Christmas in Westerbork

History of Sorts

At first glance when you look at the picture it doesn’t appear to be extraordinary. There is an officer clearly given a speech. There are a few Christmas trees at the back so it appears to be some sort of Christmas do.

The officer is Albert Konrad Gemmeker he was a German SS-Obersturmführer and camp commandant of the Westerbork transit camp.

He was considered the friendly face of Nazi evil. Known as a decent commander, who insisted that he never knew what happened to the Jews in camps such as Auschwitz. Yet during his reign at the Dutch camp, around 80,000 Jewish people were deported to Auschwitz.

On December 19,1942 Gemmeker threw a Christmas party, or rather a Julfest(Yule feast).

The venue for his party was Westerbork. According to some survivors, a line of shiny new cars had pulled up to the camp, with a number of high ranking SS…

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Die Hard, Christmas movie? “Yippee-Ki-yay” or “Yippee-Ki-nay?”

History of Sorts

Die Hard, Christmas movie? “Yippee-Ki-yay or “Yippee-Ki-nay?

Every year around Christmas time there is the question “Is Die Hard a Christmas movie?”
Personally, for me, it is not Christmas until I see Hans Gruber fall of the Nakatomi building.

However, I appreciate that, that will not get everyone in a festive mood. So, let us look at what constitutes a Christmas movie?
According to sites like the Hollywood reporter and cheatsheet.com a Christmas movie must
• Be set around Christmas
• Have a Christmas setting, things like decorations, tree etc.
• Christmas music and carols
• Festivities
• A topless woman, oh no wait that is a different list, I should have checked that twice.
Die Hard fulfils all those criteria (including the topless woman).
To compare with a classic Christmas movie like White Christmas?
Die Hard takes place entirely in the Christmas holidays, while only the first and final…

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Frank Zappa and the Mothers were at the best place around.

There you are minding your own business, enjoying a concert by a legendary rock band, Then suddenly some stupid with a flare gun burns the place to the ground. “Wait a minute” I can hear you all think “This and the title sounds very much like a song” and you would be right.

Deep Purple wrote a song inspired by an event which took place on December 4,1971 in Montreux, Switzerland. On December 4, 1971, Montreux Casino burned down during a concert by The Mothers of Invention after a fan had set the venue on fire with a flare gun. A recording of the outbreak and fire announcement can be found on a Frank Zappa Bootleg album titled Swiss Cheese/Fire!

Deep Purple, who had planned to record Machine Head at the venue were forced to find another recording location. They wrote the Rock classic ‘Smoke on the Water’ about the eventful day.

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Inventions were performing “King Kong”, about 80 minutes into the show , when, during Don Preston’s synthesizer solo, someone shot off a flare gun. The flare hit the wooden roof and quickly spread.

“They were very organized,” Zappa said in an interview shortly after the fire. “I was just lucky that many of the fans]were able to speak English, because I didn’t know what to say to them in French.”

In an ironic coincidence, Zappa died on Dec. 4, 1993, the 22nd anniversary of the fire.

sources

https://kmhk.com/frank-zappa-fire-smoke-on-the-water/

https://www.kpbs.org/news/2015/03/08/a-swiss-town-a-casino-fire-and-smoke-on-the-water

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/11/08/the-story-of-deep-purples-smoke-on-the-water-a-theater-fire-caused-by-a-flare-gun/?chrome=1

Fire in the Sky

https://ultimateclassicrock.com/frank-zappa-fire-smoke-on-the-water/

The Execution of Three Heroines

History of Sorts

Nel Hissink aka Cornelia van den Brink-Kossen

On October 27, 1943, two Dutch resistance women—Nel Hissink, and Truus van Lier were executed in Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg, Reina Geerlings, was executed less than a month later, on November 24, 1943. All three women were shot. This was done in secret as it was not customary to shoot women.

Cornelia (Nel) Hissink (Amsterdam, June 13, 1897 – Oranienburg (Germany), November 24, 1943) was a resistance member during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She was active for the Personal Identification Central (PBC), which provided people in hiding and resistance members with forged documents, and the resistance group CS6, an organization for the armed resistance. In the summer of 1943 she was arrested and interned in prisons Weteringsschans and Kamp Amersfoort she was executed on October 27, 1943, in Kamp Sachsenhausen.

Nel van den Brink-Kossen was a communist. She distributed communist pamphlets, regularly took part…

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World War II “Selfies” of a Member of the Dutch Resistance

History of Sorts

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

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

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

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

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

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Two Realities in Auschwitz

I can’t think of any place on earth that was more evil than Auschwitz, although other camps that had perhaps more cruelty, But it is the scale of the cruelty, torture and murder that makes Auschwitz pure evil, a literal hell on earth. The picture above is of Yisrael and Zelig Jacob, the younger brothers of Lili Jacob. They were both murdered in Auschwitz.

Below is a photograph of Jewish women and children deported from Hungary, separated from the men, line up for selection. Auschwitz camp, Poland, May 1944. Their reality was death.

However, some who had a completely different reality. They could enjoy themselves after a day’s work. They could relax in Solahütte a little-known resort in Poland for the Nazi German guards, administrators, and auxiliary personnel of the Auschwitz/Birkenau/Buna facilities during the Holocaust. Although postcards of the era sent by German staff sometimes bore the mysterious pre-printed return address “SS Hütte Soletal” [Solahütte], the rustic hamlet remained largely unknown to historians until 2007, when the Höcker Album of memorabilia owned by SS officer Karl-Friedrich Höcker including vintage Auschwitz photographs was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which then released images from the album online for study. Some of the photographs identified Solahütte for the first time.

Nazi officers and female Auschwitz staff gleefully pose on a wooden bridge at Solahütte.

Members of the SS female auxiliaries sit on a fence railing in Solahütte as Höcker passes out bowls of blueberries.

This to me is probably the most incomprehensible aspect of the Holocaust. How could human beings enjoy themselves knowing about the evil that was committed in their names and often by themselves? Maybe I am just wrong in thinking of them as human beings.

sources

https://allthatsinteresting.com/karl-hocker-auschwitz-photos#1

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/nazi-ceremony-in-auschwitz-birkenau

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/album_auschwitz/lili-jacob.asp

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/photo/jewish-women-and-children-upon-arrival-in-auschwitz?parent=en%2F10897

More World War II Propaganda

History of Sorts

It can be argued that the deadliest weapon during WWII was propaganda,below are some examples of WWII propaganda from the allied forces and the axis powers.

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“Propaganda tries to force a doctrine on the whole people… Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea.” Adolf Hitler wrote these words in his book Mein Kampf (1926), in which he first advocated the use of propaganda to spread the ideals of National Socialism—among them racism, antisemitism, and anti-Bolshevism.Nazi propaganda often portrayed Jews as engaged in a conspiracy to provoke war.

Illustration from a German antisemitic children’s book titled “Trust No Fox in the Green Meadow and No Jew on his Oath” (translation from German). The headlines depicted in the image say “Jews are our misfortune” and “How the Jew cheats.” Germany, 1936.

1389.2 Holocaust H

Nazi propaganda photo depicts friendship between…

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Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

Since we are currently in Advent time, I reckon it’s safe to start talking about Christmas again.

My all-time favourite Christmas song is Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy by Bing Crosby and David Bowie. my all-time favourite Christmas song. It’s hard to believe that they recorded it 45 years ago. It’s not just a song about the yuletide festivities and presents and the birth of Christ, but it is foremost a song of hope for a peaceful planet.

The duet was one of Crosby’s final recordings before his death in October 1977.

Following the special’s broadcast during the 1977 holiday season, “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” went unavailable for many years. It was eventually released as a single by RCA Records in November 1982 and was a commercial success, peaking at number three on the UK Singles Chart. It was Crosby’s final popular hit. It became one of the best-selling singles of Bowie’s career, with total estimated sales of over 400,000 in the UK alone. The song has since become a Christmas classic in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and has been referred to by The Washington Post as “one of the most successful duets in Christmas music history.”

“Peace on Earth, can it be? Years from now, perhaps we’ll see. I pray my wish will come true. For my child and your child too.”

He’ll see the day of glory. See the day when men of goodwill
Live in peace, live in peace again.”

David Bowie talks about his six-year-old son. That, of course, is Duncan Jones, director of movies like Moon, Source Code, Warcraft and Mute.

sources

https://musikguru.de/bing-crosby-david-bowie/songtext-peace-on-earth-little-drummer-boy-1052778.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_on_Earth/Little_Drummer_Boy

Etty Hillesum—Murdered Beauty

At first, I was reluctant to use the word beauty in the title because we now live in an era where some people might find that offensive, and they will scream about it. I pity them because they lose out on so much.

Etty Hillesum was a beauty in every sense of the word. It may have been too much for the Nazis because they murdered her. She was murdered on November 30, 1943, in Auschwitz according to data from the Red Cross.

Etty (or Esther) was the daughter of Levie Hillesum and Riva Bernstein. She was born on January 15, 1914, in Middelburg in the Dutch province of Zeeland. In 1932 she moved to Amsterdam to study law and Slavic languages. In Amsterdam, she met Julius Spier. He became her teacher and great love. During the war, she worked for the Jewish Council at Camp Westerbork and other places. She wrote several letters from Westerbork and kept a diary.

In March 1937 she took a room at 6 Gabriel Metsustraat in south Amsterdam in the house of an accountant Hendrik (Han) Wegerif, a widower aged 62 who hired her as a housekeeper. He also began an affair with her. She lived in this house until her final departure for Westerbork in 1942, and it was in her room there that much of her diary was written. The small community of people who shared the house with her were important to her. In addition to Han Wegerif, there was his 21-year-old son Hans, a German cook named Kathe, a student Bernard Meylink, and a nurse, Maria Tuinzing, who became one of Etty’s close friends.

The most important relationship of the diary is with the psychochirologist (hand reader) Julius Spier. Born in 1887 in Germany, he had come to Amsterdam in 1939. Spier had worked in Zurich with Jung, who had encouraged him to develop his skill in chirology, the practice of psychoanalysis through the reading of people’s palms. He was a gifted and charismatic figure and gathered around him a group of students, particularly women. Etty became part of this group and went into therapy with Spier, developing a close relationship with him and becoming his secretary.

Etty was an intensely alive and sexual young woman, yet she felt plagued by what she called her ‘confounded eroticism”. But what healthy woman in her 20s isn’t interested in sex?

In 1942 she was given a position in the cultural affairs department of the Jewish Council. She worked there for only two weeks, which she calls hell in her diary. In August 1942, she received a call for deportation to Westerbork. Etty left and continued her social activities in Westerbork. As a member of the Jewish Council, she had a special travel visa that allowed her to return to Amsterdam many times before being deported with her family on September 7, 1943.

Just as Anne Frank also wrote a diary, which was released after the war, titled, “An Interrupted Life,” I’ve chosen a few quotes from the diary. The words are profoundly sad but also beautiful and with a sense of hope.

“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.”

“Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others”

“As life becomes harder and more threatening, it also becomes richer, because the fewer expectations we have, the more good things of life become unexpected gifts that we accept with gratitude.”

“Sometimes my day is crammed full of people and talk and yet I have the feeling of living in utter peace and quiet. And the tree outside my window, in the evenings, is a greater experience than all those people put together.”

“My immediate reaction on meeting a man is invariably to gauge his sexual possibilities. I recognize this as a bad habit that must be stamped out”

“Yes, we women, we foolish, idiotic, illogical women, we all seek Paradise and the Absolute. And yet my brain, my capable brain, tells me that there are no absolutes, that everything is relative, endlessly diverse, and in eternal motion, and it is precisely for that reason that life is so exciting and fascinating, but also so very, very painful. We [women] want to perpetuate ourselves in a man.”

“I don’t want to be anything special. I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfil its promise.”

“I know and share the many sorrows a human being can experience, but I do not cling to them; they pass through me, like life itself, as a broad eternal stream…and life continues…”

“By ‘coming to terms with life’ I mean: the reality of death has become a definite part of my life; my life has, so to speak, been extended by death, by my looking death in the eye and accepting it, by accepting destruction as part of life and no longer wasting my energies on fear of death or the refusal to acknowledge its inevitability. It sounds paradoxical: by excluding death from our life we cannot live a full life, and by admitting death into our life we enlarge and enrich it.”

sources

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/61163.Etty_Hillesum

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/136401/esther-hillesum

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/227368/julius-philipp-spier

https://www.lastampa.it/vatican-insider/en/2018/11/26/news/etty-hillesum-the-woman-who-found-god-during-the-shoah-1.34063034

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Nuremberg Trials

History of Sorts

defendants_in_the_dock_at_nuremberg_trials

November 20 marked  the 77th anniversary of the trials against 24 Nazi war criminals start at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg.

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Held for the purpose of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice, the Nuremberg trials were a series of 13 trials carried out in Nuremberg, Germany, between 1945 and 1949. The defendants, who included Nazi Party officials and high-ranking military officers along with German industrialists, lawyers and doctors, were indicted on such charges as crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) committed suicide and was never brought to trial. Although the legal justifications for the trials and their procedural innovations were controversial at the time, the Nuremberg trials are now regarded as a milestone toward the establishment of a permanent international court, and an important precedent for dealing with later instances of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

The best-known of the Nuremberg trials…

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