If you look at the picture, it appears to be a picture of a marketplace. Initially, you will see nothing wrong with it.

There is a man with a bike talking to another man, possibly about the weather. You can see a young boy running, and perhaps he is chasing the dog.

There are market stalls with people around them, browsing and most likely are purchasing goods. It could be a market anywhere in the world. This market is on Waterloo Square in Amsterdam.

But the apparent mundane appearance of the market is deceiving. If you analyze the picture and look closer, you will spot a few things.

In the middle, there is a signpost it says, Alleen toegang voor joden [Access for Jews only]. On the two opposite corners, two men wearing a star on their coats.

Most of those people on that market would be murdered within 2 years of that picture being taken. There would have been people then and even now who will think that things didn’t look that bad at all for the Jews, they even had their market.

The people in the photo don’t realize the significance of the picture. It was meant to deceive. The Jews were given their market and other facilities to make it easier for the Nazis to single them out. They had to wear a star so the Nazis could pick them out. They were put in ghettos to make it easier to round them up for deportation to extermination camps.



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. Thank you. 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.


Etty Hillesum—Murdered Beauty

At first, I was reluctant to use the word beauty in the title because we now live in an era where some people might find that offensive, and they will scream about it. I pity them because they lose out on so much.

Etty Hillesum was a beauty in every sense of the word. It may have been too much for the Nazis because they murdered her. She was murdered on November 30, 1943, in Auschwitz according to data from the Red Cross.

Etty (or Esther) was the daughter of Levie Hillesum and Riva Bernstein. She was born on January 15, 1914, in Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 1932 she moved to Amsterdam to study law and Slavic languages. In Amsterdam, she met Julius Spier. He became her teacher and great love. During the war, she worked for the Jewish Council at Camp Westerbork and other places. She wrote several letters from Westerbork and kept a diary.

In March 1937 she took a room at 6 Gabriel Metsustraat in south Amsterdam in the house of an accountant Hendrik (Han) Wegerif, a widower aged 62 who hired her as a housekeeper. He also began an affair with her. She lived in this house until her final departure for Westerbork in 1942, and it was in her room there that much of her diary was written. The small community of people who shared the house with her were important to her. In addition to Han Wegerif, there was his 21-year-old son Hans, a German cook named Kathe, a student Bernard Meylink, and a nurse, Maria Tuinzing, who became one of Etty’s close friends.

The most important relationship of the diary is with the psychochirologist (hand reader) Julius Spier. Born in 1887 in Germany, he had come to Amsterdam in 1939. Spier had worked in Zurich with Jung, who had encouraged him to develop his skill in chirology, the practice of psychoanalysis through the reading of people’s palms. He was a gifted and charismatic figure and gathered around him a group of students, particularly women. Etty became part of this group and went into therapy with Spier, developing a close relationship with him and becoming his secretary.

Etty was an intensely alive and sexual young woman, yet she felt plagued by what she called her ‘confounded eroticism”. But what healthy woman in her 20s isn’t interested in sex?

In 1942 she was given a position in the cultural affairs department of the Jewish Council. She worked there for only two weeks, which she calls hell in her diary. In August 1942, she received a call for deportation to Westerbork. Etty left and continued her social activities in Westerbork. As a member of the Jewish Council, she had a special travel visa that allowed her to return to Amsterdam many times before being deported with her family on September 7, 1943.

Just as Anne Frank also wrote a diary, which was released after the war, titled, “An Interrupted Life,” I’ve chosen a few quotes from the diary. The words are profoundly sad but also beautiful and with a sense of hope.

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

“Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others”

“As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.”

“Sometimes my day is crammed full of people and talk and yet I have the feeling of living in utter peace and quiet. And the tree outside my window, in the evenings, is a greater experience than all those people put together.”

“My immediate reaction on meeting a man is invariably to gauge his sexual possibilities. I recognize this as a bad habit that must be stamped out”

“Yes, we women, we foolish, idiotic, illogical women, we all seek Paradise and the Absolute. And yet my brain, my capable brain, tells me that there are no absolutes, that everything is relative, endlessly diverse, and in eternal motion, and it is precisely for that reason that life is so exciting and fascinating, but also so very, very painful. We [women] want to perpetuate ourselves in a man.”

“I don’t want to be anything special. I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfil its promise.”

“I know and share the many sorrows a human being can experience, but I do not cling to them; they pass through me, like life itself, as a broad eternal stream…and life continues…”

“By ‘coming to terms with life’ I mean: the reality of death has become a definite part of my life; my life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by my looking death in the eye and accepting it, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or the refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it.”



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. Thank you. 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.


There Are No Answers, Just More Questions

For several years I have been on a quest to find answers, initially about the death of my Grandfather, but also about why the Holocaust happened.

In the case of my Grandfather, I have found something like an answer, or at least something I can live with.

However when it comes to the Holocaust I have discovered there are no answers, just more questions. The picture above is of the Cordoza and Abas families.

Only the 3 youngest boys survived, The other 13 people were murdered. Among them was Sara Abigael Cardozo born in Amsterdam on 29 November 1937. He was murdered in Auschwitz on 21 October 1944 at the age of six.

Below is a picture of Friedreich Josef Bier. He was born in
Düsseldorf on 22 September 1927 and murdered in Bergen-Belsen on 29 November 1944. He reached the age of 17 years. He was the son of Julius Bier and Berta Bier-Lewin. I share my birthday with his mother Berta. Friedrich’s siblings survived.

I don’t understand the hate, the randomness of the murders. Why children? I know that especially Himmler spread the lie that the children would take revenge. But did that happen after any war where the children would take revenge for the death of their parents on a large scale?

Another thing that I can’t understand is why so many stood by and did nothing. For fear? Allegedly Hitler told one of his inner circle that the world stood by when the Armenian Genocide took place and did nothing. He reckoned it would be the same with the genocide of the Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and so many others.

Why are there still today [November 29, 2022] people saying that the Holocaust never happened?

Finishing up with a poem by Martin Niemöller as a reminder that the hate and ignorance that caused the Holocaust have not gone away, it is merely lurking in the shadows waiting for the time to strike again. There are no answers just more questions, but that doesn’t mean I will stop looking.

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

—Martin Niemöller

The Re-Burial of Hannie Schaft

There were very few Dutch who defied the Nazi occupiers, this is not to judge, because I was never put in that situation and I just wouldn’t know what I would have done. But it is a fact that there were only a few who offered resistance.

Hannie Schaft was one of those few. Born Jannetje Johanna (Jo) Schaft on 16 September 1920. She became known as “the girl with the red hair” (Dutch: het meisje met het rode haar). Her secret name in the resistance movement was “Hannie.”

On 1 March 1945, NSB police officer Willem Zirkzee was executed by Hannie Schaft and her friend Truus Oversteegen, in Haarlem. On 15 March they wounded Ko Langendijk, a hairdresser from IJmuiden who worked for the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), a Nazi intelligence agency.

Hannie was eventually arrested at a military checkpoint in Haarlem on 21 March 1945 while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid (literally ‘The Truth’), which was a cover story. She was transporting secret documentation for the Resistance. She worked closely with Anna A.C. Wijnhoff. She was brought to a prison in Amsterdam. After much interrogation, torture, and solitary confinement, Schaft was identified by her former colleague Anna Wijnhoff, by the roots of her red hair.

She was executed by Dutch Nazi officials on 17 April 1945. Although there had been an agreement between the occupier and the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (‘Dutch resistance’) to stop executions, she was shot dead three weeks before the end of the war in the dunes of Overveen, near Bloemendaal. Two men, Mattheus Schmitz and Maarten Kuiper, a Dutch policeman, took her to the execution site. Schmitz shot her in the head at close range. However, the bullet only grazed Schaft. She is said to have allegedly told her executioners: Ik schiet beter! (“I shoot better!) after which Kuiper delivered a final shot to her head. Kuiper was sentenced to death after the war.

Hannie was buried in a shallow grave in the dunes. On 27 November 1945, Schaft was reburied in a state funeral at the Dutch Honorary Cemetery Bloemendaal. Members of the Dutch government and royal family attended, including Queen Wilhelmina who called Schaft “the symbol of the Resistance.”


Sinterklaas in World War II

One thing that always surprises me in any war, particularly World War II, is that so many aspects of normal life still happened. The Dutch celebrate Sinterklaas (St Nicholas aka Santa Claus) on December 5, but he usually arrives in the country in mid-November.

This is one of the celebrations which continued during World War II. Following are just some impressions.

Mobilized Dutch soldiers were surprised by a visit from Sinterklaas and his servant. The good saint hands out surprise gifts to the soldiers in December 1939.

Commando troops of the Commando-Brabant/Regiment Commando-Brabant during the Second World War. Soldiers of the 8th company during a Sinterklaas celebration in December 1944.

Sinterklaas or collaborator? Visit of Arthur Seyss-Inquart to the Leerdam glass factories, where a large St. Nicholas party was organized for poor Leerdam children. Here Sinterklaas shakes hands with Seyss-Inquart.

Seyss-Inquart was the Reich commissioner for the German-occupied Netherlands. he shared responsibility for the deportation of Dutch Jews and the shooting of hostages.


Just Three Names of the 1.5 Million

Sometimes I feel like just giving up posting about the Holocaust, but I know I can’t.

It is not always the images that upset me, more often it is that lack of images that gets to me. There are no images because the victims were just too young and were born in captivity, so there were no facilities to have a baby portrait taken. Parents could not show off their beautiful angels to friends and families.

These are just three names, with three connections and one fate.

Leo Jack Mathijse: Born in Amsterdam on 26 November 1942. Murdered in Auschwitz on 27 August 1943. He reached the age of nine months.

Max Jack Stern: Born in The Hague on 26 November 1942. Murdered in Sobibor on 5 March 1943. He reached the age of three months.

Roosje Gobets: Born in Amsterdam on 26 November 1942. Murdered in Sobibor on 2 April 1943. She reached the age of four months.

The connection—all were born this day 80 years ago. They were born under occupation, and all were in Westerbork at some stage.

The one fate; they were all murdered before they were one year old.


Improvised Wedding Photo

I remember when I was getting married, one of the aspects that needed to be perfect was photography. It was going to be a special day and the photographs needed to reflect that.

But what do you do when your every move is watched and you are seen as an enemy of the state? You have watched so many being arrested and deported. The last thing you want to do is to draw attention to yourself.

Gustaaf van der Wijk and Mina van der Wijk-de Vries got married on August 17, 1942. On that day wedding photos were taken in Amsterdam under improvised circumstances.

The Dutch Jews had been subjected to a great number of restrictions, these are just some of them.

On January 7, 1941, the Dutch Cinema Association decided that Jews would no longer be allowed access to cinemas. On January 12, 1941, this measure is published in the newspapers.

The Registration of Jewish Residents was Ordinance no. 6/1941 of Reichskommissar Seyss-Inquart, issued on January 10, 1941. It obliged all Jewish residents of the Netherlands to register with the Population Register, which cost one guilder. Those who refused to do so could be imprisoned for up to five years. Moreover, this information was already known to the Jewish municipalities and the population register.

From September 1, 1941, Jewish children had to go to separate schools and were no longer allowed to go to public schools. In Amsterdam, this applied from 1 October 1941.

The Compulsory Star of David was introduced on 3 May 1942 and required all Jews over the age of six to wear the Star of David. It had to be worn visibly at chest height. The star was distributed by the Jewish Council and cost 4 cents each.

As for the newlyweds Gustaaf van der Wijk and Mina van der Wijk-de Vries. Mina was born in Leiden, on 17 July 1916 and was murdered in Sobibor, on 20 March 1943.

Gustaaf was born in Amsterdam, on 28 December 1917. He was murdered in Auschwitz, on 13 November 1942. Less than two months after his wedding day.



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. Thank you. 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.


Felix Max Paul Leefsma

Dear Felix Max,

You were born 29,220 days ago. Approximately 701,280 hours or 42,076,800 minutes, or even 2,524,608,000 seconds ago.

These numbers are so hard to comprehend, just as hard to fathom that you were murdered only 550 days after you were born. The only consolation here is that you had one extra day of life because 1944 was a leap year.

You were born in Amsterdam, on 19 November 1942. You were murdered on 22 May 1944 in Auschwitz.

You were deemed an enemy of the state, of a foreign state, because the ones who thought that you were not fit for life, had occupied your country from another land. This doesn’t mean they didn’t get help from your fellow country man.

A one-year-old enemy of the state.

Dear Beautiful Angel, you look so much like me when I was your age. I hope you are looking down at me from heaven and that you find some comfort that your name is not forgotten.


The Journey of a Child

Edith Roseij Beek was born on April 12, 1934, in Oss, the Netherlands. She was the youngest of the two children of Arnold Beek and Clara Betsy de Jong. Brother Johan Rene Simon was born in 1930 in Oss. On November 19, 1943, she was murdered in Auschwitz, at age of nine.

When she was eight she was already wanted by the Police, an eight-year-old “hardened criminal.” This notification appeared in Algemeen Politieblad (General Police journal), nr 42, October 22, 1942, 1189, notice 2434.

“The police commissioner of Gouda requested that the schoolgirl Edith Rosey Beek be located, detained, and brought to trial. A resident of Gouda, she was suspected of having changed her place of residence without the required authorization on October 9, 1942. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding.”

Edith went to kindergarten at the Public Primary School on the Groeneweg and continued to attend school there until she has to leave this school in 1941. She then received private lessons from one of her former teachers, a non-Jewish woman, Mrs. Aberson. The school is now called the Casimir School. In September 1942, the family decided to go into hiding separately.

Edith hid in the presbytery of the Reformed church in Zwammerdam where Reverend Gunther and his housekeeper kept her hidden. The day after her birthday, April 22, 1943, she was arrested and so was the pastor, but he was later released.

In 1948 in Middelburg. 12 years were demanded against the constable Jan Kool, who in all likelihood betrayed her, and among other things, kidnapped Edith. One of the two Sicherheitsdienst (SD) men who picked her up was K.J.Leseman. Policeman Arie Oudenaarden, notorious in Gouda, was also involved in her arrest.

She was placed in a police cell and interrogated for five days. This was to no avail because before going into hiding the two children were taught what to say to strangers or in case they are arrested: “Father works in the mines and mother left me behind to look for my father in Germany.”

Where she was between April and June (29th) when she arrived in Westerbork (there she was in the orphanage, barrack 35) is unclear, on her index card of Westerbork there is an address in The Hague (in Bilitonstraat 18, a place established by the Nazis transit house for children) and there was a mention of a stay in Scheveningen.

She fell ill with scarlet fever, but despite the current quarantine, she was put on a transport (number 81) of 995 people to Auschwitz on Tuesday November 16, 1943. Immediately after her arrival on November 19, 1943, she was taken to the gas chambers and murdered. Her parents went into hiding in Drachten and her brother Johan on a farm in Kootwijkerbroek, they survived the war. Brother Johan died in 2011 in Barneveld, father Arnold in 1977 in Rotterdam, and mother Clara in 1978 in Apeldoorn.

Additional information regarding Edith’s hiding and arrest:

Information from a file regarding the traitor:
The person concerned was a member of the NSB and NVD and the Rechtsfront
On April 22, 1943, the SD arrested 9-year-old Jewish girl E.van Beek (so the same girl) who was hiding with the female pastor Gunther in Zwammerdam. It is believed that this girl died.
After hearing about this case, the person concerned stated that it was generally known at the time that this girl had gone into hiding with Gunther; he was also aware of this. He says that an anonymous note reached him stating that the SD had been informed of this fact. was given. In connection with this, he had discussed the matter with his group commander. When he was later summoned to the SD in Gouda about this matter—the SD had also received a letter stating that the said girl had gone into hiding with Reverend Gunther—he had informed the SD officer Renner stated that he was aware that the girl had indeed gone into hiding with Gunther. He had acknowledged this because he feared his position would be jeopardized otherwise.
After this conversation with Renner, he had gone to Reverend Gunther to warn her of the danger, but he did not find her at home. He then went to the sexton (Baars) and informed him of the case under covert terms. (The sexton Baars (he speaks of a “him”) denies, before DS. Gunther and the Jewish girl were arrested by the or anyone else to have been warned against this arrest).

The guard of the Marechaussee C.K. states in his PV dated June 28, 1945, that he heard the person concerned, say to someone at the time: “I had my daughter Ada find out whether the girl was a Jew, after which I passed it on to my son, notified the SD, but Zwammerdam was not part of their working area. They then passed it on to Rotterdam.”

Another witness story: “During the occupation, I was aware that Pastor Gunther, Pastor of the Remonstrant Church in Zwammerdam, had taken in a Jewish girl named Edith Beek in her home. This Jewish girl came from Gouda and was with her.

Rev. Gunther went into hiding because of the German measures against persons of Jewish blood. This girl was just playing with other children and so Rev. Gunther, to make it seem she wasn’t Jewish.

This girl and Rev. Gunther were both arrested by persons unknown to me, the exact date I can’t recall. I have heard that they were persons who were with the German Sicherheitsdienst. Rev. Gunther was only arrested for a short time, but we never heard anything more from the Jewish girl. I don’t think Rev. Gunther and the Jewish girl were arrested, because of betrayal by Jan Kool or were forewarned by anyone else that this arrest would take place. I am also sure that Jan Kool did not give any warning to anyone in my family about that arrest, because such a warning would certainly not have been ignored and I would have ensured that the arrest had not taken place. I cannot say with certainty that JK had introduced the Jewish girl to authority, but I do suspect him of this. At that time, the rumor in this neighborhood was that JK was absolutely to blame for that arrest. I thought K was a sneaky NSB member at the time.”

Witness story Arnold van Beek (father) doctor, 50 years old, Gouda, Extended Tiendenweg 54
“I, my wife, son, and daughter are of Jewish blood. Due to the German measures against persons of Jewish blood, we had to go into hiding during the occupation and we were assisted in an excellent way by friendly relations. On September 25, 1942, my daughter named Edith Roosje van Beek, born in Oss on April 21, 1934, went into hiding we did not know where our daughter had been taken, but we had complete confidence in it. We made no attempt to find out where our daughter had gone into hiding. About a week after our daughter went into hiding, we, my wife, son, and I went into hiding. My son went into hiding in the Veluwe and my wife and I in Friesland. We went into hiding from that time until the capitulation of Germany and fared well, except for my little daughter. My daughter went into hiding with Reverend Gunther in Zwammerdam. As I learned after the capitulation of Germany, my daughter Edith was arrested on April 22, 1943, by persons of the German Sicherheits Dienst, when she was staying with Reverend Gunther at her hiding place, Reverend Gunther was then arrested at the same time as my daughter, but she has spent only a short time in captivity. As I later learned, my daughter was transported to The Hague after her arrest and then to Westerbork. Where my daughter was taken afterward has remained unknown to me, and to this day, April 24, 1947, I have never heard anything about her. I have tried in every possible way to find out where my daughter is staying, but no investigation has had any result and I do not know whether my daughter is still alive. I now think I must assume that my daughter died as a result of the German terror during the occupation. We are very sad about this, especially because of the ignorance which we are about the fate of my daughter. As far as I know, the municipality of constable KOOL is responsible for the arrest of my daughter, because I heard that he went to the Sicherheitsdienst to tell
that my little daughter had gone into hiding with Reverend Gunther, This is what I heard from Reverend Gunther. If this KOOL is responsible for the betrayal of my daughter Edith, then I request criminal prosecution against him. And I hope, though I won’t get our sweet child back by doing so, that he will be severely punished, for he certainly deserves it. Kool must have known what the persons of Jewish blood were in for under the German occupation. I cannot explain more in this case.”


The Event That Changed My Life, Even Before I Was Born

The 12th of May 1942 is the date that changed my life. I know that some of you will find that an odd statement because it is 26 years before I was born.
Yet it is a true statement.

May 12, 1942, was the date that my paternal Grandfather died at the hand of the German occupiers, either by execution or suicide. I don’t know how he died, most of my life I presumed he was executed because that is the story I was told. However I have changed my view on that, I now believe that he committed suicide.

On May 12, 1942, there was a notification in the newspaper, Het Nieuwsblad van het Zuiden, het dagblad — the daily newspaper of the South of the Netherlands, saying that all men who served in the Dutch army on May 10, 1940 (this was 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. They had to bring a whole raft of identifications with them.

My Grandfather had a severely mentally and physically disabled son, who was 22 at the time. So I believe he panicked when he saw the notification because he knew that his son could potentially be in danger and to divert the attention away, he took his own life so he did not have to report to the Nazis.

This is only a theory I have, but it is one I can live with, either way of it hadn’t been for the Nazis my Grandfather would not have died.
My father was the youngest son. He was only 5 at the time.
He grew up without a father, therefore he never experienced this father-son bond. Which affected him in later life when he became a father himself.
He left our family when I was 9, he thought it was the right thing to do at the time, but it wasn’t.

It was only 18 years later when I connected again with my father.
I was at a crossroads at that time in my life. I had just married, and my mother had also just passed away, only 2 weeks after my dad’s mother died. I had the choice to continue leading my life without him or I would pick up our relationship from there. I decided on the latter. My dad asked me for forgiveness, which I thought was a brave thing to do.

And now looking back in hindsight my father was just a product of circumstances, circumstances he never asked for. He died in June 2015. I know that I would have become a bitter man if he had died before I had a chance to look for answers.

You see sometimes events that happen even before you are born can have a direct impact on you.