It could have been my Family.


One of the most disturbing aspects of the Holocaust was the randomness of its victims. There were targeted groups like the Jews,Roma, Sinti,Homosexuals,Disabled people and Jehovah witnesses and a few more groups deemed to be undesirable and ‘untermensch-sub human’, The Nuremberg laws dictated who was or was not fit to live in the Nazi occupied countries.




However it was often also left at the discretion of local Nazis to determine who was considered to be Jewish or Sinti or otherwise.

The picture at the top of this blog is of Anna Maria (Settela) Steinbach. The haunting picture is often used in Holocaust documentaries, but ever since I found out about the origin of the picture it has haunted me more then I ever could have expected. Anna Maria (Settela) Steinbach was Sinti and was born 23 December 1934 in the village of Buchten, in the southeastern province Limburg of the Netherlands. She died in Auschwitz-Birkenaus on July 31 1944. Buchten is only a few miles away from my birthplace Geleen, in fact it is so near that in 2001 it merged into the bigger municipality of Sittard-Geleen.

Although I am not Sinti or Jewish or otherwise, being 6.2ft tall,blonde(ish) and blue eyed, the Nazis would have loved me. However my father who was born in 1936, could have easily been mistaken for Sinti or Roma he had a sallow complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. Even his surname could have been a reason for the Nazis to assume he was Jewish, our name is ‘de Klein’ but all too often people leave out the ‘de’ bit turning the name ‘Klein’  from a Dutch name to a Jewish name, although it is also a German and French name.

There is a 1976 French movie “Mr. Klein” which is about a French art dealer who gets mistaken for a Jewish man with the same name.  He then frantically tries to proof there was a case of mistaken identity.Although the movie is not based on a true story I have heard of instances where people were pursued because of mistaken identities, often mistaken on purpose by Nazi sympathizers who wanted to get rid of people they just didn’t like and who had Jewish sounding names.


My father was never arrested or picked up or anything like that, My Grandfather though was executed by the Nazis,unfortunately the circumstances why are still not clear to me and I may never find out why.

Something that has played in my mind for a while now is the fact my  family name is “de Klein” rather then “Klein” might just be the reason why my family survived. Those 2 letters just could have saved their lives

It could have so easily been my family who would have been put on that train to Westerbork.Auscwhitz or any other of the concentration camps.



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How the 1953 North Sea flood resulted in a professional football league.


On the night of 31 January – 1 February 1953, many dykes in the province of Zeeland, the southern parts of the province of South Holland and the northwestern parts of the province of North Brabant ,in the Netherlands,proved unable to resist the combination of spring tide and a northwesterly storm.

It was to become the biggest natural disaster to date in the Netherlands.It was  estimated that  the flooding killed 1,835 people and forced the emergency evacuation of 70,000 more. Floods covered 9% of Dutch farmland, and sea water flooded 1,365 km² of land. An estimated 30,000 animals drowned, and 47,300 buildings were damaged, of which 10,000 were destroyed. Total damage is estimated at 1 billion Dutch guilders.



Although my hometown, Geleen, in the southeastern province Limburg in the Netherlands, was not directly impacted by the storm and floods. Indirectly it was affected by it but in a positive way.

Geleen is the home of Fortuna 54 which was the first professional football team in the country.


One of the key players was Cor van der Hart.

Van der Hart was one of the players participating in the Watersnoodwedstrijd(Flood disaster match) of 12 March 1953.This was a match played in the Parc des Princes stadiumWatersnoodwedstrijd_Aufstellung_L'Equipe_1953-03-13-2 in Paris and was played in honour  of the victims of the North Sea flood of 1953, and to raise money for the relief work and survivors of the disaster. Van der Hart, who still played as a professional in France those days, together with several others like Bram Appel, Theo Timmermans, Bertus de Harder and Kees Rijvers  heard the news of the flood  on the radio and realised his home country needed help .The KNVB (the Dutch football association) still prohibited professional players within the country.

Five days earlier, the Netherlands lost 2-1 to Denmark in another match held in Rotterdam. This time at Paris’ Parc des Princes, the Netherlands trailed 1-0 when de Harder tied the game on a 58th-minute goal. Then Appel, who along with Theo Timmermans helped orchestrate bringing this game, scored the winning goal in the 81st minute.

8,000 Dutch fans travelled to Paris to witness the match and saw their team beating the strong French team 2–1 with goals scored by De Harder and Appel.



The match was the breakthrough to introduce professional football in the Netherlands. Only 17 months later the first professional match in the country was played.

When professional football started in the Netherlands Van der Hart returned to his native country to play for Fortuna ’54,



Fortuna 54 no longer exists ,on July 1 1968  it merged with RKSV Sittardia of the neighboring town of Sittard and was renamed “Fortuna Sittard” and Sittard became the home of the newly founded football team.

In 2001 both towns Geleen and Sittard also merged and formed the municipality of Sittard-Geleen  and is currently  the second most populated municipality in Limburg.


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“Dear all, I have to tell you the worst – today I and my friends got the death sentence”


Hitler expected very little resistance from the Dutch because he saw them as kindred spirits and fellow aryans. When he decided to invade the Netherlands he expected a similar reception as he got in Austria, but he was wrong.

Although the invasion only took 3 days the Germans suffered heavy losses.


As in the other occupied countries there were some who embraced the German occupation and were more then willing to comply to the laws imposed by the Nazi regime.

However there were many who did not and were willing to give their lives for it.

On March 9, 1943, Dutch policeman Hendrik “Henk” Drogt refused to comply with an order to arrest seven Jews in Grootegast.Drogt and 11 fellow Dutch police officers refused to participate in the round-up of Jews.

The Nazis gave the local Marechaussee(-the Marechaussee is a police force with Policing the military and also with border control as well as other civilian police matters-) officers orders to bring the Jews to the nearby city of Groningen, but the 12 officers tasked with the duty refused. At first they gave excuses, saying the Jews in the area were sick, and they even brought a doctor to authenticate the story on their behalf .

Failing to convince their superiors, the higher command  started  pressuring them one-on-one and even threatened them with deportation to concentration camps.

The officers wouldn’t give in , however. All of them refused and were taken to the Kamp Vught concentration camp.


All except one. After abandoning the police unit, Drogt managed to escape and subsequently joined the Dutch resistance. During his time on the Nazi regime’s wanted list, he helped smuggle downed Allied pilots to the Belgian border where they could escape to Britain. Additionally , working at night around the towns of Grijpskerk, Kommerzijl and Pieterzijl – in between the main northern cities of Groningen and Leeuwarden – Drogt helped move Jews to safety by taking them from hiding place to hiding place.

Not long after, however, the Nazis tracked down Drogt and other resistance members in August 1943. After being held up in the Oranjehotel prison in Scheveningen, the 24-year-old was put on trial and sentenced to death.

Before his execution on April 14, 1944, he wrote to his family:

“Dear all, I have to tell you the worst – today I and my friends got the death sentence. It is terrible that we have to part from all those who are dear to us in this way… I always had hope that I could be with you for one more time, but the Lord wanted differently…”

Decades after the war, in 1988 Yad Vashem recognized the officers as Righteous Among the Nations, but because Drogt had managed to escape he wasn’t on the list submitted to the Commission for the Designation of the Righteous.

Twenty years later, El Al pilot Mark Bergman met Drogt’s son, Henk Brink, on a flight to South Africa. Brink told Bergman the stories that he had heard from his mother about the father whom he had never met, and Bergman in turn advised Yad Vashem of the former military police officer’s courageous deeds.

Finally, on Monday September 22, 2008, Yad Vashem posthumously named Drogt as a Righteous Among the Nations, recognizing the brave acts he had done to save members of the Jewish faith.



It’s because of men like Hendrik Drogt I feel immensely proud to be a Dutch man. I know there were plenty of fellow Dutch country men who were just too eager to please their Nazi masters and did evil things, but the majority of the Dutch did not subscribe to the Nazi point of view.


Many thanks to Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the story.


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Jerusalem Post


Tulip Bulbs and Bicycle dynamo- Surviving WWII, Dutch style.


Without trying to boast too much about my fellow Dutch folks,it is generally known that the Dutch are very inventive  and creative. Two skills which really came to fruition during WWII and especially the last few months of the war.

‘ As a result of the failure of ,Operation Market Garden’ the northern provinces had to endure a very harsh winter and famine.


With the exception of a few pockets of German resistance at the southern border regions, most of the south was liberated in September 1944.


For the North it was a different story After the national railways took heed of the request of the exiled Dutch government’s appeal for a railway strike starting September 1944 to further the Allied liberation efforts, the German occupiers  retaliated by placing an embargo on all food transports to the North and West Netherlands.By the time the embargo was partially lifted in early November 1944, allowing restricted food transports over water, the unusually early and harsh winter had already set in. The canals froze over and became impassable for barges.


Over 20,000 people died during that time known as ‘the Hungerwinter’

Those who survived did so in part by eating what was still available: tulip bulbs. The government even published recipes to cook a nutritious meal with them. Below is one of those recipes.

1 cup of brown beans.
1 cup of tulip bulbs.
Onions (if available).
Curry-surrogate (if available).
Salt to taste (if available).
Marjoram to taste (if available).


  1. Cook the beans and bulbs until done.
  2. Let them cool and mix them together until you get a smooth paste.
  3. Fry the onion with the curry surrogate and add to the paste.
  4. Add salt and marjoram to taste.
  5. Form little balls of the paste and bake them in as little oil as possible

Throughout the war there were many power outages but that didn’t stop the Dutch. I remember the stories of my Mother and her siblings on how my Grandfather and some of the older siblings made sure that there still would be some light. But this was not only done in my family but by many families across the country

It was both easy and effective, easy as in setting it up, it did actually took some physical power to generate the energy.


A bicycle was put in the room and the back wheel would be taken off or at least secured to the floor to ensure the bike would remain stationery, very much in the same way as an modern exercise bike works, then the bike would be mounted by a senior male member of the family and he would start cycling. The Bicycle dynamo would convert that energy into light from the bicycle light.



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Dutch Ancestry Coach



The Jetten Family-Risking their lives to safe others.


It is a question I often ask myself “Would I do it, would I risk my life and the life of my Family to safe others? ” Honestly I don’t know. Risking my own life is one thing, but risking the lives of my Family is a different ballgame all together.

And yet that is exactly what the Jetten family did and especially their oldest Daughter Truus.

The Jetten family lived in the South East of the Netherlands in the province of Limburg near the city Roermond. To give a geographical indication of the area,below a map. As you can see it borders to Germany.



When the war broke out, Mr. and Mrs. Hiegentlich were living with their three sons in Roermond, Limburg, where they owned a textile business. There, they employed a young girl, Truus Jetten, as secretary. Her parents owned a farm in the nearby village of de Weerd.

Cesar Hiegentlich did assiste many Jewish refugees who fled Germany since 1933 to either stay in the Netherland or move further afield to the UK or USA. Because of the discussions he had with the refugees,Hiegentlich had a good understanding on what the fate of the Jews would be0

After the “aryanization” of the Hiegentlichs’ business, the family left Roermond for Amsterdam. In 1942, the Hiegentlich grandparents contacted Truus and asked if her parents would agree to shelter their granddaughter Rosalie, born in 1938, on their farm.


Without hesitation the Jetten family agreed. Truus whowas just 17 traveled to Amsterdam to collect Rosalie who was 3 years of age at the time.Truus renamed Rosalie to Lieke. and tookher back to the Jettsn’s farm. Hub and Maria Jetten had nine children, the youngest only a few years older than Rosalie, who was treated as their tenth child. Truus had helped initiate a rescue project creating a network of local people prepared to harbor Jews.

As the  war progressed the entire Jetten family was involved in assisting and housing fugitive Jews. Sometimes as many as 23 people were hidden on their farm waiting for a permanent hideout. Truus was pivotal in bringing people, mainly children, to the farm and her sister Ella helped her mother run the home and provide for the ever-growing household.

Among the many Jews who were afforded shelter on the Jettens’ farm were Rosalie’s aunt, Gedula Blum-Grunewald; the two young Cohen de Lara sisters; Mr. de Groot, his sons, and his sister Kitty; and sixteen-year-old Marietje de Man.

In August 1944 Truus moved to the more southern city of Heerlen where she started a course in midwifery. On Sept 17 1944 Heerlen was liberated.


In 1944, Roermond and its environs, situated at the confluence of the Roer and Maas Rivers, became a war zone being defended by the Germans and the Jettens themselves became refugees. The entire household moved to Horn, to the home of Maria’s brother, Paul Hendrix, where they stayed in the cellar. After the war, Rosalie’s mother, who survived, came to collect her daughter. Rosalie  maintained a close relationship with the Jettens after the war.

On November 30, 1997, Yad Vashem recognized Hub Jetten, his wife, Maria  Jetten-Hendrix, and their daughters Truus Maria El Biyadi-Jetten and Ella Muysers-Jetten as Righteous Among the Nations.





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Heerlen Vertelt

Yad Vashem


When the Dutch gave New Netherland to the Brits


Although the Dutch and the Brits are good friends now, it was not always thus. There have been several Anglo-Dutch wars.

The 3rd ,  Anglo-Dutch war ended this day in 1674 by the signing of the Westmnster Treaty of 1647. The English were dismayed by the unexpected fact that Dutch raiders managed to capture more English ships than vice versa and that New Amsterdam had been retaken by the Dutch in 1673.

New Amsterdam was the Capital city of New Netherland


It was located on the east coast of North America(the Delmarva Peninsula to extreme southwestern Cape Cod,  part of the Mid-Atlantic States of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, and  outposts in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.)

Part of the treaty was that New Netherland was to be returned to the Brits, while the Dutch kept Surinam.

The official peace was proclaimed  was proclaimed at Whitehall on 27 February at 10.00 am.

New Amsterdam is now called New York of course.



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Entertaining the Troops.


After months of fighting fierce battles this must have been the most adorable way ever how the US troops were entertained.

Dutch children entertain U.S. soldiers. U.S. soldiers taken for a morning walk through the grounds of moated Hoensbroek Castle in Holland some of the 145 young Dutch children living there under the care of Roman Catholic nuns. The children, who are mostly around three years old, express their appreciation for the kindness of American soldiers stationed in the area by entertaining them with games and dances in national costume.

This was shortly after the liberation of Hoensbroek in September 1944.



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The time I nearly booked André Rieu for my Mother’s wedding.

Rieu, Vrijthof, Maastricht

This is a historical blog however not  so much about a big historical event but more a personal historical tale, which I was reminded of today.

In 1991 hardly anyone had heard about Andre Rieu, I know I didn’t. My Mother was getting remarried and I had told her that I would pay for the music on her wedding day. Not knowing that this would be more difficult then I had envisaged.

I tried to call may bands, all the local bands were booked for the date. I decided to look further afield for the night’s entertainment. I opened up the Golden Pages and went to the section of musicians/entertainers. Most of the names in the section I had already contacted or they were just too far away.

I spotted one name though I hadn’t approached yet and he lived also only10 miles away from my hometown. The name was Andre Rieu, nothing else, no full page ad, no bells and whistles, just a name and telephone number, not even an indication what kind of music he did or if he even was a musician, just a name and number


I tried ringing several times but to no avail, no answer machine, it just rang out.

This left me with no music. Luckily one of the bands I had contacted, had a cancellation and was able to book them for the wedding.

What a story it would have been though if I had booked Andre Rieu for my Mother’s wedding.

My story with Andre Rieu doesn’t stop there though.

In July 2015 I had the pleasure to see the great man live in Maastricht.


How that came about is quite magical and it involved my other parent, my Father.

He passed away on June 27 2017, his funeral was on July the 2nd. My siblings and I had decided that the day after his funeral we would go to his birth place, Maastricht, to remember him and to celebrate his life.

We’d go by train so no one had to drive in an emotional state. The train journey was only 25 minutes anyway.The plan was to have a drink or 2, have a bite to eat and do a bit of shopping.

Not realizing that Andre Rieu was staring his first of 7 concerts that day in Maastricht.


While we were going about fulfilling our plans for the day a thought came to my mind. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could stay for the concert”, knowing there was no chance on earth we’d get a ticket, leave alone 4. And the signs around town had said they were going to close the main square’Vrijthof’ at 6 PM that evening. This would also mean our time was limited to go for dinner.


But we took a chance and asked at the box office if there were still tickets. The answer was “No, it had been sold out for nearly a year” We had seen some restaurants though who were advertising dinner and concert arrangements. So we asked around and all we got was the same answer as  at box office.

However been raised as people who never give up, we decided to try one last restaurant. The Azie Tapaz restaurant on the Vrijthof.


Initially we got the same answer, but I don’t know what prompted the manager, since we did not tell him about the recent passing of our Dad, but he said “If you come around the back ally at about 6.15 PM, I’ll let you in via the back entrance and I’ll sort you out.

So we did as advised, and true to his word there he was at the back door and let us in. He set us first down in the restaurant and then prepared a table for us at the terrace on the Vrijthof square. At that stage I thanked him and told him how much this meant to us since we had just lost our Father, and we were there to celebrate his life and the concert would be the perfect end to those celebrations.

Not only did he go out of his way to accommodate us at the end of our fabulous dinner there was no bill either so the meal and concert were free, but we did leave some money behind anyway as a tip

That day we felt our Dad was looking out for us from heaven.

I know this is a very personal story but since it was such a wonderful experience I feel I had to share it.



The wooden shoes of Jan Smit-AKA Lt. Claude C. Murray jr.


Every once in a while you encounter a story which puts you in conflict with yourself. You wonder “can I really tell the story?”

For me this is one of those stories. I am not going to use the word ‘Hate’ because that would be too harsh of s description, but I do really, really,really dislike Jan Smit, He is a Dutch ‘singer’ he would be the Dutch equivalent of Justin Bieber but with even less talent and even more annoying.

Thankfully the Jan Snit in this story is not that Jan Smit, but Lt. Claude C. Murray jr. pilot with the Eight Air Force.


Claude C. Murray jr  born in Spokane,Washington USA. He graduated in November 1943 at  the Wiliams Field Army Advanced Flying School in Chandler, Arizona. He had enlisted after the Pearl Harbor attacks on December 7, 1941.

During World War II he served with the 8th Air Force, 7th Photo Recon Group as a photo reconnaissance pilot, flying P-38s, assigned to Mount Farm, England.He was a crew member, 2nd Lieutenant,of “Dot & Dash” a well known aircraft within the 7 Photo Reconnaissance Group. This because it was used on the so called ‘shuttle missions’, trips from England, over Berlin, landing in Russia for fuel and back again. This until it was shot down by an Me-262 jet and came down in Lake IJsselmeer (Old Zuyder Sea), in the Netherlands.


After a night at drift rolling along with the waves,  Claude C. Murray drifted ashore in his small rubber boat on the unmanned fortress island ‘Pampus’. He took a look in the abandoned bunkers and spend the night there, but left next morning in his dinghy again to the nearby mainland. Underway he encountered a small fishing boat with three young men inside: Jan Dobber, Jacob Dobber and Jan Bijl. He was handed over by them to resistance leader Joh. (Johannes) Rozendaal in Muiden. He spend a week there and received false papers with  the name ‘Jan Smit’. A deaf and dumb sales man


In Naarden he was in hiding at Mrs. Dietz-Kluyver’s for 2 months until 15 December 1944. This was on the Paulus Potterlaan no. 35. Because the front line stabilized on the big rivers in the centre of Holland and could not be passed, the resistance had to hide Murray until liberation, that came on May 5, 1945. The last 5 months of hiding  was  at a farm in village Weesp. This was the farm of Gijs Regtuyt on the Korte Muidenweg C.34, where he wore wooden shoes with his new name on them.


On the 9th of May 1945, Murray was brought to the villa of medical doctor Kruize in Blaricum. Here he met a group of other airmen in hiding and together they joined up with the Canadian troops. The others were 1Lt. John H. Quinn and 2Lt. Mel O. Simmons of B-24 42-95180 “Satans little Sister” 446 BG, crashed south in the Lake 21 November 1944 and Captain Gene Maddocks of B-24 42-51495 crashed in the Northeast Polder on 24 February 1945, Eddy Kryskov (RAF) and Captain Dick Jones (RCAF).

The irony is although the singer Jan Smit was born decades after this, there is some resemblance between the two!

PasportClaudeMurrayAKAjanSmit1944 (1)


PS .Anyone who knows me. knows what a true sacrifice this is for me even to look at Jan Smit’s(the singer) face, as I said I am not a fan to put it mildly.

Claude C. Murray Jr died age 87 May 13, 2009, in Phoenix, Arizona


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Kaiser Wilhelm II- Political asylum in the Netherlands


On 23 January 1920, the government of the Netherlands refused to extradite the former Kaiser of Germany, Wilhelm II. His aggressive foreign policy and support for Austro-Hungary in 1914 led to the first world war. After the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, he was charged with “a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties” and the allies demanded his extradition. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands refused and granted him political asylum.

A request to the Dutch government for Wilhelms’ surrender had been made necessary by his flight; on 10 November 1918 the – soon former– Kaiser had crossed the Dutch borders.

By early November 1918, things were looking dismal for the Central Powers on all fronts of the Great War. The kaiser was at German army headquarters in the Belgian resort town of Spa when news reached him, in quick succession, of labor unrest in Berlin, a mutiny within the Imperial Navy and what looked like the beginnings of full-fledged revolution in Germany.


From every direction, it seemed, came calls for peace, reform and the removal of the kaiser. Wilhelm II was told that the German General Staff would make a unified, orderly march home to Germany when the war ended, but it would not defend him against his internal opponents.

Faced with this lack of support, the kaiser agreed to abdicate his throne on November 9, 1918. Shortly after that, Wilhelm, the last of the powerful Hohenzollern monarchs, traveled from Spa to the Netherlands , never to return to German soil.

In January 1920, Wilhelm headed the list of so-called war criminals put together by the Allies and made public after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.


In the Versailles Treaty, the Allied Powers stated that the Kaiser should be prosecuted for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties. What did they mean, and where did this formula come from?
The Preliminary Peace Conference decided at its plenary session of 25 January 1919 to create, for the purpose of inquiring into the responsibilities relating to the war, a Commission on the Responsibility of the Authors of the War and on Enforcement of Penalties (hereafter Commission on Responsibility), composed of fifteen members.6 It was charged to inquire into and report upon the following points:

  1. the responsibility of the authors of the war;
  2. the facts as to breaches of the laws and customs of war committed by the forces of the German Empire and their Allies, on land, on sea, and in the air during the present war;
  3. the degree of responsibility for these offences attaching to particular members of the enemy forces, including members of the General Staffs and other individuals, however highly placed;
  4. the constitution and procedure of a tribunal appropriate for the trial of these offences;
  5. any other matters cognate or ancillary to the above which may arise in the course of the enquiry, and which the Commission finds useful and relevant to take into consideration.

The Netherlands,which had remained neutral during WWI, under the young, strong-willed Queen Wilhelmina, refused to extradite him for prosecution and Wilhelm remained in the Netherlands, where he settled in the municipality of Doorn.


Personal tragedy struck when his son, Joachim, committed suicide later in 1920. Augusta, his wife and the mother of his seven children, died barely a year later. In 1922, Wilhelm remarried and published his memoirs, proclaiming his innocence in the promotion of the Great War.

Unlike Wilhelmina and the rest of the Dutch royal family, Wilhelm turned down Winston Churchill’s offer of asylum in Britain in 1940, as Hitler’s armies pushed through Holland, choosing instead to live under German occupation. He died the following year.



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