Otto Frank

On this day 40 years ago. Otto Frank passed away, aged 91.

On may 15 1945 he wrote the following letter while on board the Monowai steamship. This was exactly 5 years after the Dutch had capitulated to the Germans.

“The closer we get to home the greater our impatience to hear from our loved ones. Everything that’s happened the past few years! Until our arrest I don’t know exactly what caused it, even now, at least we still had contact with each other. I don’t know what’s happened since then. Kugler and Kleiman and especially Miep and her husband and Bep Voskuil provided us with everything for two whole years, with incomparable devotion and sacrifice and despite all danger. I can’t even begin to describe it. How will I ever begin to repay everything they did. But what has happened since then? To them, to you to Robert [Otto’s brother]. Are you in touch with Julius and Walter? [Edith Frank’s brothers] All our possessions are gone. There won’t be a pin left, the Germans stole everything. Not a photo, letter or document remains. Financially we were fine in the past few years, I earned good money and saved it. Now it’s all gone. But I don’t think about any of that. We have lived through too much to worry about that kind of thing. Only the children matter, the children. I hope to get news from you immediately. Maybe you’ve already heard news about the girls”

We all know Anne and Margot’s history but we know little about their Fathert Otto.

During WW1 he enlisted in the German army 1915. He was part of a ‘Lichtmesstrupp’, a unit that analysed where enemy artillery fire came from.In 1917 he was promoted in the field to lieutenant and served at the Battle of CambraiIn

In 1933 due to the rise of Nazism in Germany he moved his family to the Netherlands, eventually settling in Amsterdam. In 1937 he had plans setting up a business in Great Britain, but the plans never worked out.

He tried to obtain a Visa for the USA but this was denied.

In July 1942 the Frank family and other went into hiding in the secret annex in the company building on the Prinsengracht.

On 4 August 1944, Dutch police officers headed by SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Josef Silberbauer unexpectedly raided the Secret Annex. The hiding place had been discovered. Otto and the other people in hiding were arrested.

In September,1944 Otto Frank was separated forever from his wife and daughters.

After the separation on the Auschwitz-Birkenau platform, Otto was at first as put to work outside the camp in the ‘Kommando Kiesgrube’, a gravel mine,whichl was used for construction projects. Then, he was transferred to the ‘Kommando Strassenbau’, building roads outside the camp. When the frost made working outdoors impossible, Otto ended up with less exhausting work like peeling potatoes. Otto felt greatly supported by Peter van Pels, who would sometimes be able to get some extra food through his job in the camp’s post office. He was also helped by other friends in the camp. When at one point, Otto lost hope after he had been beaten, his fellow inmates, with the help of a Dutch doctor, made sure that he was admitted to the sick barracks. When the Soviet troops came closer, the camp command cleared Auschwitz. Anyone who was able to walk, had to come along this march, which turned out to be a death march Otto stayed behind walkin the sick barracks. He was too weak to travel, weighed only 52 kg and was in no condition to join.He expected to be shot but was liberated by the Soviet troops on January 27,1945.

As soon as Otto regained his strenghth, he wanted nothing more than to return to the Netherlands. Since the war was still raging in large parts of Europe, he had to make a long detour. In Odessa (then in the Soviet Union, today in Ukraine) he got on board of the ‘Monowai’, a ship that was heading towards Marseille (France), with hundreds of other survivors.

Di

During this journey he found out that his wife had died in Auschwitz.

His hope that Anne and Margot might have survived were quashed in July 1945, when he met with the Brilleslijper sisters, who had been imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen with Anne and Margot. They told him about their miserable last months and about their deaths due to illness and exhaustion.

Otto Frank married former Amsterdam neighbor and fellow Auschwitz survivor,Elfriede Geiringer in Amsterdam on 10 November 1953, and the couple moved to Basel, Switzerland, where he had family, including relatives’ children, with whom he shared his experiences.

Source

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/main-characters/otto-frank/

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Anne & Kitty

kitty

If there is one thing that Anne Frank’s diary teaches us ,it’s the importance of context. If you take her diary out of context it probably is quite a boring book. But if you leave it in the context and the time it was written in it becomes a powerful story of daily life and the reality of the Holocaust. However what makes it more powerful ten anything else is not how it was written but how it should have ended.

The diary ends abrupt because all those hiding in the annex were arrested in August 1944 and then were deported to several camps, of the 8 people only Anne’s father,Otto, survived. Anne died in Bergen Belsen. Her story should no have ended in death but in survival

The book “The Diary of a Young Girl”  really should never have been written or published, because Anne and her family really should never have been put in the situation that they had to hide,nor should they have ever had to flee their home in Frankfurt, because they were no enemies of any state they were just a normal family, minding their own business .

anne

The book has some versions with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt and in here lies an irony, if her husband had granted the visa to Otto Frank, The Visa Otto Frank had applied for at a time where it was quite clear what fate the Jews awaited in Europe, if that visa had been accepted then the book would never have been published.

To Anne it wasn’t only a diary it was also het best friend she called Kitty, a way of telling her friend of what was happening around her. Some people have criticized Otto Frank for publishing the book in the firts place because they felt it was a violation of the privacy of his youngest daughter, these people do not realize that Anne had wanted her diary to be made public anyway. Shortly after D-Day the Dutch government in exile had announced via Radio Orange BBC, that all documented records would be treated as evidence, that’s why Anne edited her diary so it could be used as a work of evidence.

The Dutch government however treated their Jewish citizens poorly after the war. Many could not return to their homes because others lived there then. Sometimes they were issued with bills for tax arrears.

It was only on January 26,2020 the Dutch prime minister issued an apology for the treatment of the Jews.It was on the 80th birthday of the survivor and campaigner for the apology,Eddy BoasJust 1 day before the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

train

75% or 104,000 of all Dutch Jews were murdered during the Shoah, this was by the far the highest number of Jews,per capita, in all of Europe. The contradictory though is that in February 1941, the Dutch went on strike en mass to protest against the treatment of Jews by the Nazi regime. This was the only mass collective act of defiance against the Nazis in the occupied territories.

I watched the documentary  #AnneFrank – Parallel Stories last night. I didn’t really like the insincerity and overacting of Hellen Mirrens’s reading of the diary but it was a powerful documentary nonetheless, In the film ,Ronald Leopold, the Executive Director of the Anne Frank House said something very important and something I totally agree with, it does explain to an extend why so many of the Dutch Jews were deported and murdered. It was all about choices , some choose to resist, some choose to collaborate but the majority choose to do nothing.

We all have to ensure that we never ever choose to do nothing again. The fight against Holocaust denial and anti semitism should not be on the shoulders of the survivors and their families, it is a fight we all must fight otherwise words like Never Again or Nver Forget become hollow slogans.

Anne Frank had Kitty to relay her message to, we have the whole world via internet and social media.

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Sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-51258081

https://www.netflix.com/ie/title/81264660

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/the-netherlands

 

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.

5000 bodies

5000

One sign, 2 languages, 5000 bodies.

A sign that explains that a number of 5000 bodies are buried there. No individual graves with head stones. No individual places where family members leave small artifacts or flowers.

No place to gather around a single grave to say a prayer.

Some of those 5000 may have been complete families wiped out by the worst disease of all, hate. Hate because they were different, and yet they were not. They were the same human beings who experience sunlight  and rain in exactly the same way as anyone else.

They were killed by hate fueled by a sick and twisted political ideology.

The sign was posted in Bergen Belsen. The sad thing is that those 5000 were only 10% of all who were killed there. But even before they died there poor sanitary conditions, and not enough adequate food, water, and shelter which  led to an outbreak of  horrible diseases like typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and dysentery. Thousands died in the last few months of the camp. They were so near to liberation and yet they were so far.

So much potential destroyed, and why??

5000 nameless but not forgotten.

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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.

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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

 

The conditions at Bergen Belsen.

Bergen Belsen

I was in two minds on how to do this blog. Initially I was considering adding graphic pictures to accompany the text , but then I thought that the pictures may just be too horrific and it would turn people away from reading the text. Additionally there would be a chance that this blog would be deleted on social media outlet, and there would be a chance that I’d get banned again.

Therefore on this occasion I believe the text will be more then sufficient to give an understanding how the conditions were in Bergen Belsen.

It was originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1940. However in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. The camp was liberated on April 15,1945.

liberated sign

Below are 2 testimonies of witnesses, describing the horrors of the camp. The first account is a part of a description of conditions at the camp on 16 April, 1945, taken from file WO 235/19/76008 at the National Archives UK. The author’s name is not mentioned.

The second account is from  survivor Dora Almaleh, prepared for British War Crimes Tribunal, 13 June 1945 .

compound

Men’s Compounds.

No.1.

Typhus was on the wane and reached its peak in March. It is understood that it commenced early in February.

No. 2

This was the largest men’s compound and contained approx 8,000. Typhus had commenced here at a later date than in Compound 1 and had now reached its peak. There were 266 cases and new cases were still occurring, but the medical members considered the worst was over. It was in this Compound that the story of cannibalism was reported to me by one of the doctors. There had been none for the last 2 days but before that there had been many cases.

account

Transcript

IN THE MATTER OF WAR CRIMES

AND

ATTROCITIES AT BELSEN

DEPOSITION OF DORA ALMALEH (Female) late of 19B Othos Peve Ganna, Salonika, Greece, sworn before Major SAVILE GEOFFREY CHAMPION, Royal Artillery, Legal Staff, No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team.

1. I am 21 years of age and because I am a Jewess I was arrested on 1st April 1942 and taken to Auschwitz Concentration Camp where I remained until I was transferred to Belsen in November 1944.

2. I recognize No. 2 on photograph 22 as an S.S. woman at Belsen. I knew here by the name of HILDE and I have now been told that her full name is HILDE LISIEWITZ. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was one of a working party detailed to carry vegetables from the store to the kitchen by means of a hand card. In charge of this working party was LISIEWITZ. Whilst I was on this job I allowed two male prisoners, whose names I do not know, to take two turnips off the cart. LISIEWITZ saw me do this and she pushed the men, who were very weak to the ground and then beat them on their heads with a thick stick which she always carried. She then stamped on their chests in the region of the heart with her jack-boots. The men lay still clutching the turnips. LISIEWITZ then got hold of me and shook me until I started to cry. She the said ‘Don’t cry or I’ll kill you too’.

(In the picture below)Hilde Lisiewitz is second from the left)

guards

She then went away and after 15 minutes I went up to the men and touched them to see if they were still alive. I formed the opinion that they were dead. I felt their hearts and could feel nothing. They were cold to the touch like dead men. I then went away leaving the bodies lying there and I do not know what happened to them.

3. I recognize No. 1 on photograph No. 5 as an S.S. man at Belsen who was in charge of the bread store. I have now been told that his name is KARL EGERSDORF. One day in April 1945 whilst at Belsen I was working in the vegetable store when I saw a Hungarian girl, whose name I do not know, come out of the bread store nearby carrying a loaf of bread. At this moment EGERSDORF appeared in the street and at a distance of about 6 meters from the girl shouted ‘What are you doing here?’. The girl replied ‘I am hungry’ and then started to run away. EGERSDORF immediately pulled out his pistol and shot the girl. She fell down and lay still bleeding from the back of the head where the bullet had penetrated. EGERSDORF then went away and a few minutes later I went and looked at the girl. I am sure she was dead and men who were passing by looked at her and were of the same opinion. The bullet had entered in the centre of the back of the head.

(In the picture below,Karl Egersdorf is first on the left. )

male gurads

I do not know what happened to her body.

SWORN BY THE SAID DEPONENT DORA ALMALEH AT BELSEN THIS 13TH DAY OF JUNE 1945, BEFORE ME

S.G. Champion [Signed]

Major R.A.

I HEREBY CERTIFY that, the said Deponent not understanding English, this Affidavit was translated in my presence to the said Deponent before swearing and I am satisfied that its contents were fully understood by the said Deponent.

Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. S.G.Champion[signed] Major R.A. I HEREBY CERTIFY that I have accurately translated this Affidavit to the said Deponent. Dated this 13th day of JUNE 1945. [signed] It appears to be a matter for medical evidence as to whether it is possible for a human body to have lost its warmth by death within 15 minutes, even where the man was in a weak state and had been savagely assaulted.

S.G.Champion

Major R.A.

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Sources

The National Archives UK Government.

 

Dr. Leonhard Levy.

LRVY

I often wonder how many really died during the Holocaust and where they did stop being considered a fatality of the Holocaust?

I think the real numbers are much higher because I don’t think the numbers include victims who died after the war as a direct result of the Holocaust.

Dr. Leonhard Levy was born July 14, 1898, in Hamburg .He married Gertraud Friedländer  in April 1943. I wish I could say more about him, but unfortunately there is not much more I found out. The only thing I know, but I don’t even know for certain is that at some stage he moved to the Netherlands.

What I do know for certain is that he had been imprisoned in Bergen Belsen concentration camp and was liberated from there. However due to the hardships he had endured while imprisoned, he had become very ill.He eventually still succumbed to the horrors of Bergen Belsen and died on November 23,1945,in Vaals , the Netherlands more then 6 Months after the liberation of the Netherlands.

Dutch Notification

He was laid to rest on November 26,1945 in a Cemetery in Maastricht.I know it’s not much but the only consolations is that he died a free man surrounded by people who loved him. His wife survived the war.

begraaf

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Dirk Bogarde-Not just an actor.

Dirk

I don’t know why but ever since I moved to Ireland I have found myself explaining my name quite a bit. I have been called Derek,Declan,Kirk and other variations.Nowadays I usually say “Dirk like Dirk Bogarde” it mostly takes another few minutes for people to get my last name right. Most people will have heard of the actor

He was a British actor although his Father was of Flemish ancestry.

Although I do mention his name while explaining my name to people. I have to be honest. I am no Dirk Bogarde. I wish I was for he was not only a great actor he was also a formidable human being.

I will not go into his acting career but will focus on some of his activities. During the war, Derek Bogarde served in the British Army, at the start with the Royal Corps of Signals before in 1943 being commissioned at the age of 22 into the Queen’s Royal Regiment  as a second lieutenant.

He served for a while at RAF Medmenham a unit specialized in photographic intelligence.  in the Army reconnaissance section as a visual inspector. Analyzing aerial photographs using special glasses to create 3D effects.

3d

2019-03-08 (1)

The unit played a  pivotal role in gathering intelligence  on the V1 and V2 programs.

Bogarde was one of the first Allied officers in April 1945 to reach the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, this experience had the most profound effect on him and about which he found it difficult to speak for many years afterward. In an inteview he described what he saw. He got the dates wrong, the camp was liberated on the 15th of April.

“I think it was on the 13th of April – I’m not quite sure what the date was”  “when we opened up Belsen Camp, which was the first concentration camp any of us had seen, we didn’t even know what they were, we’d heard vague rumours that they were. I mean nothing could be worse than that. The gates were opened and then I realised that I was looking at Dante’s Inferno, I mean … I … I still haven’t seen anything as dreadful. And never will. And a girl came up who spoke English, because she recognised one of the badges, and she … her breasts were like, sort of, empty purses, she had no top on, and a pair of man’s pyjamas, you know, the prison pyjamas, and no hair. But I knew she was girl because of her breasts, which were empty. She was I suppose, oh I don’t know, twenty four, twenty five, and we talked, and she was, you know, so excited and thrilled, and all around us there were mountains of dead people, I mean mountains of them, and they were slushy, and they were slimy, so when you walked through them … or walked – you tried not to, but it was like …. well you just walked through them, and she … there was a very nice British MP, and he said ‘Don’t have any more, come away, come away sir, if you don’t mind, because they’ve all got typhoid and you’ll get it, you shouldn’t be here swanning-around’ and she saw in the back of the jeep, the unexpired portion of the daily ration, wrapped in a piece of the Daily Mirror, and she said could she have it, and he” [the MP] “said ‘Don’t give her food, because they eat it immediately and they die, within ten minutes’, but she didn’t want the food, she wanted the piece of Daily Mirror – she hadn’t seen newsprint for about eight years or five years, whatever it was she had been in the camp for. … she was Estonian. … that’s all she wanted. She gave me a big kiss, which was very moving. The corporal” [MP] “was out of his mind and I was just dragged off. I never saw her again, of course she died. I mean, I gather they all did. But, I can’t really describe it very well, I don’t really want to. I went through some of the huts and there were tiers and tiers of rotting people, but some of them who were alive underneath the rot, and were lifting their heads and trying …. …. trying to do the victory thing. That was the worst.

“After the war I always knew that nothing, nothing, could ever be as bad … … but nothing could frighten me any more, I mean, no man could frighten me any more, no Director … … nothing could be as bad as the war, or the things I saw in the war.”

Bergan

Dirk Bogarde truly remarkable man.

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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

BBC

 

Why? Why? Why?

children

Young human beings why did you have to die?

One of you still has the eyes open but the eyes are without a spark, the life has gone out of them.

I don’t know who these children are, all I know that they died from starvation and typhus and were about to be buried. The only consolation is that they were getting a decent burial arranged by those who liberated Bergen Belsen.

The look of the dead child has touched me more then any other image I have seen before. It touches my heart. Although I don’t know them I feel a pain which is real.

The over sized socks rip my soul apart.

They only died because of the hate of those who did not deem them worthy to live.

Two young human beings who had so much to live for became a statistic. 2 of 13,000 unburied corpses.

But I refuse to see them as a corpse, the body once encompassed a life and a soul. I refuse to see them or any of the victims as a statistic, they are all a part of our history. If we see them as a statistic or some mathematical equation we forget that they could have been a friend,a neighbour, a parent of a spouse, a parent of the lady in the coffee shop who serves you a latte and a muffin once a week, and does it with a smile on her face.

We should never forget that these were human beings.

If we forget our history, we forfeit our future.

WE CAN NEVER EVER FORGET

The last train journey of 2 sisters.

Bergen BelsnTwo sisters, the younger one lively,outgoing and bubbly, the older one a bit more reserved and shy.

Two sisters who were very different and yet in many ways the same,

On October 30, 1944, they both boarded a train. Not to go a big city to go for a shopping spree or to the cinema, like so many teenage girls would have done because it is one of the most normal things for young girls to do.

Nor did they go on a school trip or a holiday.

You see it was not that kind of train where you could sit down relax and enjoy the scenery,slowly passing by your window.

The train these girls were pushed in to was not fit for human beings, but they were not seen as human beings. They were seen as a disease, a plague of some sorts. Vermin and subhumans they were called.

The train left Auschwitz and headed for Bergen Belsen, a journey from one hell to another.

The two girls were Anne and Margot Frank.The dates of their deaths is not even exactly known, either February or March 1945. All that is certain they died in Bergen Belsen just a few weeks before it was liberated.

anne and margot

 

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