Han en Willem Peteri WWII Canoe journey to England

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During the war around 1700 Dutch men and women who tried to reach freedom in England, over land or by sea, were given the honorary name: Engelandvaarders (Lit. England-farers). They hoped to actively take part in the Allied struggle against the Germans. Two brothers, Han and Willem Peteri, managed to escape from the occupied Netherlands in this canoe.

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On 19 September 1941, in the pitch darkness, they pushed their canoe into the North Sea near the Dutch town of Katwijk.

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It almost went wrong: in the breaking waves the canoe filled with water. But they remained calm, emptied the canoe and embarked on the crossing – with only one compass aboard. After fifty-six hours of paddling they arrived on the beach in the small village of Sizewall England. Han joined the Dutch Marines and Willem enlisted in the British Navy. Both survived the war.

 

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Of the thirty-two people who embarked on this dangerous crossing by canoe, the information available indicates that only eight made it to England. Some drowned; others were intercepted by the German patrols. Such as the Engelandvaarder Dick van Swaay who was found in May 1942 on the beach with a noose around his neck

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Shell Shocked Watch

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On 14 May 1940, German planes sighted the Dutch gunboat Johan Maurits van Nassau just off the coast of the town of Callantsoog in the Netherlands. Earlier the ship had successfully helped to defend the Afsluitdijk, the large enclosure dam in the north of the Netherlands.

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For days, Dutch troops managed to hold the front line near the small village of Kornwerderzand on the Frisian side of the dam.

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At 6.34 in the evening the Johan Maurits van Nassau was shelled, causing it to go under. The ship was ablaze. In the scorching heat much of the crew jumped overboard including Steward First Class A. A. Coenraats – wearing this watch. He survived but seventeen of his shipmates met their deaths.

Coenraats’ watch stopped ticking the minute the shells hit the gunboat.

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The Dove Brigade

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As early as May 1940, the Germans issued an ordinance stating that all carrier and fancy pigeons had to be killed in the Netherlands. Free-flying pigeons might be used to get messages to the Allied Forces

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A furious protest from pigeon owners ensued – there were more than 25,000 in the Netherlands – and this seemed to help. The German occupier adjusted the measure. Pigeons were simply prohibited from flying and had to be registered. A special police unit, the so-called Duivenbrigade (Dove Brigade), was established to enforce this: free flying pigeons were shot down. But the measure proved to be untenable. So as of August 1942 all of these bird owners were still required to put an end to their prized pigeons. As proof of compliance, they had to submit the chopped off feet of their birds to the local authorities.

 

The Yellow Star of David fabric

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Two years after the invasion of the Netherlands all Jews age six and older were required to wear a so-called yellow star visible on the left side of their clothing. It was yet another measure to isolate and exclude Jews from Dutch society. The word Jood  (Jew) appears in the middle of this six-pointed star, which has the same form as the Jewish Star of David.

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These stars were printed on inexpensive yellow cotton in De Nijverheid, a textile factory in the Dutch city of Enschede that had previously belonged to a Jewish family.

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The company had been confiscated from them shortly before and placed under German supervision. The around 100,000 yellow stars needed in the Netherlands were probably printed on this one 10,000 metre roll of material.

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Production most likely took no more than a day. This made the sale of these stars for 4 cents each a rather lucrative business. In addition to the purchase price Jews had to turn in a textile ration coupon.

WWII ‘Selfies’ of a member of the Dutch resistance.

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After the February Strike of 1941, in Amsterdam,the sculptor and draftsman Cor van Teeseling joined a Resistance group that printed and distributed the illegal Communist newspaper De Waarheid (Lit. The Truth).

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Six months later, the Germans arrested him. On 10 November 1941, the death sentence was pronounced against him.

While awaiting execution Van Teeseling was first placed in solitary confinement in cell B-1-1 of Amsterdam’s Weteringschans Prison: the death cell.

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But he received permission to draw. Until being moved to the Wehrmacht Military Prison in Utrecht in 1942, he made more than 150 self-portraits that he signed and dated. He also included his cell number.

While imprisoned in Utrecht, he only drew now and again: primarily portraits of the prison guards. On 24 November 1942 his wife received a message that Cor van Teeseling had been executed five days earlier near the Dutch town of Soesterberg, a few days after his twenty-seventh birthday.

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Shortly after his death his drawings were seen as a reflection of the human drama in WWII. Van Teeseling self saw the drawings as a way for his wife to earn a potential income.

Anne Frank’s possessions

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Some Jewish children gave away their toys when they had to report for transport or went into hiding. Marbles were a child’s prized possession. The night before they were transported, a few children in the South of Amsterdam were known to have said: ‘Let’s just toss them!’ They threw their marbles out the window, hoping other children in the neighbourhood would gather them up.

Shortly before going into hiding on 6 July 1942, with her parents and sister Margot in the Secret Annex on Amsterdam’s Prinsengracht, Anne Frank also left a few prized possessions behind. She gave her tea set, the book Nederlandsche sagen en legenden  (Tales and Legends of the Netherlands) that she’d also received on 12 June as a birthday gift and this metal tin of marbles to her neighbourhood friend Toosje Kupers.

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Anne was concerned that her treasured marble collection would fall into the wrong hands, so she asked Toosje to keep them for safe until her return.

 

Toosje Kupers had kept her promise to Anne. The marbles, tea set and book were still safe. She offered to return Anne’s treasures to her father, but Otto Frank told her to keep them.

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Otto Frank was the only one of the Frank family to survive the concentration camps. After the war, Toosje Kupers saw Anne’s father several times. When Anne Frank’s diary was published in 1947, Otto Frank personally gave Toosje a copy.

 

The show must go on.

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In the months following the bombing of Rotterdam in May 1940, the Germans wanted daily life to continue as normal as possible. So entertainment was of great importance. And who better to help with this than the popular twosome of Snip and Snap. For years the comedy reviews of Willy Walden (Snip) and Piet Muyselaar (Snap) had drawn full houses.

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This duo, with their joking around and often playing the ladies Snip and Snap in women’s dresses, helped many people forget about the war.

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But in order to perform artists had to become members of the Kultuurkamer (Chamber of Culture), the organization established in 1941 to regulate the arts in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. Even variety acts like Snip and Snap were required to register.

In 1942 Snip and Snap celebrated their fifth anniversary. The two string marionettes – also named Snip and Snap – depicted on the cover of the show booklet (bottom left) were specially made for Willy Walden and Piet Muyselaar for their anniversary revue Tot uw dienst  (At Your Service).

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Corrie ten Boom- WWII Hero

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Cornelia “Corrie” ten Boom (15 April 1892 – 15 April 1983) was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II. She was imprisoned for her actions. Her most famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.

This is a drawing of the Ten Boom family home, Barteljorisstraat 19, Haarlem, Holland. The drawing looks very much like the house does today.  In 1837 Willem ten Boom opened a watch shop in this house.  His family lived in the rooms above the shop.  The home was later passed down to Willem’s son, Casper, and then to Casper’s daughter, Corrie

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The Ten Boom family were devoted Christians who dedicated their lives in service to their fellow man. Their home was always an “open house” for anyone in need. Through the decades the Ten Booms were very active in social work in Haarlem, and their faith inspired them to serve the religious community and society at large.

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During the Second World War, the Ten Boom home became a refuge, a hiding place, for fugitives and those hunted by the Nazis. By protecting these people, Casper and his daughters, Corrie and Betsie, risked their lives. This non-violent resistance against the Nazi-oppressors was the Ten Booms’ way of living out their Christian faith. This faith led them to hide Jews, students who refused to cooperate with the Nazis, and members of the Dutch underground resistance movement.

During 1943 and into 1944, there were usually 6-7 people illegally living in this home: 4 Jews and 2 or 3 members of the Dutch underground.  Additional refugees would stay with the Ten Booms for a few hours or a few days until another “safe house” could be located for them.

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Corrie became a ringleader within the network of the Haarlem underground. Corrie and “the Beje group” would search for courageous Dutch families who would take in refugees, and much of Corrie’s  time was spent caring for these people once they were in hiding. Through these activities, the Ten Boom family and their many friends saved the lives of an estimated 800 Jews, and protected many Dutch underground workers.

On February 28, 1944, this family was betrayed and the Gestapo (the Nazi secret police) raided their home. The Gestapo set a trap and waited throughout the day, seizing everyone who came to the house. By evening about 30 people had been taken into custody! Casper, Corrie and Betsie were all arrested. Corrie’s brother Willem, sister Nollie, and nephew Peter were at the house that day, and were also taken to prison.

Although the Gestapo systematically searched the house, they could not find what they sought most. They suspected Jews were in the house, but the Jews were safely hidden behind a false wall in Corrie’s bedroom.

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In this “hiding place” were two Jewish men, two Jewish women and two members of the Dutch underground. Although the house remained under guard, the Resistance was able to liberate the refugees 47 hours later.  The six people had managed to stay quiet in their cramped, dark hiding place for all that time, even though they had no water and very little food. The four Jews were taken to new “safe houses,” and three survived the war. One of the underground workers was killed during the war years, but the other survived.

Because underground materials and extra ration cards were found in their home, the Ten Boom family was imprisoned.

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Casper (84 years old) died after only 10 days in Scheveningen Prison.  When Casper was asked if he knew he could die for helping Jews, he replied, “It would be an honor to give my life for God’s ancient people.”  Corrie and Betsie spent 10 months in three different prisons, the last was the infamous Ravensbruck Concentration Camp located near Berlin, Germany.   Life in the camp was almost unbearable, but Corrie and Betsie spent their time sharing Jesus’ love with their fellow prisoners.  Many women became Christians in that terrible place because of Corrie and Betsie’s witness to them.  Betsie (59) died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie survived.  Corrie’s nephew, Christiaan (24), had been sent to Bergen Belsen for his work in the underground, and never returned.  Corrie’s brother, Willem (60), was also a ring leader in the Dutch underground.  While in prison for this “crime,” he contracted spinal tuberculosis and died shortly after the war.

 Four Ten Booms gave their lives for this family’s commitment, but Corrie came home from the death camp.  She realized her life was a gift from God, and she needed to share what she and Betsie had learned in Ravensbruck:  “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still” and “God will give us the love to be able to forgive our enemies.”  At age 53, Corrie began a world-wide ministry which took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years! She testified to God’s love and encouraged all she met with the message that “Jesus is Victor.”

 

Corrie received many tributes.  Corrie was knighted by the Queen of Holland. In 1968, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) asked Corrie to plant a tree in the Garden of Righteousness, in honor of the many Jewish lives her family saved.  Corrie’s tree stands there today. In the early 1970’s Corrie’s book THE HIDING PLACE became a best seller and World Wide Pictures released the major motion picture “The Hiding Place.” Corrie went on to write many other inspiring books and make several evangelical videos.

Corrie was a woman who was faithful to God She died on her 91st birthday, April 15, 1983. It is interesting that Corrie’s passing occurred on her birthday.   In the Jewish tradition, it is only very blessed people who are allowed the special privilege of dying on their birthday!

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Corrie’s story is recounted in her books THE HIDING PLACE and TRAMP FOR THE LORD

 

 

The escape of Hugo de Groot aka Hugo Grotius.

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Hugo de Groot (AKA Hugo Grotius) born in Delft on 10 April 1583 (the year before William of Orange was murdered). He was the intellectual prodigy of his age, and one of the ornaments of the University of Leyden. Early in life he became associated with Olden Barneveld, and when the struggle between Arminius and Goniarus broke out, he sided with the former, and exerted all his influence on the side of toleration.

Having, only in a less degree than Barneveld, excited against himself the prejudice and hatred of Maurice of Nassau, he was seized, and, at the age of 36, condemned to perpetual imprisonment in the Castle of Lovenstein, near Gorcum.1024px-Slot_loevestein_1619
His escape is one of the most amusing stories in Dutch history. He was not denied books, and at fixed seasons these were changed by sending a large chest to and from. As the months passed, and the strictest search never discovered anything in the chest but books and linen, the guards grew careless. The ingenuity of his wife, who had been allowed to share his imprisonment, turned this slackness to account. She persuaded him on one occasion to occupy the place of the books.

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When the two soldiers whose duty it was to carry out the chest came, they said it was so heavy that “there must be an Arminian in it.” With admirable tact, Madame Grotius replied, “There are indeed Arminian books in it.” Ultimately, after various narrow escapes, he crossed the frontier and reached Antwerp, when he went on to Paris, where his wife joined him. He was never allowed to return to the Netherlands.

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He gave himself up to a great literary work which had been long in his mind, the De jure belli et pads, a treatise which at once gave him enduring fame, but which, like Paradise Lost and The Pilgrims Progress, did very little towards enriching the author. His other noted book was a work on the evidences of Christianity, published in 1627, and entitled De veritate religionis Christiana. He died an exile in 1645. And now the town of his birth honours his memory by giving him not only a tomb in the New Church, but also by placing his statue upon the most conspicuous site within her boundaries, in the very centre of that market-place where so much of tragic and historic interest has passed.

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In the Town Hall hangs a portrait of Grotius by Michiel Janszoon van Mierevelt, the first in time of the great Dutch portrait painters. Delft is also associated with other famous painters, such as Van der Meer, whose picture of his native town is one of the treasures of the Hague Gallery ; Pieter de Hooch, one of the best painters of interiors; Paulus Potter, the great animal painter; and others.

Safekeeping the Flag

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In 1943, the Jewish family Gans was on their way to the train station because Father Josef, Mother Martha and their four children Abraham, Louise, Emma and baby Harry had received a call-up notice.

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After earlier deferments they were ordered, like many other Jews, to report for internment in the Vught Concentration Camp.

The evening before their departure the Gans family said their goodbyes to neighbours they were quite fond of. Josef Gans gave the family’s Dutch flag to Henny, the girl next door, with the words: ‘I’m giving you this flag for safekeeping, until better times. Hang it outside when we return.’ The next day, Henny accompanied them to the station. The steam train with its passenger compartments was already there and waiting.

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The guards slammed the doors shut. Henny threw one last kiss and waved goodbye to her beloved neighbours.

Years later, after hearing that the entire Gans family was murdered in a concentration camp in occupied Poland, Henny donated the flag to the Synagogue in the town of Winterswijk.

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It is not known if there are any relatives of the Gans family still alive