In the Memory of the Valor and the Sacrifices which Hallow this Soil

The title of this post is a quote 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 those that fell in Germany were buried here (as Americans could not be buried permanently in enemy territory).

A few years ago, we were allowed to scatter the ashes of our Father here.

In the past, I have written about some of the heroes buried here. This piece is about one of the heroes that dug the graves.

Jefferson Wiggins was 16 years old when he was recruited in his home town of Dothan to go to Europe with the US Army.

He grew up in a peasant home on land that his father rented from a wealthy landowner. He hardly enjoyed any education. The Ku Klux Klan ruled the area where he grew up. Once, he said, about 30 riders came to his house, threatening to kill his father. The crime: trying to sell a bale of cotton belonging to the farm’s owner to get money to feed his hungry family. The family escaped to the next county in a horse and wagon.

For Jeff, the army meant an escape, not just from a poor life without any prospects but especially from the racism he no longer wanted to endure.

Before leaving for Europe, Jeff attended military training courses in, among others, Fort Benning. He took the train to the port of New York and boarded there, along with thousands of others. While waiting weeks for his unit to board, a New York Public Library volunteer helped him improve his reading and writing.

Jeff was 18 and staff sergeant of the 960th Unit of the QMSC when he set foot in Scotland after the troubled nine-day voyage. His unit worked there, along with thousands of other African-American soldiers, in preparation for the major invasion on the European mainland, Operation Overlord, which started on June 6, 1944, D-day. African-American soldiers also landed on the beaches of Normandy, although the American media did not consciously pay attention to it. The US government did not consider that desirable.

In the autumn of 1944, the unit of the Quarter Master Service Company (QMSC), of which he was the first sergeant, was sent to the Netherlands. There he worked for weeks, day in and day out, as a grave digger at the American cemetery developed in Margraten. That was from September 1944 and immediately after the Southern part of the Netherlands was liberated. The American Army, at that time, was completely separated into black and white troops during WWII.

It was an excruciating and gruesome task It was an excruciating and gruesome task, physically and mentally, working in the vast fields filled with corpses. Some people had been dead for a few days, others for months. The bodies were mutilated and sometimes decaying. Every day trucks with new piles of corpses came to Margraten. There were no coffins, dead soldiers were put in mattress covers and buried.

At times they also buried civilians. Jeffery Wiggins later recalled.

“The first of the dead that we buried was a German girl. I remember part of her head was blown off. She had been hit by a grenade and had fifteen bullet holes in her back. According to my estimation, she had also been machine-gunned before or after a grenade attack. We transferred her from the American side of the cemetery to the ‘enemy’ section.”

“It wasn’t a hygienic job at all, and we never got completely clean. The stench hung around us for a long time when we were back in Gronsveld. It was gruesome, dirty work. Sometimes there was hot water in the school, but when there wasn’t, we heated water in our helmets, which we used as washing tubs. That’s how we washed.’

In 2009, as the guest of the Dutch government, Wiggins, then 84 and the last surviving soldier to bury the dead at Margraten, delivered the keynote address at the 65th-anniversary celebration of the liberation of the Netherlands by Allied forces during World War II. He passed away in 2013.

He wrote a book about his time during WW2, titled From Alabama to Margraten.

Dear Sir, I thank you for your services to my country.


The farmers from America saving allied pilots,French pow’s and Jewish citizens.

Most of you will think I am talking about the USA when you see the title. However, you’d be wrong. The America in the title is a parish village in the Dutch province of Limburg, known historically for its peat extraction.

The Germans laughed when they read this name in May 1940.

In the village of America in the Peel, on the farm ‘De Zwarte Plak’ of the Poels family, more than 300 allied airmen, 60 fled French prisoners of war, 30 Jews and many other fugitives were given temporary shelter. Much support was obtained from the neighbours, the Smedts and Geurts family. After the liberation, allied soldiers came and went to the farm to see the famous hiding place with their own eyes.

In 1942 and 1943, De Zwarte Plak developed into a reception center for Allied airmen and people in hiding. In August 1943 a conversation started with pilot helpers from Deurne to come to cooperation. During the winter 1943-1944, the residents of De Zwarte Plak became more and more closely involved in the activities of the RVV Resistance Group Deurne due to the help provided to pilots. One or more Deurnese RVV’ers regularly settled on the Antoniushoeve.

The RVV group Deurne, later Knokploeg Bakel (resistance groups) and from September 1944 part of the Internal Forces, had its own shelter on De Zwarte Plak, a storage place for pistols and an air raid shelter under the horse stable of the Smedts family that was used, among other things, to house prisoners. to be temporarily accommodated.

Four men from the resistance group, with Cor Noordermeer as commander, were already present at Tinus Geurts when later, on the intercession of Bert Poels, Nico van Oosterhout and Johan Vosmeer were added. They were housed on the farm at Thei Geurts. This group had previously gone into hiding in Bakel, they were all wanted by the Nazis. It became too dangerous in Bakel, they were afraid of betrayal. Their connection to De Zwarte Plak was Bert Poels which was in relation to hiding and transporting Allied pilots.

The resistance group built its own air-raid shelter. That cellar had been excavated in a hillside against a ditch side. This ditch was 2.5 meters deep, but always dry because of the high terrain. The basement was four by six meters in size, with a plank floor and walls and a ceiling of corrugated iron. The entrance was virtually invisible and accessible via a low section in the ditch, twenty meters away, by walking into the ditch to a hatch of the air-raid shelter that was accessible on the ground floor on the right. When leaving, sand was shoveled onto the hatch. The air-raid shelter contained three or four iron bunk beds from the pre-war Dutch army.

A milk churn had been dug into the moor behind Thei Geurts’ farm. About half way to the vigilante’s shelter. It was a storage place for pistols and ammunition. The milk churn was so deep that after the lid had been placed on it, a suitable thick heather sod could be placed on top. That way the hiding place was invisible. When the sod dried out, a new one was stabbed somewhere further along. This milk churn had remained buried in the moor after the war and was found around 1950 when the moor was reclaimed, which was then converted to a depth of one meter.

There was a weapons instructor who had adapted one of the longer underground bomb shelters (about 20 meters long) for target practice. This air-raid shelter was covered with earth that provided soundproofing. The rear was free of paneling and served as a bullet catcher.

Near the farm of Thei Geurts was a phosphorus storage place. Behind the vegetable garden a hole had been dug in which phosphorus was stored. The phosphorus went into the hole and was covered with soil. This phosphorus came from Allied bombers. These aircraft had been shot down by German anti-aircraft defenses on their way to the Ruhr area above the Peel. Before they crashed, they dropped their phosphorus bombs first. The bombs fell deep into the peat bog and were dug up by the resistance. The phosphorus was bottled and thrown at German freight trains at night. Phosphorus was also strewn in the dark over large piles of straw at the railway stations. When it got light, the straw caught fire.

After Mad Tuesday (September 5, 1944) there were more and more signs that circumstances would change quickly. Signs that De Zwarte Plak would also be in the front line. As a result, all residents had to leave on September 30. The remaining KP members from Deurne left for Deurne again. On October 13, only the Thei Geurts family and some relatives were back at their farm. The rest of the entire area south of the railroad was empty. Three or four weeks later, the Thei Geurts family was brought to Sevenum by the Germans.

Maria Smedts, who transported the Jewish neighbours, was also responsible for feeding all those who had found shelter in “De Zwarte Plak”

These are just some of the Jewish people who took shelter in De Zwarte Plak, unfortunately I don’t know their names.

What amazes me most is that,America, is only 40 minutes away from where I was born, and I had never heard of these brave people until today.


Semmy and Joop Woortman-Forgotten Heroes

In the past I have been very critical of my fellow Dutch men and women, in relation to the role they played during World War 2. While most opposed the Nazi occupation, they did very little to resist. Of course it is very easy to be critical looking back. In all honesty if I would have been put in that position I would not know how I would have reacted.

I have also written many pieces about the Dutch who collaborated with the Nazis and even joined the SS, for them there is no excuse.

However there were brave Dutch citizens who did resist. Sometimes by just spreading around leaflets, other times in more militant actions. When captured there was a big chance that the death penalty would follow.

Semmy and Joop Woortman were active members of the resistance, they were part of the NV group.

The NV (Naamlose Vennootschap or the Limited) group, was one of several Dutch underground cells involved in rescue efforts to find shelter for Jewish children living in Amsterdam during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Between 1942 and 1943 approximately 4,000 Jewish children were funneled through an assembly center located in the former Jewish daycare center known as the Creche.

The Creche was situated across the street from the Hollandse Schouwburg, the Jewish theater that served as the main holding area for the Jews of Amsterdam prior to their transfer to the Westerbork concentration camp. When Jewish families reported to the theater, children were separated from their parents and sent to the Creche to await deportation. The NV group under the leadership of Jaap Musch and Joop Woortman, focused its efforts on rescuing these children. Since the Creche was not guarded, it was possible for members of the Dutch underground to pick up small groups of children who had been prepared by Jewish staff members inside, and wisk them away by streetcar or other means. The children were then taken to private homes in Amsterdam until they could be transferred to host families elsewhere. Alternatively, the children were taken directly to the railway station and escorted by couriers to their new homes outside the city. They were sent to homes as far north as Friesland and as far south as Limburg. After depositing their charges, the couriers made a point of visiting them periodically to check on their situation. The attitudes exhibited by the host families to the Jewish children ranged from loving to indifferent, and many children had to be moved repeatedly. It is estimated that as many as 1000 Jewish children in the capital were rescued by the combined efforts of all of the underground cells. The NV group is credited with having saved about 250. Sixteen members of the group were recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

Joop and Semmy became increasingly involved in the underground resistance movement. Joop would often go to the train station to look for Jews to take into hiding. When they learned that the Germans had plans to deport all Jewish children to concentration camps, Joop and Semmy concentrated their efforts on saving the Dutch children. They organized a network of people who were willing to hide Jewish children in their homes. Semmy remembered a day in 1943, when the German’s launched a surprise raid of homes in Amsterdam in an attempt to capture Jewish children. Semmy and Joop quickly instructed the children to go to safety at a local day care center, which was run by a German born Jewish nab , Walter Suskind. On the day of the raid, a terrified little boy came to Semmy’s home and she offered to hide him in one of the cupboards in her kitchen. When the Germans searched her house, she pretended to be virulently anti-Semitic and even invited the Germans to share coffee with her. The deception worked and the Germans never found the boy.

Joop Woortman used the pseudonym Theo de Bruin. He was betrayed in 1944 and via Kamp Amersfoort ended up in Bergen-Belsen, where he died on March 13, 1945. Following Joop’s arrest, Semmy carried on his mission. Using the register he kept of the 300 children he placed in hiding, she made sure all of his charges received their monthly stipends and ration coupons. A year after the war the Red Cross confirmed Woortman’s death in Bergen-Belsen. He was posthumously recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 1981.

After the war Semmy recalled
“It was difficult to just walk out of the nursery with children because on the other side of the street there were soldiers on guard in front of the Hollandse Schouwburg. But the head nurse at the nursery, Virrie Cohen, would stand in front of the door and tell us if tram 9 was coming.

We’d walk out of the door each carrying a baby under our arm. We’d run alongside the tram down the Plantage Middenlaan and at the next tram stop we’d get in, huffing and puffing. And all the people in the tram would start laughing because naturally they’d seen us, but they never said anything. Well, that’s typically Amsterdam for you…”

Semmy Woortman walks along a street in Amsterdam with her stepdaughter Hetty (left, Joop’s daughter) and her Jewish foster child, Rachel (right).

Semmy married again after the war. She died on February 22,2004 aged 87.

When I come across stories like this, it makes me proud to be a Dutchman.


Semmy Riekerk, The Netherlands


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. Thank you. 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.


Irena Sendler

Remembering the victims of the Holocaust is extremely important, now probably more than ever, however it is also important to remember the heroes who saved so many from certain death.

Today marks the 111th birthday of Irena Sendler.

Sendler was born Irena Krzyżanowska on February 15, 1910, in Otwock, Poland. Her parents were members of the Polish Socialist Party, and her father, Stanisław Krzyżanowski was a physician, he died of typhus when Irena was still a child. In 1931 Irena married Mieczysław Sendler, and the couple moved to Warsaw before the outbreak of World War II.

During the war, Irena worked at the Department for Social Welfare and Public Health in Poland, as a Social worker. She helped smuggle more than 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto during the Holocaust.

As head of the children’s section of Żegota, the Polish underground Council for Aid to Jews, Irena (“Jolonta”) Sendler regularly used her position as a social worker to enter the Warsaw ghetto and help smuggle children out. Hiding them in orphanages, convents, schools, hospitals, and private homes, she provided each child with a new identity, carefully recording in code their original names and placements so that surviving relatives could find them after the war.

In September 1943, four months after the Warsaw ghetto was destroyed, Sendler was appointed director of Zegota’s Department for the Care of Jewish Children. Sendler, whose underground name was Jolanta, exploited her contacts with orphanages and institutes for abandoned children, to send Jewish children there. Many of the children were sent to the Rodzina Marii (Family of Mary) Orphanage in Warsaw and religious institutions run by nuns in nearby Chotomów, and Turkowice, near Lublin.

On 20 October 1943, Sendler was arrested. She managed to stash away incriminating evidence such as the coded addresses of children in the care of Zegota and large sums of money to pay to those who helped Jews. She was sentenced to death and sent to the infamous Pawiak prison, but underground activists managed to bribe officials to release her. Her close encounter with death did not deter her from continuing her activity. After her release in February 1944, even though she knew that the authorities were keeping an eye on her, Sendler continued her underground activities. Because of the danger, she had to go into hiding. The necessities of her clandestine life prevented her from attending her mother’s funeral.

This work was done at huge risk, in October 1941 a law was passed that —giving any kind of assistance to Jews in Poland was punishable by death, not just for the person who was providing the help but also for their entire family or household.

Jews would face the death penalty if they were found outside the ghetto, and those that helped the Jews had the same fate.

After the war, Sendler’s first marriage ended in divorce. In 1947 she married Stefan Zgrzembski, with whom she had three children, daughter Janka, and sons Andrzej (who died in infancy) and Adam. After the death of Zgrzembski, Sendler remarried her first husband, Mieczysław Sendler, but their reunion didn’t last and they again divorced.

Yad Vashem recognized Ms. Sendler with the Righteous Among the Nations medal in 1965. She died in Warsaw, Poland, on May 12, 2008, following a long illness.



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. Thank you. 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.


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



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. Thank you. 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.


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.


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.


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.



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. Thank you. 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.



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.



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. Thank you. 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.


Not all heroes wear uniforms.


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.


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.




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. Thank you. 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.