Interview with Eddy Boas 26.06.2020. Survivor of Bergen Belsen.

eddy boas

My interview with Eddy Boas survivor of Bergen Belsen and author of I am not a victim, I am a survivor.

David Koker- Not just a diarist.

David Koker

There are probably quite a few people who will have heard of David Koker,  or at least will know about the diary he wrote during his imprisonment at camp Vught, in the Netherlands.

The diary was published in 1977 with the name Dagboek geschreven in Vught and was published in 2012 it was translated into English and published wit the title  At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944.It was written between 11 February 1943 and  8 February 1944.

On the night of 11 February 1943,David and his family were arrested in Amsterdam and arrested and transported to camp Vught. For this transport they actually received a train ticket, and if you see the ticket it looks like something nice was done to the Koker family. It appears to be an act of charity.

urn-gvn-EVDO01-MMNIOD01-244_1657-medium

It was issued by the ‘Centre of Jewish emigration Amsterdam, and ordered by the Hauptsturmbahnführer Woerlein.

The text of the ticket says ” The keeper of this permit and ticket referring to call up of the same number, has the right to travel free of charge by allocated train to the Station of Hoogthalen. The permit and ticket have to be shown without being asked to the train staff at the station of Hooghalen. The inspector will then tear the ticket from the permit”

At  the bottom it says “If you show this ticket you can avail at cost of transport via tram or bus at the above mentioned date”

Hooghalen

If you wouldn’t know the history you could be forgiven that the ticket was a charitable thing to do, but in fact it was the first step to the transition of systematic murder.

I won’t post anything from his diary. I leave it up to all of you to find the diary and read it yourself. However I will put down below 2 pieces he wrote. The first piece I belive is either from 1939 or early 1940. It illustrates David’s awareness of what was happening around him and in Germany.

“The finest experts of the human heart,can’t make me out.I’m quite a thing apart/ They say that from them I perhaps should quit. “You sir, don’t fit our system one small bit””

On 2 June 1944, while the family was being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, David managed to throw a letter from the train. Below is an excerpt of that note.

“Dear friends, we are close to the border now. It is very disappointing, but we were prepared for it and remain hopeful. I think a lot about you. (…) I’ve got all your letters and photos with me. My dearest possessions. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. (…) Lots of love guys, thanks for everything. Goodbye.”

Auschwitz Birkenau would not be the final destination for David.On February 23 1945 he died in Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was aged 23. David’s mother and brother Max survived the war.

Ending the blog with a picture taken in 1930 in Amsterdam of the Koker family..

koker

Donation

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/507940/about-david-koker

https://geheugen.delpher.nl/nl/geheugen/view/oorlogsdagboek-koker-david-koker-david?coll=ngvn&maxperpage=36&page=2&query=Auschwitz&identifier=EVDO01%3AMMNIOD01-244_1657

https://books.google.ie/books?id=-cT2yHpiSgUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://www.coenraadrood.org/nl/westerbork/aankomst-in-kamp-westerbork

http://www.stationsweb.nl/station.asp?station=Hooghalen

 

 

 

 

Does it really matter who betrayed Anne Frank?

anne frank

The question who betrayed Anne Frank and the others hiding in the annex, has never really been conclusively answered. There are plenty of well founded speculations but there has not been a 100% certainty yet to who betrayed them.

There is also still a possibility that no one betrayed them but that they were discovered by accident. Contrary to popular believe it can actually get quite hot in the Netherlands during the summer months. The early days in August 1944 the average temperature was 21 degrees Centigrade(72 Fahrenheit). In the big cities it often feels hotter. There was no air conditioning in the small annex, there were 8 people in there. Maybe someone just briefly opened  a window a bit for some fresh air and this may have been spotted.

I know this theory adds to more speculation ,but here is the thing. Does it really mater who betrayed them?

I believe the only thing that matters is that they should not have been in that annex in the first place. They should have been able to walk around freely wherever they so desired. Their rights should never have been taken away, They were human beings just like anyone else.

It is true that the Nazi regime who had occupied the Netherlands at the time persecuted all the Jews in the country, but this regime would not have been so successful if they hadn’t received assistance from the public servants who insisted in doing their jobs to their best ability. Maybe this was out of fear, and to an extent it was but there were those who endorsed the ruthless regime.

Of course there were more people who were totally horrified by the evil deeds  they witnessed, and often were crippled by fear.

If we keep on asking who betrayed Anne Frank, we also have to look why did they receive so little help from others, before they had to go into hiding. This question has answers which not many people want to hear, because that implicates governments including the US government who refused to give Otto Frank and his family Visas.

So the real answer to who betrayed Anne Frank is, nearly everyone.

Donation

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Risking life to save lives. The brave Dutch who saved Jewish children.

Jaap Musch

There is a lot of rightful criticism about how the Dutch dealt with the Jews during WWII. A lot more could have been done, there is no question about that. But, it is easy to say these things in retrospect. If you are faced getting killed for a simple act of defiance , you might just think twice before you take action.

The noble thing is always to do the right thing, but the right thing can sometimes cost you your life.

However despite that there were men and women who looked past that, and even at risk of losing their own life they still did the noble thing and saved as many lives as they could.

The above picture is of Jaap (Jacobus) Musch, he and his brother set up a resistance group named NV(Nameless Partnership-It also is used in business as Company) Jaap Musch was a dedicated and religious man who came from a family of strictly Calvinist Christian in Amsterdam, When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, he worked as Lab technician. In July 1942 when he and his brother Gerardus saw what was happening to their Jewish neighbours they decided to take action and set up NV  the group dedicated to helping Jewish children find hiding places.  Not only nearby but all over the country, they had to journey sometimes to Friesland , at the Northwest to the Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands, it was especially in the south of Limburg where they managed to save the children, Often hiding in plain sight.

Jaap was captured in September 1944 and was executed. His brother Gerard was arrested on May 9,1944  in Amsterdam while in possession of five ration cards. He was tortured and sent to a concentration camp, but survived the war, and married Wilhelmina Vermeer another NV member who also had survived.

In total the group saved 231 children who all survived the war and the Holocaust.

Rather then write a lengthy essay on the group. I will be posting pictures of some members of the group and some children they have saved below. In this week of remembrances of Liberation and Victory, lets not forget the remember the oft forgotten heroes, the Nameless ones .

The group was awarded Righteous among the nations by Yad Vashem

 

Ida  Groenewegen van Wijk member since 1943

Ida

Willem en Truus Vermeer members since 1943

Willem enTruus

Stella en Beccie Hamerslag, 2 sisters saved by NV

STELLA

Leo Vogel, saved by the NV

LEO

Dick Groenewegen van Wijk, member of the NV since 1943

Dick

Marianne Braun, Jewish member of the NV , since 1943

Marianna

Members and ‘hidden’ children saved by the NV in the garden of the Vermeer family, in Brunssum. Limburg the Netherlands.

mEMBERS

Gerard Musch Co Founder of the NV group

Gerard

Joop Woortman aka Theo de Bruin, co founder of the NV group

Joop

Semmy de Bruin, member of the NV group since 1943

Semmy

Some of the saved children defiantly spelling out the letters NV in a field in 1943.

NV

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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sources

https://righteous.yadvashem.org/?search=musch&searchType=righteous_only&language=en

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/?mode=gallery&view=horizontal&rows=1&page=1&fq%5B%5D=search_s_keywords_poolparty:%22NV-groep%22&sort=random%7B1589012139021%7D%20asc

https://www.verzetsmuseum.org/museum/en/tweede-wereldoorlog/digiexpo/byedad/byedad,resistance_groups

 

 

Profiting from the Holocaust.

puls

In any war or crisis there are companies that make a profit, To some people this may sound disgusting but unfortunately it is a fact.

Abraham Puls owned a removal company in Amsterdam. He had been a member of of the NSB , the Dutch Nazis, since 1934. His company was responsible for the ransacking of the homes of Jewish families in Amsterdam. In fact it is estimated that 29 000 homes of Jewish citizens were cleaned out by  A. Puls’s company.

A few days after the raids on Jewish homes, truck’s from the Puls company would show up and empty the homes. The goods would then be handed over to the Nazis to Einsatzstab Rosenberg,the Nazi organization assigned to appropriating cultural property during World War II. It was led by  Alfred Rosenberg.

rr

The plundering of the Jewish home soon became known as “Pulsen” named after Puls.

One of Puls’s trucks also showed up at the annex where Anne Frank had been hiding, after they had been arrested on August 4,1944.

There were reports that some Amsterdam citizens tried to recover prpoerties of their Jewish neighbours,, before Puls would show up, the aim was to return the properties to their Jewish friends but most of the Jews who survived never saw anything belonging to them ever again.

It does sicken me to the corps to know there were companies like that without any scruples or moral compass stealing from fellow citizens and handing it to the enemy, in order to make a profit.

Abraham Puls was sentenced to death on June 4,1947 but his sentence was changed on February 4,1949 to a life sentence . He was released on May 25,1959.

puls a

a puls

Donation

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Sources

Abraham Puls; van verhuizer tot rovershoofdman

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/detail/4dcd3d4e-025a-11e7-904b-d89d6717b464/media/cbee5313-fe4b-adad-3a8e-60523adda2f8?mode=detail&view=horizontal&q=joden&rows=1&page=345

 

 

Just a happy girl

vega

Just a happy girl without a care in the world.

Nor should she have any cares or worries.

Her job is to be a child, go to school, do homework but most of all to be a child.

At a desk with a peaceful picture of grazing Frisian cows behind her, Maybe they ere the cows she got her milk from she might ponder.

A smile that would melt anyone’s heart. a smile that would bring anyone joy and not hate.

Yet it was hate that killed her.

Nelly Vega born in Amsterdam on 2 April 1934, killed in Sobibor 9 July 1943.

Just a happy girl without a care in the world, it was too much to deal with for the evil men that killed her. Happy was not on their agenda, Joy was not on their agenda, Love was not on their agenda, at least not for those they deemed subhuman  and to be less then them. But in reality it was those evil men who were subhuman.

But this happy girl without a care in the world. Makes me realize that evil will not prevail.

 

Louis Asscher-Bergen Belsen victim

Louis

Bergen Belsen was liberated 75 years ago on April 15,1945. For many it was a true liberation but for others liberation came too late. Even for many of those who were liberated on that day it was still too late.

They were either so ill or malnourished that they did not survive,  After liberation nearly 14,000 people died.

Louis Asscher was one of those 14,000 , he died on April 19, just 4 days after liberation. He was an office clerk when the war broke out he and his wife took German Jewish refugees into their home in Amsterdam

But it wasn’t long before he and his family had to prepare for deportation themselves.He packed his phylacteries, prayer books, 25 sheets of paper and pieces of charcoal in his backpack.

Although Louis was an office clerk he was also an artist and while he was in Bergen Belsen he drew a series of sketches, some are as haunting as they are beatutidul.

Half a loaf of bread

brood

Roll call square and barrack 11- “the Hunger barrack”

role call

Watchtower

watchtower

Death bed

death bed

Louis has 4 children, they all survived. If there is one small consolation, and I mean a tiny one at least Louis died a free man.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

https://beeldbankwo2.nl/nl/beelden/?mode=gallery&view=horizontal&q=Bergen%20Belsen&rows=25&page=1&record=d201597e-025a-11e7-904b-d89d6717b464

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/515544/about-louis-asscher

 

Not all heroes wear uniforms.

sam

When you look at the above picture you may think there is nothing extraordinary about it. However when you delve only slightly into the history of the picture you quickly how realize how amazing the picture really is.

The picture is of a Jewish male choir of the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam, it was taken in March 1942 and although the deportations of Dutch Jews had not started yet at the that time,  the life of Dutch Jews had been nearly made impossible at that stage.

Yet these men kept going and tried to lift the spirits with their singing. Heroically they maintained their cultural legacy despite the looming threat of being killed.

It particularly touched me because one of my hobbies is singing, in fact I used to be a conductor of a mixed choir, and when I saw the style of the conductor of this choir it reminds me of my own style.

The conductor’s name is Samuel Henri Englander he was appointed as the conductor when he was aged 20.Under his leadership the choir became well known, it soon got the nick name ‘Englander’s choir’. They performed at shul services but also weddings and even  in concerts where they  primarily  would sing religious music from Eastern Europe and Yiddish folk songs. Some of the concerts WERE  even be broadcast by the BBC.

bbc

I don’t know what happened to the choir, I can only presume they did not survive. Samuel Henri Englander was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943.

So much talent has been destroyed by the Nazis, depriving not only the world but also themselves of so much good.

Koor

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Source

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/137039600/samuel-henri-englander

NIOD

My letter to Anne Frank

anne

Dear Anne,

You don’t know me, but I know you.In fact nearly everyone knows you, and yet no one really knows you.

We know you  through your personal stories you wrote in your diary. We see each word, each letter and each paragraph, but we don’t see your hopes, your fears or your anxiety. You write about them , however we cannot really imagine how it must have been. I know I can’t.

Although because of a virus which has engulfed the world now, we are all told to stay at home as much as possible, we get a bit of an inkling how it must have been for  you and your family, but not really. All we have to do is to stay at home and enjoy ourselves. We can write like you did, but we don’t have to stay silent, we don’t have to be afraid to be dragged out of our house.We can do whatever we want to do.

In your time there was also a virus,it was fueled with and by hate, a sickening ideology.

I have a daughter who is about the same age as you, she even looks a bit like you. I really don’t know what I would do if something would happen to her, I am sure I would be devastated, sad and angry and more then likely would want some sort of revenge, but those are just speculation for I try not to think of an event like that.

I once passed by your house or rather the place you hid in, I could not get in because there was a queue of several hundred meters of people who had booked a ticket to see the annex. A thought then came to me, what if there had been a similar queue on the morning of 4 August 1944, the day you and your family were arrested, and what if all the people in that queue would have protested against the arrest, would have made a difference?

You’ll be happy to know your book has become one of the biggest selling books ever, only in recent time it has been surpassed by the books about another teenager, a boy called Harry Potter, but his story is fictional whereas yours is a brutal reality. I am sure though you would have loved his stories.

Even now there are people who dispute the genuinity of your writing. They say your father tempered with it. I am not angry with those people, I pity them, their indifference blinds them to the power of your words, the lessons to be learned from them.

What saddens me the most is not so much that you died a horrible death but the fact it is not even known when you died, it says about the date February or March 1945.

Dear Anne, I am not going to say you are a hero because you weren’t really. You were a young teenage girl whose diary should never have published, but whose life should have been lived to the fullest. Nothing excuses your death, it should not have happened.

Maybe one day when I leave my earthly coil behind we may meet ,but for now know this your memory lives on. Evil was not able to silence you.

 

Yours truly

Dirk de Klein, a father of a teenage girl.

What is the point of killing a 102 year old.

clara

The picture above is taken from a local Dutch newspaper. It is a small article from April 30,1942. Although it is a small notification it gives a wealth of information. The article is about Klara(or Clara) Borstel-Engelsman, born in Amsterdam  the piece announces her 100th birthday and how it is celebrated.

It tells us she was staying in the hostel of the Morpurgo family, I believe this was a Jewish family. It continues to say that she still has all her faculties and still likes to play a game o Domino and that she loves to chat with the the fellow residents hostel. Her chair was decorated and above the chair there was a Jewish wish “ad meea weësriem sjana” meaning up to 120 years.

What it doesn’t say but yet makes it clear is that until that date April 30,1942 the Jewish population still had some normality in their lives. It was only a day before her 100th birthday the Jews had to wear the yellow star.This was nearly 2 years after  the Nazis invaded the Netherlands.

In May 1942 construction started on Vught Concentration camp, and in the summer of 1942 the deportations started.

In March 1944 Klara was deported to Westerbork where she celebrated her 120th birthday. From Westerbork she was sent to Auschwitz, on a cattle train, where she dies on October 12 1944, aged 102.

clara 102

Now some may say that she lived a long life, which is true. However what sense does it make to put a 102 year old woman on a train so she can get killed inn a place hundreds of kilometers away from where she was. Taken away all the emotions and looking at it with a purely clinical view, not only is it a waste of resources and time , it also makes no economical sense, she was likely to die soon anyway. And that’s another bit of information the article doesn’t give us but it blatantly , the Nazis were so full of hate that they forgot all sense of proportionality.

Klara would be the oldest Dutch Jewish citizen to be murdered during the Holocaust.

Below is another notification of her pending 100th birthday.

Clara verjaardag

Many thanks to Norman Stone for pointing out the story of Klara to me on the Facebook  page Holocaust Educators of America.

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/228136/klara-borstel-engelsman

https://www.facebook.com/groups/418106361560509/permalink/2776891269015328/