Hanna Van de Voort -Forgotten Hero

Limburg is the most southern province in the Netherlands(there is also a province with that name in Belgium). It was one of the first places to be liberated in the Netherlands. By the end of September 1944 all of the province was liberated.

Hanna Van de Voort was a woman who was born in Meerlo, in the North of Limburg.

During the Second World War Hanna Van de Voort was a maternity nurse in Tienray in Limburg. Encouraged by her mother Marie. Hanna,together with 22-year-old student Nico Dohmen and Kurt Loewenstein in hiding, gave 123 Jewish children a place to go into hiding between 1943 and 1944. It mainly concerned children who were smuggled out of the Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam, where Jews were gathered for deportation. Almost all of the children were smuggled away by Piet Meerburg’s student resistance group.

The children usually stayed at Van de Voort’s home for a few days, where they were taught Catholic doctrine and about the street plan of Rotterdam. It was made that these children had been orphaned by the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. All children were given a pseudonym and an identity card from the Central Bureau for Children’s Evacuation from bombed Rotterdam.

After a few days they were placed with farming families in the area. The children were regularly transferred to new locations if they were in danger of being discovered. ‘Aunt Hanna’ and especially ‘Uncle Nico’ – as they were called – kept in touch with the hiders and supported them by encouraging them to persevere. The foster parents received monetary compensation, clothing and footwear. The necessary vouchers for clothing and food came from Amsterdam.

The van Geffen family was one of the foster families. Sometimes things were even difficult to explain to their own children, below is an account of one of the van Geffen’s children.

“Maria was the eldest of the family. Her father was a strict Catholic, with a strong sense of social justice, he owned a shoe store in Tienray. He was active in the resistance as a courier of a resistance paper. Maria initially did not like it that a Jewish girl, named Floortje de Paauw, had been included in the family. So she told the story that the Jews nailed Jesus to the cross. Floortje took revenge by walking on the bleach with her shoes on the white laundry. Eventually It all worked out between those two. There was also a Jewish boy in the family: Daniël Jozeph Cohen, pseudonym Wim Dorn. He survived the war. Floortje participated in everything, went to school and to church. Maria remembers exactly how the Nazis lifted Floortje from bed during the children’s raid in Tienray in the night of July 31 to Aug 1, 1944. She had to dress Floortje. After a big hug, Floortje said to Maria: “I’m not coming back.” She was killed on 6 September 1944 in Auschwitz. After the war, it was hardly talked about at home.”

After a betrayal by Lucien Nahon, a Dutch Nazi, a raid was carried out. In the night of July 31 to August 1, 1944, raids take place on several hiding places that Lucien has provided.

During these children’s raids , Jewish children in hiding were arrested.The employees of the Eindhoven State Police and their helpers in Tienray and surrounding villages carried out the action. At least five children were arrested and deported to Auschwitz. Four of them were murdered in Auschwitz.

Floortje de Paauw (15-12-1933), Wim de Paauw (17-12-1934), Louis van Wezel (16-5-1936) en Dick van Wezel (6-3-1934).

Hanna van der Voort was also arrested during this raid.She was tortured to give information about the resistance, but she gave them nothing. She was released after nine days. Van de Voort suffered permanent damage to her health. She died in July 26,1956.

sources

https://www.oorlogsbronnen.nl/thema/Kinderrazzia%20Noord-Limburg

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Willem Jacob van Stockum-Scientist and Dutch WWII Hero.

Willem Jacob van Stockum was born on November 20,1910 in Hattem,the Netherlands.

Willem moved to Ireland in the late 1920s, Where he studied mathematics at Trinity College, Dublin, where he earned a gold medal. He went on to earn an M.A. from the University of Toronto and his Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh.

The outbreak of World War II happened while he was teaching at the University of Maryland. He was eto join the fight against Hitler and Fascism,.

He joined the Canadian Air Corps in June 1941 (according to his sister, he was asked to join the Manhattan project, but chose this instead). Taught mathematics to pilots. Then became a bomber pilot himself. Moved to Britain in the spring of 1943 and joined no. 10 squadron at RAF Melbourne in Yorkshire, he was the only Dutch officer to do so.

He flew a Halifax Mk-III, MZ684, ZA-‘B’ bomber. Completed 6 missions before being shot down by German A.A. fire near Entrammes in France on the night of 9/10 June 1944. All seven crew were killed and are buried at the Cimetière Vaufleury at Laval, Dept. Mayenne, France.

He wrote this article on his reasons for becoming a bomber pilot

“I didn’t join the war to improve the Universe; in fact, I am sick and tired of the eternal sermons on the better world we are going to build when this war is over. I hate the disloyalty to the past twenty years. Apparently people think that life in those twenty years, which cover most of my conscious existence, was so terrible that no-one can be expected to fight for it. We must attempt to dazzle people with some brilliant schemes leading, probably, to some horrible Utopia, before we can ask them to fight.

I detest that point of view. I hate the idea of people throwing their lives away for slum-clearance projects or forty-hour weeks or security and exchange commissions. It is a grotesque and horrible thought. There are so many better ways of achieving this than diving into enemy guns. Lives are precious things and are of a different order and entail a different scale of values than social systems, political theories, or art.

“Why are we not given a cause?” some people ask. I do not understand this question. It seems so plain to me. There are millions and millions of people who are shot, persecuted and tortured daily in Europe. The assault on so many of our fellow human beings makes some of us tingle with anger and gives us an urge to do something about it. That, and that alone, makes some of us feel strongly about the war. All the rest is vapid rationalization. All this talk about philosophy, the degeneration of art and literature, the poisoning of Nazi youth, which the Nazi system entails, and which we all rightly condemn, is still not the reason why we fight and why we are willing to risk our lives.

Here, let us say, is a soldier. He asks himself, “Why should I die?” You would tell him: “To preserve our civilization.” When the soldier replies: “To Hell with your civilization; I never thought it so hot,” you take him up wrongly when you sit down and say to yourself: “Well, after all, maybe it wasn’t so hot,” and then brightly tap him on the shoulder and say: “Well, I’ve thought of a better idea. I know this civilization wasn’t so hot, but you go and die anyway and we’ll fix up a really good one after the war.” I say you take him up wrong because his remark: “To Hell with your civilization” doesn’t really mean that he is not seriously concerned about our civilization. He is simply revolted by the idea of dying for ANY civilization. Civilization simply isn’t the kind of thing you ever want to die for. It is something to enjoy and something to help build up because it’s fun, and that is that, and that is all.

When a man jumps into the fire to save his wife he doesn’t justify himself by saying that his wife was so civilized that it was worth the risk! There is only one reason why a man will throw himself into mortal combat and that is because there is nothing else to do and doing nothing is more intolerable than the fear of death. I could stand idly by and see every painting by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo thrown into a bonfire and feel no more than a deep regret, but throw one small, insignificant Polish urchin on the same bonfire and, by God, I’d pull him out or else. I fight quite simply for that and I cannot see what other reasons there are. At least, I can see there are reasons, but they are not the reasons that motivate me.

During the first two years of the war when I was an instructor at an American University in close contact with American youth and in close contact with the vital isolationist question in the States, I often felt that there was much insincerity, conscious or unconscious, on our, the Interventionist, side of the argument. We had strong views on the danger of isolationism for the United States. We thought, rightly, that for the sake of self-interest and self-preservation the United States should take every step to ensure the defeat of the Nazi criminals. But however sound our arguments, our own motives and intensity of feeling did not spring from those arguments but from an intense passion for common righteousness and decency.

Suppose it could have been proved to us at that time that the participation of the United States in the stamping out of organized murder, rape and torture in Europe could only take place at great cost to the United States, while not doing so would in no way impair her security. Would we not still have prayed that our country might do something? And would we not have been proud to see her do something?

There is an appalling timidity and false shame among intellectuals. The common man in the last war went to fight quite simply as a crusader. I am not talking about politics now, I am not either asserting or denying that England declared war from purely generous and noble considerations, but I am asserting that the common man went and fought with the rape of Belgium foremost in his mind and saw himself as an avenger of wrong.

After the war the common man went quietly back to his home. The intellectuals, however, upon coming back, ashamed of their one lapse of finding themselves in agreement with every Tom, Dick and Harry, must turn around and deride the things they were ready to give their lives for. As they were the only vocal group, the opinion became firmly established that the last war was a grave mistake and that anyone who got killed in it was a sucker.

And now, in this war, these intellectuals are hoist with their own petard. They lack the nerve and honesty to represent the American doughboy to himself for what he is. They do not give him the one picture in his mind which would stimulate his imagination and which would make him see beyond the fatigues, the mud, the boredom and the fear. The picture is there for anyone to paint who has a gift for words. It is a simple picture and a true picture and no one who has ever sat as a small child and listened with awe to a fairy story can fail to understand. The intellectuals, however, have made fun of the picture and so they won’t use It.

But some day an American doughboy in an American tank will come lurching into some small Polish, Czech or French village and it may fall to his lot to shoot the torturers and open the gates of the village jail. And then he will understand.

There is a lot of talk among our intellectuals about our youth. Our youth is supposed to want a change, a new order, a revolution or what not. But it is my conviction that that is emphatically NOT what our youth wants. Have you ever been in a picture house on a Saturday afternoon, when it is filled with children and some old Western movie is ending in a race of time between the hero and the villain? Have you seen the rapt attention, the glowing faces, the clenched fists? What our young men really want is to be able to give that same concentrated attention and emotional participation, this time to reality, and this time as heroes and not as spectators, that they were able to give to unsubstantial shadows, before long words and cliches had killed their imaginations. Killed them so dead that they can no longer see even reality itself imaginatively.

It is up to the intellectuals to rekindle the thing they have tried to destroy. It is as simple as St. George and the Dragon. Why not have the courage to point out that St. George fought the dragon because he wanted to liberate a captive and not because he wanted to lead a better life afterwards? Some day, sometime, my picture of an American doughboy in a Polish village will become true. Wouldn’t it be better for him then to have the cross of St. George on his banner than a long rigmarole about a better world?

As long as our intellectuals and leaders do not have the courage to risk being thought sentimental and out-of-date and are not willing to stress that nations as well as individuals are entitled to their acts of heroism and chivalry, they will never be able to give our youth what it needs.

It is true that every fairy story ends with the words: “and they lived happily ever after.” How irritating a child would be, though, if it interrupted its mother at every sentence to ask: “But, Mummy, will they live happily ever afterwards?” It simply isn’t the point of the fairy story and it isn’t the point of this war.

Presumably we won’t live happily ever after this war. But just as a fairy story helps to increase a child’s awareness and wonder at the world, so this war may make us more aware of one another. Perhaps we shall learn, and perhaps some things will be better organized. I hope so. I believe so. But only if we engage in this war with our hearts as well as our minds.

For goodness’ sake let us stop this empty political theorizing according to which a man would have to have a University degree in social science before he could see what he was fighting for. It is all so simple, really, that a child can understand it.”

Below is a translation of the last letter he wrote to his mother, and actually the last words he ever wrote.

Willem to Olga van Stockum, 7 June 1944
[Translated by Engelien de Booij; this was shortly before Willem took off on his last flight from his Yorkshire RAF station, bombing a bridge over the river next to Laval, France.]

“Dear Mother, I am curious to know whether you have noted the date of my last letter. I cannot tell you how great the satisfaction was to be one of those who dropped the first bombs during the invasion. Officially we did not know it would start on June 5th, but the instructions we got, the mysterious doings, our route and what we could expect while in flight, made us fairly sure that this was The Day. We did our job in difficult circumstances, although there was not a very big opposition. … I am free tonight and am glad of it, for the strain is great and we had not a moment’s rest in the past days. Our kind of job needs hours of preparation, the operation itself takes 6 hours and after that debriefings, etc. Then a meal, to bed, sleep, and again preparations. Of course, we did not know beforehand it would be rather easy, and the nervous strain makes your breathing faster. Soon it will be worse, when the Germans get more information. But I would not want to miss this time for anything, and I am very thankful that I resisted the temptation to go to the other station, where Bierens de Haanals10 is, for then I would be now between two squadrons and perhaps have missed all this. My crew is perfect, calm, matter of fact, and one cannot find any signs of being nervous. I sometimes have the feeling I am the only one who is…. but perhaps they think the same thing of me. I have the feeling there is an enormous energy in everybody and even the B.B. (body building programs) are better and more imaginative. The whole station comes out to see us off when we take off, with their thumbs up and this is a pleasant feeling. I know how you and Hilda enter into my feeling now, and this is an invigorating feeling. [Note from Engelien – I cannot find the rest of this letter, unless the following fragment is the continuation, but this seems not very probable.] My roommate [at the air station in the UK – Yorkshire?] is a Belgian pilot aged 40 who doesn’t speak English [or Dutch], and with whom I spend much of my time, which is very good for my French. If only you could hear all the fantastic stories people tell, more interesting than the most terrible spy thriller!! My friend came here a few months ago here after having been in the Belgian underground movement. Did I write you that I saw in London Aunt Mia [Tante Mies?] quite often? We sympathized with each other about our tastes in literature. We talked about Dostoyevsky and she told me that you had written such a wonderful article about him. How nice there are people who remember this. I would like to see it some time. I long to read it. Very, very much love from your son Willem”

sources.

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/1910WJvS.html

http://www.cgoakley.org/efa/WJvSletters.html

https://oorlogsgravenstichting.nl/persoon/148527/willem-jacob-van-stockum

http://aircrewremembered.com/1944-06-10-loss-of-prof-willem-van-stockum.html

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Ralph G. Neppel-WWII Hero

We live in an era where social media ‘influencers’ or celebrities, who make a token gesture for the latest political hype , are seen as heroes. I find it very hard to comprehend this misguided notion. None of these people have ever done a heroic deed.

I cam across the picture above on an article titled “62 Historic Photos Of Love During Wartime”

The picture is of Jean Moore kneeling and kissing her fiancé, wheelchair-bound World War II Veteran Ralph Neppel, the picture was from 1945.At first I hadn’t noticed that Ralph was missing both of his legs. I think the smile on his face made me miss it the first time I glanced at the picture.

I then decided to do a bit of research into Ralph Neppel and I came across an amazing story of an extraordinary heroic deed.

Ralpg was a leader of a machine-gun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank, killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward, and, at the point-blank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sgt. Neppel, blown 10 yards from his gun, had one leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun, and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sgt. Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.

His left leg was also severely injured and had to be amputated. He was sent to England for a long series of rehab programs.

During his recovery and rehabilitation at McCloskey General Hospital in Temple, Texas, Neppel was fitted with prostheses and was promoted from sergeant to technical sergeant. He married his fiancée Jean Moore, and was discharged from the Army in 1946

Within a year he was walking on a prosthesis, playing golf, driving a car and playing baseball. He and his wife had three children. He worked his way through college earning a B.A., attended graduate school and spent 22 years working for the VA. He was a finalist for the 1969 President’s Trophy for the disabled Person of the Year and served 8 years on the Iowa Governor’s Committee for the Employment of the disabled.

He was awarded the United States military’s highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in World War II.

Medal of Honor

AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING World War II
Service: Army
Division: 83d Infantry Division
GENERAL ORDERS:
War Department, General Orders No. 77, September 10, 1945

CITATION:
“The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Ralph George Neppel, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company M, 329th Infantry Regiment, 83d Infantry Division. Sergeant Neppel was leader of a machinegun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward and, at the pointblank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sergeant Neppel, blown ten yards from his gun, had one leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sergeant Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.”

This to me is what a hero is.

sources

https://www.boredpanda.com/old-photos-vintage-war-couples-love-romance/

https://www.cmohs.org/recipients/ralph-g-neppel

https://valor.militarytimes.com/hero/2616

Karl-Heinz Rosch-Hero without glory.

Hate is never good, it clouds judgement and mind. I am not only saying this to those who read this but more so to myself.

I have written so many pieces about World War 2,and although I have always been careful not to put all the blame on the Germans but more on the Nazis, for all the horrors. But because of the fact that my country was occupied by the Germans, and that my Grandfather was killed by them. Also only hearing bad thing about the Germans from my parents ,aunts and uncles, it is no wonder I developed a hate for the Germans.

However writing about the war and the Holocaust, and doing the research, has given me more balanced view. Over the years I have to come to admit that not all Germans were bad and not all Dutch were good.

Karl-Heinz Rosch was a young German soldier during World War II who saved the lives of two Dutch children.

Three days after Rosch’s turned 18, October 6 1944, the young German soldier, along with his platoon, was stationed in a farm in Goirle, near Tilburg in the Netherlands, when Allied forces took fire on them. He was about to hide in the basement along with his comrades when he noticed that the two children of the farmer who owned the land seemed oblivious of the danger that was on them and continued to play in the courtyard.

He ran to them, took each in his arms and brought them into the safety of the basement. He again ran outside to position himself on the other side of the courtyard when a grenade hit him right at the spot where the children were earlier. Rosch was killed instantly.

“His corpse was completely torn apart, there were body parts everywhere,” according to one who witnessed the appalling scene.

As so oft before after the war, hypocrisy ruled. There were no issues channeling Nazi war criminals to the US,UK and the USSR, under the guise of Operation Paperclip and other similar operations. Where many of them received great jobs and even had awards named after them.

However when it got to honoring this young man, who saved 2 children and as a result paid the ultimate price himself, it suddenly was a problem.

Because Rosch was a German soldier, and the enemy, his story was kept private after the war. The Dutch did not show any sympathy towards the German soldiers who had occupied their country during the war.

According to Herman van Rouwendaal, a former city councilor of the area, Karl-Heinz Rosch’s story was kept under wraps for 60 years due to the fact that he was an enemy.

“Because he was just a damn Kraut,” were his exact words.

Even his parents and grandparents did not know how Rosch died. It was not until when the rescued children gave their testimonies that the story of the young German soldier’s sacrifice was made known to the public.

But in 2008, change in how the Dutch treated the Germans became palpable that then 76-year-old Rouwendaal, along with his friends, decided to make a push that would make amends to the one-of-a-kind, historical image.

“Some Dutch are caught in a black-and-white way of thinking. The Germans were all Nazis, the Dutch were all good. That there were also unsavory characters among us, who for example betrayed Jews and robbed them, one does not like to hear,” he commented.

However the monument honoring young German soldier Karl-Heinz Rosch was not put up without a fight.

Those who supported a memorial for Karl-Heinz Rosch were met with opposition in every way.

They had to stand against the argument that it was not right to make a statue for the enemy when the five men who came from Goirle, tied in stakes and were killed by German troops as a warning to resistance fighters did not have any memorial honoring their unreasonable deaths.

They then suggested to put up a monument for the five men next to the stakes which were preserved by history museum in the locality and finally, put up Rosch’s statue nearby the five men’s monument. Through this, the two sides of the German occupation would be aptly represented – the all too common brutality and the scarcely evident show of humanity by some of the enemy soldiers.

However, after much discussion, the city council still turned down the making of Rosch’s monument saying that one in honor of a Wehrmacht soldier would still be “too socially sensitive”. Besides, they did not want to make Goirle a pilgrimage site to the German neo-Nazis. Not only was the state funding for the said statue refused, city council also refused to have the monument displayed in any public area – a resolution regarded wrong by many Dutch.

Being turned down by the government did not, however, dampen the desire of the monument’s supporters to see through to its success. They did a fundraising drive to have the needed funds for its erection.

Artist Riet van der Louw depicted Karl-Heinz Rosch as he was – a Wehrmacht soldier complete with the steel helmet many would instantly recognize and had come to hate. But it also showed the extent of compassion he extended to Jan and Toos Kilsdonk, the two children who were tucked in each of his arm as he carried them to safety.

“We will not be honoring the Wehrmacht, but rather the humanity of a young German soldier,” van Rouwendaal strongly pointed out during the drive for Karl-Heinz Rosch’s memorial.

On November 4, 2008 a bronze statue was erected on a private property in Goirle in memory of Karl-Heinz Rosch. The statue is considered to be the only monument in the world to a German World War II soldier who was part of an occupying force.

Just consider this, less then a week before saved the 2 children and was killed, Karl Heinz had still been a child himself.

Many thanks to my friend Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the story.

Source

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The Hero Gino Bartali

Gino Bartali won the Giro d’Italia 3 times, in 1936,1937 and 1946. He also won de Tour de France twice, the first time in 1938 and again in 1948. This alone would make him a sporting hero. Especially his 2nd Giro d’Italia win, when his younger brother, Giulio, died in a racing accident on 14 June.1936 Gino came close to giving up cycling.

I could fill the blog will all his efforts as a cyclist, but he also a Hero for a completely different reason. In facts, with these heroic acts he risked his life every time.

Gino Bartali was born on July 18, 1914, in Ponte a Ema, a small village south of Florence, Italy. His father, Torello, was a day laborer. His mother helped support the family by working in the fields and embroidering lace. Gino had two older sisters, Anita and Natalina, and a younger brother, Giulio, who shared his passion for cycling and racing. Gino began to work at a young age, laboring on a farm and helping his mother with embroidery work.

Bartali was a devout Catholic. The summer of 1943 was a turning point for Italy. Mussolini was overthrown in July. In September, the new government signed an armistice with the Allies. Germany invaded the northern regions of the country, including Tuscany. With the German occupation, conditions for the Jewish population grew much worse.

Also in September 1943, Italian Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa asked to meet Bartali. Dalla Costa had been secretly aiding thousands of Jews seeking refuge from other European countries. The fugitives needed falsified identity cards. Dalla Costa shared his plan with Bartali. Under the cover of his long training rides, Bartali could carry counterfeit documents and photos in the hollow frame of his bike. The plan was a nearly perfect one as Bartali knew those roads well and his need to train provided an ideal alibi.

Under the pretense of training, Bartali would set off from his hometown of Florence with life-saving, counterfeit documents hidden away in his handlebars.

These fake identity documents would be used to help Jews escape across the border, or at least help hide their Jewish ethnicity if they were ever stopped and questioned. He would often ride as far as Assisi (over 100 miles one way), where many Jews were being hidden in Franciscan convents.

By taking on this role, he put himself at huge risk. At one point he was arrested and questioned by the head of the Fascist secret police in Florence, where he lived.

The Goldenberg family had met Gino Bartali in 1941 in Fiesole. Shlomo Goldenberg-Paz, who was 9 years old at the time, told Yad Vashem that he remembered a meeting with Bartali and his relative Armando Sizzi, who was a close family friend. The two sat with Shlomo’s father and had “a discussion of adults”. He remembered the event well because the renowned cyclist had given him a bicycle and a photo with a dedication, which Goldbenberg-Paz has always kept. In 1941 the conversation with Bartali could not have dealt with illegal papers, but meeting his childhood hero became engraved in Goldenberg’s memory.

When later on, following the German occupation in 1943, the Goldenbergs went into hiding, Shlomo was first sent to a convent, but then joined his parents who were hiding in an apartment in Florence belonging to Bartali. Gino Bartali helped and supported them. Goldenberg’s cousin, Aurelio Klein also fled to Florence because he had heard that one could obtain forged papers. He stayed in the apartment with the Goldenberg family for a short while, and then fled to Switzerland with the help of forged documents. Klein told Yad Vashem that Shlomo Goldenberg’s mother had received forged papers from Bartali, and that she was the only one in the family who dared set foot outside the apartment and go shopping.

For many years after the war, Bartali did not speak about his role in saving hundreds of people, sharing just a few details with his son Andrea. It was only after his death in 2000, that Bartali’s rescue activities came to light. In 2013, Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali with the honor of Righteous Among the Nations.

On July 7, 2013 Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali as Righteous Among the Nations.

He had everything to lose. His story is one of the most dramatic examples during World War Two of an Italian willing to risk his own life to save the lives of strangers. We can do with a few heroes like Gino nowadays.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/gino-bartali

https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27333310

https://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous-sportsmen/bartali.asp

https://www.bicycling.com/news/a27483888/cycling-school-gino-bartali/

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Otto Weidt’s workshop for the blind.

Sometime you come across stories and you are amazed that they are not widely known. We all have heard about Oskar Schindler because of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” , but the story of Otto Weidt is probably just as amazing.

It is a story which is close to me due to the fact that I am half blind, and more then likely at some stage in the future I will become completely blind, I hope it will a long time into the future. At one stage I was actually blind for about 6 months, so I have an idea on how it is not being able to see.

Otto Weidt’s decreasing eyesight forced him to give up his job in wallpapering. He adapted and learned the business of brush making and broom binding.

Otto Weidt and Else Nast met in Berlin in 1931 and married five years later, on September 22, 1936. This was Otto Weidt’s third marriage; he had two sons from his first marriage.

In 1936 Otto Weidt opened a Workshop for the Blind in Kreuzberg in Berlin; Else Weidt worked there with him. Otto Weidt took great risks in trying to help his Jewish workers persecuted by the Nazis; his wife gave him constant support. After Otto Weidt died on December 22, 1947, Else Weidt took over the management of the Workshop for the Blind. She died aged 72 on June 8, 1974.

In 1936 he established a company with the name “Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind” in the basement of Großbeerenstraße 92 in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg. From 1940 on the workshop was based at Rosenthaler Straße 39 in the Mitte district, occupying the entire first floor of the side wing of the building. As one of his customers was the Wehrmacht, Weidt managed to have his business classified as vital to the war effort.

Up to 30 blind and deaf Jews were employed at his shop between the years of 1941 and 1943.When the Gestapo began to arrest and deport his Jewish employees, he fought to secure their safety by falsifying documents, bribing officers and hiding them in the back of his shop. But in February and March 1943 many were arrested and deported to concentration camps during the police raids known as “Operation Factory”.

Aside from the blind, Weidt also employed healthy Jewish workers in his office. This was strictly forbidden, as all Jewish workers had to be mediated through the labor employment office, which would ordinarily post them to forced-labor assignments. However, Weidt, managed to hire them by bribery.

The Jewish Inge Deutschkron was among the eight healthy Jews employed at the workshop. Inge and her mother were living in hiding to live , Weidt arranged an Aryan work permit for Deutschkron which he had acquired from a prostitute, who had no use for it.

Unfortunately, the permit had to be discarded three months later when the police arrested the prostitute.

One of Weidt’s most spectacular exploits involved the rescue of a Jewish girl who had been deported to the camps in Poland. In February 1943 Otto Weidt hid the Licht family in a storage room in the workshop for the blind at Neanderstraße 12 in Berlin-Mitte. The Gestapo arrested the family in October 1943 and deported them to the Theresienstadt ghetto on November 15, 1943.

There Weidt could support them with food parcels. All of 150 parcels arrived. After 6 months Alice and her parents were deported to KZ Birkenau. Alice managed to send a postcard to Weidt who promptly traveled to Auschwitz in attempt to help her.

Weidt found out that as Auschwitz was emptied, Alice was moved to the labor camp/ammunition plant Christianstadt. He hid clothes and money for her, in a nearby pension to aid her return. Through one of the civilian workers he contacted Alice and made her runaway and return to Berlin possible.

Alice eventually managed to return to Berlin in January 1945, and lived in hiding with the Weidt’s until the end of the war.

Alice’s parents both were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau

In the period from March 1943 until the end of the war there were only a few employees left in Weidt’s workshop. Apart from three non-Jewish workers, there were Jews married to non-Jews or people who had one Jewish parent, as well as several people in hiding like Inge Deutschkron, Alice Licht, Erich Frey, and Chaim and Max Horn.

Of the 33 only 7 survived.

After the war Otto Weidt supported the establishment of the Jewish Home for Children and the Aged at Moltkestraße 8-11 in the Berlin district of Niederschönhausen. After Liberation it was the first secure place for children and elderly people who escaped Nazi persecution.

All of this make Otto Weidt a hero, in my opinion. Just think of it, not only did he help Jews, he helped blind and deaf Jews. They were seen as lesser human beings in 2 categories as per the Nuremberg Laws. Otto died of heart failure in 1947, at 64 years of age.

On September 7, 1971, Yad Vashem recognized Otto Weidt as Righteous Among the Nations.

sources

https://www.museum-blindenwerkstatt.de/en/first-of-all/

https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/stories/weidt.html

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Happy Birthday Marcel Marceau

I did do a blog on Marcel Marceau about 2 years ago but he would have been 97 today. Therefore I thought it to be appropriate to do another tribute to this silent Hero.

He survived the Nazi occupation, and saved many children in WWII. He was regarded for his peerless style pantomime, moving audiences without uttering a single word, and was known to the World as a “master of silence.”

Marcel Marceau was born Marcel Mangel in Strasbourg, France, to a Jewish family. His father, Charles Mangel, was a kosher butcher originally from Będzin, Poland. His mother, Anne Werzberg, came from Yabluniv, present-day Ukraine.

At the beginning of the Second World War, he had to hide his Jewish origin and changed his name to Marceau, when his Jewish family was forced to flee their home. His father was deported to Auschwitz, where he was murdered in 1944. Both Marceau and his brother, Alain, were in the French resistance helping children to escape to safety in neutral Switzerland. Then Marceau served as interpreter for the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle, acting as liaison officer with the allied armies.

He gave his first major performance to 3,000 troops after the liberation of Paris in August 1944.

In 1947 Marceau created the character Bip the Clown, whom he first played at the Théâtre de Poche (Pocket Theatre) in Paris. In his appearance he wore a striped pullover and a battered, be-flowered silk opera hat. The outfit signified life’s fragility and Bip became his alter ego.

He died on September 22,2007 . A silent Hero who should never beforgotten.

Source

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0545131/bio

Franz Jägerstätter- Can’t be both Nazi and Catholic

The picture above is of Franz Jägerstätter and his wife Franziska Schwaninger on their wedding day Thursday April 9, 1936, the day before good Friday known as Holy Thursday.

Prior to Franz meeting his wife he had a bit of a reputation. A native of Radegund, near Salzburg. In his younger years he was regarded as a bit of a troublemaker, involved in several fights and the owner of the first motorcycle in the locality ,and even had a child out of wedlock. However he settled down after he met Franziska Schwaninger in 1935. He became a devout Catholic.

The couple did have 3 children

When German troops moved into Austria in March 1938, Jägerstätter rejected the offered position as Radegund mayor. He was the only person in the village to vote against the Anschluss in the plebiscite of 10 April 1938. Franz was also disturbed by the reports of the T4 Euthanasia program.

Three times he was called up for active service but he always refused.He became known as a conscientious objector who, for reasons of faith, refused to go fight for Hitler. He knew this could cost him his life.

In many writings, Franz told of his reasons for his actions: for him, to fight and kill people so that the godless Nazi regime could conquer and enslave ever more of the world’s peoples would mean becoming personally guilty. Franz prayed, fasted and sought advice. He also requested a talk with the Diocesan Bishop of Linz, Joseph Calasanz Fliesser.

The Bishop explained to Franz that, as the father of a family, it was not his task to decide whether the war was righteous or unrighteous. Franziska had accompanied her husband to Linz, but did not take part in his talk with the Bishop. She recalled the moment when her husband came out of the Bishop’s office: “’He was very sad, and told me: ‘They don’t dare themselves, or it’ll be their turn next:’ Franz’s main impression was that the Bishop did not dare to speak openly, because he didn’t know him – after all, Franz could have been a spy.”

In February 1943, when he received his last summons to Linz military barracks for active service with a motorised unit, he explained his intention of refusing to fight in what he regarded as an immoral war. He stated that he could not be both a Nazi and a Catholic He was promptly arrested and sent on to Berlin to stand trial before a court martial.

After two months in the Wehrmacht Prison in Linz, he was transferred to Berlin-Tegel.
There he was executed on August 9th. In one of the last letters before his death he wrote the well-known sentence: “If I write with my hands tied, it is still better than if the will were tied.” One of his last statements was “If the Church stays silent in the face of evil, what difference would it make if no church were ever opened again?”

By all accounts Franz was a hero and if there had been more people like him, God knows how the was would have gone.

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Sources

https://www.dioezese-linz.at/site/jaegerstaetter/english/biography/article/22528.html

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-irishman-s-diary-1.369074

https://www.meinekirchenzeitung.at/salzburg-tiroler-teil-rupertusblatt/c-kirche-hier-und-anderswo/ein-verborgenes-leben_a8009

Sgt.Roddie Edmonds- We are all Jews here.

Roddie Edmonds and many of his fellow US Army mates were captured by Nazi forces on 19 December 1944, during the battle of the Bulge . Some of them were sent to Stalag IX B Edmonds was the senior noncommissioned officer (Master Sergeant), and was therefore responsible for the camp’s 1,275 American POWs.

The men of the 422nd Regiment were forced to march about 50 kilometers to Gerolstein, Germany , there they were loaded into cattle/box cars, 60 to 70 men per car, with almost no food or water. The following 7 days and nights they traveling to Stalag IXB in Bad Orb. Where they arrived on Christmas day 1945,25December. After about a month in Bad Orb, the American POWs were divided into three groups – officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and enlisted men. The NCOs were taken to Stalag IXA in Ziegenhain. There were 1,000 men in this group.

Om January 25,1945-2 days before Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet troops- they arrived in Stalag IX A, Ziegenheim

The camp commandant ordered Edmonds to tell only the Jewish-American soldiers to present themselves at the next morning’s assembly so they could be separated from the other prisoners. Instead, Edmonds ordered all 1,275 to assemble outside their barracks. The German commandant rushed up to Edmonds in a fury, placed his pistol against Edmonds’ head and demanded that he identify the Jewish soldiers under his command. Instead, Edmonds responded “We are all Jews here,” and threatened to have the commandant investigated and prosecuted for war crimes after the conflict ended, should any of Edmonds’ men be harmed.

Luckily the camp commandant had still a bit of common sense left and took the the threat serious. Many other would not have done that and would have executed all men.

Because of this brave stand against the Nazi tyranny, Sgt Edmonds saved 200 Jewish men. But it was more then 200 he saved. These men had children and grandchildren and even great grandchildren. So this number can be multiplied several times.

Roddie Edmonds a hero who rightly awarded the recognition as a Righteous among the people by Yad Vashem.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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

Left without a Father

mYERS

The US armed service often get bad press and maybe sometimes that’s warranted. but what is often forgotten nowadays and especially in Europe, we owe these brave men and women a great deal.

As a Dutch man I am so aware of the liberty that was bestowed upon me by the sacrifice of so many Fathers.

Over the end 180,000 American children were left fatherless by World War II, many of these children never even met their dads.

The children of Cpl. William H. Myers, Jr. wre left without their Father on February 3, 1945. He was killed in action.

His remains are buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery,Margraten in the Netherlands.

This is fo his children.

Your Father died so that many others could live. I and the world owe him a debt which cannot be paid. all I can say is thank you.

His death was not in vain and every time people forget about the sacrifice and his brothers in arms made, I will remind them

Because of them we are free to do what we ant and free to say theing s we feel are important to say.

I think it is extermely important to say that your Father was a Hero.