Robbed of Their Humanity.

Like in Germany itself, the Holocaust in the Netherlands didn’t happen overnight it was a gradual process.

Less than two months after the Nazi invasion of the Nethera]lands, Jewish employees of the Dutch Air Raid Defence Service were dismissed. It was the first in a long line of anti-Jewish measures. Jews were gradually isolated from the rest of the population in the Netherlands.

The Nazis went about this very systematically. Jews had to register and their identity cards were stamped with a J for Jood(Jew). Jewish business owners were required to report and assigned a Verwalter, an Aryan supervisor who would take the of over running their business. Measures to restrict freedom of movement followed in 1941: Jews were banned from public places such as parks, swimming pools, sports facilities and museums. Jewish children were forced to attend Jewish schools and even needed permission to travel. More and more signboards appeared on the street with the text Voor Joden verboden (Forbidden for Jews).

Starting in May 1942 Jews were required to wear a yellow star.

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. 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. 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. Yes you are reading that correctly, they had to pay for it

The deportations from the Netherlands began two months later under the guise of ‘employment’: instead Jews were sent to extermination camps where they were killed.

In October 1939 the first German and Austrian -Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and Austria arrived in Westerbork. They were involved in the internal organization of the refugee camp starting in 1940, as well as later on when it officially became a transit camp for Jews: Polizeiliches Judendurchgangslager Westerbork.

The general supervision of the camp was in the hands of the SS and early on they were also responsible for the security in the vicinity of the camp. Daily life inside the camp was overseen by different Jewish work groups, including the Ordedienst (Lit. Order Service). The members of this group, who wore these green coveralls, were responsible for fire safety and internal security. They supervised the labour gangs, both inside and outside the camp. They also guarded the people scheduled for transport to the concentration and extermination camps. At times the Jewish Order Service was also deployed for razzias (roundups) in Amsterdam, to retrieve the sick from their homes and for instance to empty the Jewish psychiatric hospital the Apeldoornsche Bosch in 1943. Needless to say, members of the Orderdienst were not particularly popular among Westerbork’s prisoners and often referred to as the ‘Jewish-SS’. Eventually, most of the members of the Jewish Order Service were transported as well, to the extermination camps.

sources

https://kampwesterbork.nl/en/

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

75 years ago today Anne Frank’s diary was published. It became one of the biggest selling books of all times.

These are just some of the entries of her diary.

October 9th 1942: “Today I have nothing but dismal and depressing news to report. Our many Jewish friends and acquaintances are being taken away in droves. The Gestapo is treating them very roughly and transporting them in cattle cars to Westerbork, the big camp in Drenthe to which they’re sending all the Jews. Miep told us about someone who’d managed to escape from there. It must be terrible in Westerbork. The people get almost nothing to eat, much less to drink, as water is available only one hour a day, and there’s only one toilet and sink for several thousand people. Men and women sleep in the same room, and women and children often have their heads shaved. Escape is almost impossible; many people look Jewish, and they’re branded by their shorn heads. If it’s that bad in Holland, what must it be like in those faraway and uncivilised places where the Germans are sending them? We assume that most of them are being murdered. The English radio says they’re being gassed. Perhaps that’s the quickest way to die. I feel terrible. Miep’s accounts of these horrors are so heartrending… Fine specimens of humanity, those Germans, and to think I’m actually one of them! No, that’s not true, Hitler took away our nationality long ago. And besides, there are no greater enemies on earth than the Germans and Jews.”

October 20th 1942: “My hands still shaking, though it’s been two hours since we had the scare… The office staff stupidly forgot to warn us that the carpenter, or whatever he’s called, was coming to fill the extinguishers… After working for about fifteen minutes, he laid his hammer and some other tools on our bookcase (or so we thought!) and banged on our door. We turned white with fear. Had he heard something after all and did he now want to check out this mysterious looking bookcase? It seemed so, since he kept knocking, pulling, pushing and jerking on it. I was so scared I nearly fainted at the thought of this total stranger managing to discover our wonderful hiding place…”

March 29th 1944: “Mr Bolkestein, the Cabinet Minister, speaking on the Dutch broadcast from London, said that after the war a collection would be made of diaries and letters dealing with the war. Of course, everyone pounced on my diary.”

July 15th 1944: “It’s utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too will end, that peace and tranquillity will return once more. In the meantime, I must hold on to my ideals. Perhaps the day will come when I’ll be able to realise them.”

sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/diary/complete-works-anne-frank/

Josephine Cohen just a girl from Geleen.

For anyone who is not from Geleen or the province of Limburg ,in the south East of the Netherlands, the name Geleen will mean very little. Yo may have visited the town perhaps while it was still hosting the annual Rock festival of PinkPop. Maybe you even visited the former mining town during one of the street theater festivals. But to me it is the place where I was born, it is where my roots are.

Josephine Cohen was also born in Geleen, albeit 38 years before my birth.

Her father was Simon, a shop owner. The shop was situated on Mauritslaan 110, in Geleen. A address I would have passed by many times a week because it was near my school.

There were 6 in the Cohen family.The Father Simon, the Mother Esthella Carolina Cohen-ten Brink. Daughters Josephine, age 12, Henny age 16.Frieda age 17 and 1 son Gerrit. Gerrit is the only one who survived the war. He died on September 22, 1998, age 76.

Josephine was the youngest, she was born on July 9.1930.

Simon Cohen’s clothing warehouse was closed with effect from 1 November 1941. The reason for this is uncertain, but it is plausible that Simon refused to accept an ‘Aryan administrator’ imposed by the occupying forces. In August 1942 the Cohen family was called up to report for the ‘Arbeitseinsatz’. The call was for men between the ages of 16 and 65, including their wives and children. As in many families, this led to heated discussions in the Cohen family. Son Gerrit, whose friends urged him to go into hiding, argued strongly in favor of this, but at the express wish of his law-abiding father, he waited with the whole family on 25 August 1942 for the arrival of the police. When the dreaded knock was finally heard at the door, Gerrit fled after all. He reached the flat roof and the attic of the neighbors through a skylight. Then he went into hiding. Rumors of Gerrit’s suicide may have been deliberate so that the police wouldn’t look for him.

The other family members, along with many other Jews, were taken by bus from the Markt in Geleen to Maastricht that afternoon and arrived in Westerbork on August 26, from where they were deported to Auschwitz on August 28. Simon and Esthella and their daughters Frieda and Josephine were gassed there on arrival on August 30 or 31, 1942. Sixteen-year-old daughter Henny was selected for forced labor, but she died less than a month later, on September 26, 1942, according to the death certificate of influenza.Gerrit was the only survivor of the Cohen family. He is said to have hid in the vicinity of Stein-Meers. Gerrit Cohen married in 1947 and continued to live in Geleen for the rest of his life.

Josephine was only 12 when she was murdered.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/485066/simon-cohen-and-his-family

Jacques Swaluw-murdered aged 10 months.

The title is about Jacques Swaluw but it really is about just more then Jacques.

Jacques was born in Rotterdam on the 19th of June 1942.

Esther Swaluw was a daughter of Isaäc Swaluw and Maria Melkman. 2 December 1913 she married Izak van Been in Rotterdam, a son of Abraham van Been and Sientje Bacharach. Esther and Izak however divorced, which was registered in the Civil Registry of Rotterdam 13 June 1936. Together, they had a son Abraham who after the divorce grew up in the family of Izak van Been and his 2nd wife Hanna Boeki.

After her divorce, Esther had three more children: 16 June 1936 her daughter Maria was born. Her possible father was Izak van Been, however no name of a father was registered. But she was “a Jewish child” according a note at the registration card of her mother, made out by the Jewish Council of Rotterdam.

Esther had a relationship with the non-Jewish Jan Houtkamp in Rotterdam, from whom she had a son who was born 17 September 1940 and his name was John Houtkamp. According the registration card of Esther Swaluw, Jan Houtkamp acknowledged John as his at 2 December 1940, being the father of this child. Whether there was a formal marriage or not, could not be researched.

19 June 1942 Esther had another child, named Jacques. He received the family name of Swaluw so it is not clear who Jacques father was. At Esther’s registration per 1 October 1941 by the Jewish Council, her civil status was listed as “divorced”. Also a note made in April 1943 by the Jewish Council reveals that the 3rd child (Jacques) has not been acknowledged by Jan Houtman.

One of the many notes made at Esthers registration card of the Jewish Council is an attempt of 2 April 1943 by Esther Swaluw, to safeguard her children from deportation, where Esther has mentioned that her children Jacques and John were non-Jewish, while Maria Swaluw was Jewish. The note of 9 April 1943 is perhaps the most prominent, whereby “the person concerned (Esther Swaluw) 8 April has made a request that her children Jacques and John are G 1”. (G 1 – Mischiling Ersten Grades / half breed first degree). However, all attempts were in vain.

Her daughter Maria Swaluw was deported to Camp Westerbork already on 26 February 1943 and stayed in barack 84. Her mother Esther Swaluw and her children John Houtkamp and Jacques Swaluw were registered together in Westerbork 31 March 1943 and they stayed in barack 70. 4 May 1943 they were all put on transport to Sobibor and upon arrival there 7 May 1943 immediately killed.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/124551/jacques-swaluw

The destruction of innocence and beauty.

The girl in the play penis Renee Sara Gottschalk, born in the Central Refugee Camp Westerbork on 21 June 1941. The two girls in the dark dresses are the daughters of chief physician F. Spanier. The lady on the right is Rosa Strauss; Renee Sara’s mother. Her father is
Erich Gottschalk. Renee and her mother Rosa were killed in Auschwitz on 6 October 1944. Father Erich survived the war.

Rosa Strauss was born on February 24, 1911 in Bochum. Her parents were Emil Strauss and Johanna Strauss-Mendels. Her father was a cattle dealer and butcher. On February 5, 1937, Rosa married Erich Gottschalk, 5 years her senior in Bochum.

Shortly after the wedding, Rosa’s family fled to England via the Netherlands. From there they fled to South Africa. Rosa and Erich did not want to be chased out of Germany.

Erich was trained as a textile merchant, but under pressure from the Nazi measures, he was forced to work in his parents’ company, a wholesaler of advertising materials. The place was completely destroyed during the Kristallnacht. The next day he was arrested and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Rosa was left alone. Because Rosa could prove that they had plans to emigrate, Erich was released on December 11, 1938.

Rosa and her husband fled to the Netherlands, where they ended up in a relief camp in Hoek van Holland. They planned to flee further, but were overtaken by the German invasion in May 1940. Rosa and Erich were taken to the Westerbork refugee camp. Their daughter Renée was born there on June 21, 1941. Because they were already in the camp during the refugee period, they were not put on transport for the time being.

They were ‘Alte Lagerinsassen’ but on September 4, 1944, Rosa, Erich and Renée Gottschalk were sent to Theresienstadt on transport. They only stayed there for a month. A month later, the family was sent to Auschwitz from Theresienstadt. Rosa and Renée were murdered here immediately after arrival, on October 6, 1944. Erich was chosen to work.

He survived the outside command Tschechowitz. Just before the liberation, he was sent on the death march ahead of the advancing Russian army. Erich Gottschalk was weak and collapsed, but was helped by Polish peasants. On 6 June 1945 he returned to Amsterdam as the only survivor of his family. His beautiful wife was murdered age 33. His beautiful and innocent daughter was murdered age 3.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/591473/rosa-gottschalk-strauss

The murder of Samuel Juda Vredenburg

It is an old Dutch tradition that you send a little card to friends and neighbours, to announce the birth of a baby. As did Izak Vredenburg and Ganna Vredenburg-Hirsch. They must have been delighted to announce the birth of their baby boy Samuel Juda Vredenburg. He was born in Amsterdam, on 24 July 1942.

Poor little Samuel didn’t even get to celebrate his first birthday. He was murdered on June 14,1943 in Westerbork. He would not even be 80 yet today.

Although Westerbork was a transit camp,which meant that most would only stay a short term before transported to other camps, predominatly Auschwitz and Sobibor. There were still at least 772 people who died or rather were murdered in Westerbork.

None of Samuel’s family survived.

Raphael Salomon Vredenburg, born in Amsterdam, 11 June 1941.Murdered in Sobibor, on23 July 1943.Reached the age of 2.

Jacob Menachem Vredenburg, born in Amsterdam, 20 July 1939.Murdered in Sobibor, on 23 July 1943.Reached the age of 4

Simon Azaria Vredenburg, born in Amsterdam, 14 April 1938.Murdered in Sobibor, on 23 July 1943.Reached the age of 5

Judith Julie Vredenburg, born in Amsterdam, 17 July 1936.Murdered in Sobibor, on 23 July 1943.Reached the age of 7.

Both parents, Izak Vredenburg and Ganna Vredenburg-Hirsch, were also murdered in Sobibor on 23 July 1943.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/183523/izak-vredenburg

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Samuel-Juda-Vredenburg/02/163505

Anne Frank’s age group.

Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. She was born June 12,1929. We all know her story through her diary, therefor I will not really go into Anne’s story but I will look at some other children who were also born on June 12,1929 and who were also murdered during the Holocaust.

Levy Spanjer, born in Amsterdam, 12 June 1929 .Murdered in Auschwitz, 12 February 1943. Reached the age of 13 years.

Philip Trijtel, born in Rotterdam, 12 June 1929 . Murdered in Sobibor, 20 March 1943.Reached the age of 13 years. Unlike Levy, there is no picture or Philip, but there is a bit more data. Philip was transported from Westerbork to Sobibor on March 17,1943. Where he was murdered 3 days later.

Sara Kloos, born in Amsterdam, 12 June 1929. Murdered in Auschwitz, 11 December 1942.Reached the age of 13 years. Although there is only a registration card as a record of Sara. That card tells us that she arrived in Westerbork on November 26,1942 and that she was deported to Auschwitz on December 8,1942, where she was murdered 3 days later.

Salomon Seijffers, born in Gouda. 12 June 1929. Murdered in Sobibor on 28 May,1943.Reached the age of 13. A year before he was murdered he did his Bar Mitswa, on May 30,1942, although it says Bar Mitswo in the newspaper announcement.

Before being transported to Westerbork, May 24-1943, he was imprisoned in Camp Vught. On May 25,1942 he was deported to Sobibor where he was murdered 3 days later.

A stumbling block, stolper stein has been placed for Salomon Seijffers in front of Lage Gouwe 84 in Gouda, the Netherlands.

Sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Philip-Trijtel/01/73026

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Sara-Kloos/01/15282

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Salomon-Seijffers/01/20171

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The 11 June 1941 raid in Amsterdam.

Adolph Gerson

On June 11, 1941, a second raid took place in Amsterdam as a result of the attacks on buildings occupied by the German Wehrmacht. Jewish cafes and sports clubs were ransacked. 310 young Jewish men were arrested by the Amsterdam police and Ordnungspolizei. Some came from the Jewish working village of Wieringermeer. They were taken to the SD building on Euterpestraat and then to Camp Schoorl. Some were released for health reasons. The rest of the men were sent to Camp Mauthausen on June 26, 1941. The raid was revenge for a bomb attack by the resistance on May 14, 1941 and an attack on the Luftwaffe telephone exchange on June 3, 1941. None of the Jewish men returned from Camp Mauthausen.

One of those men was Adolph Gerson Frohmann(pictured above). He was murdered in Mauthausen on January 16,1942.

The Nazis arrested 310 young Jewish men. Otto Frank was not arrested, but friends and neighbours from the Merwedeplein area, where he had been living for eight years, were. The raid happened a day before Anne Frank’s 12th birthday.

As a precaution, Otto Frank and other men from the square frequently spent the night at the homes of non-Jewish friends or colleagues. In all likelihood, these events prompted Otto Frank to start thinking about a proper hiding place. After attempts to emigrate to the US had failed, he started working on plans to take his family into hiding in the Secret Annex in earnest in the spring of 1942..

There was a stark contrast compared to the raids that had taken place in Amsterdam in February 1941. At that time, the population of Amsterdam and other cities across the Netherlands, had gone on a massive gneral strike in protest against the persecution of the Jews, but in June 1941, the city stayed silent. The Nazis had violently suppressed the February strike, instilling fear in the population. The Amsterdam resistance newspaper Het Parool and other illegal newspapers expressed their abhorrence of the raids of 11 June. They called on people to not cooperate with the Germans and to sabotage them whenever they could. For the larger part, though, the Amsterdam population largely ignored this call.

Sources

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/second-raid-amsterdam/

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/226518/adolph-gerson-frohmann

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/bronnen?term=11+juni+1941

Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and Dutch WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum was born on November 20,1910 in Hattem,the Netherlands.

Willem moved to Ireland in the late 1920s, Where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal. He went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The outbreak of World War II happened while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. He was eto join the fight against Hitler and Fascism,.

He joined the Canadian Air Corps in June 1941 (according to his sister, he was asked to join the Manhattan project, but chose this instead). Taught mathematics to pilots. Then became a bomber pilot himself. Moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and joined no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, he was the only Dutch officer to do so.

He flew a Halifax Mk-III, MZ684, ZA-‘B’ bomber. Completed 6 missions before being shot down by German A.A. fire near Entrammes in France on the night of 9/10 June 1944. All seven crew were killed and are buried at the Cimetière Vaufleury at Laval, Dept. Mayenne, France.

He wrote this article on his reasons for becoming a bomber pilot

“I didn’t join the war to improve the Universe; in fact, I am sick and tired of the eternal sermons on the better world we are going to build when this war is over. I hate the disloyalty to the past twenty years. Apparently people think that life in those twenty years, which cover most of my conscious existence, was so terrible that no-one can be expected to fight for it. We must attempt to dazzle people with some brilliant schemes leading, probably, to some horrible Utopia, before we can ask them to fight.

I detest that point of view. I hate the idea of people throwing their lives away for slum-clearance projects or forty-hour weeks or security and exchange commissions. It is a grotesque and horrible thought. There are so many better ways of achieving this than diving into enemy guns. Lives are precious things and are of a different order and entail a different scale of values than social systems, political theories, or art.

“Why are we not given a cause?” some people ask. I do not understand this question. It seems so plain to me. There are millions and millions of people who are shot, persecuted and tortured daily in Europe. The assault on so many of our fellow human beings makes some of us tingle with anger and gives us an urge to do something about it. That, and that alone, makes some of us feel strongly about the war. All the rest is vapid rationalization. All this talk about philosophy, the degeneration of art and literature, the poisoning of Nazi youth, which the Nazi system entails, and which we all rightly condemn, is still not the reason why we fight and why we are willing to risk our lives.

Here, let us say, is a soldier. He asks himself, “Why should I die?” You would tell him: “To preserve our civilization.” When the soldier replies: “To Hell with your civilization; I never thought it so hot,” you take him up wrongly when you sit down and say to yourself: “Well, after all, maybe it wasn’t so hot,” and then brightly tap him on the shoulder and say: “Well, I’ve thought of a better idea. I know this civilization wasn’t so hot, but you go and die anyway and we’ll fix up a really good one after the war.” I say you take him up wrong because his remark: “To Hell with your civilization” doesn’t really mean that he is not seriously concerned about our civilization. He is simply revolted by the idea of dying for ANY civilization. Civilization simply isn’t the kind of thing you ever want to die for. It is something to enjoy and something to help build up because it’s fun, and that is that, and that is all.

When a man jumps into the fire to save his wife he doesn’t justify himself by saying that his wife was so civilized that it was worth the risk! There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I’d pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me.

During the first two years of the war when I was an instructor at an American University in close contact with American youth and in close contact with the vital isolationist question in the States, I often felt that there was much insincerity, conscious or unconscious, on our, the Interventionist, side of the argument. We had strong views on the danger of isolationism for the United States. We thought, rightly, that for the sake of self-interest and self-preservation the United States should take every step to ensure the defeat of the Nazi criminals. But however sound our arguments, our own motives and intensity of feeling did not spring from those arguments but from an intense passion for common righteousness and decency.

Suppose it could have been proved to us at that time that the participation of the United States in the stamping out of organized murder, rape and torture in Europe could only take place at great cost to the United States, while not doing so would in no way impair her security. Would we not still have prayed that our country might do something? And would we not have been proud to see her do something?

There is an appalling timidity and false shame among intellectuals. The common man in the last war went to fight quite simply as a crusader. I am not talking about politics now, I am not either asserting or denying that England declared war from purely generous and noble considerations, but I am asserting that the common man went and fought with the rape of Belgium foremost in his mind and saw himself as an avenger of wrong.

After the war the common man went quietly back to his home. The intellectuals, however, upon coming back, ashamed of their one lapse of finding themselves in agreement with every Tom, Dick and Harry, must turn around and deride the things they were ready to give their lives for. As they were the only vocal group, the opinion became firmly established that the last war was a grave mistake and that anyone who got killed in it was a sucker.

And now, in this war, these intellectuals are hoist with their own petard. They lack the nerve and honesty to represent the American doughboy to himself for what he is. They do not give him the one picture in his mind which would stimulate his imagination and which would make him see beyond the fatigues, the mud, the boredom and the fear. The picture is there for anyone to paint who has a gift for words. It is a simple picture and a true picture and no one who has ever sat as a small child and listened with awe to a fairy story can fail to understand. The intellectuals, however, have made fun of the picture and so they won’t use It.

But some day an American doughboy in an American tank will come lurching into some small Polish, Czech or French village and it may fall to his lot to shoot the torturers and open the gates of the village jail. And then he will understand.

There is a lot of talk among our intellectuals about our youth. Our youth is supposed to want a change, a new order, a revolution or what not. But it is my conviction that that is emphatically NOT what our youth wants. Have you ever been in a picture house on a Saturday afternoon, when it is filled with children and some old Western movie is ending in a race of time between the hero and the villain? Have you seen the rapt attention, the glowing faces, the clenched fists? What our young men really want is to be able to give that same concentrated attention and emotional participation, this time to reality, and this time as heroes and not as spectators, that they were able to give to unsubstantial shadows, before long words and cliches had killed their imaginations. Killed them so dead that they can no longer see even reality itself imaginatively.

It is up to the intellectuals to rekindle the thing they have tried to destroy. It is as simple as St. George and the Dragon. Why not have the courage to point out that St. George fought the dragon because he wanted to liberate a captive and not because he wanted to lead a better life afterwards? Some day, sometime, my picture of an American doughboy in a Polish village will become true. Wouldn’t it be better for him then to have the cross of St. George on his banner than a long rigmarole about a better world?

As long as our intellectuals and leaders do not have the courage to risk being thought sentimental and out-of-date and are not willing to stress that nations as well as individuals are entitled to their acts of heroism and chivalry, they will never be able to give our youth what it needs.

It is true that every fairy story ends with the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” How irritating a child would be, though, if it interrupted its mother at every sentence to ask: “But, Mummy, will they live happily ever afterwards?” It simply isn’t the point of the fairy story and it isn’t the point of this war.

Presumably we won’t live happily ever after this war. But just as a fairy story helps to increase a child’s awareness and wonder at the world, so this war may make us more aware of one another. Perhaps we shall learn, and perhaps some things will be better organized. I hope so. I believe so. But only if we engage in this war with our hearts as well as our minds.

For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

Below is a translation of the last letter he wrote to his mother, and actually the last words he ever wrote.

Willem to Olga van Stockum, 7 June 1944
[Translated by Engelien de Booij; this was shortly before Willem took off on his last flight from his Yorkshire RAF station, bombing a bridge over the river next to Laval, France.]

“Dear Mother, I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the invasion. Officially we did not know it would start on June 5th, but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while in flight, made us fairly sure that this was The Day. We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not a very big opposition. … I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the strain is great and we had not a moment’s rest in the past days. Our kind of job needs hours of preparation, the operation itself takes 6 hours and after that debriefings, etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations. Of course, we did not know beforehand it would be rather easy, and the nervous strain makes your breathing faster. Soon it will be worse, when the Germans get more information. But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals10 is, for then I would be now between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this. My crew is perfect, calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is…. but perhaps they think the same thing of me. I have the feeling there is an enormous energy in everybody and even the B.B. (body building programs) are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes out to see us off when we take off, with their thumbs up and this is a pleasant feeling. I know how you and Hilda enter into my feeling now, and this is an invigorating feeling. [Note from Engelien – I cannot find the rest of this letter, unless the following fragment is the continuation, but this seems not very probable.] My roommate [at the air station in the UK – Yorkshire?] is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English [or Dutch], and with whom I spend much of my time, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell, more interesting than the most terrible spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago here after having been in the Belgian underground movement. Did I write you that I saw in London Aunt Mia [Tante Mies?] quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me that you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it. Very, very much love from your son Willem”

sources.

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/1910WJvS.html

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/WJvSletters.html

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/148527/willem-jacob-van-stockum

http://aircrewremembered.com/1944-06-10-loss-of-prof-willem-van-stockum.html

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Holocaust in the Netherlands.

During World War II, Jewish citizens in the Netherlands were isolated and subjected to discrimination and persecution by the National Socialists and their associates. Most of them did not survive the war. More than 102,000 Jews from the Netherlands were deported and murdered during the Holocaust.

One of the most compelling pieces of evidence to have survived from this period are photographs of the victims.

By the summer of 1943 most of the Jews in the Netherlands had been deported. By the time the last transport left in September 1944 a total of 107,000 Jews had been deported to the extermination camps. Only 5,000 of them returned after the war. More than 75% of Dutch Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. This was the highest amount, per capita, in all of the occupied countries.

The large number and percentage of Jewish victims in the Netherlands compared with for example, Belgium and France, can be explained in the first place by the fact that in the Netherlands, the German run police had sole authority over the organization and execution of the deportations, independently of the occupying regime and the local authorities. This applied to a lesser extent in Belgium and not at all for France. The Dutch civil service also kept immaculate records of all citizens.

However in recent years there has been a greater awareness of the mistakes made during the war and the inaction of many civil servants. Compared to some eastern European countries, the Dutch government is at least trying to own up to its mistakes rather then trying to revise history.

The picture at the top of the blog is of Nehemia Levy Cohen. Born in Amsterdam on 20 December, 1940. Deported to Westerbork on January 25.1943.Transported to Sobibor on 4 May 1943. where he was murdered 3 days later on May 7,1943, aged 2.

Following are just some pictures of a few of the 107,000 Jews who were sent to the concentration camps. Most of them never returned.

They were just ordinary citizens who never harmed anyone.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/191815/nehemia-levy-cohen

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/bronnen?term=Nehemia+Cohen+

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/netherlands-greatest-number-jewish-victims-western-europe/

https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/stories/netherlands-historical-background.html

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