93 Trains

transport

93 trains left concentration camp Westerbork in the Netherlands between July 1942 and September 1944. All the trains were heading eastbound. Not one single  journey would be  a pleasant one , The final destination would more then likely result in death.

I deliberately call Westerbork a concentration camp, because that’s what it was, It is often referred to as a Transit camp, although technically correct, I am not comfortable with theat description, because I believe it lessens the horrific nature the camp really had. The irony,for lack of a better word,  is that in the summer of 1939 the camp was designated for Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany.

93 Trains

Auschwitz  58,380    854 survived.
Sobibor  34,313           18 survived.
Theresiënstadt 4,894   approximately  1,980 survived.
Bergen-Belsen 3,751     approximately 2,050 survived.
Buchenwald and Ravensbrück 150      10 survived.

Each number is a human being with a story of life lived, and a life that could have been.

On September 3,1944 the last train to Auschwitz departed from Westerbork. On that transport was an author who go one to sell millions of books. She and her family all arrived in Auschwitz 3 days later.

list

The author was Anne Frank.She never got to enjoy the success of her book. The fact is that if she would have survived, her diary would probably not have been published, and if I am honest, I would have preferred it that way. I would have preferred that she would have survived the war, together with all the other millions who were brutally murdered because they were either Jewish, Gypsy, Disabled,Communist,Jehovah Witness or just someone who spoke out to the regime.

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Sources

Traces of War

Joods Mounument

NIOD

jodenvervolginginfotos.nl

 

Anne Frank-Just an ordinary girl.

anne frank

On August 4,1944 a tip from a Dutch informer led the Gestapo to the now so well known secret annex in Amsterdam. Anne Frank, her family and all the other occupants would be arrested.

Via her diary Anne Frank became one of the  symbols  of the Holocaust. I often read people describing her diary and her letters as ‘works’ as if they weer professional pieces of literature. But they weren’t ,they were words of a young girl coming of age, in the most anxious of circumstances. That is what makes it so special and powerful.

She was just an ordinary girl, as some of the below excerpts written by her illustrate.

“I have pretty long hair … Papa and Mama want me to get it cut but I’d much rather let it grow”  “I have a little appliance in my mouth, and braces … Now I have to go to the dentist every week, and it comes out the next day. This has been going on for eight weeks, and I find it very unpleasant, of course.”— Taken from a letter to her Grandmother. Spring 1941.

“From Papa and Mama a bicycle, a new school bag, a beach dress and various other things.Margot gave me this stationery, because I had run out, and I didn’t do too badly on candies and other little presents either. It’s very warm here, is it warm there too?” From a letter to her Grandmother written in June 1941, shortly after her birthday.

“It’s really a wonder that I haven’t dropped all my ideals, because they seem so absurd and impossible to carry out. Yet I keep them, because in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into wilderness. I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too. I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again”. from her diary July 15, 1944.

” Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be ill, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up any more, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if … if only there were no other people in the world.” Her last diary entry August 1, 1944.

poem

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Sources

CNN

Washington Post

Smithsonian

Learntoquestion.com

Yahoo News

 

Anne Frank 90

anne frank 0

Today would have been Anne Frank’s 90th birthday.

I have already done several blogs about Anne and her Family but today I just want to remember her birthday with some moments of her life.

To put in Anne’s own words.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

If we all try to improve the world her death will not have been in vain.

Anne Frank- Just a teenage girl.

Anne Frank

When you look up in formation on Anne Frank, the first thing you will see is that she is described as a German born or Dutch Diarist as if she was a well established author or Journalist, but she wasn’t.

She was just a teenage girl who happened to write a diary, like so many other girls did in that time and probably still do. If she had been a teenager now, I am certain she would have been on Instagram.Snapchat, Facebook and other social media. She was a very bubbly girl who like to express herself.

Does this make her diary less valuable? No of course not, it makes it even more valuable because the diary was not written by a professional author but by a young girl who described her daily life , a life which so few can even fathom nowadays.

Her diary became her closest friend and ally. A tool to express her fear, boredom, and the struggles as a teenager growing up. On 16 March 1944, she wrote: “The nicest part is being able to write down all my thoughts and feelings, otherwise I’d absolutely suffocate.”

12 days later on March 28,1944 the exiled Dutch minister for education,Gerrit Bolkestein, gave a speech on Radio Orange where he appealed to listeners in the occupied Netherlands to record their everyday experiences on paper.

“If future generations are to realize to the full extent what we as a population are going through and what we are experiencing in this time of war, then it is clear that we will need simple documents: a diary, letters from a laborer forced to go to work in Germany, sermons spoken by a clergyman”.

Bolkesijn

Anne Frank, was one of the many who heard Bolkestein’s appeal at the time. That night she wrote about her housemates: “…of course, everyone rushed for my diary all at once”. She started to rework her diary and called it The Secret Annex.

Next week , June 12th will be Annelise Marie Frank’s 90th Birthday . I had planned to write a blog about Anne on that day, but I will be busy make a preparations for a trip I am taking with my teenage daughter.

Next time when you read about Anne Frank and you see her described as a German born or Dutch diarist please do not forget she was also just a teenage girl, who happened to have written a diary.

A teenage girl who still could be alive today, but her life was cut short by a brutal fascist regime. A regime which had no regard for life.

anne frank diary

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

geheugenvannederland.nl

History Extra

 

Edda van Heemstra aka Audrey Hepburn

Audrey

There is one myth about Audrey Hepburn I have to dispel, she was not British-Belgian. In Belgium as in many other European countries you don’t automatically obtain citizenship just because you’re born there. You get the nationality of your parents, usually the nationality of the Father or sometimes the Mother.

Audrey was born on May 4,1929 in Brussels to a British father and Dutch mother.Therefore she was half British and half Dutch.

She was born  Audrey Kathleen Ruston or Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston , was a British subject born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. Her Mother was Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch noblewoman. Her parents got married in Indonesia which was a Dutch colony at the time.Shortly after they married they moved to Europe, initially London but then later to Brussels.

Audrey’s grandfather Aarnoud van Heemstra, was the governor of the Dutch colony of Suriname.

audrey's gran

She had 2 half siblings from an earlier marriage of her Mother.

The WWII years of Audrey Hepburn do proof that it didn’t matter how well connected you were, survival was not a certainty for anyone.

In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists, and allegedly were great admirers of Adolf Hitler. In 1935 Audrey’s Father abandoned the family. Following that mother moved with Hepburn to her family’s estate in Arnhem. Audrey and her mother did briefly live in Kent in 1937 but moved back to the Netherlands after Britain had declared war to Germany, The Netherlands were a neutral country and had remained neutral during WWI. Audrey’ mother hoped this would be the case again this time.

After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Audrey changed her name to Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name could be potentially dangerous.

invasion

Her mother  had already introduced Audrey to ballet lessons while they were still in England. The German occupation took a hard toll on the young Audrey Hepburn, who used ballet as a form of  escapism from the harsh reality of war. She trained at the Arnhem conservatory with ballet professor Winja Marova and became her star pupil.

The reality of war hit even harder when her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum(the husband of her Mother’s sister Miesje) was killed by the Nazis as reprisal for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement;on August 15 1942, while he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family’s prominence in Dutch society.

otto

Stirum’s murder turned Audrey’s Mother away from Nazi ideology, to become an avid member of the Dutch Resistance.

Audrey once said in an interview after the war.

“We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again… Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine”

In 1944, Hepburn met with Dr. Hendrik Visser ’t Hooft, a local physician, and Dutch Resistance leader. She became a volunteer for the Dutch Resistance, using her passion for dancing and talents for ballet by having secret shows to fund resistance groups.

She also worked as a courier.Many Dutch children were couriers because they were less likely to raise the suspicions of the Nazis.

Hepburn also witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, of which she later said:

“More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child”

TRANSPORT

The situation turned dire for Audrey Hepburn. Living conditions grew very bad and Arnhem was subsequently heavily damaged during Operation Market Garden. During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch people’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder.

Hepburn’s family had to do with flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuit as food. Audrey developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems and œdema due to malnutrition.This would affect her for the remainder of her life.

After the war, she read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and felt greatly impacted by the book. Luca Dotti, Audrey Hepburn’s son, talked about his memories of her in an interview with People Magazine.

“My mother never accepted the simple fact that she got luckier than Anne, She possibly hated herself for that twist of fate.”

Maybe that’s why she turned down the chance to play the part of Anne Frank.

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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

Vintage News

IMDb

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn5/heemstra

 

 

 

Greta Thunberg compared to Anne Frank

Greta

I just want to make this perfectly clear from the outset I have no issues with Greta Thunberg. I admire what she does and stands for, but I just don’t fully agree with her.

Today I questioned in a Facebook group if we should take her word as gospel.

To my shock I got a reply comparing her to Anne Frank. After Peta’s comparison of the killing of chickens to the Holocaust. I didn’t think anything else could surprise me.

Below are the comments and replies to that post.

John D- This sentence immediately disqualifies this opinion piece. “In sharp contrast to these climate realists, the climate alarmists have long admitted that they cannot defend their theory that humans are causing catastrophic global warming in public debate. ”

· Reply · 1h
Dirk de Klein
Dirk de Klein So we are disqualifying a report published in a reputable media outlet but are taking the words of a 16 year old as gospel?

· Reply · 1h
John D
John D Dirk de Klein First off you didn’t link to a report. So I am uncertain of what you are saying. And would you not believe the writings of Anne Frank? She was only 15

· Reply · 1h
Dirk de Klein
You can hardly compare a Holocaust victim with a privileged teenager. You have lost the argument there. Anne Frank wrote about her daily experience in an awful situation for fear of her life

· Reply · 1h
John D
John D- Dirk de Klein Yet you choose to believe one but not the other.

· Reply · 1h
Dirk de Klein
As I said once you compare a Holocaust victim who died in horrible circumstances to a privileged teenager you lost the argument and in fact it is a bit sick

· Reply · 43m
John D
Dirk de Klein Sorry Dirk but that is intact the argument of someone who lost the argument overall. You keep referring to her as a “Privileged Teenager”. Why? Because she doesn’t hold your same viewpoint? Sounds like you are the privileged one.
To quote the person you are speaking of: “You don’t listen to the science because you are only interested in solutions that will enable you to carry on like before,”
Dirk de Klein
Greta her mother is Swedish opera singer Malena Ernman and her father is actor Svante Thunberg, Her grandfather is actor and director Olof Thunberg. Anne Frank who was basically a refugee died a horrible death in Belsen Bergen, together with her sister. And you are comparing these 2 girls as if they were equals.
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anne frank

Jules Frank- Murdered in Sobibor.

Jules Frank

Like Anne Frank, Jules also kept a diary but his was never published. It is on display in a museum in Utrecht in the Netherlands.

On April 15th,1943  Jules and his wife Flora Frank-van Beek picked up their suitcases and left for Amsterdam at 9.00 AM. Not out of free will but they were forced to go.

The day before they left ,Jules wrote one more entry in his diary it said:

“Will we ever return to our blessed and beloved Fatherland where we received so much love and good, God will give it”

He knew he was Jewish and was proud to be Jewish, but he also felt Dutch and was a great admirer of the Royal family. He collected a lot of things related to the house of Orange.

Jules and his wife never returned. So many of their neighbors had offered help,and shelter. They could have found hiding places and would have been safe, maybe even until after the war. But Jules did want to be a bother to anyone and remained in his own house.

 

A home where he would dink a cup of tea with his neighbors when they came to visit. But on the 14th of April 1943 on their 28th wedding anniversary Jules and Flora were told they had to report to the Authorities in Amsterdam.

Exactly one month later both of them were murdered in Sobibor. A Butcher  and his wife who for some reason had become a threat to society. I say some reason, but there really wasn’t one. They were Jewish and due to  a sick and twisted ideology what deemed them unworthy of life, they died.

A teacup and a saucer is still there as a reminder that Jules Frank and his wife once lived.

Cup of tea

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

En toen nu

Joods Monument

 

 

Heinz Rühmann-Hero or Villain?

Heinz

Heinz Rühmann-Hero or Villain? The honest answer is I don’t know but I expect the answer is somewhere in the middle, he was neither a hero or a villain or he was a bit of both.

For anyone living in an English speaking country or who grew up outside of Europe, the name Heinz Rühmann will mean virtually nothing. But for those who grew up in Europe and especially in Germany,Austria,Switzerland,the Netherlands or other central and eastern European countries the name will be synonymous with German cinema.

He was born on March 7, 1902 in Essen in Germany and  appeared in over a 100 movies between 1926 and 1993.

During the Nazi era he starred in 37 movies and directed 4. Most of the German movies in that era were heavily themed with Nazi propaganda. Although Rühmann was apolitical because of his work he was directly associated to the Nazi regime.

director

The majority of his movies during the Third reich were lighthearted comedies, meant to keep up the morale of the German people.

However he had the ‘honor’ to make a short film on the occasion of Joseph Goebbels’s birthday, in which he portrayed the minister’s children and his wife Magda Goebbels.

Goebbels

In August 1924 he married Maria Bernheim, who was Jewish. In 1938 he divorced. Maria  married the Swedish actor Rolf von Nauckhoff shortly afterwards, as a result she  got by a departure permission to Sweden. She survived World War 2

The divorce caused Rühmann to be accused of w opportunism for wanting to secure his career. However the marriage had already been a bit shaky , and some people say that he wanted to protect his wife by divorcing her.Even after the divorce and despite his ex wife being married again, he still supported Maria financially.

Rühmann remarried on July 1 ,1939, he married the actress Hertha Feiler whose Grandfather was Jewish. Therefore she  considered to be one fourth Jewish  and was only able to work with a special permission, despite that  she and Heinz Rühmann were presented in the press as a model married couple.

Hertha

In 1944, the premiere of “Die Feuerzangenbowle” was banned by the Nazi film censor for “disrespect for authority”. Because of his good relationships with the regime, however, Rühmann was allowed to screen the film in public. He brought the film to the  Wolfsschanze for a private screening for Hermann Göring and others. Göring enjoyed the movie and was able to get the ban on the film lifted by Adolf Hitler.

One of Heinz Rühmann’s  biggest fans was Anne Frank,. She even posted a  picture of him above her bed in the Secret Annex in Amsterdam, where it can still be seen today.

In May 1945 Heinz Rühmann was  forced to witness the rape of his wife Hertha  by Russian soldiers in their Berlin villa.

After the war he had difficulties resuming his work, partially because he was confronted with a working prohibition by the Allies. However  by the mid 50s, the former comedic actor had established himself again as a star, only this time as Germany’s leading character actor. His last movie was Wim Wenders’s “Faraway, So Close!” from 1993.

He died in 1994, aged 92.

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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

IMDB

Der Spiegel

ZDF

 

Hermine Santruschitz aka Miep Gies

Miep

The name Hermine Santruschitz will mean very little to most, however the name Miep Gies is a well known name, a name which would forever be linked to a teenage diarist called Anne Frank.

Miep Gies born  Hermine Santruschitz would have celebrated her 110th birthday today, she did not get that old but she still reached the age of 100.

She was born in Vienna on February 15,1909.Her parents Mathias and Genofeva (née Jakuschitz) Santruschitz sent her to Leiden in the Netherlands in 1920. Austria was stil suffering the consequences of World War 1, there were a lot of shortages including food.

The Netherlands had remained neutral during WWI and was reasonably affluent. Hermine was sent to The Nieuwenburg family, consisting of 2 parents and 5 children. The The Nieuwenburg family initially agreed to take Hermine in foster care for 6 months, but due to bad health this was extended to one year. In that time Hermine got very attached to the family and the decision was made for Hermine to remain with the family. They called her by the shortened version of her name Miep.

In 1922 Miep moved with her foster family to Amsterdam.Miep was a bright student and after  graduating high school she got a job as an accountant.

In 1933, Otto Frank had been appointed Managing Director of Opekta, a German company which had expanded into the Netherlands.

Jam

In need of a secretary the Dutch branch, headed by Otto Frank hired Miep in 1933.

In 1933 Miep gad also met Jan Gies but due the fact that Jan had to go into the Dutch Social Services, the couple didn’t meet socially again until 1936.

Jan and Miep became close friends yo the Frank family. Shortly after the Nazis occupied the Netherlands, Miep was urged to  to join a Nazi women’s group. But she refused to do so, because of this threatened with deportation back to Vienna. Jan and Miep decided to get married, this would secure Miep’s residence in the Netherlands. They got married  in Amsterdam on 16 July 1941, The Frank family was in attendance at the wedding.

Frank

Less than a year later the lives of both the Frank and the Gies family would change forever. All of them faced death , the Frank’s simply because they were Jewish, Miep en Jan Gies for helping the Frank , the Pels family and Fritz Pfeffer , hide.

The fate of all those hiding in that little secret annex in an office in Amsterdam is well documented

Miep died on January 11,2010 aged 100.

An unassuming, immigrant foster child who became an icon for heroism.

Happy Birthday Miep.

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The last single Journey: Westerbork-Auschwitz

Sign

One of the cruel jokes the Nazis played on their victims was giving them hope. Like a railway sign indicating a return journey that was never to be. Only empty trains returned ready to pick up more victims like lambs led to the slaughter.

Trein

On September 3,1944 the last transport by train from Westerbork Transit Camp to Auschwitz took place.

Westerbork

Between July 15 ,1942 and September 13,1944 a total of 99 trains had left Westerbork for either Auschwitz,Sobibor,Theresienstadt and Bergen Belsen.

On the September 3rd transport 1019 victims were transported to Auschwitz. A journey which would take 3 days. Even before they reached Auschwitz they endured hell, because they were cramped in cattle cars, quite literally like cattle. There were no toilets, barely any food or water, nowhere to sleep. Some would die even before they reached their final destination.

What makes this transport special is because of one family, A Father,mother and 2 daugthers, only the father would eventually survive. This family was the Frank Family.

scheule

Anne and Margot Frank had one more journey to make on 28 October they were selected to be transported to Bergen-Belsen, where both girls died. Otto and Edith Frank remained in Auschwitz but Edith eventually died of starvation in January 1945.

Frank Family

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