The worst crime the Nazis committed was the murder of children. An estimated 1.5 million children were murdered by the Nazis. This number is just an estimate, although I have no data to back this up, I believe the number is higher.
Not all children who died on the transport are included in this number. Nor are the children who were murdered before they even went on the train. There are reports of SS officers murdering babies by smashing their heads against walls or other surfaces.
Then there are the babies who were born in the camps, some would have been accidentally smothered by their mothers to keep them quiet, I don’t judge these mothers, and I never will, these children were also victims of the Nazi regime. I could write so much about the children, but at the moment I am just not emotionally capable to do so.
All I will do today is post pictures of children who were murdered. I will not even put all the names down of the children, I really should be posting pictures of men and women in their 80s and 90s, because all these children could still be alive.
I will do one story of the child who was more than likely the last Dutch child victim of the evil of the Nazi regime.
All I want today is for you to look into these youngsters‘ eyes and pledge that you will do everything in your power to stop an event like the Holocaust, so it will never happen again. We owe it to them.
Thousands of people gathered at Dam Square in Amsterdam, on 7 May 1945 to celebrate arrival the of the liberators. While the local citizens celebrated on Dam Square, German soldiers of the Kriegsmarine were trapped inside the Groote Club (Grand Club) building, a large building at the corner of the Dam and Kalverstraat. In the nearby Paleisstraat, local forces arrested two German soldiers. One of them refused to surrender his weapon and fired a shot. German soldiers then appeared in the windows, on the balcony and the roof of the Groote Club and started firing into the crowd with machine guns.
On 7 May 1945, Joop van Beek (15) moved from Barentszstraat to Dam Square: it was rumoured that the Canadians would arrive there. “When we arrived at Dam Square, there was a festive atmosphere. There was even a barrel organ playing,” he recalled later.
The festivities turned into a bloodbath.
Some people hid behind a camera car that had driven into the city with the Canadians, and also behind that barrel organ. Joop van Beek heard when he came home that his neighbour, Rika Overdijk, had died. Rika was only 12 years old when she was killed by bullets at 3 p.m. She was the only child of electrician Dirk Overdijk19 and Rimkien Ossel.
On 10 May 1940, the Netherlands was attacked by Germany. After a four-day battle and the bombardment of Rotterdam, the capitulation was signed on 15 May. The short but fierce battle cost many lives and caused a lot of damage.
It triggered a wave of suicides during and after the German invasion.During the first month of the war, hundreds of mainly Jewish people decided not to wait for the future under German rule and took their own lives. Some did so alone, others with their partner or family. The number of suicides in the first month of the war was five times higher than the May average in other years. Even afterwards, Jews who saw no way out of deportation took their own lives.
New data was published in 2001 about the size of the group of Dutch Jews who took their own lives. According to newly recovered data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for the period 1940–1943, this concerned approximately 257 (1940), 36 (1941), 248 (1942) and 169 (1943) persons. It was the highest percentage recorded in May 1940.
Here is the story of one family who committed that irreversible desperate act. What makes it so poignant is that it wasn’t an act of evil or hate but an act of love.
Ben Stranders, a friend of the Judels family, wrote a letter in memory of the family, who decided to take their lives on 15 May 1940.
“At seven o’clock, I said goodbye to David, Louis, Mientje and the children Mia and Bert. A few minutes later, on my return home, I heard that the Netherlands capitulated! We now have nothing more to decide, or at least not to face the question that occupied us only an hour ago. However, Louis and Mientje had other decisions in mind. They believed they owed this to their children.
In the morning, Annie, my father’s sister, saw from the house you once occupied—four stretchers carried down by the G.G.D. (public health service). As it turned out—only a very small chance of salvation. The following Friday, Leo, Bram Monnikendam, Gerrit, and I think also Catharine and Saar went to Westerveld. And we saw four coffins sink into the cellars of the Crematorium.
I will never forget the small box in white with Bert in it. He preceded many little children, fortunately without feeling the suffering to which they would first be subjected.”
Louis Judels Amsterdam, 10 March 1902 – Amsterdam, 15 May 1940. He reached the age of 38 years. Occupation: Office Clerk.
Mina Judels-Kleerekoper Amsterdam, 2 May 1903 – Amsterdam, 15 May 1940. She reached the age of 37 years.
Mia Judels Amsterdam, 19 July 1926 – Amsterdam, 15 May 1940. She reached the age of 13 years.
Bert Judels. Amsterdam, 29 April 1936 – Amsterdam, 15 May 1940. He reached the age of 4 years.
I recently read a scientific report about the revised Extinctions and Radii for 1.5 Million Stars, which was observed by APOGEE, GALAH, and RAVE surveys. I am not sure what those three terms mean. But I was intrigued by the number of 1.5 million.
1.5 million is the estimated number of children who were murdered during the Holocaust. Personally, I think that number is probably higher.
However, for this post, I will stick with the number of 1.5 million.
1.5 million futures never fulfilled.
1.5 million books never written
1.5 million voices silenced.
1.5 million innocent souls.
1.5 million products of love are murdered by hate.
1.5 million talents never explored.
1.5 million stars in heaven.
1.5 million children like Alexander Grijsaar, who was born in Amsterdam on 27 March 1940. He was murdered aged two on 16 August 1942 in Auschwitz.
This photo of Alexander was taken by Thea Citroen. In 1940 or 1941 she worked as a childcare worker in the Princess Juliana crèche in Warmoesstraat, Amsterdam. During her work, she photographed children and teachers and wrote their names on the back of the photos. The picture below was also taken by Thea.
Most of these children were also murdered.
Thea Citoen was born in Amsterdam on 10 November 1921. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 24 July 1942.
Next time when there is a clear sky I will look at those 1.5 million stars and say a prayer for all of them.
The news of the 22 February 1941 raid of 427 Amsterdam Jews made a deep impression on the Amsterdam population. Out of solidarity with fellow-Jewish citizens and resentment of the Nazis’ actions in the capitol, a general strike, was announced for 25 February 1941.
The call, which came from several members of the illegally operating Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPN), was spontaneously and massively heard. The strike spread to the Zaanstreek, Haarlem, Weesp, Hilversum and Utrecht.
The February Strike was the most extensive, open mass protest against the persecution of Jews in Europe. In total, at least 4,400 civil servants and work men from the municipality of Amsterdam took to the streets on 25-26 February in solidarity with the persecuted Jews in their city. The trams were standing still, and municipal services were not working. The strike spread to surrounding towns and other parts of the country, but then violence erupted from the Nazis.
Willem Kraan worked in the Amsterdam Municipal Street Building Department, and his friend Piet Nak, who worked for the Sanitation Department, were active members of the Communist Party. On Sunday, 23 February 1941, they initiated a strike in protest against the Germans for the inhuman manner they treated the Jews. They approached as many working people as possible and asked them to strike on behalf of the Jews. The strike did not come off immediately. However, on a Monday evening, Piet made an inspiring speech at the Noordermarkt, and the next day all the services in Amsterdam and some in the neighbouring towns went on strike. It was the first time that non-Jews openly showed their concern for the plight of the Jews. The strike lasted two days before being put down by the Germans. Following the strike, the Germans made a supreme effort to apprehend the organizers, but their identities were never discovered. After a while, Piet was caught in connection with other illegal activities and brutally mistreated. Piet did not break, and when the Germans finally let him go he went temporarily into hiding. On 15 November 1941, Piet, Willem, and their friends were caught. Willem and 17 others were executed, but Piet was released and once again went into hiding. In May 1943, he was arrested and jailed for the third time. In June, he was freed, once again. However, the Germans had treated him so brutally that he was declared unfit for work and could never again hold a regular job. After the war, a bust of Willem Kraan was placed in a street that bore his name. On 31 May 1966, Yad Vashem recognized Wilhelmus Johannes Kraan and Piet Nak as Righteous Among the Nations.
After the war, Piet Nak started a career as a magician and illusionist under the stage name Pietro Nakaro, also known as Nakaro the Magician. He also remained politically active and was involved in the establishment of the Amsterdam Vietnam Committee (later the Vietnam National Committee) and the Dutch Palestine Committee. In the 1950s, it came to a break with the Communist Party of the Netherlands, which, in his opinion, used the annual commemoration of the February strike for its political gain.
Eduard Carel Frederik Hellendoorn was a painter and Dutch resistance fighter. He was born on 29 November 1912 in Amsterdam. He studied the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (Den Haag) (Royal Academy of Art, The Hague). In 1931 Hellendoorn married Johanna Maria Drayton Lee, with whom he had three children. The couple divorced in 1939. The 1939 exhibition at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum included Hellendoorn’s Onze Kunst van Heden (Our Art of Today).
In 1940 Hellendoorn joined the communist artists’ resistance. In 1941 he took part in the February strike. Subsequently, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Oranjehotel in Scheveningen Hellendoorn and executed on 13 March 1941 at Waalsdorpervlakte.
These were just a few of the heroes of the February strike. They make me proud to be a Dutchman.
Rosette Levie was deported to Sobibor in June 1943 from Vught via Westerbork on the so-called children’s transport
She was born in Amsterdam on 24 February 1938. She was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943 at age five.
Dear Rosette, you never made it to your first school day.
You were denied your first bit of pocket money.
You were denied your first kiss.
You were denied your first dance.
I don’t know if you ever owned a bike, I doubt it because that would have been denied to you too.
You were denied a life.
I don’t see a threat to the nation in your eyes, yet there were some who did.
I see no potential for evil in your eyes, yet there were some who did. They were the ones who were evil.
You were one of 1.5 million children who were murdered by pure evil men and women.
Recently I heard a story about a pregnant woman who was shot. They managed to save her unborn baby, at least for a short while. Because when the Nazis found out that the baby was saved they killed not only that baby but all other babies that were hidden.
At least you had a few years, but that is just a meagre consolation.
On 19 February 1941, the German Grüne Polizei stormed into the Koco ice cream salon in the Van Woustraat. In the fight that ensued, several police officers were wounded. The Nazi authorities did not put up with the attack on their police officers. To put an end to the unrest, they decided to hold a raid the weekend of 22 and 23 February. Revenge for that and other fights came and a large-scale pogrom was undertaken by the Germans. 425 Jewish men, ages 20–35 were taken hostage and imprisoned in Kamp Schoorl and eventually sent to the Buchenwald and Mauthausen concentration camps.
The February raids were only a prelude to much worse to come. These men were only the first of some 102,000 Jews from the Netherlands murdered during the Holocaust, a figure that represents 75 per cent of the Dutch Jewish population. Himmler, Seyss-Inquart and Rauter decided to set an example: the first raid on Jews became a fact. On Saturday afternoon, 22 February 1941, a column of German trucks appeared near Waterlooplein. The area was cordoned off, and men were seized in Amsterdam. February 1941 were the first Nazi raid on Jews in Western Europe.
Something that recently became known is that most of the Dutch prisoners, were taken to the Hartheim gas chamber for killing. Their families received false causes of death. Assumptions surfaced that the men had died of lead poisoning in the mines.
Historian Wally de Lang reported 108 murders at Hartheim Castle, a nearby Mauthausen Concentration Camp. Hartheim was also one of the T4 euthanasia centres.
Wally de Lang made it her mission in 2017 to discover the fates of each and every one of the men taken that day. “It was impossible for me to comprehend that 400 people of this town just disappeared without anyone knowing who they were,” said de Lang, who has spent several decades writing about Jewish history in the Netherlands.
The owners of the Koco Ice Cream Parlour were severely punished. Ernst Cahn was executed by the Nazis on the Waalsdorpervlakte, in the dunes near The Hague, on 3 March 1941. Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz.
The arrests and brutal treatment shocked the population of Amsterdam. To respond, Communist activists organized a general strike on 25 February and were joined by many other worker organizations. Major factories, the transportation system, and most public services came to a standstill. After three days, the Germans brutally suppressed the strike, crippling the Dutch resistance organization.
The February strike was considered the first public protest against the Nazis in occupied Europe and the only mass protest against the deportation of Jews to be organized by non-Jews.
The picture above is of Wim Henneicke, a bounty hunter and collaborator. His wasn’t driven by hate or by a warped sense of nationalism, but by greed. Wim Henneicke was part of the group called “Colonne Henneicke.” The Colonne Henneicke, officially the Hausraterfassungsstelle, was a group of Dutch collaborators who were active as bounty hunters in the period between March and October 1943. The group consisted of more than fifty Dutch people who were paid to hunt Jewish people in hiding and was led by Wim Henneicke. In the six months that the organization existed, it was responsible for the deportation of eight to nine thousand people.
They were paid 7,50 Dutch guilders (the 2023 equivalent would be $62 or €58) for each Jew that was caught, regardless if it was a man, woman or child.
One of their victims was Charles Salomon Viskoop, born on 17 February 1943. In December 1943, two members of the Kolonne Henneicke found Charles Salomon at his hiding place. He was ten months old at the time. He was murdered on 28 January 1944, in Auschwitz just over a month before his first birthday.
However, Henneicke did not live to see the end of the war. On December 8, 1944, he left his home in Amsterdam in the morning and was shot dead by an unknown member of the Amsterdam resistance.
I want to focus on 2 more members of the Colonne Henneicke.
Bernardus Andries Riphagen, known as “the Dutch Al Capone,” was even more unscrupulous than his American gangster counterpart. The man was a criminal through and through. Riphagen’s fingers were in a lot of pies in the Dutch criminal underworld, from prostitution to extortion to murder. He spent two years in the United States, first working for Standard Oil and then getting in touch with local criminal groups.
During the war, Riphagen continued with trading and expanded his business by working with the Germans as an intermediary agent of the intelligence agency of the SS, the Sicherheitsdienst (or SD), in The Hague. As more anti-Jewish policies were introduced, the collaboration between Riphagen and the Germans became more and more lucrative. When Jewish people were arrested, their property, stocks, jewellery and cash were taken before the arrestees and the remaining household items were handed over to the Germans.
Riphagen ran clandestine roulette houses, offered “ladies of pleasure” to accommodate high German officials and traded in currency, gold and diamonds on the black market with his old friends from the Rembrandt Square such as Joop Out, ‘Manke’ (Criple) Toon Kuijper, Harry Rond and Gerrit Verbeek. Having climbed the ladder from an undercover agent to a bona fide employee, Riphagen decided to join the Devisenschutzkommando (DSK), part of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration. The most important function of the DSK was to counteract the increasing instances of black market trading in shares. Another function was to gather the Jewish possessions that had escaped the German currency regulations. Members of the DSK received 5 to 10% of the possessions gathered in return for their work. In reality, however, most of the goods discovered ended up in the hands of individual members. From 1943 onwards Riphagen was part of the ‘Column Henneicke’
It is believed that Riphagen personally executed of Wim Baggers and John Even, two resistant fighters. Baggers and Even were arrested in September 1944 and handcuffed to each other on the Amsteldijk with a shot to the neck they were executed. The commemoration took place three weeks after the liberation.
He managed the flee the Netherlands after the war.
Always as slippery as an eel, in February 1946 Riphagen escaped, leaving his wife and son behind without a second thought. Rumour has it that his underworld friends smuggled him across the border in a hearse. Another theory is that two Dutch secret service men, Frits and Piet Kerkhoven, organized his escape to Belgium with a hearse. From Belgium, he spent three months travelling to Spain by bicycle.
When Riphagen reached Spain in May 1946, the authorities in Huesca stopped him due to a lack of necessary identification. He was imprisoned, but again luck never left him. He was released on bail with the help of a Jesuit priest. Shortly after that, Frits Kerkhoven gave him clothes and shoes, which were hidden in the necessary papers as well as diamonds that Riphagen had previously left with Kerkhoven.
When justice finally discovered his location in Madrid, Riphagen flew to Argentina with a friend on March 21, 1948. The Dutch ambassador to Buenos Aires at the time, Floris Carcilius Anne Baron van Pallandt, filed an extradition request. However, it was denied by the Argentina Judicial Authorities due to a lack of evidence–again, the crime against humanity got away scot-free.
Riphagen was never extradited to the Netherlands. Always gregariously silver-tongued, he maintained friends in high places. One was a member of the Argentine Supreme Court, Rodolfo Valenzuela, who also served as secretary to President Juan Perón.
Thanks to Valenzuela, Riphagen soon befriended the presidential couple. He kept in close contact with Perón until his death. Belgrano, a district of Buenos Aires, soon became his home where he ran a photo-press business. Also, he supported the Perón secret service whenever he could.
When Perón was removed from power, Riphagen returned to Europe where he spent his time travelling, especially in Spain, Switzerland, and Germany. He kept the company of wealthy women who could support his expensive tastes and continued to talk his way through life. His last known address was in Madrid.
Finally, in 1973 Dries Riphagen, probably the worst Dutch war criminal, died of cancer in Montreux, Switzerland.
Netflix released a movie about Riphagen a few years ago
De Croon was known to be particularly fanatical and sadistic, he mistreated Jews and even personally brought Jewish babies to the Germans. At parties he liked to show a captured pre-war holiday film of a Jewish family that he himself had reported. After the Colonne Henneicke was disbanded because the work was done, De Croon moved to the east of the country. He was especially good at infiltrating various resistance groups and was behind the arrest of several resistance members. In Nijverdal, for example, the resistance member Herman Kampman was arrested and later shot.De Croon abused many of his victims.
After the liberation, De Croon couldn’t be found at first. He was finally arrested in 1948 and sentenced to death in 1949. However, this sentence was not carried out after Queen Juliana pardoned him. First his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, later this sentence was commuted to 21 years, of which he only had to serve two thirds. As a result, he was released again in the early 1960s. De Croon was traced to Alicante in Spain in 1983, where he died in 1990 from lung cancer.
It was Sera de Croon who delivered 10 month old Charles Salomon Viskoop to the Nazis.
Below is a press cutting from the 1928 Amsterdam Olympic Games.
“Everything was taken care of down to the last detail. Nice practice material—not too heavy—logically composed, neatly executed in class, wonderful order and leadership, in one word sublime. …The jury was also enthusiastic and awarded the Kleerekoper corps a total score of 316.75 points, leaving the other teams far behind. With their well-deserved success, the gymnasts were the first female Olympic champions in the Netherlands. At a quarter past five, the Dutch flag fluttered above the Olympic Stadium and the National Anthem sounded over the central area. However, the cheers rose when HRH Prince Hendrik stepped forward and shook hands with each of the participants. …and then they, our ladies, to whom we owe the first victory, disappeared under the grandstand to their dressing rooms”
In 1928, Amsterdam hosted the Olympic Games. This was the first time that women were competing in the field of gymnastics. Five women on the Dutch Olympic gymnastics team were Jewish: Helena-Lea Nordheim, Ans Polak, Estella-Stella Agsteribbe, Judikje-Judik Simons and Elka de Levie. The team’s trainer, Gerrit Kleerekoper, was also Jewish. The team won the gold medal for women’s gymnastics at the Amsterdam Olympics, and the women became national heroines. In just over 16 years later all but one would be murdered. Elka de Levie survived the Holocaust and died in 1979.
Kleerekoper’s team scored 316.75 points, defeating Italy and the United Kingdom.
Gerrit Kleerekoper was born in Amsterdam on 15 February 1897 was originally a diamond cutter, by trade, but earned his money as a gymnastics teacher at the Jewish Lyceum at the Amsterdam Stadstimmertuinen. In his spare time, he was a trainer at the gymnastics association Bato, which consisted almost entirely of Jewish members. In 1926 he organized the first women’s gymnastics championship in Amsterdam.
On 28 May 1919, Gerrit Kleerekoper married Kaatje Ossedrijver, together they had two children: Leendert on 15 January 1923, and Elisabeth on 14 October 1928, the year in which the gymnasts trained by Kleerekoper won gold at the Olympic Games. In preparation for the Olympic Games, from June 1928 he had his pupils conduct outdoor training sessions on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings to get used to the changing weather conditions.
A few years after the games, Gerrit Kleerekoper provided a daily gymnastics session on the radio. Early in the morning, at a quarter to seven, the VARA broadcasted its program with physical exercises. The session started with the question, “Listeners, are you all ready?” accompanied by a piano from the studio. He then had his audience perform bending and stretching exercises in their living rooms.
At the beginning of the war, a drama took place in the Kleerekoper family. After the Dutch capitulation on May 15, 1940, Gerrit’s sister Mina and her husband Louis Judels decided, together with their children Mia and Bert, to take their own lives on this day. In July, Gerrit wrote a letter about this to his brother Herman, who was a biologist in Sao Paolo:
“Dear Herman, Co and Children, On behalf of Dad and Mom and the family, I have the difficult task of informing you of the difficult days we have spent here and the great sadness we have to deal with. Under the circumstances, you must not have dared to hope for good news. However, the blow that has struck us all is heavier than we and you will have expected. In the first days of the war and immediately after the surrender, many people experienced great fear. Our dear sister Mina with Louis and both children preferred a gentle death to life in fear of the future. During the nights of 15–16 May, they left us. You understand that much writing is not possible at this time. The condition of all of us and Pa and Ma is pretty good considering the circumstances. We must now hold our heads together. We also wish you strength and health. You Gerrit.£
In November 1942 Gerrit, Kaatje and Elisabeth were forced to leave their house at 94 Rivierenlaan. In the last months before their deportation, the family lived at Transvaalstraat 136. On 20 June 1943, at nine o’clock in the evening, they were taken from their home. With their luggage, they walked to Krugerplein from where an overcrowded tram took them to Muiderpoort station. Because of the crowds, they struggled in the tunnel for about an hour to get into the hall. By now it was midnight. On the platform, they had to hand in their house keys to an official. After another hour of waiting, the train appeared and at 2 a.m. they were crammed into a boxcar with 53 others. Fresh air came in through a small crack. In the utterly dark Kaatje wrote a message with a pencil to her sister-in-law, “We are in a freight car and have not left yet. The mood here is perfect. I hope you can read this. We are sitting on the floor with Z. It’s probably a quarter past two. We’re sitting with a candle and I can’t see what I’m writing. Now Trien and Leo, a bunch of Ger, Ka, Elly”.
At five o’clock the train arrived at Zwolle and Gerrit wrote another postcard: “We hope to see each other again soon”. Before they could be registered in Westerbork, it was eight o’clock in the morning and the “scorching hot sun” was already burning above their heads.
Ten days later, on 30 June 1943, the names of Gerrit, Kaatje and Elly Kleerekoper were on the transport list. Daughter Elisabeth wrote to her Aunt Trien, “We have already packed everything for the transport. You can take a bread bag, blanket and handbag with you. The train is already there, almost cleaned. We don’t know where we are going. Maybe we won’t go at all tonight. At least I’m not afraid of it. But if something happens, you have to be strong. I saved the oatmeal cookies and rye bread to eat on the train”. Just before folding the letter, Elisabeth added a quick note to the bottom of the letter, “Left on Tuesday.”
On 2 July 1943, Gerrit Kleerekoper, along with his wife Kaatje and their fourteen-year-old daughter Elisabeth, were murdered by the Nazis at the Sobibór extermination camp. Leendert Kleerekoper had arrived in camp Westerbork more than two months before his parents and sister, that was on 13 April 1943. His registration card states that he had no religion. Leendert was an electrical engineer. His profession ensured that he was sent to camp Vught on 17 May 1943, and was placed with the Philips command. He was murdered in Auschwitz in July 1944 by exhaustion.
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We now live in an era when we consider 73 years a young age to die. Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum lived for only 73 days. He was born in Amsterdam on 19 January 1943. The Nazis murdered him at Sobibor on 2 April 1943.
His father was Ephraim Izak Levie Rosenbaum, who lived with his wife and children until 1943 at 13 JD Meierplein (Houtmarkt was 13). He was a pharmacist at Hoek Amstel–Nieuwe Heerengracht 1, Amsterdam.
His wife, Johanna Frederika Suzanna Zion, and his son, Izak Michel Max, went into hiding at Neede (Gelderland). Betrayed—they were rounded up and sent to Sobibor via Westerbork. There the Nazis killed them on 2 April 1943.
Ephraim Isaac Levie Rosenbaum was murdered three weeks later in Sobibor.
73 Days—7 + 3 = 10, that’s what you were, Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum—a perfect 10.
73 Days—just over two months. You were a product of love—but you became a victim of hate.
73 Days—but it should have been 80 years because that is what you would have been today. Happy Birthday, young Isaac Michel Max Rosenbaum—no longer a human made from flesh and bone, but a star in heaven.
Michel Max Rosenbaum’s sister, Betty, survived the Holocaust.
Starting in May 1942, wearing a yellow fabric star in the Netherlands, called the “Star of David,” was made compulsory by the Nazis. This measure made it easy to identify Jewish people and was designed to stigmatize and dehumanize them. This was not a new idea; since medieval times many other societies had forced their Jewish citizens to wear badges to identify themselves. With the coming of the French Revolution in the 18th century and Jewish emancipation in the 19th century, the “Jewish badge” disappeared in Western Europe.
However, in the 1930s the Nazis brought it back to Germany, and in May 1942 in the Netherlands. During the war, it was compulsory in all occupied countries. The one thing that puzzles me today is the eagerness of so many people and groups to put ‘badges’ on themselves. In my opinion, the only badge that matters is that of a Human Being, and the only rule that should apply is mutual respect for each other.
Behind every star was a life, a story.
The picture at the start of this post is of the admin team in Westerbork.
Group photo of the De Miranda and Lachmann families in the garden of De Miranda’s house on Sterrelaan in Hilversum, 1942.
From left to right: Alexander (Lex) de Miranda, 7-year-old Michael (Max) Lachmann, Heinz (Hans) Lachmann, standing 12-year-old Frank de Miranda, Anny de Miranda-Meijler and Tea Lachmann-Warszawski on the beach chair. The photo was probably taken by the other son Hugo de Miranda. Both sons tried to flee to Switzerland via France but were arrested. None of the family survived the war. The Lachmann family went into hiding in Limburg with the help of Pastor Henri Vullinghs and survived the war. Henri Vullinghs was a pastor in Grashoek and Grubbenvorst in Limburg and a Dutch resistance fighter during World War II. He was one of the largest organizers of pilot aid and hiding in the entire province of Limburg.
On 1 May 1944 sexton Stappers in Grubbenvorst was warned that the Sicherheitspolizei was on its way from Venlo to arrest the pastor. Stappers hurried to the monastery where Vullinghs lived because his own parsonage had been hit by a bomb. Unfortunately, he did not find him at home because the pastor had already left for the church on his bicycle. Just before the church on the street, Vullinghs was arrested and imprisoned. On 1 June 1944, he was transferred to Camp Vught where he was severely mistreated. On September 6, 1944, he was deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and from there he went to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where he arrived at the end of March 1945, critically ill. Two weeks later he died there of dysentery.
Camp Westerbork. Outgoing transport, with a converted freight train, April 1943. Nearly 107,000 people were deported from camp Westerbork in the 97 transports. On 15 July 1942, the first transport left for Auschwitz-Birkenau. From 2 March 1943–16 November 1943, there was a weekly rhythm: every Tuesday a train departed with a thousand to sometimes more than three thousand people. The last transport left on 13 September 1944.
Sander Waterman in boxing position. The Star of David is visible on his shorts. He was born in London on 10 June 1914, He was a boxer and boxed at Joop Cosman’s boxing school at the Jodenhouttuinen.
Because of his birth, he had a British passport despite his parents being Dutch. Sander was in the resistance. He was arrested for forging identity cards, but his brother Morest had done so. If he had said that, they would both have been imprisoned, so he kept quiet about it. Unfortunately, his brother Morest was murdered in Mauthausen. Sander survived the war just like his wife Elisabeth Gobetz and their two children Sal (1941) and Joop (1943). The Waterman family was deported to Westerbork in 1943, where Joop was born, and then to Bergen-Belsen.
The British passport initially ensured that the family could stay for a longer period of time in Westerbork.
Johanna Winnik, at the age of about eight at her house on the Afrikanerplein in Amsterdam’s Transvaal neighbourhood, 1942. She was murdered at Sobibor on 2 April 1943 at the age of 8 years.
Annie de Jong-Wijnman and Maurits (Mau) de Jong from Zaltbommel with the Star of David on their wedding day, Sunday, August 23, 1942, in the synagogue N. Molstraat 13 in The Hague. They didn’t even get to celebrate their first anniversary. They were both killed on 16 July 1943 in Sobibor.
These were just a few of the many who were forced to wear the star of David. The pictures all came from the NIOD. They also have a theme on their website titled behind the star, I added a few more details.
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