Look into my eyes!!

John

Look into my eyes and will see mischievousness m you see the eyes of a boy who is playful.

Look into my eyes and you will see no sorrows.

Look into my eyes and you will see pure innocence.

Look into my eyes and you will see no hate.

Look into me eyes and you will see love.

Look into my eyes and you will see amazement and wonder.

Look into my eyes and you will see curiosity.

Look into my eyes and you will see a human being.

You did look into my eyes and saw an enemy

You did look into my eyes and you hated me.

You looked into me eyes and did not recognize my future and potentially your future.

You looked into me eyes and you killed me.

John Liepman Agstteribbe born in Amsterdam ,November 4,1939 .Killed in Auschwitz 11 December 1942.

 

Source

Joods Monument

 

 

 

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Diet Eman- WWII Hero.

Diet

Only the good die young, all the evil seem to live forever is a line from an Iron Maiden song, and there have been times where I thought this to be true, because I saw so many evil people living a long and prosperous lives.

But thankfully ever now and then that theory is proven wrong when you hear stories about people who personify the word good and you see they lived a long good life.

As was the case with Berendina Roelofina Hendrika  Eman aka Diet Eman. A genuine hero who lived to the age of 99, she died 2 weeks ago. What is amazing I had never heard of her until 2 friends, Norman Stone and Andy Ludwig( I am sure they won’t mind me giving them an honorable mention) pointed the story of Diet out to me.

She was born on April 20, 1920 in the Hague, the Netherlands and died on September 3, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A

She grew up in a religious Christian family she had 3 siblings and she was the 2nd youngest.

Om May 10,1940 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands her brother in law was killed.Shortly afterwards, Diet and her fiancé Hein Sietsma decided to join the resistance.The pair together with some friends established a resistance group with the code name “HEIN” which was in reference to Hein Sietsma but was also an abbreviation for “Help Elkander In Nood”which translates in Help each other in Need.

Diet and Hein

Initially the group listened to the BBC and translated the text of the broadcast in Dutch and distributed the transcripts in Dutch resistance magazines.They also smuggled  downed Allied pilots to England.

Soon they began to help Jewish friend find hiding places. Diet recalled after the war.

“There came a day,when my Jewish friend Herman, who worked with me in the bank in The Hague, began to understand that, for him, as a Jew, life could not go on in the same way anymore. He thus became the first Jewish person that we helped during the Occupation.”

Their resistance group began  to focus on stealing food and gas ration cards, forging identity papers and sheltering hundreds of fugitive Jews.

forged

At one stage Diet delivered supplies and moral support to an apartment in The Hague which housed 27 Jews in hiding, in late 1942. The walls were paper thin. Crying babies and even toilet flushing risked raising the suspicions of neighbors, who know that the apartment was owned by a single woman,Mies Walbelm.

Diet warned Mies, she told her “You’re living on top of a volcano that’s ready to erupt” but Mies did not heed the warning and housed more people, which was immensely brave but also extremely dangerous and could jeopardize the woman’s life but also those she hid. Despite that Diet kept visiting the apartment ,bringing supplies, sometimes 5 times a week Eventually the Gestapo did raid the apartment. A diary that contained Diet’s code name was discovered.One day Diet’s parents called her to warn her the Gestapo had turned up and told her not to return home. 

Diet and Hein Sietsma had plans to marry in September 1944, but in April Sietsma was arrested carrying false papers. In May Diet Eman, also, was caught on a train carrying a false ID. Luckily she managed to dispose of the incriminating papers she was carrying at a busy station while the Germans’ backs were turned, distracted by one of the men’s new plastic raincoat, a novelty at the time.

Diet was taken to Scheveningen prison and was later send to Vught concentration camp for  a few  months. However she kept insisting stubbornly that she was not Diet Eman but a simple housemaid. she managed to convince the Germans and she was released. She immediately rejoined the resistance and remained with it until May 1945. It was in June 1945 she found out that fiancé Hein Sietsma had died in Dachau in January 1945.

By some miracle, a letter he had written on a single sheet of toilet paper and tossed from a train as he was being transported to the camp found its way to her.“Darling, don’t count on seeing each other again soon,Even if we won’t see each other on earth again, we will never be sorry for what we did, and that we took this stand.”

He signed off with the Latin phrase that was engraved on the gold engagement ring that he had given her: “Omnia vincit amor.” Love conquers all.

A brother of Diet died later in a Japanese prison camp.

After the war she moved to the US, She became a nurse, learned Spanish, worked for Shell Oil in Venezuela, married an American engineer named Egon Erlich, divorced and moved to Michigan, where she also worked as a nurse and later for an export company. She raised a son and daughter.She kept quiet k about her resistance work until 1978. That year, she spoke at a “Suffering and Survival” convention. Here she met Dr. James Schaap who worked with Eman to write her memoir, “Things We Couldn’t Say”, which was published in 1994.

Things

On August 23, 1998, Yad Vashem recognized Berendina Roelofina Hendrika Eman as Righteous Among the Nations.

An amazing woman who risked her life to safe others, the world needs heroes like her today. Rust zacht Diet, ik zal U niet vergeten.

Persoon

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Sources

Holocausteducatie.nl

The New York Times

Smithsonian

Telegraph UK

Yad Vashem

 

Bethrina Kooperberg-Her dignity was taken away, yet she remained positive.

BETHRINA

I could write down the history of Bethrina Kooperberg but it is more poignant to use her own words to illustrate the person she was.

The text is translated from Dutch and comes from a postcard and letter Bethrina sent from Camp Vught to her friends, the Van Beek family, dated 24 April 1943.

“The first night we were here, Aunt Fie and I laughed like madmen, despite everything. As it happened, nobody could sleep, cry or scream. Anyway, it was just horrible but it’s getting easier to sleep now, and now when the bell rings I don’t want to get up.

Last week the men could not come on the Sunday as all the women were naked in the barracks, as we had to be deloused. In the end it didn’t happen until 9 o’clock on the Monday evening so we had been naked that whole day, too.

Oh, if you could see us through the keyhole, you know that I was always optimistic and sometimes I still am but there are days when I think the whole camp is going crazy with the treatment. It’s worse than I could ever have imagined and they treat us worse than animals.

They call this place the murder compound and if you knew what it’s like here, the gates would be stormed, but we still are still in good spirits, as if that’s possible.”

She was sent to Sobibor on May 9,1943 where she arrived on the 12th. Two days later on May 14, she was gassed.

Three of her siblings and her parents survived the war.It was very rare that so many members of the same  Jewish family survived.

But as a last act of indignity her death was only recorded in 1950, retrospectively.

register

I can’t blame the Dutch authorities for registering her death 5 years after the war ended, because it often would take a long time to get all the relevant data. But the way Brethina’s death was registered was just sloppy, they just crossed out all outdated data and hand wrote the new most up to date data next to it.Why not just create a new page and typewrite the information in a professional manner.That’s the least that could be done. But maybe I am just a bit bias towards Dutch bureaucracy.

 

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Sources

brabantremembers.com/persecution/lachen-als-gekken-in-de-moordcentrale

openarch.nl

Joods Monument

Traces if War

The 1943 German law that denies justice to be done.

Justice

In 1943 a law was passed in Germany which gave all foreign Waffen SS members the German nationality by default.

This law still prevents extradition of WWII War criminals to be extradited to their native countries, because these men have the German nationality , and Germany does not extradite it’s own citizens.

These are just 2 examples of Dutch war criminals who received no or very little punishment for the crimes they committed during WWII.

Herbertus Bikker AKA The Butcher of Ommen

bIKKER

Herbertus Bikker was a Dutch war criminal. He was a member of the Waffen-SS. He served as a guard at the concentration  Erika near Ommen, in the Netherlands. His brutal treatment of the prisoners earned him his nickname ‘the Butcher of Ommen’

Bikker is the alleged murderer of Dutch resistance fighter Jan Houtman [nl] who was killed, twenty-seven years old, on 17 November 1944.

Following the end of World War II, he was sentenced to death by a Dutch court.  he managed to escape from prison in Breda on 26 December 1952 and fled to Germany, crossing the border at Ubbergen near Cleves. He settledd down in the city of Hagen, where he livedundetected until 1995. Following the law from 1943, foreign members of the Waffen-SS automatically received German nationality. Germany does not extradite its own nationals.

Although he was not extradited he was taken to court in Germany, . Bikker’s managed  to evade any jail time  to claim diminished responsibility due to illness.Following a breakdown and fainting in court,  neurologists advised against Bikker standing trial tHE Court was adjourned on 2 February 2004.

Bikker lived in Hagen as a pensioner until his death on 1 November 2008  which was only announced in 2009.

Siert Bruns AKA the Beast of Appingedam.

Siert

Siert Bruins was a a member of the Dutch Nazi party NSB. During the war he and his brother both joined the Waffen SS and fought at the eastern front.

Siert got wounded  at the front and  returned to the Netherlands where he  became a member of the SD. He was active around Delfzijl hunting members of the resistance.

He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949 for the murder of Dutch farmer and resistance member Aldert Klaas Dijkema. The German government refused to extradite him to the Netherlands. The death sentence was later revised to a life sentence.

In 1978, Bruins was tracked  down by Simon Wiesenthal in the German town Altenbreckerfeld. He was arrested and put on trial in Germany, in 1980, where he was found guilty for the murder of two Jewish brothers, Meijer en Lazarus Sleutelberg.He spent 5 years in jail for those murders.

In 2003, the Dutch minister Donner tried to convince the German authorities to send Bruins to the Netherlands, but without success

He went on trial again, in the western city of Hagen in September 2013 for the murder of Aldert Klaas Dijkema, in September 1944 in Appingedam near the German-Dutch border.However, the case was dropped when judges said there was insufficient evidence to proceed, partly because there were no witnesses left alive.

Bruins died on September 28,2015 aged 94.

 

These were only 2 examples but there are still dozens of so called German citizens who are walking around as free men.

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Sources

BBC

Dutch News.nl

Dutch Wikipedia

Trial International

 

 

 

Alexander Zwaap AKA Lex van Delden

Lex

Although he was born as Alexander Zwaap, for most of his life he would be known as Lex van Delden. He was a truly remarkable man, despite hardships he never gave up.

He was born  in Amsterdam on September 10, 1919, as the only child of Wolf Zwaap, a school-teacher, and his wife Sara Olivier-Zwaap, Lex started taking piano-lessons from an early age, initially from  from Martha Zwaga and later from the celebrated pianist, Cor de Groot.

In 1938 he enrolled at the University of Amsterdam to study medicines, he wanted to become a neuro-surgeon, but he did not lose his love for music and composing.

In 1942, two years into German occupation of the Netherlands he was  forced to interrupt his studies,because he was Jewish. He had no other choice then  to go into hiding. Refuge and a hiding place was arranged at the home of a former colleague of his father, who was a headmaster at the penitentiary in Veenhuizen, In 1943, his parents who were also in hiding, were betrayed and deported to Sobibor, where they were murdered. Lex never saw them again. It was only in 1980, when he discovered a  postcard written by his  parents  to him from the Hollandse Schouwburg( a theater which was used as a deportation centre)   while awaiting their deportation.

schouweburg

While in hiding Lex  decided to take the pseudonym “van Delden”

Due to the fact he could not make any noise, leave alone play piano and had to hide under the raised floor of a basement closet.,he became depressed.His hosts eventually included him in their daily family life.

He helped by translating all kinds of literary works and also by helping  his host’s daughter with her homework. Via  a contact with the student resistance movement,  Lex joined the resistance he was sent to the province of Brabant, where he forged identity papers at the Personal Identification Card Centre. On a daily basis he visited, by bicycle, a family with a piano and even managed to give house concerts. Unfortunately his hopes of becoming a neuro-surgeon were dashed during this time due to an exploding carbide lamp, which virtually blinded him in his left eye while in hiding.

When peace came he hurled himself under the name Lex van Delden wholeheartedly into the world of music. Apart from composing he worked as a music journalist for Het Parool; later he was chairman of the Dutch authors’ rights association Buma Stemra.

Buma

He was a prolific composer  and during  the 1950s and 60s he was one of the most frequently played composers of his generation. Van Delden wrote for orchestras such as the Noordhollands Philharmonisch Orkest (North Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra), the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble (Dutch Wind Ensemble). He has won many prestigious music awards.

2019-09-10

His  music radiates an idealistic longing for life. The structure is tight; he often includes sharp contrasts between dramatic and lyrical passages.

Despite his plans of all his set backs and losing his parents,, he did not give up.He died on July 1, 1988 in Amsterdam.

His son also took the name Lex van Deldden became an actor and starred in movies such as A bridge too far and Soldaat van Oranje(Soldier of Orange).

Finishing up with one of Lex’s compositions.

 

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Sources

Leo Smit

forbiddenmusicregained.org

gramophone.co.uk

YouTube

 

 

Would I have the same courage as Benjamin Blankenstein?

Benjamin

What would I do? Or, how much courage would I have? These are questions that haunt me in relation to the Holocaust? Questions which are becoming more and more relevant these days.

There was a time where I would jeopardize my life to defend my principles in relation to justice and the treatment of my fellow man. But now that I have a family of my own and people who depend on me, that dynamic has changed, I am not so sure what I would do now and I would not have an answer for the 2 questions at the start of this blog.

I am sure Benjamin Blankenstein must have asked himself similar questions, but he answered those questions by taking action.

Benjamin Blankenstein was a teacher at the local Christian elementary school in the town of Soestdijk (prov. Utrecht) in the Netherlands.He was married to Maria who stayed at home as a home maker , on Septenber 10, 1940 the couple had a baby girl,Fieke.Benjamin was 26 at the time, Maria was a few years older.

In 1943 Benjamin became an active member of the  resistance , part of the countrywide Landelijke Organisatie (LO),Him and his wife also had a 2nd baby daughter,Betty, that year.

Blankenstein familie

The LO was an organization that assisted both Jews in hiding, and non-Jews wanted for resistance activity or evading forced labor in Germany.

Notwithstanding the gave dangers they could face the Blankensteins took the decision to hide Jews in their own home.

It was brought to Benjamin’s attention that the  Bernstein family from nearby Soest had been betrayed at an earlier hiding place. Benjamin and Maria gave refuge to Henry Bernstein, his wife Martha and their 14-year-old son Rolf, Jewish refugees from Düsseldorf, Germany.

On September 3, 1942 the Dutch police had issued the following statement.

“The mayor of Soest requested that the stateless Jews Henry Bernstein, his wife and their son Rolf Bernstein, all residing at 35a Kerkpad NZ in Soest and having violated the regulations by changing their place of residence without permission, be located, detained and brought to trial.”

The 2 families got on wonderful.In the evenings Benjamin would school Rolf so he would not fall behind in his education.

Unfortunately the families were betrayed. On June 5, 1944, while Benjamin was  at school. The police arrested the Bernsteins and looted the Blankensteins home About half an hour later , Benjamin was arrested at the school, and taken to prison in Amsterdam . Later he was sent to to the Vught concentration camp, aka Herzogenbusch concentration camp.

Vught

On September 5, 1944, with the Allied Forces approaching, Blankenstein was moved to camps in Germany and eventually died

in Bergen-Belsen on February 24, 1945.  Nine days earlier hsi 3rd daughter Thea was born.

The Bernsteins were taken from the Blankenstein home and deported. Henry and Rolf were murdered in Auschwitz.

Martha Bernstein survived the war. After  her return from the camp, ill and alone, she was again welcomed by Maria Blankenstein.

On March 27, 2005, Yad Vashem recognized Benjamin Blankenstein and Maria Suzanna Blankenstein-van Klingeren, as Righteous Among the Nations.

Benjamin en Maria

On August 6. 2010. De city of Soest placed a Stolperstein, a stumbling stone, which is a memorial to remember Benjamin Blankenstein. The memorial was placed outside their home on the  Van Straelenlaan 31.

Stolper stein

In 2006 Henry and Rolf Bernstein also got  memorials in the form of Stolper steine in their home in Hilden near Dusseldorf.

Bernstein

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Sources

Yad Vashem

Joods Monument

.4-5-mei.nl/nieuws/1/4/stolperstein-benjamin-blankenstein

 

If a pictures tells a 1000 words, how come I am speechless?

Jankl

I often come across people who seek my advice. Not that I am counselor or a psycho therapist, I don’t qualify for any of that. But for some reason people know I have had a life full of experiences.

They often tell me “life isn’t fair” and I sometimes reply £Life is not supposed to be fair but challenging, if you have no challenges in life you never have any victories either” And I genuinely do believe that.

But then there are times where I am speechless.

What do I say to little Jankl Zuckerkandel? He stood so proud in a photo studio in the Hague to get his picture taken, in his best clothes and his little cap ,his pure whit socks. It was 1941 when the picture was taken. Already his life was in danger, even as a toddler he was perceived to be a danger, A dangerous toddler, that also leaves me speechless.

He was killed in Sobibor aged 3

What do I say to that little beautiful boy? Do I tell him”Life wasn’t meant to be fair” But this doesn’t apply to him,because he didn’t have the chance to get a life yet.

Do I tell him “All will be fine”, then I would tell him a lie.

What do I tell him? How do I explain to him why he was murdered? I can’t, I am speechless. If a picture tells a thousand words, how come am I speechless.

All I can do is hope that his life as a little Angel brings him joy.

 

Sources

USHMM

93 Trains

transport

93 trains left concentration camp Westerbork in the Netherlands between July 1942 and September 1944. All the trains were heading eastbound. Not one single  journey would be  a pleasant one , The final destination would more then likely result in death.

I deliberately call Westerbork a concentration camp, because that’s what it was, It is often referred to as a Transit camp, although technically correct, I am not comfortable with theat description, because I believe it lessens the horrific nature the camp really had. The irony,for lack of a better word,  is that in the summer of 1939 the camp was designated for Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany.

93 Trains

Auschwitz  58,380    854 survived.
Sobibor  34,313           18 survived.
Theresiënstadt 4,894   approximately  1,980 survived.
Bergen-Belsen 3,751     approximately 2,050 survived.
Buchenwald and Ravensbrück 150      10 survived.

Each number is a human being with a story of life lived, and a life that could have been.

On September 3,1944 the last train to Auschwitz departed from Westerbork. On that transport was an author who go one to sell millions of books. She and her family all arrived in Auschwitz 3 days later.

list

The author was Anne Frank.She never got to enjoy the success of her book. The fact is that if she would have survived, her diary would probably not have been published, and if I am honest, I would have preferred it that way. I would have preferred that she would have survived the war, together with all the other millions who were brutally murdered because they were either Jewish, Gypsy, Disabled,Communist,Jehovah Witness or just someone who spoke out to the regime.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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

Traces of War

Joods Mounument

NIOD

jodenvervolginginfotos.nl

 

Jan Ruschkewitz

Jantje

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy. A young bot born in the Hague in the Netherlands.

23 years after the international peace palace was established. A palace that was suppose to safeguard your peace.

In the picture you are about 2 or 3, but your peace would soon be destroyed.

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy, a boy who could have been anything. You were born 28 days before my father was born.

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy , a young boy who remained a young boy. He was brutally murdered 23 October 1942 , 10 days before his 6th birthday. A so called enemy of the state. What state has 6 year old children as enemies.?

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy, a boy whose name I will forever remember.

 

 

Ivor Arnold Troostwijk-10 weeks old Holocaust victim.

ausch

I so vividly remember the day my wife told we were expecting out first child. The only way to describe it was magic. And that is how new life should be celebrated as a magical moment, young expecting parents should only have to worry about the health and well being of their baby.

But what if you are expecting a baby and you don’t even know if you will survive leave alone your child.

Annie Troostwijk-Samuel and her husband Abraham Troostwijk knew in In October 1943 that their baby was due in 6 weeks time.

The couple got married on April 9, 1941. On March 17 , Abraham notified the governing Church authorities about his plans to marry Annie Samuel. Although they were Jewish it was standard practice that  the church authorities would also be notified. Abrham did this in writing.

letter

 

In October 1943 they decided to move from Arnhem to Amsterdam, in the hope that they would be safer there and their son could be born in a safe place. They left their other child,one year old daughter Greetje behind in a safe hiding place.

Alas Amsterdam was not the safe place they thought it would be. The couple decided to take  the gamble: and go by train to Belgium.But they were arrested at Den Bosch train station and .ended up in a detention centre.

November 13,1943 was a cold Saturday but it was also the day that little ray of Sunshine Ivor was born in the prison hospital.

One month later, Annie, Abraham and Ivor were transported to Westerbork.

westerbork

On 25 January 1944 Annie, Ivor and 946 other Jews were put on transport to Auschwitz. Even the heavens were sad that day because on January 25,1944 there was a Solar eclipse.

Annie and Ivor arrived three days later in Auschwitz and were killed straight after arrival.

It is not clear what exactly happened to Abraham or when he was put on transport, but he died March 28,1945.

Greetje survived and lives now in Israel.

There is a picture of Ivor available but I decided not to use it because even though it is a picture shortly taken after his birth, it is still distressing to see this tiny infant knowing he would be dead 10 weeks later.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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

Brabant remembers

Joods Mounument