies Army) playing volleyball in Australia on a military base.

Until September 1944 most sports were still allowed in the Netherlands by the occupying Nazis.

A race between two 8s rowing teams on the river Amstel in Amsterdam, the race was held in May 1941.

Fanny Blankers-Koen was a Dutch track and field athlete, best known for winning four gold medals at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London. She competed there as a 30-year-old mother of two, earning her the nickname “the flying housewife”, and was the most successful athlete at the event.

During the war, domestic competition in sports continued in German-occupied Holland, and Blankers-Koen set six new world records between 1942 and 1944. Here pictured in 1943 surrounded by admirers.

Allowing sports to continue was also a tool of propaganda of course.

source

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/

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1921 Women’s Olympiad

Today 100 years ago, the world’s first international sporting event for women took place in Monaco. The 1921 Women’s Olympiad was held in Monte Carlo from 24 to 31 March, 1921 . It featured competitors from just five nations: France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, and Norway.

The games were organized by Alice Milliat and Camille Blanc, director of the “International Sporting Club de Monaco” as a response to the IOC decision not to include women’s events in the 1924 Olympic Games.

There were 10 events running (60 meters, 250 meters, 800 meters 4 x 75 meters relay, 4 x 175 meters relay and hurdling 65 meters), high jump, long jump, javelin and shot put The tournament also held exhibition events in basketball, gymnastics, pushball , rhythmic gymnastics and standing long jump.

Leading competitors in this Olympiad ese games included Mary Lines (1893-1978) of the United Kingdom and Violette Morris (1893-1944) of France. Mary Lines won gold in several athletics events including the 60m, which she ran in 8.2 seconds. She died in 1978 in a traffic accident, aged 85. She was rushing to post her Christmas mail and ran in front of a van.

Violette Morris had a slogan ” Anything a man can do, Violette can do!” well she certainly proved that throughout her life, but not always in a positive way .

She excelled in those sports that require strength and power such as shot put and javelin.However those weren’t the only sports she was involved in.

She partook in football,water polo ,road bicycle racing, motorcycle racing, airplane racing, horseback riding, tennis, archery, diving, swimming,weightlifting, and Greco-Roman wrestling,boxing and car racing.

She loved car racing so much that she had her breasts removed to fit better in the car.

In 1937 she was acquitted for shooting a man dead in self-defence.

Her lifestyle was of no shame to her. She lived as a man and made no secret of the fact that her lovers were women. This was considered really scandalous behaviour in 1920’s France. For this She was later banned from competing.

One of her biggest admirers was Adolf Hitler. In 1935 she was approached an recruited by by the Sicherheitsdienst. On the personal behest she was invited to attend the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Morris was later accused of being a Nazi collaborator. On 26 April 1944 she was ambushed on a country road by the French Resistance and machine-gunned to death.

As for the 1921 Women’s Olympiad it was a great success and an important step for Women’s sports. The 1922 Women’s Olympiad and 1923 Women’s Olympiad were held at the same Monaco venue. The 1922 Olympiad often gets confused with the 1922 Women’s World Games, which were held in Paris.

sources

https://www.history.co.uk/articles/the-1921-women-s-olympiad-one-hundred-years-of-women-s-international-sport

When Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali

On March 6,1964 Cassius Clay announced that he no longer would be known as Cassius Clay but as Muhammad Ali.

Clay had been linked to the Nation of Islam, although they initially had refused him entry as a member due to his boxing career. However when Clay beat Joe Liston in 1964, the Nation of Islam did accept him , I can only speculate that this was a good Public Relations move for them.

Shortly afterwards on March 6, Elijah Muhammad gave a radio address that Clay would be renamed Muhammad (one who is worthy of praise) Ali (most high).

Muhammad Ali had claimed that his old name Cassius Clay was a “slave name and a white man’s name”

Unfortunately this is what happens so often when athletes, musicians, actors or other celebrities get involved in a political movement(although the nation of Islam had religious elements, it was really a political movement) they get very enthusiastic about the cause and sometimes forget to do all the research.

Cassius Marcellus Clay had been a slave owner, but he also was a politician, and emancipationist who worked for the abolition of slavery.

He was a founding member of the Republican Party in Kentucky. It was in this same state where a certain Mr. Abe Grady from Ennis in Ireland, met a free African-American woman and married her. They had a son named John Lewis Grady. He married Birdie Moorehead and the couple had a daughter Odessa Lee Grady . Odessa married Cassius Clay Sr, who was the son of Herman H. Clay(born in 1876 after slavery had been abolished in the USA).

In 2009 Muhammad Ali visited Ennis to trace his routes.

No one can ever deny the genius of Muhammad Ali, but I do think he was a small bit blindsided by the politics surrounding the Nation of Islam.

However all in all he was a great man and a generous human being. When it comes to boxing he was without a shadow of a doubt the greatest. There probably will never be a boxer of his caliber again, especially when you look at the boxing industry nowadays, and I say industry because it is very little to do with sports anymore.

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Sources

https://www.espn.com/sportscentury/features/00014063.html

https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/muhammad-ali-irish-roots

Working out on the Titanic.

RMS Titanic

People all know the story of the tragic end of the Titanic, however what is often forgotten that it was ahead of its time in many ways.

The first-class accommodation was designed to be the pinnacle of comfort and luxury, with an on-board gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, high-class restaurants and opulent cabins.

The Gymnasium is located on the Boat Deck, accessible via the Starboard Vestibule, off the Grand Staircase. It was described as a wonderful innovation for an ocean-going liner. It had an electric camel, an electric horse, cycling machines, and a rowing machine.

Tickets, were priced at one shilling ($0.25 USD), and were available from the purser and entitled First Class passengers to one session in this facility while guarded by Thomas McCauley, physical educator for the White Star Line.

Fitness

Gym

Donation

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Sources

Mashable

All that’s interesting

Wimbledon 1877

Wimbledon

When you think of Tennis, you can’t but be thinking of Wimbledon too. Although there are many tournaments throughout the year , Wimbledon is the one tournament that every Tennis player aspires to win.

But when did it all start?

On July 9, 1877, the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club begins its first lawn tennis tournament at Wimbledon, then an outer-suburb of London. Twenty-one amateurs competed in the Gentlemen’s Singles tournament, the only event at the first Wimbledon. The winner was to claim a 25-guinea trophy.

draw

The rules were as follows:

++The court will have a rectangular shape with outer dimensions of 78 by 27 feet (23.8 by 8.2 m).
++The net will be lowered to 3 feet 3 inches (0.99 m) in the centre.
++The balls will be 2 1⁄2 to 2 5⁄8 inches (6.4 to 6.7 cm) in diameter and 1 3⁄4 ounces (50 g) in weight.
++The real tennis method of scoring by fifteens (15, 30, 40) will be adopted.[p]
++The first player to win six games wins the set with ‘sudden death’ occurring at five games all except for the final, when a lead of two games in each set is necessary.
++Players will change ends at the end of a set unless otherwise decreed by the umpire.
++The server will have two chances at each point to deliver a correct service and must have one foot behind the baseline.

Players were instructed to provide their own racquets and wear shoes without heels.

racket

The final was scheduled for Monday, July 16, but it was postponed due to rain.

It was rescheduled for July 19,  200 spectators paid a shilling each to see  the final between William Marshall, and  W. Spencer Gore, The  final that lasted only 48 minutes, the 27-year-old Gore dominated with his strong volleying game, defeating Marshall, 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

Gore wasn’t only a Tennis player but also a first-class cricketer.

Spencer Gore

142 years later Wimbledon is the most important Tennis event on the sporting calendar. Although it has lost some of its allure in recent years.Well at least that’s  what I think. I grew up watching stars and characters like John McEnroe,Bjorn Borg,Jinny Connors,Stefan Edberg,Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl and more recently Andre Agassi, And of course Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova,Chris Evert Lloyd,Gabriela Sabatini, and Monica Seles.

They all were very entertaining players who aside from being great athletes also brought a small bit of showmanship in the mix.

championship

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Source

Wimbledon.com

History.com

The Week.

 

Max Schmeling-defying an evil regime

mAX

Often the psyche of people is that they see what they want  to see. They see a headline or a picture and they will have made up their minds. There is no further need for more details on the background story, they have enough to work with and make up their own story.

For example people will see the picture of Max Schmeling above giving the Nazi salute and they will just assume that Max clearly was a Nazi sympathizer.

Or they see the picture below of Max Shchmeling being warmly received by   Adolf Hitler and immediately they will think that Max was one of Hitler’s best buddies and favourite sports man. But on both occasions they could not be much further from the truth.

Max and AH

Truth is that Max Schmeling also saw things but he did not like what he saw and refused to join the Nazi party, which would have consequences for him. Not only did he not join the Nazi party he also saved a few Jewish boys and refused to fire his Jewish boxing promoter Joe Jacobs.

Max was a world champion heavyweight fighter from Germany whose two fights with Joe Louis transcended boxing and became worldwide political events because of their racial and international significance.

I will not go into Max’s boxing career. I will only focus on 2 matches ,both against the boxing legend Joe Louis.

On Friday 19, June 1936 Max Schmeling beat Joe Louis in the Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York, USA

KO

Less then 2 years later in the same venue on Wednesday 22, June 1938, Joe Louis got his revenge and beat Max Schmeling and took back the World Heavyweight Title. The fight had been  portrayed as the battle of the Aryan versus the Black, a struggle of evil against good .When Louis regained his title, Hitler took Schmeling’s defeat as an embarrassment to the nation.

In an interview in 1975 ,Schmeling remembered the defeat: “Looking back, I’m almost happy I lost that fight. Just imagine if I would have come back to Germany with a victory. I had nothing to do with the Nazis, but they would have given me a medal. After the war I might have been considered a war criminal.”

KO2

During the 1938 November Pogrom-Kristallnacht- Max hid the 2 sons of his Jewish friend David Lewin. He hid the 2 boys ,Henry and Werner, in his apartment at the Excelsior Hotel in Berlin. Schmeling had told the front desk of the Hotel that he was ill and was not to be disturbed.

After things had calmed down Schmeling helped the 2 boys flee the country. The boys escaped to the United States, where Henri got a great career in managing Hotels, including the Hilton in Las Vegas.Henri Lewin was convinced  that he and his brother owe their lives to Schmeling and he sincerely believed that Schmeling himself could have died for saving them.

In 1923 Schmeing had hired Jewish New York born boxing promoter Joe Jacobs. Hitler had demanded that Schmeling would fire Jacobs, Schmeling refused to do so.

Because his refusal of joining the Nazi party ,he was him drafted into the Paratroopers and was sent him on very dangerous missions.He did partake in the Battle of Crete in May 1941, where he was wounded in his right knee by mortar fire shrapnel during the first day of the battle. After recovering, he was dismissed from active service after being deemed medically unfit for duty because of his injury.

Max remained a close friend of Joe Louis and even paid for Joe’s funeral in 1981. and became a successful business man in Germany after the war. He had been hired by Coca Cola to run the company  in Germany, .

He only once gave the Nazi salute and regretted it for the remainder of his life. He died on February 2, 2005.

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Neuengamme concentration camp and the impact on Dutch sports and culture.

Neuenegamme

The SS established the Neuengamme concentration camp on December 13, 1938.It would become the biggest concentration camp in Northwest Germany.In excess of 100,000 inmates would come through Neuengamme and its sub camps.

The death toll would be 42,900.14,000 in the main camp, 12,800 in the sub camps, and 16,100 during the death marches. These numbers are just hard to envisage.

To put it in context the death toll would be the equivalent of the full population of Hoddesdon in the UK, or Draper city in Utah, USA, or Drogheda in the Republic of Ireland.

Drogheda

The death toll had also an impact on sports and culture. I have mentioned Dutch sports and culture because it is nearest to me but undoubtedly it would have had an impact across Europe.

Coen Hissink:

coen

Coen Hissink  was a Dutch film actor of mainly the silent era. He appeared in 25 films between 1914 and 1942. He was also an author. In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories relating to decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. To get the inspiration for the stories , he visited a gay club in Berlin where he snorted cocaine in a bathroom. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zeden beeld (Cocaine: Berlin’s vice image).

Cocaine

Any Dutch artist who wanted their works published in the Netherlands had to becomE a member of the” Reichs Kulturkammer” (Reich Chamber of Culture).Hissink refused to do so  and  joined the Resistance instead. In 1941, he was arrested  by the Nazis and sent to  Neuengamme where  he was killed on December 17,1942, age 34.

Jan Campert:

Campert

Jan  Campert  was a journalist, theater critic and writer who resided in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II He was arrested for helping  Jews. He was also sent to   Neuengamme , where he died on January 12, 1943.

He is most notably known for his poem “Het lied der  achttien dooden”(the songthe eighteen dead) describing the execution of 18 resistance workers (by the German occupier.

Below the English translation of the poem

The Song of the Eighteen Dead

A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland’s so free coast,
once by the enemy overrun
could I no moment more rest.
What can a man of honor and trust
do in a time like this?
He kisses his child, he kisses his wife
and fights the noble fight.

I knew the task that I began,
a task with hardships laden,
the heart that couldn’t let it be
but shied not away from danger;
it knows how once in this land
freedom was everywhere cherished,
before the cursed transgressor’s hand
had willed it otherwise.

Before the oath can brag and break
existed this wretched place
that the lands of Holland did invade
and for ransom her ground has held;
Before the appeal to honor is made
and such Germanic comfort
our people forced under their control
and looted as a thief.

The Catcher of Rats who lives in Berlin
sounds now his melody,—
as true as I shortly dead shall be
my dearest no longer see
and no longer shall the bread be broke
and share a bed with her—
reject all he offers now and ever
that sly trapper of birds.

For all who these words thinks to read
my comrades in great need
and those who stand by them through all
in their adversity tall,
just as we have thought and thought
on our own land and people—
a day does shine after every night,
as every cloud must pass.

I see how the first morning light
through the high window falls.
My God, make my dying light—
and so I have failed
just as each of us can fail,
pour me then Your grace,
that I may like a man then go
if I a squadron must face.

Rein Boomsma:

Boomsma

Rein Boomsma had been  a Dutch football player between 1894–1907. He was a striker for both club,Sparta and the Dutch National team.

Team

From  1936 to 1939 he was a Colonel. Before the invasion during the mobilisation period in 1939, he was commander of Fortress Holland.  After the invasion, he became the commander of the Ordedienst for “Gewest Veluwe” an underground army.

The main objective of this underground army was to maintain contact with the exiled Dutch government in London via coded radio transmissions.

Rein was arrested and imprisoned 3 times for his activities in the underground army. The last time proved to be fatal. He died in Neuengamme on 27 May 1943.

Hans van Walsem:

Walsem

Hans van Walsem ) was a Dutch rower. He competed in the men’s coxed pair event, as the coxswain , at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

1936

The team qualified for the semi finals but unfortunately did not get any medals.

During the war he was a lecturer of chemistry in the Leiden university. He helped establish a small resistance newspaper called  “Ik zal handhaven” meaning I will maintain, which is the motto on the Dutch coat of arms.

The newspaper contained practical instructions on resistance activities. The German authorities arrested Hans and branded him as a fanatic member of the resistance, He was sent to Neuengamme where he died of tuberculosis on January 2. 1943.

Not only were these men heroic in their cultural and sporting endeavors, they were also heroic in standing up to evil and paid the ultimate price for it.

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Hamburger SV-Altona 93:Final score 4-2. The match on April 29, 1945.

FOOTBALL

There was a bit of a scandal this week in Dublin. On of the Dublin based soccer teams,Ballybrack, pretended that one of their star players was killed in a car crash. The team wanted to postpone an up coming match and came up with the death as an excuse. The ting is though there was no crash, the player didn’t die in fact he knew nothing of this  at all.

This bizarre incident reminded me of another bizarre soccer event. On April 29, 1945 two Hamburg teams, Hamburger SV and Altona 93 played a league match.

 

Some of you might think how bizarre was that.Well, compared to the aforementioned Irish team that was desperate to avoid playing, the 2 Hamburg teams were desperate to play the match despite a remarkable backdrop.

Hamburger SV was without 3 of its star players Rudi Noak, Werner Höffmann and Eugen Kahl, but that wasn’t what made this match so remarkable. The date was April 29 1945. Nearly everyone in Germany must have known the war was coming to an end. Even Hitler knew because on that same day he married Eva Braun, knowing quite well that they would end their lives the following day.

The Dachau concentration camp was liberated by American forces. Nearer to Hamburg about 50 km away at Lauenburg,British forces crossed the Elbe river just a few hours before the match started.

troops

Despite all this ,hundreds of football fans would make their way to the stadium, not knowing what fate awaited them.

Hamburger SV beat Altona 93 by 4-2in what would be the last soccer match of the third reich.

 

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Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork

voetbal

This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

han

Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send to Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.

Juda

Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.

spel

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Sources

NIOD