Johannes van der Hoek—Born to be Murdered

This story has torn my heart open. I can’t tell you too much about Johannes van der Hoek all I can tell you is that he was born on November 6, 1942, in Westerbork. He must have been placed on a transport to Auschwitz, straight after his birth because, he was murdered there on November 9, 1942, with his mother and his 2-year-old sister, Johanna, just three days after he was born.

His father was murdered a few months later, April 30, 1943. also in Auschwitz.

The very sad irony is that on Johannes’s birthday, November 6, 1942, the Soviet POWs mutinied and escaped from Birkenau. Under cover of fog and falling darkness, they forced their way past the SS guard posts into a part of the Birkenau camp, still under construction, that was not fenced. However, the majority of them were shot or caught during the escape.

Why a 3 day old baby—why?

sources

https://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/resistance/prisoner-mutinies/

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/190314/johannes-van-der-hoek

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Johannes-van-der-Hoek/01/65244

When enough was enough-The Birkenau uprising.

I know there are those who judge the Sonderkommandos. Sometimes people confuse them with the Kapos. In all honestly I don’t judge then at all, because I was never put in the position they were put in. Especially the Sonderkommandos who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust. Many times they had to dispose of the bodies of friends and family.

On October 7,1944 the Sonderkommando were preparing to revolt. Enough was enough. Having learned that the SS was going to liquidate much of the squad, the members of the Sonderkommando at Crematorium IV rose in revolt.

In the nearby Union explosives factory, a group of Jewish girls had collected small amounts of explosives and smuggled them to the plotters. Ester Wajcblum, Ella Gärtner, and Regina Safirsztain, had been smuggling small amounts of gunpowder from the Weichsel-Union-Metallwerke, a munitions factory within the Auschwitz complex, to men and women in the camp’s resistance movement, like Róza Robota, a young Jewish woman who worked in the clothing detail at Birkenau. Under constant guard, the women in the factory took small amounts of the gunpowder, wrapped it in bits of cloth or paper, hid it on their bodies, and then passed it along the smuggling chain. Once she received the gunpowder, Róza Robota then passed it to her co-conspirators in the Sonderkommando, the special squad of prisoners forced to work in the camp’s crematoria. Using this gunpowder, the leaders of the Sonderkommando planned to destroy the gas chambers and crematoria, and launch the uprising.

They attacked the SS with stones and hammers, killing three of them, and set crematorium IV on fire with rags soaked in oil that they had hidden.[272] Hearing the commotion, the Sonderkommando at crematorium II believed that a camp uprising had begun and threw their Oberkapo into a furnace. After escaping through a fence using wirecutters, they managed to reach Rajsko, where they hid in the granary of an Auschwitz satellite camp, but the SS pursued and killed them by setting the granary on fire.

By the time the uprising at crematorium IV had been suppressed, 212 members of the Sonderkommando were still alive and 451 had been killed.

Ella Gärtner, Róża Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn and Estera Wajcblum, more then likely these names mean nothing to you. But these 4 young women showed a bravery that would make the bravery of any hardened warrior pale in comparison.

By 1943, the four women named above were all imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Three of the women, Ella, Regina and Estera, were assigned to work in the munitions factory adjacent to Auschwitz. Recruited by Róża Robota, who worked in Auschwitz’s clothing depot (known as “Canadakommando,” these men and women had the awful task of sorting through the clothing discarded by murdered Jews)recruited them to smuggle tiny quantities of gunpowder out of the factory.

Inside the Sonderkommando, Salmen Lewental coordinated the plans for revolt. His record, written at the time in a small notebook and then buried in a jar under the earth, is the principle source for the events of 7 October 1944.

The Birkenau camp records show that four days earlier, on October 3, the number of Jews in the Sonderkommando at Crematorium II was 169, divided into a day shift and a night shift. At Crematorium III there were also 169 Sonderkommando on October 3, likewise divided, and at Crematorium IV a total of 154, also in two shifts. With the gassing at Birkenau coming to an end, the Sonderkommando were alert to any indication that their days too might be numbered, they who in their gruesome task were given the privilege of ample food and blankets, and such “comforts” as they might need in their barracks.

On the morning of Saturday, October 7, the senior Sonderkommando man at Crematorium IV was ordered to draw up lists for “evacuation” of three hundred men at noon that same day. Fearing that this was a prelude to destruction, he refused to do so. The SS ordered a roll-call for noon. The purpose of the roll-call, the Jews were told, was that they were to be sent away by train to work in another camp. As the SS Staff Sergeant called out their numbers, however, only a few men answered.

After repeated calls and threats, Chaim Neuhof, a Jew from Sosnowice who had worked in the Sonderkommando since 1942, stepped forward. He approached the SS Staff Sergeant, talked to him, and gesticulated. When the SS man reached for his gun, Neuhof, loudly yelling the password “Hurrah”, struck the SS man on the head with his hammer. The SS man fell to the ground. The other prisoners then echoed Neuhof’s “Hurrah” and threw stones at the SS.

Some of the Sonderkommando at Crematorium IV attacked the SS so viciously with axes, picks and crowbars that several SS men fell wounded and bleeding to the ground. Other SS men sought cover behind the barbed-wire fence, shooting at the prisoners with their pistols.

Some of the prisoners then managed to run into their empty barracks, where there were hundreds of straw mattresses n the wooden bunks. They set the mattresses on fire. The fire spread at once to the wooden roof of Crematorium IV.

The arrival of SS reinforcements on motorcycles, from the SS barracks inside Birkenau, brought the revolt at Crematorium IV to an end. All those who had taken up weapons, and all who had set fire to the crematorium roof, were machine-gunned.

Crematorium 4 was damaged beyond repair and never used again.

Some of the men were spared for interrogation, but the bodies of the 12th Sonderkommando are soon disposed of by the 13th Sonderkommando.

The men gave up names, including those of the 4 women who were engaged in smuggling gunpowder. Despite months of beatings and rape and electric shocks to their genitals, the only names given up by the women are those of already dead sonderkommando.

On January 5, 1945, the four women were hanged in front of the assembled women’s camp. Roza Robota shouted “Be strong and be brave” as the trapdoor dropped.

On January 27th,1945 the camp was liberated.

sources

https://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/resistance/prisoner-mutinies/

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/auschwitz-revolt

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-revolt-at-auschwitz-birkenau

The Dutch in the Sonderkommando of Auschwitz

Before I go into the main story, I just want to point out the most disturbing aspect of the picture above. At the very front is a lady carrying a baby. We know now what her fate would have been. It is a disturbing sight on an old photograph, so just imagine how disturbing this most have been for those who were forced to help the Nazis in their crimes. These men would have also know what fate awaited the lady and her baby, and they could nothing about it, to safeguard their own survival and perhaps of their family. Or at least the notion that they perhaps would survive.

Sonderkommandos were work units made up of German Nazi death camp prisoners. They were composed of prisoners, usually Jews, who were forced, on threat of their own deaths, to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust. The death-camp Sonderkommandos, who were always prisoners and victims themselves, were unrelated to the SS-Sonderkommandos, which were ad hoc units formed from members of various SS offices between 1938 and 1945.

This blog is not to judge those were forced into the Sonderkommandos, none of us can judge because we were never put in that situation. This blog is about a few of the Dutch Jews who were forced into the Sonderkommandos in Auschwitz.

With the arrival of a deportation train in Auschwitz, the work of the Sonderkommandos began. They had to escort the victims to the gas chamber, reassure them and collect their belongings. After the victims were gassed, the members of the Sonderkommandos moved the corpses from the gas chamber and took them to the incineration pits or crematoria. For this arduous work, Jewish men are selected on the platform, including one hundred to one hundred and fifty Dutch. They were forced to become part of the Nazi killing machine at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

During the invasion of the German army of the Netherlands in May 1940, Josef van Rijk fought with the reserve company De Jagers in The Hague against the Germans. During that time Josef shot d a German paratrooper, and killed him. Maurice Schellekes is a tailor and didn’t notice much of the German invasion. But both Jewish men soon had to deal with the persecution of the Jews in the occupied Netherlands. Josef is fired from De Bijenkorf in The Hague and Maurice was sent the Jewish labor camp Kremboong on March 31, 1942.

Josef tries to flee to Switzerland, but is arrested during a check at Amsterdam Central Station. He is imprisoned in the prison on the Amstelveenseweg and is soon transferred to Camp Westerbork. Maurice also flees after rumors that Kremboong will be evicted. He goes into hiding in Amsterdam. On August 6, 1942, Maurice goes outside to get razors and is arrested. He also ends up in Camp Westerbork.

Josef and Maurice both only spent a brief time in Camp Westerbork. Because they were arrested after an attempt to flee and trying to go into hiding, the men are considered ‘criminal cases’. They were deported on 10 August 1942 from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz.

The following day they arrive at the extermination camp and are selected to work in the Sonderkommando. Maurice works at the mass graves in the open Sonderkommando of Bunker II. Josef buries the corpses after they are taken from Bunker II to the mass graves via a narrow gauge railway with a small wagon.

Working in the Sonderkommando was physically very demanding. In the scorching August sun, the men barely get a drink. The SS and Kapos guarding them constantly mistreated the men. But then suddenly there was a way out. All Dutchmen were called upon to participate. The men of the Sonderkommando were not allowed to leave at all.

This saved Josef and Maurice’s lives. The group of 1200 Dutch people had to undress and were inspected. The healthy men, including Josef and Maurice, were given clean camp clothes, leave Birkenau and walk to Auschwitz. The other Dutch were gassed. Josef and Maurice end up in the Kanada-Kommando.

–When the selection process was complete, a work group of prisoners called the ‘Kanada Kommando’ collected the belongings of victims and took them to the ‘Kanada’ warehouse facility for sorting and transporting back to Germany.

To prisoners Canada was a country that symbolised wealth. They, therefore, gave the ironic name Kanada (the German spelling of Canada) to the warehouse area as it was full of possessions, clothing and jewellery.–

Both Josef and Maurice survived the war.

“An intertwined mass of people – tangle of people – who could only be separated by moistening them. They were sprayed wet. (..) By just pulling you took the bodies out, like a bunch of animals. We have been horrified done that for a few days but by then we were already used to it.”: Josef van Rijk

“I realized that this mound was loose earth, shoveled from the ground where there was now a mass grave filled with rows of women’s bodies covered with quicklime. It was such a terrible sight that words on paper simply cannot describe it. There was the work that was waiting for me.”: Maurice Schellekes

At the end of 1943 a new group of Dutchmen ended up in the Sonderkommando. Including Samuel Zoute who arrived on 21 October 1943. Before the war, he sold fruit and vegetables on the Albert Cuyp market. On 19 October 1943, Samuel is deported from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz, together with his wife Doortje and four children. Doortje, Rachel, Abraham and Simon are gassed immediately. Eldest son Maurits is selected for labour, until he too is gassed. Samuel found his son Maurits among the gassed people and had to burn him.

On August 17, 1943, Abraham Beesemer, Joseph Peperroot, Salomon van Sijs and Louis Elzas arrived in Auschwitz. The men were first in the quarantine block and at the beginning of January 1944 they ended up together in the Sonderkommando. Jacob Beesemer, Abraham’s brother, was later also selected for the Sonderkommando.

These Dutchmen were also looking for a way out of the Sonderkommando. The number of incoming transports decreased and the Sonderkommandos were slowly reduced. The threat of the complete liquidation of the Sonderkommandos hung in the air. On October 7, 1944, a prisoner knocked down an SS man with a hammer and started the uprising. Several Sonderkommandos revolt. One of the crematoria is blown up and hundreds of Sonderkommando prisoners flee the camp. Three SS men and about 450 Sonderkommando prisoners were killed. The brothers Abraham and Jacob, Salomon, Joseph and Louis were murdered by the SS. Samuel Zoute and Hagenaar Henry Bronkhorst worked at other crematoria in other Sonderkommandos and managed to survive the uprising.

After the uprising, Henry Bronkhorst, Samuel Zoute, Maurice Schellekes and Josef van Rijk are still alive. As the Russians approach, the death marches begin to clear the camp. Henry Bronkhorst is the only one who manages to mix with the other prisoners and thus remain in Auschwitz until its liberation by the Russians on January 27, 1945. The rest are forced to join the death marches: Samuel, Maurice and Josef leave Auschwitz. Samuel ends up in Mauthausen, he is murdered on March 7, 1945. Maurice ends up in Ebensee, a satellite camp of Mauthausen, and is liberated by the Americans on May 6, 1945. Josef ends up in Leitmeritz, a subcamp of Flossenbürg and is liberated by the Russians on 9 May 1945.

sources

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/album_auschwitz/kanada.asp

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/artikel/nederlanders-het-sonderkommando-van-auschwitz

Donation

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Emile Franken’s testimony in Cartoon form.

A picture tells a thousand words, and in this case they really do, The drawings and cartoon are made by Emile Franken. I am not sure what happened to Emile. I do know he was born on April 15,1921, somewhere in the Netherlands.

I also know he spent time in Vught concentration camp, and from there he was transported to Westerbork on October 18,1943. After that he must have been deported to Auschwitz Birkenau, because his art is about Birkenau. The caption of the drawing at the top of the blog says “`Breaktime at the planes Birkenau’ Auschwitz Birkenau (concentration camp).”

`Life in Lower Birkenau Poland 1944 Latrine at Night in Block.’ Auschwitz Birkenau (Concentration camp).

`Arrival and transport in Birkenau , Selection for crematorium, The last clothes are taken away, Hair cutting”

I don’t know if Emile survived, I doubt it very much but his drawings make his experiences crystal clear. I suppose nowadays the could be called memes, but memes are supposed to be funny or satirical, There is nothing funny about these, they portray pure reality.

source

Eduard and Alexander Hornemann-used as experiments and murdered

Eduard and Alexander Hornemann are two of the 20 Bullenhuser Damm children who were murdered on April 20,1945. I have written about the Bullenhuser Damm children before, but I just want to focus on these 2 brothers now. The reason being , at another time it could have been my boys whose names would have been on that list.

Like Eduard and Alexander’s father, I too worked for Philips at one stage in my life.

Eduard, the elder of the two Hornemann brothers, was born on 1 January, 1933. He was known as Edo in the family. Alexander was born on 31 May 1936 and was nicknamed Lexje. The family were from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

The father, Philip (aka Flip)Carel Hornemann, worked for Philips. After the occupation of the Netherlands by German forces, he and another 100 Jewish colleagues were deployed into a special department of the company. His wife Elisabeth hid on a farm with their son Alexander, whilst Eduard was taken in on another farm. When the Jewish employees of Philips were taken to Vught Concentration camp, Elisabeth Hornemann followed her husband with her two sons.

On August 18, 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven, and arrested all the Jews. Philip Carel Hornemann and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed over 3,000 of the prisoners.

The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living together with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Alexander’s mother that the company could guarantee her family’s safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.

But prior to that their lives had already been interrupted. In 1942 the family lived in the Staringstraat in Eindhoven. The Nazis them to move to Gagelstraat, because they have to make way for a Nazi-minded family.

On June 3, 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The 2 boys remained with their mother and were sent to the women’s barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food, and disease was rampant. Alexander’s mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival, and died soon after. Philip died from exhaustion on transport to another camp.

Kurt Heissmeyer was a SS physician and the nephew of the senior SS officer August Heissmeyer. He was working to obtain his Professorship, which required original research.

Although previously research was dismissed ,Heissmeyer’s hypothesis was that injecting of live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects , the bacilli would function as a vaccine. Another aspect of his experiment was based on the Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis. By proving his theory he injected live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of 20 Jewish children, at the Neuengamme concentration camp. These were the 20 children selected by Joseph Mengele, amongst them were the 2 Hornemann boys. Eduard and Alexander Hornemann were brought to Neuengamme Concentration Camp on 28 November 1944.

On April 20, 1945, the children are taken to the abandoned Bullenhuser Schule. They were cheerful, happy to get out of the camp. The children were given a morphine injection that evening. Just before the injection, they were that they will be “put to bed quickly”. That night, all twenty children were killed by hanging in the basement of the Bullenhuser Schule.

On April 20, 1945, the British were less than three miles from the camp

“I don’t think that camp inmates are worth the same as people,” said 61-year-old Kurt Heissmeyer on June 21, 1966. “Why didn’t you use laboratory animals?” is the question he is asked. “Because there is no difference between laboratory animals and humans”, replies Heissmeyer. He then corrected himself: “Between laboratory animals and Jews”

Heissmeyer died on 29 August 1967.

sources

http://www.philips-kommando.nl/blauw_persoon15.html

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/artikel/de-broertjes-hornemann-medische-experimenten-nazi-kampen

http://www.kinder-vom-bullenhuser-damm.de/_english/eduard_und_alexander_hornemann.php

https://www.museumoftolerance.com/education/teacher-resources/holocaust-resources/children-of-the-holocaust/alexander-hornemann.html

The murder of Philibert Steinbach- a boy from Geleen

Geleen is a small former mining town in the province of Limburg, in the south east of the Netherlands. It is not a particular famous place, although it is the place where the first professional football was played in the Netherlands, and it used to host one of the world’s biggest rock festivals’PinkPop’

It is also the place where I was born and a boy called Philibert Steinbach. Most of us will have seen the picture of his sister ,Settela Steinbach.

Philibert Steinbach was born in Geleen on September 4, 1932. On May 16, 1944, Philibert Steinbach was arrested in Eindhoven. From May 16, 1944 to May 19, 1944 Philibert Steinbach was imprisoned in Camp Westerbork. From May 22, 1944 to August 3, 1944 Philibert Steinbach was in the Gypsy Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Sinti and Roma had to live in assembly camps outside cities from 22 June 1943, such as near The Hague or Eindhoven. At the behest of the Nazi occupier, the caravans were pulled together here and the Sinti and Roma concentrated. From that moment on, the Sinti and Roma were forced to live in the assembly camps or in a house. This made it easier for the occupier to arrest the Sinti and Roma a year later during the gypsy roundup.

Not the actual camp where the Steinbach family stayed.

The travel ban for Sinti and Roma , also known as the towing ban, was introduced on 1 July 1943. The wheels of the caravans were confiscated or had to be removed. Horses were also seized.

From May 22, 1944 to August 3, 1944 Philibert Steinbach was imprisoned in the Gypsy Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. On August 3, 1944 Philibert Steinbach was murdered in Auschwitz, he was aged 11.

The Sinti and Roma were seen by the Nazis as an inferior race and were persecuted for that reason. About 500 Sinti and Roma were deported from the Netherlands, almost the entire community. Across Europe, it is estimated that some 500,000 Sinti and Roma were murdered in concentration camps.

The picture at the top of the blog is an old picture of the start of the street in Geleen where I I grew up. When I was 11 I felt very safe and secure, due to a large part of my family living in the street. Nearly every second house would be occupied by an uncle, aunt or older cousin. Despite the fact that Philibert had a large family, he never enjoyed that safety. Most of his family were murdered just like him.

Only recently I discovered that I am related to the Steinbach family via some in laws. 77 years after the war I am still discovering new aspects of the horrors of the Holocaust.

This is the only official document I could find of Philibert, it was issued by the war graves foundation on February 26,1958.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/tijdlijn/Philibert-Steinbach/01/102563

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/familie-Steinbach

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/658691/philibert-steinbach

January 17,1945 evacuation Auschwitz.

There are so few things that make sense in relation to the Holocaust, in fact there is nothing that make sense.

On January 17,1945

In mid-January 1945,the SS began evacuating Auschwitz and its subcamps. SS units forced nearly 60,000 prisoners to march west from the Auschwitz camp system. This murderous evacuation, known as the “Death March,” cost many of them their lives.

Thousands had been killed in the camps in the days before these death marches began. Tens of thousands of prisoners, mostly Jews, were forced to march either northwest for 55 kilometers (approximately 30 miles) to Gliwice (Gleiwitz), joined by prisoners from subcamps in East Upper Silesia, or due west for 63 kilometers (approximately 35 miles) to Wodzislaw (Loslau) in the western part of Upper Silesia, joined by inmates from the subcamps to the south of Auschwitz. SS guards shot anyone who fell behind or could not continue. Prisoners also suffered from the cold weather, starvation, and exposure on these marches. At least 3,000 prisoners died on route to Gliwice alone; possibly as many as 15,000 prisoners died during the evacuation marches from Auschwitz and the subcamps.

When you analyze this in a clinical way, the whole operation makes no sense. It is senseless from a military point of view, because they knew the Soviets were approaching, so why waste resources. Why not just leave them all in the camps and leave the Soviets deal with the prisoners, which would have delayed them.

It makes no sense on a human level either, purely because nothing made sense on a human level when it comes to the Holocaust.

Similar marches were taking place all across the eastern front after the SS chief Heinrich Himmler ordered that all able-bodied prisoners be taken to the Reich. But these able bodied prisoners would have been so weakened already, and even more so after the marches.

Although death might not have been the goal of the marches, that was however the fate of many, as the scattered gravestones that remain along these roads today still testify.

One of the survivors, Zofia Posmysz, recalled her inmate number: 7566. she remembered the biting cold on the night the guards gathered thousands of women outside the gates of Birkenau.

“We didn’t know what it meant that we would leave the camp,” she said. “We didn’t know if we would have to undergo some sort of selection”.

“We heard that those who could not walk would get to stay in the hospital, but we weren’t sure if they would be kept alive. We knew nothing and worried.”

Aside from the bitter cold and the physical violence, the victims were subjected to mental torture because they didn’t know what fate awaited them .

The march lasted until January 21,1945. Six days later, January 27,1945. Auschwitz was liberated.

Sources

https://www.niod.nl/en/collections/image-bank-ww2

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/death-march-from-auschwitz

http://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/evacuation/in-the-wake-of-death-march/

http://www.auschwitz.org/en/history/evacuation/in-the-wake-of-death-march/

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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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Playing music for Mengele and the SS.

Gustav Mahler is one of the most famous classical music composers and conductors of all time. Yet, his music was considered as degenerate by the Nazi regime, and was therefore banned in Germany and all the occupies territories. It was not because Mahler was a bad composer but because he was Jewish.

However the Nazis had no issues being musically entertained by Mahler’s niece, Alma Rosé. In fact Alma was selected to play in and conduct the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.

The orchestra was formed in April 1943 by SS-Oberaufseherin Maria Mandel, supervisor of the women’s camp in Auschwitz, and SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer Franz Hössler, the women’s camp commandant. The Nazis wanted a propaganda tool for visitors and camp newsreels and a tool to boost camp morale.

Rosé’s arrival at the camp’s railway siding was in bitter contrast to her previous engagements in nearby Krakow, Poland, just a 45-minute drive away. She had appeared there at least twice – as a violinist appearing with her former husband, the Czech violin virtuoso Váša Příhoda, and in 1935 as a conductor of her celebrated women’s orchestra, the elegant Wiener Walzermädeln which she founded and led throughout Europe.

The orchestra had 20 members by June 1943; by 1944 it had 42–47 musicians Its primary role was to play (often for hours on end in all weather conditions) at the gate of the women’s camp when the work gangs left and returned. They might also play during “selection” and in the infirmary.

They would rehearse for up to ten hours a day to play music regarded as helpful in the daily running of the camp. They also held a concert every Sunday for the SS.

For the orchestra’s concerts the women wore blue pleated skirts, white blouses and lavender-coloured kerchief head coverings.

Anita Lasker-Wallfisch was a cellist in the orchestra and she recalled in her memoirs, and in a documentary called “We want the light” the orchestra being told to play Schumann’s Träumerei for Josef Mengele.

According to one report of a concert in the bath-house, a number of SS women were joking and interrupting the performance in which Alma Rosé was playing a solo. She stopped and angrily said: ‘Like that, I cannot play.’ Silence followed; she then played, and no one disciplined her.

Alma Rosé was even able to convince the Nazis to spare her musicians from selections for the gas chambers. When mandolin player Rachela Zelmanowicz was in the infirmary with typhus,which would be a death sentence for any other prisoner,Josef Mengele was prepared to send her to the gas chambers. “What’s with this one?” he asked during his rounds. “She’s from the orchestra.”

Mengele continued on his way without any further discussion. As a member of Rosé’s orchestra, Zelmanowicz was untouchable even by him. Her life was spared.

Alma Rosé died suddenly on 5 April 1944, possibly from food poisoning, after a birthday celebration for a kapo

On 1 November 1944, the Jewish members of the women’s orchestra were evacuated by cattle car to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, where there was neither orchestra nor special privileges.Three members, Charlotte “Lola” Croner, Julie Stroumsa and Else, died there.

sources

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/camps/death-camps/auschwitz/camp-orchestras/

https://www.facinghistory.org/music-memory-and-resistance-during-holocaust/birkenau-womens-camp-orchestra

https://www.thestrad.com/alma-rose-the-violinist-who-brought-music-to-auschwitz/341.article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0074r0r

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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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Edith Frank ,mother of Anne and Margot.

In late morning of August 4, 1944, Dutch police entered the “Secret
Annex” and arrested the Frank family, the van Pels family, and Fritz Pfeffer, as well as Johannes Kleiman and Victor Kugler, who worked at Opetka, Otto Frank was the managing director of Opetka, and had been helping to hide the residents.

On August 8.1944 After several days in police custody in Amsterdam, the eight residents of the “Secret Annex” were deported by train to Westerbork, a large transit camp in the Netherlands. There, they were placed in a
punishment barrack, because going into hiding was considered a criminal act.

I have often though how horrific that time must have been for Edith Frank. Not knowing what was going to happen next to her daughters. I can only imagine that her main concern was the wellbeing of her children.

Edith was the youngest of four children, she was born on January 16,1900 into a German Jewish family in Aachen, Germany. Her father, Abraham Holländer was a successful businessman in industrial equipment who was prominent in the Aachen Jewish community together with Edith’s mother, Rosa Stern . The ancestors of the Holländer family lived in Amsterdam at the start of the 18th century, emigrating from the Netherlands to Germany around 1800. Edith’s maiden name name, Holländer, is German for “Dutchman” Edith had two older brothers, Julius and Walter ), and an older sister, Bettina. Bettina died at the age of 16 due to appendicitis when Edith was just 14. Both Julius and Walter made it to the United States in 1938, surviving the Holocaust. The Holländer family adhered to Jewish dietary laws and was considered to be religious. Nevertheless, Edith attended the Evangelical Higher Girls’ School and passed her school-leaving exams (Abitur) in 1916. Afterwards, she worked for the family company. In her free time, she read copiously, played tennis, went swimming and had a large circle of friends.

She met Otto Frank in 1924 and they married on his 36th birthday, 12 May 1925, at Aachen’s synagogue. They had two daughters born in Frankfurt, Margot, born 16 February 1926, followed by Anne, born 12 June 1929.

In 1933 the Frank family moved to the Netherlands worried about the Nazi persecution of German Jews, Otto Frank traveled to Amsterdam.

Although she returned to the home of her ancestors, Edith found emigration to the Netherlands difficult. The family lived in confined conditions and she struggled with the new language. She remained in contact with her family and friends in Germany, but also made new friends in Amsterdam, most of them fellow German refugees. Edith was an open-minded woman who educated her daughters in a modern way. Her mother Rosa Holländer-Stern left Aachen in 1939 to join the Frank family in Amsterdam, where she died in January 1942.

Aachen is only a few kilometers away from the south eastern Dutch border.

Anne had not much sympathy for her mother during their turbulent years in the annex, and she had few kind words to say about her, especially in the earlier entries of her diary. But then again what teenage girl has good things to say about her mother or father for that matter, teenagers always know best. Later on in her diary Anne, changes her view on her mother. As Anne gets older she gets a more objective a perspective, and has more sympathetic feelings for her mother.

On September 3,1944 Edith and those with whom she had been in hiding were transported to the Westerbork to Auschwitz, on the last train to be dispatched from Westerbork to Auschwitz.

All of the “Annex” residents survived the initial selection, but the men were separated from the women. Edith Frank never saw her husband again. This was not the last separation for Edith. On October 30,1944 another selection separated Edith from Anne and Margot. Edith was selected for the gas chambers, and her daughters were transported to Bergen-Belsen. Edith managed to escape with a friend to another section of the camp, where she remained through the winter. Edith became very ill and died of illness and starvation on January 6,1945. 3 weeks before the Red Army liberated Auschwitz and 10 days before her 45th birthday.

sources

https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/d/the-diary-of-anne-frank/character-analysis/mrs-frank

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/reconstruction-arrest-people-hiding/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/annefrank/biogs/edithfrank.shtml

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Dagobert Stibbe- Not just a name or statistic, but a Human Being.

Dagobert Stibbe was born in Amsterdam, 13 October 1918. He was murdered in Auschwitz, 23 June 1943.

He was a student at the Technische Hogeschool(Technical University)Delft. He tried to escape to Switzerland, but this failed. He was caught on 2 June 1943 just 15 meters away from French-Swiss border. He was sent to the transit camp Drancy in France From there he was deported to the ‘Aussenkommando Jawischowitz’, that was part of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp.

There he had to work in a coal mine. His last letter was sent on June 18,1943.

But he was not just a victim of the Holocaust. He was also a student, a son, a friend. A Human Being who contributed to society. A young man who still had a life to live.

His fellow students from the Lyceum in Amsterdam, where he as a student in 1935, were very fond of him. He was described as a spontaneous, lively young man. He played the accordion, and his awkwardness endeared him to the people around him. His honesty and his bravery to stand up for his convictions made him stand out. He was overall a fun guy to be around.

His fellow students were so fond of him that they couldn’t bother finding out the actual date he died. In a memorial piece about him they said that he died after July in the coal mine. The memorial was posted in 1947, 2 years after the war. However in their defense the date of June 23, appears to be an estimate. On his death certificate the date is given between June 23,1943 and May 1, 1945.

I often see these types of memorials of victims of the Holocaust, written or compiled by friends or colleagues. But to me they really are quite hollow. I don’t want to be judgmental, but what did they do to help the victims?

I know it is easy for me to say because I was never put in that situation, but I would hope I would at least have some level of bravery, even if it was to speak out.

Sources

https://www.oorlogslevens.nl/tijdlijn/Dagobert-Stibbe/02/148282

https://www.wiewaswie.nl/nl/detail/85029256

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/149814/dagobert-stibbe

https://www.geni.com/people/Dagobert-Stibbe/6000000000351944519

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I am passionate about my site and I know 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. Thank you. 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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