Simple acts of defiance in Geleen-Greeting the Jewish neighbours.

Ster

Every once in a while I come across a story which makes me immensely proud to be a native from Geleen.

Those of you who read my blogs on a regular base, know that I was born in the town of Geleen in the south East of the Netherlands.

Most of the Jews who lived in Geleen during World War 2 were killed during the Holocaust. I am not saying that the Dutch could not have done more to save more of their Jewish neighbours , because there is more they could have done.

However on May 10,1940 the Netherlands got a rude awakening. They were too naive to believe that the Nazis would honour the Dutch neutrality. On may 10,1940 the Germans invaded the country.

Initially there was not that much change, not even for the Jewish population. But gradually new laws were introduced and often any breach of those laws was punished by death. It eventually became clear how evil the Nazis were and they ruled by instilling fear in the population.

However there were several times where the Dutch defied the Nazi regime . The biggest act of defiance was the February strike in 1941, where over 300,000 people joined the strike in protest against the treatment of the Jews. The strike was violently stopped by the Nazis.

But there were other small acts of defiance in the Netherlands. On May 2,1942 the Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their clothes, to be visible at all time in public.

A citizen of Geleen,Rie op den Camp wrote in his diary on May 9,1942, “Silent resistance against the Jewish star. Many people greet all Jews they meet, Even if they don’t know them. Some non Jewish citizens even wear a star too. In may places people have removed the signs saying “Forbidden for Jews” The krauts have arrested some of these ‘offenders’ on several places.

verboden

I never knew about this, it is times like this when I feel a bit more proud to be from Geleen.

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Sources

http://members.home.nl/w.brasse/vergeten_joden_van_geleen.htm#Jodenvervolging

Albert and Ida Claessens-Pastoor Vonckenstraat 51-Geleen

Classens

One of the difficulties I have in telling or writing stories about the Holocaust is the sheer volume of victims. I believe the best way of keeping the memories alive is to personalize the stories. Rather then talk about millions ,talk about individuals and show that they were human beings like every one else.

To give an indication, if I would only focus on the 6 million Jewish victims and I would tell 5 stories a day, it would take me more then 3000 years to tell them. That’s why I am focusing on the stories that are near to me in an emotional way or in a geographical way.

The story of Albert and Ida Claessens is one I have geographical ties to. Yet another story I was blissfully unaware of ,despite the fact I would have passed by the house they lived in at least once a week. In the map below I have highlighted how, Circled in red is the Supermarket I would frequent at least once a week, Circled in yellow is the area of the apartment block I lived in. The white line is Pastoor Vonckenstraat, the Claessens lived on number 51.

Pastoor Voncken str

It would take me 5 minutes to cycle that route.

The story of Albert Claessens is also a good way of dispersing the myth that all Jews were wealthy. Albert worked as an Excavation worker in the coalmone Maurits in Geleen, anyone who has worked in a mine or knows someone who worked in a mine will know how dirty and dangerous that work is.

On April 4 1938 Albert married the Polish immigrant Ajga (Ida) Krzanowska. They got settled in -Pastoor Vonckenstraat 51-Geleen.

On May 10,1940 the Netherlands was invaded by the German army. Initially not much changed for the Dutch Jews, but gradually new laws were introduced by the Nazi regime. On April 1,1941 Albert was fired from his job in the mine.

Some Jews had already gone in hiding at that stage, but Albert did not think he needed too.He still thought that the Jews were brought to work camps in Germany.On August 25 Albert,Ida and Albert’s brother and wife were all put on transport via Maastricht to Westerbork and then from there to Auschwitz on August 28,1942.

In a Police report from the Police department in Geleen it states that all perishable goods were removed from the Claessens home on August 25,1942 , the same day they were put on transport.

Ida and her sister in law arrived in Auschwitz on August 31, 1942  were gassed immediately.

Albert and his brother were taken off the transport on the journey to work in the work camp  Kosel, abut 80 kilometers away from Auschwitz.

It is not clear where Albert died nor is the exact date known. His death was only registered in 1952 and the date of death was et on April 30,1943. Place of death was registered ad middle Europe.

1951

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Source

 

http://www.stolpersteinesittardgeleen.nl/

 

 

The Final insult

1 form

I am Dutch and I always be proud to be Dutch, but there are somethings in my country’s history that really trouble me, even to an extend that it nearly sickens me.

The Dutch bureaucracy is well known to be very efficient, that can be very beneficial but it can also be destructive and dangerous. The Nazi regime were great fans of the Dutch civil service and its bureaucracy . It was the efficiency of the system that enable the Nazis to identify so many of the Dutch Jews , with the result that more then a  100,000 Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Dutch Jews

The final insult was that ,the few survivors had to fight to get death certificates issued for their loved ones by going to court. Many of these certificates only came years after the war.The document at the top of the blog is the death certificate of Ernst Otto Lichtenstein, the brother in law of Max Baum, a man I have written about before. I passed by his house many times before not realizing the historical significance of the place.

https://dirkdeklein.net/2019/03/27/bloemenmarkt-7-geleen-the-netherlands/

Below is another version of the certificate. What is so disturbing about both documents is the lack of information.

All it says  is that the district court in Assen is requesting of the municipality of Westerbork to register that Ernst Otto Lichtenstein died on a train on transport between Teckoceniwitz(Czechoslovakia) and Oranienburg(Germany) on January 5th 1945. Occupation Butcher. Birthplace Jülich (Germany)  born December 6,1913

Last place of residence was Westerbork.

It fails to mention that he was imprisoned in Westerbork. Wher he was mistreated ,malnourished and who knows what other torments. The forms makes it look like he lived in Westerbork as a regular citizen who died on a train journey.

It was Sophie  Lichtenstein Baum the widow of Max Baum who had to get the certificate issued via the district court, for her brother  Ernst Otto Lichtenstein.

The certifcate was issued on January 6,1948. Three years after the murder of Ernst Otto Lichtenstein.

form 2

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/358285/max-baum-max-baum

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/go-in-depth/netherlands-greatest-number-jewish-victims-western-europe/

 

Geleen Capital of Rock.

Flag Geleen

The name Geleen will mean little to most, but it is where I was born and raised.A small industrial city in the province of Limburg, the south east of the Netherlands. Just because I don’t live there anymore doesn’t mean I am not proud to be from there or that I don’t love it anymore, because I do love it and I am still proud to be a Gelener..

This doesn’t mean I can’t be critical. Many mistakes have been made in the past which resulted in professional football.motor racing  to disappear from the town. Where there used to be a vibrant city centre there are only a few shops left at the moment, all because a mayotr had some grandiose plans for the city, grandiose but not well thought through.

The biggest loss howver was the loss of Pinkpop , one of Europe’s biggest Rock festivals. I I am not going to dwell on the reasons ,but I will recapture some of my home town’s great Rock legacy.

However the very first edition wasn’t held in Geleen but in the nearby village of Gulpen. The festival was called PinkNick at the time , the date May 26 1969.

pnk

But from 1970 the festival was renamed to PinkPop(pink taken from the word Pinksteren, meaning Pentecost). and the new venue  was Burgemeester Damen Sportpark in Geleen, where it remained until 1986. In 1987 it moved to Baarlo , the year after Landgraaf was to become the new venue where the festival is still being held to date.

Below are just some impression of  artists who played in Geleen.

David Lee Roth of Van Halen with a broken nose at the Pinkpop Festival in Geleen . May 26, 1980.

dlr

1979 Poster

1979

U2 in 1981

U2

The Cure 1986

Cure

Fleetwood Mac 1971

2019-10-25

Thin Lizzy 1978

Thin Lizzy

ZZ Top 1982

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Sources

You Tube

Pinkpop.nl

Frederik Goldsteen- Holocaust Victim , whose shop I often visited.

Frederik

I remember as a kid , my neighbor and I made our own bows and arrows, We used it to target practice on a spare door we had in the storage rooms in the basement of our apartment block.

We bought the materials for these ‘weapons’  in a shop in the center of our town,Geleen, in the Netherlands. It was a DIY shop, called Hubo, located on Annastraat 24.

2019-05-29

Also later in life when I needed something DIY related I would frequent the establishment and would purchase what I required.

I can’t remember how often I went in there, it would not have been an awful lot because when it comes to DIY I am pretty much double left handed. But I would have been in there at least a few dozen times, and would have passed by the shop on a daily basis.

Never did I realize the fate of one of its former occupants.

Frederik Goldsteen was born on  the 9th of  july 1918 in  Rheydt-Germany. As a student he lived with his brother in Voorburg a suburb of the Hague in the Netherlands . He studied to become a a radio technician. Between 1937 and 1940 he would reside in Geleen with his widowed Mother and in the Hague with his fiancee Elfriede.

Shortly before they got married  they moved back toLimburg, the south of the country.They got married on May 9th ,1941 in Vaals, Elfriede’s mother lived in Vaals. Vaals is the place where the Netherlands borders with Belgium and Germany, It is  in the foothills of the Ardennes–Eifelrange, and with 322 metres it is the highest point of the Netherlands.

3 landend

Shortly after they got married the couple moved to Geleen. Frederik opened a Radio repair shop “Radio Technisch Bureau F. Goldsteen” located on Annastraat 24. In  October 1941, the couple were blessed with a baby girl,Carolina .

On March 12 ,1942. Frits was ordered by the German occupiers to close the shop. As a Jew he was not allowed to built or repair radios.

He did find a job with a company that worked for the coal mine Maurits.

maurits

However on the 19th of May, 1942 he was arrested for secretly still working on radios and also for being critical about Hitler.

He was sent to Camp Amersfoort via Maastricht . On July 16,1942 he was deported to Auschwitz , where he was killed less then a month later, on August 15,1942.

His wife and daughter both survived the war.

What amazes me . and kind of disturbs me is how close the Holocaust was to me to an extend. Over the last few months I have come across stories of Jewish fellow citizens and town folk, whose addresses I have passed by a multiple of times and U was never award of their fates.

I got most of the information about Frits Goldteen from a foundation called Stichting Stolpersteine:Geleen-Sittard. At the bottom of Frits’s page they state the motivation of his persecution was for being Jewish. No other reason, just for being Jewish and therefor seen by an evil regime with a warped ideology as sub human. Where the real sub humans were those who subscribed to that warped fascist ideology.

 

Hubo

 

 

 

 

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May 10,1940- The Day that shocked the Netherlands.

War

Perhaps the Dutch government were naive to believe that they would able to stay neutral like they did in WWI. Perhaps they thought they had nothing to fear from the Germans.

However when Germany invaded Norway and Denmark in April 1940, it became clear that neutrality was no protection. Frantically the Dutch started to prepare for war.

nijmegen

On the th of  May 1940, the Vatican advised the Dutch envoy to the Vatican that the Germans planned to invade France through the low countries. With the blessing of the Pope, the Vatican sent a coded radio message to its nuncios in Brussels and The Hague. The messages were intercepted by the Nazis.

The Dutch didn’t stand a chance against the overwhelming power of the German army.

Hours before dawn on the 10th of May, the Luftwaffe swept over the Netherlands, bombing the defenses around key targets. Around 4:30 AM, more planes followed, dropping paratroopers.

An attack on The Hague was a failure. Paratroopers tried to capture the city and its airfield but were defeated by the Dutch defenders. This prevented the Germans from landing planes full of troops there.

Germany had commenced operation Fall Gelb and attacked the Netherlands, without a declaration of war given before hostilities.

para troopers

The Dutch army gave a good fight but after  the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on 14 May, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender. The General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch army to cease hostilities.

It was also deemed essential that Queen Wilhelmina be brought to safety; she left around noon from Hoek van Holland, where a British Irish Guards battalion was present, on HMS Hereward, a British destroyer, but the presence of   sea mines made it too dangerous to try to reach Zealand, she therefore went to England.

hereward

At 05:00 on 15 May a German messenger reached The Hague, inviting Winkelman, the Commander-in-chief of the Armed forces of the Netherlands,to Rijsoord for a meeting with von Küchler to negotiate the articles of a written capitulation document. Both quickly agreed on most conditions, Winkelman declaring to have surrendered army, naval and air forces.

Winkelman

Below some photographic impressions of the 10th of May 1940 and the aftermath of what would be the biggest shock to the Netheralnds.

Two downed German luftwaffe planes.One plane is at the side of the road, the other one at the back of the road.

plane

A German Wehrmacht soldier taking position on the top of the ‘steenberg'(stone mountain) of the Sates mine Maurits in Geleen,shortly after the Germans had crossed the border on May 10.

maurits

Members of a German Propaganda division in Rotterdam May 14,1940.

propaganda

Rotterdam in ruins.

Rotterdam

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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

Rijksmuseum

War History on Line

Record Store day

record

This is a small deviation from my usual more dramatic historical blogs, but since today is marked as Record Store day I felt compelled to do a blog celebrating this day.

Record Store day is a bi-annual event inaugurated in 2008 and held on one Saturday every April and every “Black Friday” in November to “celebrate the culture of the independently owned record store”

As a young man I spent a lot of time and money in my local record syore called “Limburg’s platenhuis” which means Records house of Limburg. In Geleen. It wasn’t the only one where I bought my weekly and sometimes daily dose of music, but it was the one I frequented the most.

Nowadays I feel nostalgic thinking back to those days, and I feel sorry for youngsters now who often rely on downloads and/or streaming services.

Nothing beats a good customer service in a shop. Especially a pro active customer service from staff who appreciate you buying goods in their shop.

To illustrate what I mean with pro active customer service I will use an example from “Limburgs Platenhuis”

I walked in one Saturday afternoon not thinking of buying anything, just browsing. Shortly after I had entered the shop one of the sales staff called me to the counter. She told me ” I kept this album aside for you when it came in, I reckon you might like it. Have a listen to it”

She then proceeded by putting on the album ‘Long Cold Winter’ by the American Hard Rock band ‘Cinderella’

Cinderella

She was right I did like the album indeed. So much so that I didn’t mind parting with some money in order to purchase this compilation of great Rock songs.

That is the kind of service you just don’t get on line or even in shops nowadays.

All that is left for me to do now is to leave you with one of the singles of the aforementioned album. Enjoy!

 

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Law abiding citizen

Louis

I don’t know what it is but the last few days I have discovered several accounts of victims of the Holocaust which are very near to me. Not so much that I was related to these people or that I knew them, but I knew the locality and the addresses where they lived. In fact I passed these places by on a daily basis and in the case of Louis van Dam , sometimes even more then 10 times a day.

At the back of my secondary school there was a square . It was really a small park with a few benches and some trees, surrounded by houses. The square was known(and still is) as the Jubileum plein (Jubilee square)

We would often use this square for physical education lessons. One of the tests we had for PE was a run around the small park, We had a certain time (I believe it was 10 minutes) to run around the park as often as we could. 10 times or more would be a pass, anything below 10 was a fail.

plein

You probably are thinking “where is he going with this” ? Well the name I mentioned earlier was Louis van Dam, Louis and his family lived in one of the houses on the square, Jubileumplein 12,Geleen from 1930 to 1939. In 1939 they moved to a village a few miles south, Doenrade. The reason why they moved was because of health reasons. Louis’s wife  Sophie Silbernberg-van Dam, had asthma and the pollution caused by the nearby coal mine was bad for her health. However Louis also wanted to live in a remote spot near the German border so he could help Jewish refugees. who crossed the border.

In that same year Louis became a bit of a ‘celebrity’ but not in a beneficial way, He had overheard a smuggling scheme in a local pub. Some smugglers had been smuggling Dutch army uniforms to Germany(the uniforms were to be used by the German army for the invasion of the Netherlands). As a law abiding citizen Louis reported this to the Police. Two men were arrested as a result.A newspaper article was published about the incident.

Artikel

Despite the fact that Louis van Dam’s name only appeared in an abbreviated from in the newspaper, it was still known that he had reported the smugglers. Louis and his family received death threats afterwards because of this they moved again, this time to Amsterdam.

A few months after they moved, the German army invaded the Netherlands. Louis’s son Guus got involved in a students resistance group and was arrested at the end of 1941 or start of 1942.

Guus

Although the intended target for the arrest was Louis himself, some neighbours had betrayed him for listening to an English radio station, which was forbidden by the Nazi authorities. But Louis was ill and Guus was arrested instead.

Guus was sent to Auschwitz on November 10th,1942 via Scheveningen, Amersfoort and  Westerbork. It is not known where he died , his formal death certificate states date of death March 31,1944 in middle Europe, aged 22.

Louis, his wife and 2 daughters, Roos en Mimi, went into hiding.

van dam

Louis van Dam had gone into hiding using the alias Christiaan Willem Zijlstra. He died while in hiding and was buried under his alias at the Algemeene Begraafplaats Crooswijk in Rotterdam on 23 April 1945.

After the war  his remains were exhumed and  reburied at the Jewish cemetery Toepad in Rotterdam. Louis van Dam’s wife and daughter survived the war.

It just goes to show you can be passing by a house every day without being aware of the historical significance of it.

12

 

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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

Stichting Stolpersteine Sittard-Geleen

Joods Monument

Google Streetview

 

 

Bloemenmarkt 7, Geleen-the Netherlands

Bloemen

The title of this blog is an address. It will mean very little to most people. It is not the address of someone famous or some well known shop or even museum.

It is basically a very insignificant address in the greater scheme of things. But in a microcosm it has such great relevance and especially to me.

It is an address I would have passed by on a daily basis. Around the corner of the building lies a bakery and also nearby is a chemistry. It is in the middle of a small shopping centre. Although I have passed by there many times, I never knew the history of this particular address, which now is an empty shop building.

On August 25,1942 a butcher with the name Max Baum and his wife were picked up from the Bloemenmarkt 7 and from there they were deported to  Vught and Westerbork, Max was the Chief representative of the Jewish council.

After Westerbork,Max and his wife were sent to Auschwitz. I don’t know what the cause of his death was, all I know is that he died in the hospital of Auschwitz III (Monowitz-Buna) on March 31,1944.

Max

Max’s wife was subjected to medical experiments in Auschwitz by Dr. Clauberg, but she did survive the war and the Holocaust.

Max’s sister who also lived on the same address also survived the war but her daughter and Max’s niece Helena Roer, who lived with her mother and her uncle and his wife was killed in Auschwitz on August 31,1942, she was aged 20. She was murdered only 6 days after she was picked up together with her uncle and his wife.

helene

What I find so disturbing about this is that I never knew anything about this until today. I had to emigrate to discover a history which had been in my grasp for many years, I also doubt that anyone who does the shopping in the nearby supermarkets,butcher shop,pharmacy,bank,florist and bakery is aware of the tragedy of some of the former neighbors and residents.

Yet every 4th of May there will be a crowd of people remembering those who died in WWII and all other military conflicts, at the monument just around the corner of Bloemenmarkt 7.

monument 2

Ironically I nearly bought one of the houses just behind the monument on the Bloemenmarkt (Flower Market). That is how close I was to a palpable bit of history.

 

 

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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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Source

Joods Monument

 

Who is an immigrant?

wedding

The buzzword nowadays is “immigrants” and in hardly any context it is used in a positive way.Here is the thing though, who is an immigrant?

This is just a micro snapshot in history. It is basically a background to me family well at least from my Mother’s side.

The picture at the start of the blog is a picture of the marriage certificate of my maternal grandparents. They got married on December 28,1915.

The groom Durk Jager, the bride Tetje Hoekstra. They lived and were married in a small village in the Friesland, inthe Northwest of the Netherlands. The village Harkema-opeinde was part of the wider municipality of Achtkarspelen.

harkema

It was a rural place and there was not much work to be got. In Limburg, in the Southeast of the Netherlands, there was plenty  of work though. This was because of the ‘black gold’, coal . In the early part of the 20th century.Between 1906 and 1926 coal mines were opened in the most southern province bringing with it job opportunities, not just only in the coal industry but also in the wider economy.

The biggest and the last one to be opened was States mine Maurits in Geleen, which opened in 1926.

mine

That was the call for my grand parents to pack up things and uproot the family for a journey southward to Geleen. Even though the Netherlands is just a small country, in the 1920s a journey like that was the equivalent of emigrating to the US or Canada nowadays.

I used the term emigrating because that is what they were doing. The place they were going to was alien to them. Coming from Friesland they had their own language, a different culture and also a different religion,Friesland being a predominantly Protestant province where Limburg was a predominantly Catholic province. Even the landscape was different.

The new immigrants arrived in Limburg and had to adapt to a new way of life.My Grandparents weren’t the only ones to leave Friesland, because of the lack of work in Friesland a great number of Frisians chanced their luck in the hilly area of the Southern part of Limburg.

daniken

I am an immigrant too, because I left that same hilly area of southern Limburg for the emerald isle, Ireland.

So many people have immigrated over the centuries, when you go back far enough in history you will discover that most of us come from an immigrant background.

So next time someone talks in a disparaging manner about immigrants , just remember they maybe talking about you or your family.

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