The tragic death of Selma Stibbe-Frank -April 30-1945.

April 30,1945 was a day that would have given a great sense of relief for millions around the globe, that was the day that Adolf Hitler decided to take his own life.

However for a few people it was a day filled with tragedy. Four Dutch Jewish citizens died that day in Bergen Belsen. Although the camp had been liberated a few weeks earlier, most of the people remained in the camp because of fear of disease, and also some were just not healthy enough to be moved.

Laurence Wand one of the liberators said this about that time

“The policy was, right from the beginning, was to get people out of that awful place into proper surroundings and you couldn’t take them out until they’d been cleaned and the army had set up a ‘human laundry’ – or was in the process of setting up a ‘human laundry’ – which consisted of trestle
tables, water supply, trestle tables, a clothing dump, a stretcher dump, old clothing to be discarded, fresh clothing to be provided after the inmates would be brought out of the huts, hosed down, washed down, deloused, and then put into fresh clothes and then evacuated from the camp…The primary task of course was to save life and to get people fed, to get them out of the camp into proper conditions where they could be nursed and looked after and saved from dying.”

Unfortunately many still died

Selma Stibbe-Frank was born in Emmen, the Netherlands, on 2 April 1909 . She died because of her treatment by the Nazis in Bergen Belsen on April 1945. Her husband, Maurits Meijer Stibbe, had been murdered in Auschwitz on January 31,1944.

One of the few things which remain of Selma is a certificate, issued on 19 February 1927 by the management of De Bijenkorf, department store. Selma Frank had been working from 15 November 1924 to 19 February 1927 as an office clerk in the Statistics department. The management wrote in the certificate:

‘She has always carried out the tasks she was given to our satisfaction and her behaviour could not be faulted. Miss Frank leaves our company at her own request’.

Selma’s story is just so tragic, although she had been liberated she never got to enjoy her freedom. She died on the same day as the man who was responsible for her death.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/157577/selma-stibbe-frank#intro

Escaping a Jewish Work camp.

There were 4 concentration camps in the Netherlands. The best known was Westerbork, the other 3 were Vught,Amersfoort and Ommen.

A relatively unknown fact is that there were also an estimated 42 work/labour camps. Between January 1942 and October 1942 , the Jewish work camps in the Netherlands spread across the countrie from which unemployed Jews had to carry out outdoor work.

The work in the camps was heavy, in almost all cases waste ground had to be cleared. The digging is done by hand. The men work long days, from six in the morning to six in the evening.

On the night of October 2–3, 1942, during Yom Kippur, the Jewish men were removed from most of these camps. They were transported to camp Westerbork on the pretext of family reunions. Most of them were sent later to Auschwitz, Sobibor and other camps, where the majority were murdered.

Maurits Jakobs was one of the men who were interned in Vedder one of the work camps. The camp was run by a Dutch company, Nederlandsche Heidemaatschappij, although it was under supervision by the Nazi regime.

At the end of September 1942, Maurits Jakobs cycled through a pitch-black forest in the middle of the night. He had just escaped from the Jewish labour camp Vledder in Drenthe. At that time, hw was not yet aware that his old camp mates would be deported to extermination camps a few days later, via Westerbork.

He managed to escape from Camp Vledder with the help of supervisor Willems, who was employed by the Nederlandse Heidemaatschappij. Willems has parked his bicycle at the sandy path. But the initiative for the escape came from Jo Oldenburger, a former employee of Maurits.

Oldenburger knew that the situation for Jews was becoming increasingly ominous and arranged a hiding place for Maurits and his wife in the town of Emmen. In the evening Oldenburger is waited for Mauris at the camp with an extra bicycle. Maurits, who initially still had doubts, decided to go along and follows Jo via the sandy path into the dark forest.

Maurits knew. as long as he would see the red bicycle light of Jo Oldenburger, who cycled in front of him, it would be safe. That was the arrangement.. Suddenly the light disappeared from view and Maurits hid with bicycle and all in a ditch. But Jo appeared to have turned a corner. They agreed to stay closer together.

The bike ride of almost seventy kilometers was tough for Maurits, who had not been on a bicycle for at least a year. After a long and painful journey they arrived at the hiding place in Emmen. Thanks to various hiding places, the Jakobs’ couple managed to stay under the radar all this time. They both survived the war.

This was probably the most ‘Dutch’ escape one could imagine. Escape by bicycle.

sources

https://www.ru.nl/rich/our-research/research-groups/cultures-of-war-and-liberation/current-projects/projects/knhm-1929-1954/

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/artikel/maurits-jakobs-ontsnapt-dagen-voor-grootschalige-deportatie-uit-kamp-vledder

https://joodsewerkkampen.nl/geschiedenis

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