Fatebenefratelli Hospital & Syndrome K.

Initially Italy was an ally of Germany and the other axis powers. during World War 2.

By 1943, Italy’s military position had become untenable. Axis forces in North Africa were finally defeated in the Tunisia Campaign in early 1943. Italy suffered major setbacks on the Eastern Front as well. The Allied invasion of Sicily brought the war to the nation’s very doorstep. The Italian home front was also in bad shape as the Allied bombings were taking their toll. Factories all over Italy were brought to a virtual standstill because raw materials, such as coal and oil, were lacking. Additionally, there was a chronic shortage of food, and what food was available was being sold at nearly confiscatory prices. Mussolini’s once-ubiquitous propaganda machine lost its grip on the people; a large number of Italians turned to Vatican Radio or Radio London for more accurate news coverage.

In July 1943, Allied troops landed in Sicily. Mussolini was overthrown and imprisoned by his former colleagues in the Fascist government. The Italian king replaced Mussolini as prime minister with Marshal Pietro Badoglio.

On September 8, 1943, Badoglio announced Italy’s unconditional surrender to the Allies. The Germans, who had grown suspicious of Italian intentions, quickly occupied northern and central Italy.

The 450-year-old Fatebenefratelli Hospital which is situated on a tiny island in the middle of Rome’s Tiber River, just across from the Jewish Ghetto. When Nazis raided the area on Oct. 16, 1943, a handful of Jews fled to the Catholic hospital, where they were quickly given case files reading “Syndrome K.”

The name Syndrome K came from Dr. Adriano Ossicini, an anti-Fascist physician working at the hospital who knew they needed a way for the staff to differentiate which people were actually patients and which were Jews in hiding. Inventing a fake disease cut out all the confusion, when a doctor came in with a “Syndrome K” patient, everyone working there knew which steps to take. “Syndrome K was put on patient papers to indicate that the sick person wasn’t sick at all, but Jewish.

The name Syndrome K not only alerted hospital staff that the “patients” were actually Jewish refugees in good health but also served as a jab to their oppressors, specifically, Albert Kesselring and Herbert Kappler. Kesselring was a Nazi defensive strategist and the commander responsible for the Italian occupation, while Kappler was an SS colonel.

Hidden away in a separate ward of the facility, those “infected” with Syndrome K were instructed to cough and act sick in front of Nazi soldiers as they investigated Fatebenefratelli. The patients were said to be highly contagious, deterring Nazi officials from coming anywhere near the quarters they were being kept in. Nazi officials became terrified of contracting the mysterious illness, steering clear at all costs.

Credited mainly to doctors Sacerdoti, Borromeo, and Ossicini, the operation was only made possible with the help of the entire staff, who played along with the plan, knowing exactly what to do when confronted with an incoming patient diagnosed with Syndrome K..

“The Nazis thought it was cancer or tuberculosis, and they fled like rabbits,” Vittorio Sacerdoti, a Jewish doctor working at the hospital under a false name, told the BBC in 2004. Another doctor orchestrating the life-saving lie was surgeon Giovani Borromeo.

Initially, the hospital was used as a hospice on the premises of the San Giovanni Calibita Church. Later, it was expanded into a modern hospital by Dr. Giovanni Borromeo, who joined in 1934, with the help of Father Maurizio Bialek.

Besides Fr. Maurizio and Borromeo, other doctors on staff assisted the Jewish patients and helped to move them to safer hideouts outside the hospital. In May 1944, the hospital was raided and five Jews from Poland were detained. However, the ruse saved dozens of lives.

Fr. Maurizio and Borromeo also installed an illegal radio transmitter in the hospital basement and made contact with General Roberto Lordi of the Italian Royal Air Force. After World War II, Borromeo was lauded by Government of Italy for his work and was recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. He died in the hospital on 24 August 1961.

If only one person in the Hospital, be it patient or staff, had reported it to the Nazis, then without a shadow of a doubt, all of them would have been killed.

The combined efforts of Sacerdoti, Borromeo, Ossicini, and the entire hospital staff were only revealed 60 years later, and Borromeo specifically was recognized by the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in October 2004, not only for his work with Syndrome K, but for transferring Jewish patients to the hospital from the ghetto long before the occupation of the Nazis.

The Fatebenefratelli Hospital was recognized as a shelter for victims of Nazi persecution, and was named a “House of Life” in June, 2016. The ceremony was attended by Ossicini, 96-years-old at the time, along with some of the very people that his heroic efforts had helped save six decades before.

Fatebenefratelli survivors embrace during a reunion at the hospital on June 21, 2016

Sources

https://qz.com/724169/an-italian-doctor-explains-syndrome-k-the-fake-disease-he-invented-to-save-jews-from-the-nazis/

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/93650/syndrome-k-fake-disease-fooled-nazis-and-saved-lives

https://allthatsinteresting.com/syndrome-k

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May 4 Remembering the dead

May 4 is the designated day in the Netherlands to remember all those who died in WWII and other conflicts.

At 8PM , 2 minutes of silence will be observed across the country. A few yeas ago I saw a picture that really touched me , It was of a pizza delivery boy getting of his bike at 8 and stopped 2 minutes to remember the dead. It still brings tears to me eyes today, not out of sadness but out of joy. It is good to know that the younger generations still know the value of respect. Especially for those who died for them as they did for me.

So many have died, in concentration camps, in battle in Europe and in the pacific, resistance fighters there are just too many to name. It is a task impossible for any one person to do.

I will remember all those millions who died during WWII. They died because of some evil men wanted their ideologies spread all over the world. I say ideologies but they were really idiocrasies.

I will remember them via a few names of brave men who are buried in ‘The Netherlands American Cemetery’ in Margraten.

10,022 names are connected to the cemetery. 8301 who are buried there, the other names are of those who are remembered and whose bodies weren’t found or were returned home. There is one name there that is special to me, Pierre de Klein, my dad. He did not die in WWII, he died in 2015 but he always had wanted to be a professional soldier. He did fulfill his military service, but his mother discouraged him of becoming a full time soldier like his Father before him, his Father was killed in WWII when my dad was only 5. The management of The Netherlands American Cemetery were so kind to allow his to scatter my Father’s ashes at the Cemetery making his remains to be 8302.

Remembering.

Aldy Willie D. Technician Fourth Grade 34139177 U.S. Army World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Mississippi 10th Tank Battalion, 5th Armored Division.

Alston Tullos Private 38416283 U.S. Army World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Texas 2nd Quartermaster Battalion

Zuidema John A. Technical Sergeant 36704981 U.S. Army World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Illinois 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division

Youngblood Eugene P. Corporal 35600074 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Ohio 316th Fighter Control Squadron

Wright Richard D. Second Lieutenant O-808209 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Massachusetts 367th Bomber Squadron, 306th Bomber Group, Heavy

Wright Richard J. Second Lieutenant O2060633 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Michigan 78th Squadron, 435th Troop Carrier Group

Winters Clinton First Lieutenant O-751514 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Missouri 506th Fighter Squadron, 404th Fighter Group

Winton Merbell C. Technician Fifth Grade 12034147 U.S. Army World War II Netherlands American Cemetery New Jersey 309th Infantry Regiment, 78th Infantry Division

Winzey Patrick M. Staff Sergeant 32983248 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery New York 615th Bomber Squadron, 401st Bomber Group, Heavy

Alexander George S. Second Lieutenant O-869037 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery Texas 714th Bomber Squadron, 448th Bomber Group, Heavy

Alexander Harry N. First Lieutenant O-767721 U.S. Army Air Forces World War II Netherlands American Cemetery California 566th Bomber Squadron, 389th Bomber Group, Heavy

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

Our tomorrow was sacred to them.

They gave their today for our tomorrow..

Sacrificing their own lives for those they would never meet.

They gave their today for our tomorrow..

A tomorrow which we should cherish even more.

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

Their bravery should forever be remembered and ingrained in our hearts.

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

To those who gave their today for my tomorrow, I bow humbly and respectfully and hope I was worth your sacrifice.

SOURCE

https://www.abmc.gov/Netherlands

Paying the ultimate price for helping others.

Maastricht is one of my favourite cities. I grew up only about 10 miles away from it and would have visited it numerous times. It is, the most south eastern city in the Netherlands and is well known for its close proximity to Belgium and Germany. It is also the the home of violin virtuoso Andre Rieu and his Strauss Orchestra.

In Europe it is known for the treaty which was signed there on February 7,1992. It shaped the future of the EU.

But I am not going to talk about any of that. I want to add a name to the Maastricht narrative and would love it if in years to come people would say “Maastricht, oh yes that is the place where Derk van Assen and his wife Berendje are from”

Derk and Berendje van Assen were heroes in every sense of the word. They paid the ultimate price for helping their neighbours.

Derk was active in the underground resistance from the beginning of
the war, in May 1940. Initially without being part of an organised group, but later he joined the Versleyen group, a group of tax officials
within the L.O (National Organisation for help to those in hiding); he
was also a member of the Trouw group, the national Christian
resistance group.

In Derk’s Christian believes and humanist principles, all people were equal and he was prepared to risk everything to save the lives of Jews and others. Using his many talents Derk contributed during the war to illegal newspapers, organized national information networks and offered professional document forgers a place to work in his home. Derk and Berendje were friendly with Isidore and Frederika Schaap, who had come to Maastricht in 1939, together with their daughter Hetty. Isidore headed a branch of a Ladies fashion firm that was based in Rotterdam and Berendje was one of his customers.

The Shaap family had totally integrated; in the ways of the more the more Burgundian lifestyle of the southern Netherlands and sometimes they even went with Derk and Berendje to the Reformed Church on Sunday mornings.

In the summer of 1942, the Schaaps received orders to report for deportation ,Derk helped them find a place to hide. They spent their first couple of nights hiding with a family who owned an optician’s shop in Maastricht. During this time their identity cards were altered and the “J” removed, which gave them the freedom to travel with less risk. The next following day, the Schaap family took a train to Utrecht, to the home of one of Derk’s cousins. They soon moved to a family in Hillegom, South Holland, also relations of the van Assens. The Schaap family then had to split up Isidore and Frederika moved to Amsterdam, where they were later arrested.

The Police Commissioner of Maastricht had requested that Isidore Schaap and Frederika Roza Schaap-Kamerling, both residents of Maastricht, be located, detained and brought to trial. They were suspected of having changed their place of residence without the required authorization. This description referred to Jews who had gone into hiding.

On 26 July 1943 Derk was arrested in Maastricht after having been
under surveillance shadowed for some time by the SD (Sicherheitsdienst). The SD had recruited “Blonde Mien”, a resistance activist. Mien was tasked to gather information about Derk’s contacts, but before she could do so Derk was apprehended and incarcerated in the local prison. In this prison, Oberscharfuehrer Richard Nitsch interrogated Derk for seven weeks, during which time Derk’s colleagues were planning his escape. However, the authorities discovered the plot and to abort it Nitsch and two other SD men executed Derk in Horst, Limburg, on September 14, 1943.

In the meantime, Berendje was also arrested and imprisoned, first in
Maastricht, then in Haaren and finally in Vught. From there she was
deported to Camp Ravensbruck in Germany where she died on 2
February 1945.

Two heroes who gave their lives for others. After the war Derk and Berendje were decorated by the Air Chief
Marshall and Vice Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces for
“assistance to officers of the marine, land and air forces to escape
from imprisonment, or to avoid being taken prisoner by the enemy”.
On 6 September 1989 Derk van Assen and Berendina van Assen –
Grolleman were awarded the honorary title of Righteous among the
Nations by Yad Vashem.

Frederika Roza Schaap-Kamerling born Wildervank, 28 February 1894 – Murdered in Auschwitz, 28 January 1944.Reached the age of 49 years.

Isidore Schaap ,born Rotterdam, 24 April 1894 – murdered in Auschwitz, 8 April 1944. Reached the age of 49 years.

I could not find out what happened to their daughter Hetty.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/130959/isidore-schaap

https://www.tracesofwar.nl/sights/67272/Monument-Derk-van-Assen.htm

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Ankie Stork- The Stork who delivered 35 Jewish children.

Ankie Stork was a Dutch resistance fighter during the German occupation of the Netherlands. She saved thirty-five Jewish children from the Nazis by hiding them in several locations the town of Nijverdal during World War II. She acted as part of Utrechts Kindercomité,(Utrecht Children Committee) a Dutch resistance group based in Utrecht.

Ankie was a member of the Hengelo manufacturing family, the daughter of Johan Charles Stork, the director of the Koninklijke Stoombleekerij in Nijverdal.
She became a lecturer and spokesperson after the war. She continued to reside at two residences in Enschede and The Hague until shortly before her death. She died in Enschede on November 23, 2015, at the age of 93.
Her father and brother,Piet, had tried to escape to England at the start of the occupation of the Netherlands, but were arrested. After they were released ,they turned their home into centre of resistance and also a hiding place for Jews.
In 1942 Ankie started to study social geography. She had to end her studies quite soon after she started because she refused to sign the Loyalty declaration, which was a declaration pledging loyalty to the German occupier.

In 1943 her cousin Anne Maclaine Pont asked her to join the resistance by starting to sell copies of “Het lied der achttien dooden” (the song of the 18 dead) by Jan Campert in order to fund the resistance.
Later on with help from others like the Pastor Hendrikus Berkhof, who had warned about the dangers of Nazism during his sermons, to find hiding places for Jewish children, she found places for these children in the eastern rural parts of the Netherlands.
In May 1944 she was caught and arrested but was released after 6 weeks due to lack of evidence.
Because of her and her helpers 35 Jewish children survived the war.

Sources

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn44496

https://peoplepill.com/people/ankie-stork/

https://dirkdeklein.net/2018/01/12/jan-campert-the-song-of-the-eighteen-dead-a-ww2-hero/

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Not all heroes wear uniforms.

sam

When you look at the above picture you may think there is nothing extraordinary about it. However when you delve only slightly into the history of the picture you quickly how realize how amazing the picture really is.

The picture is of a Jewish male choir of the Great Synagogue in Amsterdam, it was taken in March 1942 and although the deportations of Dutch Jews had not started yet at the that time,  the life of Dutch Jews had been nearly made impossible at that stage.

Yet these men kept going and tried to lift the spirits with their singing. Heroically they maintained their cultural legacy despite the looming threat of being killed.

It particularly touched me because one of my hobbies is singing, in fact I used to be a conductor of a mixed choir, and when I saw the style of the conductor of this choir it reminds me of my own style.

The conductor’s name is Samuel Henri Englander he was appointed as the conductor when he was aged 20.Under his leadership the choir became well known, it soon got the nick name ‘Englander’s choir’. They performed at shul services but also weddings and even  in concerts where they  primarily  would sing religious music from Eastern Europe and Yiddish folk songs. Some of the concerts WERE  even be broadcast by the BBC.

bbc

I don’t know what happened to the choir, I can only presume they did not survive. Samuel Henri Englander was murdered in Sobibor on 11 June 1943.

So much talent has been destroyed by the Nazis, depriving not only the world but also themselves of so much good.

Koor

 

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Source

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/137039600/samuel-henri-englander

NIOD

The Forgotten heroes of WWII.

k9

Today is World Animal Day and what better day to pick to remember some of the forgotten Heroes of WWII. The animals that often played a very important role.

Pfc. Rez P. Hester of the Marine Corps Seventh War Dog Platoon on Iwo Jima takes a nap while Butch stands guard. February 1945.(courtesy National Archives)

1

Cpl. William Wende brushes GI Jenny, the burro mascot of an Army unit in North Africa. The interested terrier is named Pito. Ca. 1943.(Courtesy National Archives)

2

Antis was a dog who received the Dickin Medal in 1949 from the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals for bravery in service in England and North Africa during WWII.

antis

Lin Wang was an Asian elephant who served with the Chinese Expeditionary Force during the Second Sino-Japanese War :1937–1945.

lin

Chinese cavalry during WWII.

Cavalry

William of Orange was a male war pigeon of British military intelligence service MI14. He was awarded the 21st Dickin Medal for delivering a message from the Arnhem Airborne Operation. This message saved more than 2000 soldiers at the time of the Battle of Arnhem in September 1944. Its official name in military record is NPS.42.NS.15125. He received the Dickin Medal in May 1945.

william

 

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Sources

National Archives

Daily MaiL

Archives MOD.

 

In Memory of the Valor and the Sacrifices which Hallow this soil.

thank you

Only a few days ago we celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. People often forget that D-Day did not mark the end of WWII, it merely marked the beginning of the end.

So many sacrifices were still made in the days and months following D-Day. Thousands and thousands of mainly young men, some the same age as my own 2 sons, gave their lives for the freedom of strangers. Most of them did not know the people they were fighting for, all they knew is that an evil regime had to be beaten.

The title of this blog is a quote which engraved in the Marble reception hall of the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial  in Margraten in the Netherlands.

The cemetery was created in October 1944 under the leadership of Joseph Shomon of the 611th Graves Registration Company, as the Ninth United States Army pushed into the Netherlands from France and Belgium. American casualties from the area, and also those that fell in Germany were buried here (as Americans could not be buried permanently in enemy territory)

Margraten 1940s

Currently 8,301 souls are buried here.Stretching along the sides of the court are Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names. Totaling 10,023 souls remembered here. I could write pages and pages on honouting these men but there is only one word that really describes each single one of them-Heroes-.

Below are just some impression of this most hallow of places. Let us never forget.

US FLAG

Flag

FLOWERS

ROSENKRANTZ

In this world where the greatest generation often gets disrespected, I am proud to see that there is still so much respect for the men and remembered here. The sight of 8301 pure white marble graves, is awesome,saddening and eerie at the same time, but these hallow soils are treated with the utmost respect.

white crosses

 

Sources

Own archive

Beeldbank WO2

The young people who fought back.

 

I have many weaknesses ,one of them is that I have a very low tolerance or even no tolerance for people who have a warped sense of entitlement. I know I shouldn’t be intolerant and just rise above it , but I find that very hard at times.

Especially when it comes to the snowflake generation or millennials. A millennial is described  as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.Or people born between the years of 1981 to 1998. I have to say not all of these people do have that sense of entitlement, there are many very decent people among them. It is only a minority of millennials but is a very vocal minority, They appear to have a problem for every solution. Generally they have not experienced any hardships but yet they claim their lives are much worse then that of the generation before them.

Then I come across stories of extremely brave young people like Mordechai Anielewicz,Mira Fuchrer and Rachel (Sarenka) Zylberberg(all pictured above)zob

These 3 young people ,who were in the same age bracket as the millenials, all died this day 76 years ago in Warsaw, May 8,1943. They were all members of the  Jewish Combat Organizationor ZOB in Polish), a resistance movement in occupied Poland, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

The youth groups that were instrumental in forming the ŻOB had anticipated German intentions to annihilate Warsaw Jewry and began to shift from an educational and cultural focus to self-defense and eventual armed struggle

Their headquarters  was a bunker based on Ulica Miła 18 (or 18 Pleasant Street in English)

I am not going too much into the details of the group. I leave that up to all of you to do the homework on that, Because there is so much information on them.

Suffice to say that Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the ZOB and Mira Fuchrer was his girlfiend. Together with their friend Rachel  Zylberberg they played a pivotal role in the uprising at the cost of their lives.

On the 8th of May they were in the bunker with a group of about 120 fighters, when the bunker was discovered.s They were surrounded by the Nazis but the young resistance  fighters refused to surrender. Many of them committed suicide.

bunker

These heroes should never be forgotten.

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A sad but brave farewell letter- Young love destroyed.

bob

Operation Frankton was a British WWII commando raid on shipping in the German occupied French port of Bordeaux in southwest France.

The plan was for six kayaks  to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. The twelve men would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. The operation was carried out between 7-12 December 1942.

The best way to describe the mission is a suicide mission. Of the 12 men involved in the operation only 4 survived.

One of the marines  21 year old Robert “Bobby” Ewart knew the dangers involved and wrote a farewell letter to his 16 year old Girlfriend Heather Powell.

Below is the text of the letter.

“Dear Heather, I trust it won’t be necessary to have this sent to you but since I don’t know the outcome of this little adventure, I thought I’d leave this note behind.

I couldn’t help but love you Heather, although you were so young. I will always love you, as I know you do me.

That alone should get me through this, but one never knows the turns of fate. One thing I ask of you, Heather, is not to take it too hard. You have yet your life to live.

“Think of me as a good friend and keep your chin up. Some lucky fellow will find you who has more sense than I had and who can get you what you deserve.

Yours for ever, Bob, chin up Sweetheart.”

Bob Ewart was captured on December 10 1942 and executed. After Heather received the news of Bob’s death she got ill, she contracted tuberculosis and died heartbroken shortly before she turned 17.

 

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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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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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