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.

When I go visit my hometown in 2 weeks time I will go into the shop again, but this time armed with the knowledge of its history.

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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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 benched and some trees, surrounded by houses. The square was known(and still is) as the Jubeleum 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 want 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 neighboyrs 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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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 nit 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 were 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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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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The forgotten disaster-The DSM disaster.

2018-11-07

Little did I know when I was aged 7, that 2 headlines in a regional newspaper would have links to my life in ways I could never have imagined.

On November 7,1975 2 events were in the Dutch newspapers. One event was a disaster which happened in a chemical plant, the other event was the release of a Dutch business man who had been kidnapped by the IRA.

The chemical plant was DSM, a petrochemical plant in my birthplace Geleen,in the Netherlands. The business man was Dr Herrema who was the Managing Director at the Ferenka steel plant in Limerick,Ireland.

43 years ago I did not think that 22 years later I would move from Geleen to Limerick.

DSM

As the title of the blog is ‘the forgotten disaster’ I will focus on that fateful day 43 years ago where 14 people died.

I deliberately called it the forgotten history because there is really not much to be found on the DSM disaster on most historical sites.One site actually quotes the name incorrectly.

beleven

On November 7,1975 at 9.50 AM  the naphtha cracker II-(Naphtha is a flammable liquid made from distilling petroleum, cracking, is a process in which large hydrocarbon molecules are broken down into smaller and more useful ones)-  was restarted after a revision. Unfortunately the restart didn’t go as planned due to a a pipe breaking in the compression unit.a mixture of liquids compressed was released under high pressure and flowed along the hot furnaces, causing a Vapor Cloud Explosion.

The extreme power of the explosion destroyed many installations around the cracker. In addition, fierce fires arose in pipeline streets and storage tanks.

nafte 2

The explosion was felt in surrounding suburbs and nearby villages.It was not uncommon for windows to tremble in the region,  because there would be regular bangs after the start up of any of the naphtha crackers, but people quickly realized that this was different.

nAFTA

As a 7 year old the experience was different of course. When you would hear a big bang or feel the explosion, there wasn’t a sense of fear but more a sense of excitement. Also the fact we were sent home early was a great bonus.

However soon after  you actually could see the reality.Men you would usually see going to work at the plant in the mornings, at the same time you’d go to school. suddenly weren’t there anymore.

After a while you’d get new neighbors  because families affected by the disaster moved out.

14 people died and 109 were injured that day.It would take 5 days for all fires to be extinguished.

vuur

Yet in the wider world the disaster has been forgotten even Dutch historical sites barely mention it and sometimes when they do they have the facts wrong.

Many people of my age and older still vividly remember the disaster and the aftermath of it. Ever since that day there was always the fear that something like this could happen again.

I remember in 1994 or 1995 there was an incident where an US Airforce AWACS plane flew over the DSM. and it got into some difficulties.

AWACS

The pilot had called the air control at the nearest airport, which was Maastricht-Aachen Airport. They had to drop some kerosene in order to land safely at their base, which was nearby in Germany. The air controller gave the pilot the okay to do so, not realizing the plane was directly over the torch of the naphtha cracker 4 at the time.(a burning installation where the waste product of the naphtha is burned)

nak 4

Even though the AWACS plane was high above the area , if the torch had been operational at the time the kerosene still could have gone into it potentially causing a major disaster.Aside from that the code the pilot had given was a military code which also could have meant dropping bombs.although the AWACS planes do not carry any weaponry.

This incident was highlighted on a investigative current affair program on Dutch TV a few months after it happened.The show had actually been about mistakes made at several air control centres across Europe, and I had just watched it by chance, I had switched over from another channel during the commercial break.

Chemelot

 

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Sources

Limburgs Dagblad

DSM

Chemelot

YouTube

SS and Nazis in the Dutch Coalmines

mijn

The most southern province of the Netherlands, Limburg, in the south east of the country used to be a rural area with mainly farming as employment opportunities, However in the late 19th and early 20th century something nicknamed “black gold” was discovered in the southern part of the province, this ‘black gold’ was coal.

The Dutch government exploited the discovery of coal by building 4 coal mines.

-Staatsmijn Wilhelmina in Terwinselen
-Staatsmijn Emma in Treebeek/Hoensbroek (1911 – 1973)
-Staatsmijn Hendrik in Brunssum (1915 – 1963)
-Staatsmijn Maurits in Lutterade-Geleen (1926 -1967)

Maurits

Although the mines brought jobs and prosperity it didn’t come without costs.The mine workers would receive a relatively high wage , the work was very physical and sometimes emotionally draining .A great number of mine workers  would not retire because of Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis(aka black lung disease)or Silicosis, they would die at a young age.

Lungs

During WWII the mines were exploited by the German occupiers, and the coal would be used for the German war effort.

Some dutch men had signed up to the SS and were also members of the NSB, The Dutch Nazi party. After the war some several hundreds of these men were imprisoned in Prisoner of War camps.

43743591_1034093993434756_2737810057973465088_nThey were sentenced  to work in the coal mines by the Dutch government and the Allied forces , mainly in the Maurits and the Emma.

43677268_1034096520101170_7400280748961300480_n

After their shifts they were made to walk back to the camp from the mine. Those working in the Maurits had to walk back to prisoner camp ‘Graetheide’ which was a 12-15 km march.

43749124_1034053120105510_7362689172257112064_n

Some records indicate that some men were sentenced to 25 years labor in the mines, but since the last mine closed in 1969 it is a clear indications that those sentences were reduced. Despite the hard labor in the mines they were let off easy.

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Sources

Demijnen.nl

Nostal Gia

 

October 5,1942- The Bombing of Geleen.

Geleen 1

October 5th,1942, was one of the darkest if not the darkest days of WWII for my hometown of Geleen, at the time it was a small mining town in the south east of the Netherlands, in the province of Limburg.

Shortly after 21.30 the alarms sounded,warning the population of an imminent attack. The bombing  did happen  between 21:55 and 23:10. But it wasn’t the Luftwaffe but the RAF.

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 Statesmine ‘Maurits’ they mistakingly believed they had reached Aachen and therefore they dropped their load.

aerial

The bombing resulted in 83 being killed,  57 houses totally destroyed , severely damaging 227 more house and causing further damage to another 1728 homes.

geleen 2

Additionally  13 coal miners were killed in the raid, the Maurits was heavily damaged and it took fire crews from several cities to help extinguish the fires caused by the bombing. There were even fire crews which came from Rotterdam which is about 200 KM away from the mine to help with the fires.

geleen 3

 

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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

NIOD

December 6 1944, a date that means little to most but a lot to me.

geleen-limburg

This is one of my most personal blogs, having that said there still will be people saying it is ‘fake news’.

As the title says the 6th of December 1944 will mean little to most but it means a lot to me. It is the day that one of my uncles died. What makes this special to me is that my mother always told me I reminded her of him. We had the same mannerisms and even way of talking, although I was born long after he died.

His name was Johannes Jager, he moved with my grand parents and his siblings  from Friesland in the North of the Netherlands to Limburg in the south east of the country. They settled in the town where I was born,Geleen. In the suburb Lindenheivel.

geleen

There are no pictures of him for my family were basically immigrants, even though it was in the same small country. In the 1920/1930s it was the equivalent of moving across the globe now/ They had to leave everything behind.

All that I heard about him is that he was a kind and generous man. He had poor health though, I am not clear om what his ailments were but suffice to say his parents worried about him.

When war broke out he wasn’t able to serve in the army, it would have done not much good anyway. But he did his bit as much as he good.

He did not join any organized resistance group but he would do his own individual actions, by sneaking on to farms of well to do farmers, some  actually did well under German occupation, and he would steel a chicken here or there,eggs or grain and flour to make bread. He would give it to his parents but also to others who were in need.

He knew that id he would ever get caught he would face dire consequences, potentially death. One day he nearly got caught, he and a friend were out stealing things when they came across a German patrol.

patro;

They literally had to run for their lives, they encountered a few empty barrels and jumped in them.

The Germans shot the barrel that held my uncle’s friend, he got killed immediately, but some stroke of luck they left Johannes’s barrel alone. When the coast was clear he got out and went home.

He never stole from the farmers again.

On September 18 1944, Geleen was liberated

Vrij Geleen

Johannes did see the liberation but the strain of the war and his ill health proved too much, he died on December 6 1944, the day when the Dutch celebrate St Nicholas.

I would have loved to have met him but although I never did I feel a part of him lives in me and he will forever be one of my heroes.

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