The treatment of Dutch Jews after liberation.

I came across this document which made me glad on one hand, but on the other hand it was also disturbing.

But before I go into the details I have to give some background information first. The south of the Netherlands was mostly liberated by October 1944. At that time the Netherlands was made up of 11 provinces(a few decades ago a 12 province was added)

The most southern province is Limburg with the capital Maastricht. In October 1944 the province was governed by the military commissioner.

He received the letter on October 16,1944. It was send to him 3 days earlier.

The letter mentions a bombing which took place on October 5,1942. This was a so called friendly fire bombing by the RAF. It killed 83 in my home town Geleen, and it left thousands homeless. The RAF thought it was Aachen in Germany.

I hadn’t realised that some of the bombs also were dropped on the neighbouring town of Beek.

The letter says that after this bombing, some homeless families in Beek were housed in the homes of Jewish families who had gone in hiding. But now after liberation the Jewish families claimed back their property, understandably so stated the mayor of Beek.

However he said there was one complicated case. A local butcher had his house and shop destroyed by the October 1942 bombing. He was assigned the house and the butcher shop of a Jewish butcher, who had left(turns out he was also in hiding). This arrangement was ordered by the NSB(Dutch Nazi party) mayor of Beek at the time.

But now the Jewish butcher had returned, after liberation, and he wanted his shop and his house back. The mayor asked the military commissioner for advice on what to do in this situation.

What made me glad in this story is that some of these Jewish people had survived the war. What disturbed me was the fact that advise was asked. To me it should have been a clear cut case of just giving back the property to the rightful owner , there should not be a question about it.

This is something what a lot of Dutch Jews experienced after the war, Their property would be occupied by others and more often then not, their houses or apartments would not be returned to them.

source

https://www.rhcl.nl/nl/info/nieuws-map/update-inventarisatieproject-archief-militair-gezag

https://jck.nl/nl/page/beek

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Silvain Wolf-Just a holiday trip

Silvain Wolf was just a footnote in history. But his story is an important one to tell.

He was born on October 7,1902 in Beek, a small town in the province of Limburg, in the South East of the Netherlands.

In 1930 he moved to nearby Sittard, where he got a job with his uncle Adolf Wolf- In the shop Wolf & Hertzdahl. (Which is a shop I often passed when I worked in Sittard.)

On August 25,1942 Silvain got the call to report for labor in Germany. He wanted to hide but was too late. He was initially sent to Westerbork. In Westerbork he wrote a few letters to his family. Below is part of the text of one of those letters.

“We are all good… Mrs van de Hors is keeping well too. Sophie(his sister) needs to remain tough, or do something else……. We had red cabbage and rotten unpeeled potatoes, and will disappoint more often.

You all keep strong, it is just a Holiday trip”

That last line says so much. He was still anticipating a return home. This was because the Nazis had created the illusion that all wasn’t that bad. On August 28,1942 he was put on a transport to Auschwitz.

But Silvain and other men were taken off the train in Kosel ,about 80 km away from Auschwitz. From labor camp Kosel the men were sent to other camps ,after that theirs and Silvain’s fate is unknown. There is only a footnote saying ‘Died in middle Europe’ not even the date is known. They put Silvain’s date of death on April 30,1943 but that is a fictional date.

He was punished and killed because he was Jewish.

sources

https://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/Slachtoffers/Silvain-Wolf

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/123000/silvain-wolf

https://www.tracesofwar.nl/books/1648/Een-voetnoot-bij-de-wereldgeschiedenis.htm

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84 killed by ‘Friendly’ fire.

Friendly fire or amicicide is an attack by a military force on friendly or neutral troops while attempting to attack the enemy. Examples include misidentifying the target as hostile, cross-fire while engaging an enemy, long range ranging errors or inaccuracy. I hate the term ‘friendly’ fire because the end result is still death and destruction

On October 5, 1942 the town of Geleen in the most southern province of the Netherlands ,Limburg. Fell victim to the ‘misidentifying of the target as hostile’

A squadron of 257 RAF bombers were on the way to Aachen in Germany , to bomb the mine ’Anna’ in the German city near the Dutch border. However due to bad weather , and limited vision 30 of the 257 bombers had deviated from their course, When they had reached Geleen and saw the States mine ‘Maurits’ they mistakenly believed they had reached Aachen and therefore they dropped their load.

It resulted in the death of 84 citizens, including an unnamed 12 year old Jewish boy. I have done pieces on this event previously, today I want focus on some of the victims, by means of their prayer cards or the death notifications in the local newspaper.

Maria Gerda Alberigs born on June 25,1925 in the nearby village of Elsloo. She was buried on October 9,1942.

The Lemmns-Voncken family.

Father Frans Lemmens, born 18 January 1897;Mother Elisa Voncken, born in the nearby village of Beek on 72 February 1905.

Children: Rob, born 26 July 1930;Mia born exactly a year later then Rob, July 26, 1931;Jacq, born October 2, 1933; Tini, born October 5, 1934;Annie. Born 26 October 1935;Lenie, Born April 9, 1937.

Tini was killed on her 8th birthday. The funeral mass was carried out by Bishop Guillaume Lemmens. given the fact he has the same surname I presume he was related. Although ‘Lemmens’ is a reasonably common name.

Bishop Guillaume Lemmens was known to be a vocal opponent to the Nazi regime. He wrote several letters in where he accused the Nazis of criminal acts. He also urged parishioners not to to co-operate with the Nazi occupiers in any way shape of form.

Geleen is where I was born and where I grew up. It will always be my hometown it is forever anchored as such in my heart, even though L live in Ireland now.

I only found out about the bombing a few years ago. And only today I found out there is a monument was erected in honor of the victims. The monument also commemorates the gas boiler of the Maurits mine that was shot in flames on September 1st 1944.

sources

https://www.tracesofwar.com/sights/13837/Monument-the-Burned-Gas-Boiler.htm

Bombardement 5 oktober 1942

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The final destination for the Cohen family from Geleen-Auschwitz

Geleen Limburg

This blog will be based on facts and some presumptions, but the presumptions are more then likely correct.

I was going over the history of the deported Jews from my birthplace Geleen, south east of the Netherlands. when I noticed the name of the Cohen family. There is not a lot I know or could find out about them except for the fact they used to have a clothing shop in Geleen and Maastricht  prior to  World War Two.

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I do know they were a family of 6. The Father Simon, the Mother Esthella Carolina Cohen-ten Brink. Daughters Josephine, age 12, Henny age 16.Frieda age 17 and 1 son Gerrit. Gerrit is the only one who survived the war. He died on September 22, 1998, age 76. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Beek, a town a few miles from Geleen.(Picture courtesy of Frank Janssen)

446px-Graf_Gerrit_Cohen_Beek

On 25 August 1942, approximately 20 Jewish citizens were brought to and then deported from town hall by the Germans. The Cohen family were among them. They were then taken to Maastricht.

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On that same day they were put on transport to Westerbork on the 25th of August 1942. On the 28th of August they left Westerbork for Auschwitz where they arrived on the 30th of August.

Simon,Esthella Carolina,Josephine and Frieda all died on the 31st of August. Henny died on the 26th of September.

Gerrit Cohen had escaped on August the 25th  1942. When the Nazis had come for the family he managed to escape via a roof window and went into hiding.

When I mentioned presumptions earlier I was referring to the transport dates, for I do believe they are correct but I could not fully verify them. The transport date from Westerbork  to Auschwitz is correct though.

Treinbord_Westerbork-Auschwitz_Auschwitz_State_Museum

Such was the evilness of the Nazi regime that they even gave people on the transport hope, pretending there was a possible return journey.

One of the citizens of Geleen,Rie op den Camp, mentioned in her diary of the 25th of August 1942, when the Jews were put on transport to Maastricht, she overheard one of the German soldiers saying  “Arme Menschen, wir müssen uns schämen, dass wir zu so eines Volk gehören”, which translates from German to English is “Poor people. we should be ashamed to belong to a people like ours” This indicates that not all Germans subscribed to Adolf Hitler’s ideology but also that they were aware what fate awaited the people on those transports.

kamp westerbork.jpg

 

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