Sjelomo Hamburger

This is the aspect of the Holocaust I struggle most with. How can anyone look at this child and perceive him to be a threat to the nation. How can they look at his face and decide that he needs to be killed immediately.

Sjelomo Hamburger would have celebrated his 80th birthday today. But he only reached the age of 2.

Sjelomo Hamburger was the son of Samuel Hamburger and Marianne van Straten.

Samuel and Marianne , lived at Fahrenheitstraat 4 in Amersfoort. They were married 25 August 1939 in Amersfoort,the Netherlands, and their son Sjelomo was born there on 22 January 1942.

A few months after the birth of their son , Samuel and Marianne decided to go into hiding with Sjelomo, to escape the persecution by the Nazis.

During a search for prohibited motion pictures, an Amersfoort police officer discovered two-year old Sjelomo Hamburger in an attic room on the Schimmelpenninckstraat in Amersfoort on 8 June 1944.

I am not sure if his parents were with him. But this is where Sjelomo Hamburger had been hiding there since August 1942. He was deported to Auschwitz via Westerbork on September 3, 1944. There were in total 783 people on that transport, 7776 Jewish, 36 resistance fighters, and 17 were classified as citizen. Two were under the age of 12, 2 year old Sjelomo was one of them.

He was murdered in Auschwitz September 6 1944.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/523482/about-sjelomo-hamburger

https://www.geni.com/people/Sjelomo-Hamburger/6000000055655845945

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Sjelomo-Hamburger/48/9187

Happy Birthday Edith Frank

I often think that Edith Frank is a forgotten hero. Stuck with so many people in such a small space, desperately avoiding being discovered. That would be challenging to anyone’s health. But Edith could not afford to lose her sanity not even for a second.

She was born in the German city of Aachen, close to the Dutch border, on 16 January 1900. Aachen is only a 20 minutes journey from Maastricht in the Netherlands

She was the fourth child in a wealthy Jewish family. Her parents ran a family business, trading in scrap metal, machinery and parts, boilers, other appliances, and semi-finished products.

Her father, Abraham Holländer (1860–1928) was a successful businessman in who was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community together with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern (1866–1942). The ancestors of the Holländer family lived in Amsterdam at the start of the 18th century, emigrating from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman”

I wonder how excited Edith’s parents must have been in the dying days of the 19th century. Were they hoping that Edith would be born 16 days early, so that Edith would have been the 1st child born in the 20th century?

Edith had three siblings: Walter, Julius, and Bettina. Edith had a carefree childhood until her older sister Bettina died. The cause of her death is unknown. At only fourteen, Edith was harshly confronted with death. She still managed to get on with her life: she finished high school and worked in the family business for a few years.

In 1924, Edith met Otto Frank and they were married on May 12, 1925 in Aachen’s synagogue. Their first daughter, Margot, was born in 1926 whereas their second daughter, Anne, was born in 1929.

Anne has not much sympathy for her mother during their tumultuous years in the annex, and she only has a few kinds words to say about her, particularly in the earlier entries. Anne feels that her mother is cold, critical, and uncaring, that they have very little in common, and that her mother does not know how to show love to her children. I don’t think that Anne realised the anxiety her mother must have had trying to keep her family safe. Then again what teenage girl gets along with her mother?

However in Anne’s later entries of her diary, she tried attempts to look at her mother’s life as a wife and mother in a more objective manner. As Anne gets older and gains a clearer perspective, she begins to regret her quick, petty judgments of her mother. Anne has more sympathetic feelings for her mother.

According to Otto, Edith suffered more from their arguments than Anne did. ‘Of course, I was worried about my wife and Anne not having a good relationship. However, she truly was an excellent mother, who put her children above all else. She often complained that Anne would oppose everything she did, but she was comforted to know that Anne trusted in me.’

Edith Frank died on 6 January 1945, three weeks before the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and 10 days before her 45th birthday. The cause of death was malnutrition ,basically murdered by starvation.

It gives me comfort to believe that Edith is now celebrating her birthday with her family in heaven. And if the stars sparkle more brightly tonight I will know she had a good birthday. Happy birthday Edith Frank.

sources

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/19185863/edith-frank

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/main-characters/edith-frank/

https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/annefrank/character/edith-frank/

The murder of 10 women in Camp Vught.

Concentration camp Vught, also known as concentration camp Herzogenbusch , was the only purpose built concentration camp in the Netherland. The other 2 major camps, Westerbork and Amersfoort, were already built before the war as a refugee center and army barracks.

The construction of Camp Vught began in May 1942. The camp consisted of 36 living and 23 working barracks. It was surrounded by a double barbed-wire fence with watchtowers were placed roughly every 160 feet around the perimeter. The SS lived outside the camp. situated outside the camp.

On the night of 15th/ 16th January 1944 , 74 female prisoners were detained in a cell after they protested against the interment of a fellow prisoner. This was done under the authority of camp commander Adam Grünewald

The room with the surface of 9 m² had a poor ventilation system, and because of that ten women died of suffocation during the 14 hours of imprisonment. The news of this crime quickly got outside the camp and was extensively reported by the Dutch illegal press. This caused a problem to the Nazi leadership in the Netherlands, who were trying to limit such violent incidents in the camp in order not to fuel the resistance in the Netherlands.

Electronics company Philips had a factory within the compound of the camp. It employed about 1200 people, who received a better treatment then other prisoners.

Adam Grünewald was subsequently arrested for the “bunker tragedy” and tried by an SS court in February which gave him credit for his years of service and his contention that he “didn’t wish for the death of ten women.” He was convicted for their death but sentenced to only three and a half years imprisonment.

On several sites this is referred to as the “bunker tragedy” . I don’t see it as a tragedy, to me this was cold blooded murder. They only redeeming factor is that only 10 women died.

sources

https://www.britannica.com/place/Vught

https://www.tracesofwar.com/articles/5192/Bunker-tragedy-at-concentration-camp-Vught.htm

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/vught-concentration-camp

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/adam-grunewald

http://www.philips-kommando.nl/index_grijs.html#

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/herzogenbusch-main-camp-vught#:~:text=Consequently%2C%2074%20women%20were%20collectively,and%20a%20half%20years’%20imprisonment.

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Who is an immigrant? I am one.

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way. Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background of my family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in Friesland, in the Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century. Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion, Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland. I emigrated because of my wife, who had emigrated from Ireland to the Netherlands 6 years prior.

In 1997 we decided to move to Limerick in Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

(originally posted on January 15, 2019. Reposted with minor amendments January 10,2022)

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Jacob de Mesquita

I look at the picture of Jacob de Mesquita and I ask myself “How was this possible?”

How was it possible that this baby was selected to be send to the gas chambers?

Was there not one person among the Auschwitz staff members who thought that this was wrong?

Was there no one who saw his angelic face and got a warm feeling inside?

I remember a scene in Schindler’s List where one of the SS Guards, rubs the head of a toddler as he is being carried into the Gas chamber. Did someone do that to Jacob and thought “What are we doing?”

Jacob de Mesquita was born on January 9, 1942. He was murdered 9 months later on October 15,1942, the same day as his mother Femmetje de Mesquita-Leijden van Amstel was murdered.

When I look at Femmetje , I think “was there no one who saw her beauty?”

Was there no one who thought that murdering a young woman in her prime was wrong?

Wasn’t there even any one who would consider her for sexual gratification? I know that still would be wrong but it would have been better then being gassed.

I just don’t get it how anyone could consider the destruction of innocence and beauty as the correct course of action.

Femmetje de Mesquita-Leijden van Amstel was 22 when she was murdered.

Isaac de Mesquita was the husband of Femmeke and the Father of Jacob, Isaac was murdered February 28,1943 in Auschwitz.

All 3 were born in Amsterdam , all 3 murdered in Auschwitz.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/188096/jacob-de-mesquita

The treatment of Dutch Jews after liberation.

I came across this document which made me glad on one hand, but on the other hand it was also disturbing.

But before I go into the details I have to give some background information first. The south of the Netherlands was mostly liberated by October 1944. At that time the Netherlands was made up of 11 provinces(a few decades ago a 12 province was added)

The most southern province is Limburg with the capital Maastricht. In October 1944 the province was governed by the military commissioner.

He received the letter on October 16,1944. It was send to him 3 days earlier.

The letter mentions a bombing which took place on October 5,1942. This was a so called friendly fire bombing by the RAF. It killed 83 in my home town Geleen, and it left thousands homeless. The RAF thought it was Aachen in Germany.

I hadn’t realised that some of the bombs also were dropped on the neighbouring town of Beek.

The letter says that after this bombing, some homeless families in Beek were housed in the homes of Jewish families who had gone in hiding. But now after liberation the Jewish families claimed back their property, understandably so stated the mayor of Beek.

However he said there was one complicated case. A local butcher had his house and shop destroyed by the October 1942 bombing. He was assigned the house and the butcher shop of a Jewish butcher, who had left(turns out he was also in hiding). This arrangement was ordered by the NSB(Dutch Nazi party) mayor of Beek at the time.

But now the Jewish butcher had returned, after liberation, and he wanted his shop and his house back. The mayor asked the military commissioner for advice on what to do in this situation.

What made me glad in this story is that some of these Jewish people had survived the war. What disturbed me was the fact that advise was asked. To me it should have been a clear cut case of just giving back the property to the rightful owner , there should not be a question about it.

This is something what a lot of Dutch Jews experienced after the war, Their property would be occupied by others and more often then not, their houses or apartments would not be returned to them.

source

https://www.rhcl.nl/nl/info/nieuws-map/update-inventarisatieproject-archief-militair-gezag

https://jck.nl/nl/page/beek

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Three People of the Holocaust.

There were three groups of people in the Holocaust. The criminals who tortured and murdered. The victims who were murdered and those who survived were scarred for life, mentally and physically. The helpers, the people who helped the Jews and others to escape and survive. .

These are just examples of each group.

The criminal

Hildegard Lachert was known to the prisoners as “Bloody Brigitte”; as she would always strike them repeatedly until blood was showing. She was a female guard, or Aufseherin, at several concentration camps.She became publicly known for her crimes at Ravensbrück, Majdanek and Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, she was sentenced to a total of 27 years in prison for her brutal treatment of inmates during her camp service, but she only served 10.

In November 1947, she appeared in a Kraków, Poland courtroom, along with 40 other SS guards in the Auschwitz trial. Because of her war crimes at Auschwitz and Płaszów, the former guard and mother of two surviving children was given a sentence of 15 years in prison. Lächert was released in 1956 from a prison in Kraków. In 1975, the German government decided to put her and other SS guards from the Majdanek concentration camp, on trial again.

The testimonies heard in relation to Lächert’s sadistic behaviour were extensive and detailed. One former prisoner, Henryka Ostrowska, testified, “We always said blutige about the fact that she struck until blood showed,” giving her the nickname “Bloody Brigitte” (Krwawa Brygida in Polish). Many other witnesses characterized her as the “worst” or “the most cruel” Aufseherin, as “Beast”, and as “Fright of the Prisoners.” For her part in selections to the gas chamber, releasing her dog onto inmates and her overall abuse, the court sentenced her to 12 years’ imprisonment. But due to time served in custody and her time in Krakow, she was released.

The Victim

Frank Emanuel Polak was born on December 19.1941, in Amsterdam He would have been 80 today. But he was murdered age 2. In February 1944 he was deported to Auschwitz and murdered in a gas chamber after the selection. It looks like his parents and siblings survived.

His smiley face will haunt me for a long time.

The Helper

Carlos Sampaio Garrido was a Portuguese diplomat credited with saving the lives of approximately 1,000 Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary while serving as Portugal’s ambassador in Budapest between July and December 1944.

In 2010 he became the second Portuguese to be recognised as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem.

“Ambassador of Portugal in Budapest, from October 1939 to June 1944. When Hungary was conquered by Germany in March 1944, the neutral countries did not recognize the new government. Responding to the request of the Allies, the dictator of Portugal, António de Oliveira Salazar, reduced the level of diplomatic representation in Hungary, and Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido was called back to Portugal. Until his departure from the city in June, Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido dedicated his efforts to helping Jews. The presence of the SS in Budapest in those days accelerated the persecutions of all residents, without excepting diplomatic representations. Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido granted asylum in his home to a dozen persecuted, mostly Jews, without notifying his ministry. On April 28 at 5 in the morning, his residence was raided by agents of the political police of the Hungarian fascist regime and his protégés were taken to the central prison in Budapest. Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido resisted the arrest of his guests and presented an official protest to the government, demanding his release, the investigation of those guilty of the affront and an official apology for the violation of the extraterritoriality of the Portuguese embassy. With this attitude, he achieved the liberation of those people but was declared Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido resisted the arrest of his guests and presented an official protest to the government, demanding his release, the investigation of those guilty of the affront and an official apology for the violation of the extraterritoriality of the Portuguese embassy. With this attitude, he achieved the liberation of those people but was declared Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido resisted the arrest of his guests and presented an official protest to the government, demanding his release, the investigation of those guilty of the affront and an official apology for the violation of the extraterritoriality of the Portuguese embassy. With this attitude, he achieved the liberation of those people but was declared persona non grata in Hungary. Faced with this situation, he had to inform the Foreign Ministry about the diplomatic projections of his performance: the ministry had already warned him, on May 11, about the “irregularity” of it. Carlos de Almeida Afonseca de Sampaio Garrido moved to Switzerland on June 5, from where he continued to send instructions to his successor in charge of the embassy, ​​Alberto Branquinho, to continue helping persecuted Jews.”

sources

https://www.yadvashem.org/es/holocaust/encyclopedia/sampaio-garrido-carlos-de-almeida-afonseca-de.html

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/174871/frank-emanuel-polak

https://www.stewartandel.co.uk/hildegard-laechert

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hildegard_L%C3%A4chert

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Happy Birthday Simon Herman van den Bergh

Simon Herman van den Bergh would have been 80 today.

He would have reached 960 months today.

He would have reached 29,200 days today, plus an additional 20 days if you include leap years.

But Simon Herman van den Bergh didn’t even reach 2 years. He didn’t even reach 19 months.

He was born on December 14,1941 in Amsterdam and he was murdered on July 2,1943 in Sobibor.

On December 19.1941 his proud parents announced his arrival in “Het Joodsche Weekblad” the Jewish weekly. With the words “With gladness we would like to announce the birth of our Son .Simon Herman” It also gives the Dutch date of birth 14 December 1941 as well as the Jewish date 24 Kislew 5702.

His parents knew the uncertainty of their and his future. But could they have envisaged that their baby boy would have been considered a threat to the security of the Nazi regime? Maybe, they did. But poor little Simon wasn’t a threat to anyone, nor were any of the 1.5 million children murdered by the Nazis.

Happy Birthday Dear Simon. Tonight I will look up at the stars and will say a prayer for you, that is the only present I can give you.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/224924/simon-herman-van-den-bergh

Van der Klein

My last name is a bit of a mystery. A distant cousin started a family tree several years ago and at some stage he got stuck, because our family name seems to have appeared out of nowhere. He could trace it back to somewhere in the late 19th century. There are plenty of Klein’s but ‘de Klein’ appears to be rare.

This made me wonder if perhaps my name is really ‘Klein’ and that it was changed throughout the decades to de Klein. It also made me wonder that maybe my origins are Jewish, Klein being a predominantly Jewish name.

I decided to see if I could find a mention of the name “de Klein” in the Dutch Jewish database ‘Joods Monument’. There was no reference of my family name. However there were 18 pages referring to the name Klein.

I also came across the name ‘van der Klein’ the only other name with a prefix before Klein.

It also broke my heart to find out that, that whole family was murdered in 1942.

The father Levie van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 19 October 1942,aged 75. His wife had already passed away in 1934.

Son , Elkan van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 13 November 1942.

Son, Isaac van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 September 1942.

Son, Morrits van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 September 1942.

Son, Jacob van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 September 1942

Daughter , Mietje van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 September 1942.

Daughter , Saartje Mug- van der Klein was murdered in Auschwitz on 30 September 1942.

What is even more tragic is that the father Levie had to find out that 5 of his 6 children were murdered in the same camp he was in. His oldest son was murdered a few weeks later.

So many families were wiped out and it is scary to know that it easily could have been all of my family too.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/222224/levie-van-der-klein

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas during WWII

December 5 is the day in the Netherlands when Sinterklaas is celebrated. It is when he kids get their presents or if they were bad a bit of coal. Sinterklaas is based on Saint Nicholas, legend has it that good old Saint Nick died on December 6. However, I can not verify that because contrary to popular believe I am not that old.

Despite the war, the Dutch still celebrated Sinterklaas albeit in a slightly different configuration. Following are just some impression oF Sinterklaas during WW2

Despite it being a Christian celebration, it really did transcend religion, Most Dutch Jews would also celebrate Sinterklaas, like this Jewish class.

This one I found disturbing. In this picture you see Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Nazi appointed Reich commissioner for the Netherlands, shaking hands with Sinterklaas and the ‘holy’ man appeared to enjoy his company. Arthur Seyss-Inquart also shared responsibility for the deportation of Dutch Jews and the shooting of hostages.

Here he is visiting the trainings camp of the Royal Netherlands Flying School in the USA. This picture is from December 1942.

source

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/webexposition/detail/6a280ae7-0b9e-4b2c-91e9-7273a43b0ecf