The football tragedy of November 19,1944.

The history of Sittard-Geleen is a bit of a complicating one. The city used to be 2 towns, but in 2001 the towns of Sittard and Geleen merged and is now known as Sittard-Geleen.

On September 18,1944 both towns were liberated.

With the liberation of Sittard on 18 and 19 September 1944, the war did not end for this town. On the contrary, in the following five months hundreds more were killed because it was close to the front.

Nevertheless, an emergency football competition started in November 1944 with five clubs from Sittard and Geleen. “The proceeds go to the needy Netherlands,” says Limburgsch Dagblad. On 19 November, the Sittardse Boys and Maurits played on the then Baandert stadium, in the presence of several thousand spectators. After about half an hour Harry Ehlen of the Sittardse Boys dropped to the ground, because he heard a whooshing sound. Seconds later, shells hit around the field for nearly ten minutes. There were also impacts elsewhere in the city center.

Eleven people were killed throughout Sittard, most of the victims were on the Baandert, the exact number is unknown. In any case Karel Ermans died there, ten years old. His brother Sjeng and his father found him. The body of Peter Houben lay next to it, also ten years old.

This grenade attack is the only fatal wartime incident at a sports match in the Netherlands. In fact, it is the biggest disaster in Dutch sports history. There have never been more deaths during a match. And yet it is completely unknown, barring those directly involved in Sittard.

This is mainly due to the press censorship of the time. The newspapers only said that the match was ‘untimely halted’ and that the emergency competition had been stopped. In the obituary of Francisca Frissen, ‘a fatal accident’ was her cause of death. Her prayer card, still in the possession of brother Toine, escaped this censorship: ‘Born in Sittard on June 28, 1929 and there, hit by a shrapnel, died on November 19, 1944.’

After the national liberation in 1945, this football disaster was quickly forgotten. For example, a huge misunderstanding could arise about a memorial stone in the Bernadettekerk on the Baandert, which was always thought to contain the names of the victims of 19 November 1944. That is not correct: on this war memorial from 1952, the fifteen members of Sittardse Boys and Sittard, who died in the Second World War. Only Karel Ermans, Francisca Frissen and Bertha Simon are victims of 19 November 1944, the other twelve died on another day. The wrong people have been commemorated at this monument for decades, symbolizing the chaos of November 19, 1944.

At the end of 2019, it became clear to the Bernadette Church that a misunderstanding had arisen, after which the church placed a call for more information. Here is a summary of what we have found so far.

Eight names found so far of the victims of November 19, 1944:

Karel Hubertus Ermans (10 years)
Francisca Agnes Frissen (15)
Pieter Jouzef Houben (13)
Bertha John. Hubert Simon (16)
John Peter Ant. Simons (40)
André Carolus Maria Tummers (1)
Maria Neer-Vaessen (56)
Diena Zoer (16)
So there are still three names missing

And these are the fifteen names of Sittardia on the monument from 1952:

Paul Collard
Paul Crauwels
Tonny Hunnekens
De Heus
Piet Letschert
Karel Ermans
Harry Janssen
Charles Soesman
Jack. Hertz
Frans Schadron
Frans Eijck
Frits Clemens
Bertha Simon
Fransien Frissen
Mia Sprenger
I was never aware of this tragedy. I only came across it by chance because I was doing research on the liberation of Geleen. It is strange that this is such a forgotten event in both Sittard and Geleen, because Geleen is the cradle of professional football in the Netherlands.

sources

https://www.trouw.nl/sport/de-vergeten-voetbalramp-van-sittard~b40e12f4/?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.ie%2F

Maastricht Liberated.

Maastricht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands and one of the first settlements. It was also the first city to be liberated in World War 2.

On 13 and 14 September 1944 it was the first Dutch city to be liberated by Allied forces of the US Old Hickory Division..

These are just some impressions of the liberation of Maastricht. Picture above: Wijck and Maastricht are liberated on 13 and 14 September. German prisoners of war are taken away by American soldiers of the Old Hickory division. This American infantry division played a leading role in the liberation of South Limburg.

American soldiers of the 113th Cavalry Group transport prisoners of war in East Maarland.

‘Maastricht 14 September 1944. The house of the NSB member Spoor is stormed.’

Wycker Brugstraat, direction Sint Servaasbrug in Maastricht. The building on the right in the background is on the west bank, corner Maastrichter Brugstraat/Kesselskade. Photo taken to the west, after September 14, 1944.

An American soldier in the photo with a woman in Maastricht.

Location: Vrijthof, north side. Photo taken to the east, towards Grote Straat. The boy is probably a member of the scouting company.

source

Putting evil into words

They say a picture tells a thousand words. But it never tells the full story. The picture above has a clear description of how evil men can be, below are some testimonies and eye witness accounts of liberators and survivors of the Holocaust.

Gina Rappaport was liberated by the US Army in April 1945, after spending two years in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. After her liberation, she wrote down her story. This is an excerpt of what she wrote.


“After two years the SS told us to pack our things and go to the station, and they put us on a train which travelled for an unknown destination. We were seven days in the train travelling very slowly, when we were liberated by the American army on the 13th of April. It was the luckiest day of my life.
At that moment I was bathing in the river when I saw the first American soldier from afar. What a joy. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was sure it was a dream, but still it was true.
A few minutes before the American soldiers arrived we were told that we should have to go on foot over the Elbe River. But the American army saved us from a sure death, which we will never forget.
I was also sad this day because I remembered how many people of value had died and couldn’t see the liberation and the fall of the barbarian, Hitler. I shall never forget what I owe to the American army.
I hope that I will be able to estimate the right value, what the Americans have done for us. Now, after five years of suffering I shall know how to appreciate the more my liberty.”

In spring 1945, Benjamin Ferencz began investigating crimes committed by the Nazis. In the area outside the Flossenbürg concentration camp, he followed a trail of mass graves. This is his recollection.


“As the camps were about to be liberated, the Germans tried to move the inmates out, those who were still able to walk or to work. They left those behind to be killed or to die, who were too sick. But they marched them out. And they were marching—I think it was from Flossenbürg to Dachau, or one of the camps. And they took them through the woods and they marched at night, and if anybody faltered on the way, they were immediately shot. If anybody paused to try to pick up a potato or to eat a root or something, they were shot.
And I was able to follow this trail through the woods of mass graves—10, 20, 30, 50 killed, you know.
And I would get the nearest farmer to, say, dig them up. They would say, “Oh yes, we heard firing last night, there was shooting going on.” “Where was it?” ‘Over there in the woods.’ And I would say, ‘Let’s
go.’ And we’d go out to the woods and there would be a newly dug-up place, and I would say, ‘Get some shovels.’ And then stop some Germans on the street, ‘Take this shovel, dig them up.’ And we’d dig up the
bodies of people who’d been obviously shot through the head, usually top of the skull was blown off, shot probably kneeling from the back. Some of them were tied still, you know, just lightly covered over with six
inches of dirt, something like that. But I could follow the trail of crime being committed all along the way”

Marie Knowles Ellifritz was 22 when she tended to the survivors of the Mauthausen concentration camp. Her commanding officer gave the nurses the option not to enter the camp because he couldn’t bring himself
to subject them to the horrors he had seen. This is her recollection.


“The emotional trauma caused by our medical participation in the liberation of the European concentration camps was beyond belief. As Americans and as women we never before had been subjected to such inhumanity to man. And my initial feeling was of a tremendous job to do.
To take in 1,500 patients into a 400-bed hospital had to be madness. That fact became our madness. And it proved to become a tremendous overwhelming job. Clinically, it was a matter of sorting the dead from the
living, deciding who would live for at least three days or more, and to make all those we found comfortable and to begin the process of treatment. A tent to keep the patient dry, an air mattress to give them a place
to lie down, a blanket to help them keep warm, pajamas to give them some dignity, a small amount of foodto nourish them, and plasma to preserve the remaining life and begin them on a road back to living.
Everyone had work to do. The patients themselves helped as much as they could. We deloused them. We moved them out of the larger camp into our tent city and we let the fresh air, the sunshine, the space, and
most of all their freedom do its work.
It seemed to take one to three days for us to convince some of them that they were truly free at last.

And when that reality came they simply closed their eyes and died in peace and freedom. Some of the patients seemed to know immediately that they were free once again and so they were able to rejoice and begin to make plans for the future. Life force for these patients had begun when the camp’s gates were opened by their liberators.”

Mr. PATRICK GORDON WALKER (BBC): I reached Weimar’s concentration camp a few days after its liberation by British soldiers. I met these soldiers. They were filled with righteous anger. Unlike British soldiers as a rule, they wanted to talk, to tell the world what they had seen. I made recordings of these men, all of them of the outfit …(unintelligible) just outside the camp itself.

Mr. TYLER McKENNEY PAYNE (British Soldier): I’m Tyler McKenney Payne(ph) of the …(unintelligible). I live at Mansfield Woodhouse(ph). I want to tell you a tale, just one tale, as there are many other horrible sights in the past days that I saw. I myself was guarding the milk store, and around this milk store was a screaming crowd of women with babies. I kept picking a few babies out and feeding them.

And one woman who was–I think she was mad, kept kissing my feet and clothing, so I took the baby from her. When I looked at the baby, his face was black and he had been dead for a few days. I couldn’t come to say it was dead so I burst the milk can opened and poured milk down through its dead lips. The woman crooned and giggled with delight. I gave her the baby back and she staggered off and lay in the sun. And when I next looked, she was dead with the baby in her arms. So I put her in the stack of the dead bodies, 2 or 300 dead, and then I turned away. I was allowed to say that I’m a British soldier and it’s not propaganda; it’s the truth.

Mr. MURROW: As we walked out into the courtyard, a man fell dead. Two others–they must have been over 60–were crawling towards the latrine. I saw it, but will not describe it.

In another part of the camp, they showed me the children, hundreds of them. Some were only six. One rolled up his sleeve, showed me his number. It was tattooed on his arm; D6030 it was. The others showed me their numbers. They will carry them till they die. An elderly man standing beside me said, The children, enemies of the state.' I could see their ribs through their thin shirts. The old man said,I am Professor Charles Risha(ph) of the Sorbonne.’ The children clung to my hands and stared. We crossed to the courtyard. Men kept coming up to speak to me and to touch me. Professors from Poland, doctors from Vienna, men from all Europe, men from the countries that made America.

Lucjan Salzman, a Polish Jewish prisoner, was 17 when, in April 1945, he was liberated from the Wöbbelin concentration camp in Germany by the 82nd Airborne Division. This is his recollection.


“I ran in that direction and as I came onto that place I noticed many prisoners yelling and screaming and jumping and dancing. And there standing amongst them were seven giants, young people. They must have
been 18 or 19—American soldiers. There were seven or eight of them standing inside the camp. Apparently they cut the wire and came into the camp.
They were bewildered by us. Wild and unkempt and dirty and, I’m sure, smelly people, jumping and dancing and trying to embrace them and kiss them. And I did too. I also joined the crowd and yelled and screamed
and somehow knew that the day of liberation has come.
It was a strange feeling for me, however, because as I remember it, on the one hand, I was, I was overwhelmed by this unexpected and unhoped for encounter of freedom, but at the same time, what was happening was outside of me. I really—I didn’t know what to make of it. I knew I was free, but
I didn’t count on it. I somehow didn’t know what it meant. And I knew it was great, but I, I was overjoyed because all people around me were overjoyed and were singing and dancing and, and—but I, I was 17.
I, I was free, but what it meant I wasn’t sure.”

sources.

https://www.npr.org/2005/05/04/4630493/eyewitness-reports-of-nazi-concentration-camps?t=1651948620658

https://www.eisenhowerlibrary.gov/research/photographs/world-war-ii-holocaust-images

May 2nd Dachau Death March.

On the 2nd of May a unit from the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, US Army, encountered Jewish inmates  who were put on a death march from Dachau and were approaching Waakirchen. The US soldiers were almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry (Nisei)

During these marches, also called the “death marches”, at least one thousand prisoners died. They died of disease, undernourishment, and exhaustion. If a prisoner collapsed or, fully exhausted, simply could not continue, they were beaten or shot to death by SS guards. The route of the marches passed through numerous villages and small towns. Scores of residents witnessed the brutal marches.

Women prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp on an “death march” in Percha, Lake Starnberg, April 28 1945 (Municipal archives Landsberg am Lech)

By the second of May 1945, only some of the 6,000 prisoners sent on the death march were still alive; thosewhose heatlth failed them or were unable to continue had been shot as they fell. On that day, as the eastwards-marching prisoners had passed through Bad Tölz and were nearing Waakirchen, nearly sixty kilometers (37 miles) south of Dachau, several hundred of the dead and dying were lying on open ground, nearly all covered in freshly fallen snow.

They were spotted by advance scouts of the U.S. Army’s 522nd Field Artillery Battalion, the only segregated Japanese American-manned military unit in Germany at the time. Only days earlier, they had liberated the Kaufering IV Hurlach satellite slave labor camp of the Dachau main camp’s “system”.

Finishing up with the words of one of the survivors.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
Due to my resistance activities, I was imprisoned in Scheveningen, Vught, Ravensbrück and Dachau. We were liberated by the Americans.

I owe my life to my friends, who dragged me along with them when I passed out and kept me warm when I was in bad shape in the camp.

Because of the war, it became clear to me what freedom of expression, the danger of dictatorship and declaring human beings to be inferior mean. This is why I contributed to a report of my experiences of the war, because I think it is important that the youth also realize this.

My oldest son Robert had prepared himself to go to the commemoration in Dachau in my name. Unfortunately I can not go there myself anymore due to my health, as I am now 101 years old.

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp wrote this message 2 years ago

sources

http://encyclopedia.densho.org/522nd_Field_Artillery_Battalion/#

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/?f%5Bspecial_collection%5D%5B%5D=The%20Jeff%20and%20Toby%20Herr%20Oral%20History%20Archive

Bergen Belsen- A place of darkness and death.

On April 15, the 63rd Anti-tank Regiment and the 11th Armoured Division of the British army liberated about 60,000 prisoners at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

One of the soldiers, 21 year old Corporal Ian Forsyth, called it “A place of darkness and death.” What the British troops encountered was described by the BBC’s Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them:

“…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”

Major Dick Williams was one of the first British soldiers to enter Bergen-Belsen. On April 15, 1945,he described his first impressions of the camp and its atmosphere of death.

“But we went further on into the camp, and seen these corpses lying everywhere. You didn’t know whether they were living or dead. Most of them were dead. Some were trying to walk, some were stumbling, some on hands and knees, but in the lagers, the barbed wire around the huts, you could see that the doors were open. The stench coming out of them was fearsome.

They were lying in the doorways – tried to get down the stairs and fallen and just died on the spot. And it was just everywhere.
Going into, more deeper, into the camp the stench got worse and the numbers of dead – they were just
impossible to know how many there were…Inside the camp itself, it was just unbelievable. You just couldn’t believe the numbers involved.

This was one of the things which struck me when I first went in, that the whole camp was so quiet and yet there were so many people there. You couldn’t hear anything, there was just no sound at all and yet there was some movement – those people who could walk or move – but just so quiet. You just couldn’t understand that all those people could be there and yet everything was so quiet… It was just this oppressive haze over the camp, the smell, the starkness of the barbed wire fences, the dullness of the bare earth, the scattered bodies and these very dull, too, striped grey uniforms – those who had it – it was just so dull. The sun, yes the sun was shining, but they were just didn’t seem to make any life at all in that camp. Everything seemed to be dead. The slowness of the movement of the people who could walk. Everything was just ghost-like and it was just
unbelievable that there were literally people living still there. There’s so much death apparent that the living, certainly, were in the minority”

Major Leonard Berney, recalled:

“I remember being completely shattered. The dead bodies lying down beside the road, the starving emaciated prisoners still mostly behind barbed wire, the open mass graves containing hundreds of corpses, the stench, the sheer horror of the place, were indescribable. None of us who entered the camp had any warning of what we were about to see or had ever experienced anything remotely like it before.”

Harry Oakes and Bill Lawrie both served with the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU).The unit was established in 1941 to produce an official record of the British Army’s role during the Second World War. Both men arrived at Bergen-Belsen to record conditions in the camp. They recall how British forces gained access to the camp.

“About that time the chaps attached to 11th Armoured Division had seen a staff car come up to Headquarters one day with a German officer, or two German officers I believe, blindfolded and when they made enquiries they were told that they were from a Political Prison Camp at Belsen. The
Germans, anticipating us capturing the camp or over-running it, wanted the British to send in an advanced party to prevent these prisoners who were supposed to be infected with typhus from escaping.

But the force we wanted to send in was too much. The Germans felt it wouldn’t have been
air so they agreed on a compromise that they would leave 1,000 Wehrmacht behind if we returned them within ten days. So we were standing by at Lüneburg, Lawrie and myself, to go into Belsen…We had this business of the staff car with the white flags telling us that there was a typhus hospital on the way ahead of us, and would we be willing to call a halt to any actual battle until this area was taken over in case of escapees into Europe and the ravage that would take place.

And as far as I know, the Brigadier believed this story, and we set sail that evening to have a look at this typhus hospital under a white flag. And there was no typhus hospital. There was barbed wire, sentry boxes, a huge garrison building for SS troopers, and Belsen concentration camp. And, as I say, we drove up in two, three jeeps, four jeeps maybe, in the evening, and we saw this concentration camp that we believed was a typhus hospital. But we knew immediately that it wasn’t a typhus hospital.”

Finishing this blog with a quote from Bergen Belsen’s mots famous victim, Anne Frank.

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death!”

sources

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/12/the-horrors-i-saw-still-wake-me-at-night-the-liberation-of-belsen-75-years-on

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-liberation-of-bergen-belsen

https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/stories/the-liberation-of-bergen-belsen

Liberation of Westerbork

Westerbork was liberated on April 12, 1945, by Canadian forces. At the time there were still 876 inmates there. Something which isn’t widely known is that this liberation nearly was a destruction. The Canadians thought the camp was a Germany military base. They had plans for shelling Weseterbork.

This was published in de Telegraaf on September 14,1998.

“Title: ESCAPED PRISONER SAVED WESTERBORK FROM BEING BOMBARDED
Publication: DE TELEGRAAF
Date of the Publication: 14-09-1993

————————————–Title————————————————

ESCAPED PRISONER SAVED WESTERBORK FROM BOMBARDMENT
————————————Summary———————————————

As now is evident, the last 900 Jewish prisoners held captive by the Germans in concentration camp Westerbork
escaped near death on the 12th of April 1945.
—————————————Text———————————————–

Escaped Jew saved Westerbork from being bombarded.
From our correspondent
WESTERBORK, Tuesday
As now is evident, the last 900 Jewish prisoners held captive by the Germans in concentration camp Westerbork escaped near death on the 12th of April 1945.
The Canadian Army, which liberated the camp that day, were about to destroy the camp by bombarding it. The Allies believed it to be a military camp housing German troops which were determined to fight to the end. A fatal error only averted in the very last moment through the intervention of a Jewish camp inmate from Amsterdam. He managed to escape in the night from the 11th to the 12th after the German SS guards secretly had fled on the 10th.
The man, who recently turned 70 years old (Ed.: in 1993) and now lives in Canada, told his perilous adventure last week for the first time to the Director D. Mulder of the herinneringscentrum – Remembrance Center Westerbork. “We keep his identity for the time being a secret because he still is quite undone by what happened to him during wartime.” according director Mulder.

Oranjekanaal – the Orange canal

In the meantime, this sensational statement has been confirmed by the second principle player in this near-drama, Brigadier-General Allard of the 6th Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division. Allard was promoted to Chief of Staff of the Canadian Army.
The escapee, who hailed from Amsterdam, managed to swim across the Oranjekanaal, in the early hours of the morning of the 12th of April. Next he was apprehended by recently arrived troops under Allard. The Canadians dit not believe the escaped prisoner who told them that only civilians were in the camp and returned him to Westerbork together with a reconnaissance patrol in order to obtain certainty. Although the patrol encountered wandering Germans with whom they exchanged shots, the soldiers managed to bring out report that the man from Amsterdam had been correct. This convinced Allard, resulting in the cancellation of the planned bombardment.
According to Mulder, the statement of the people involved is of significant importance, because very little is known about the circumstances surrounding the events dealing with the liberation of camp Westerbork. “I have arranged with Allard that together we would conduct an investigation into this matter,” according to the director.

It is unfortunate indeed that more that 60 years have gone by without having obtained a crystal clear picture as to what exactly happened on that momentous day, the 12th of April 1945. Various stories have emerged, several have been recorded on this Website. I believe all who were there and lived through the liberation period are sincere men. Each of them sheds a ray of light on an otherwise clouded over bit of history. Somewhere in between rests the truth.”

Westerbork was originally built in 1939 as a refugee camp. Given the increasing number of German Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi regime.

Jacques Schol, a Dutchman, was commander of the camp from 16 July 1940 and until January 1943. On July 1st 1942, the Germans took over the control of Westerbork and transformed it into a transit camp.

On 1 July 1942, the camp was officially placed under the jurisdiction of the SS; it was no longer a refugee camp, but a transit camp. A fortnight later, the first deportations to the east began, dozens of cattle cars left the camp every week for the death camps of Poland.  Westerbork became the biggest transit point in Western Europe.

Although it was not a death camp, it was a cynical place. The illusion was created that things were not as bad as they seemed, given the inmates a sense of hope. It had a football league, schools and an orchestra and there were regular cabaret performances.

Actress Camilla Spira, who was briefly a member of the cabaret, remembered her disbelief at the enthusiasm of the audience:

“This couldn’t be, they enjoyed themselves so, and they sat there in rags. We were the collection camp, these people were dragged here, and then it was on to Auschwitz or Theresienstadt. These volleys of laughter, this excitement – in the moment when they saw us, the people forgot everything. And it was horrible, for the next morning they went to death … they were only there for a night.”

Etty Hillesum wrote in one of her letters:

“the comic Max Ehrlich and the hit composer Willy Rosen, who looks like a walking corpse. A little while ago he was on the list for transport, but he sang his lungs out a few nights in a row for an enchanted audience including the commander and his followers … the commander, who valued art, found it wonderful and Willy Rosen was spared … and over there is another court jester: Erich Ziegler, the favourite pianist of the commanders. There is a legend that he is so amazing that he can even play Beethoven’s ninth as a jazz piece, and if that isn’t something else…”

The camp even had healthcare services and a Hospital. Again to create this illusion that life would continue as normal as possible and that the accommodation was only temporary . Soon they would be resettled. For 107,000 people this resettlement meant being murdered in Auschwitz, Sobibor and other extermination camps or labour camps.

Abraham Mol ,a former civil servant of the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and former male nurse of camp Westerbork recalled his memories of the liberation in an interview a different liberation story of Transit Camp Westerbork. This camp was located in the moors of the province of Drente, from where Dutch Jews were deported to the extermination centers in Poland.

Abraham Mol a former civil servant of the Ministry of Transport and Public Works and former male nurse of camp Westerbork recalled his memory of the liberation during an interview with ‘De Telegraaf’

“Commandant Gemmeker, together with his SS guard unit, absconded on the 11th of April, 1945, when the Allied forces moved in northern direction. They posted posters which said that the camp was turned over to the Red Cross. For the last Jewish prisoners still in the camp it said that we could remove our Jew stars. Furthermore, we were advised to remain in our barracks, seeing the camp had now become front-line.”

After the liberation, the 876 Jews that were liberated, had to stay in the camp for a few more months longer. This was initially as security measure The entirety of the Netherlands hadn’t been liberated yet. There was still fighting further up north. In addition, the Canadian and Dutch authorities first wanted to investigate why these Jewish prisoners hadn’t been deported: were there people amongst them who had worked with the Nazis and had to be imprisoned (again)? It would take to July 1945 before the last prisoners were allowed to leave Camp Westerbork. In the meantime, most people had received the heartbreaking news that their deported family members, friends, and acquaintances who went to ‘the East’ were murdered there by the Nazis and would never return.

The prisoners had asked civil servant Aad van As to take charge as soon as the SS had left. Van As belonged to one of the few Dutch citizens who held a position in the camp.

Van As issued this statement:

“Since I have accepted the position of leadership for this camp for the time being, I issue the following orders:

1e. The present “Dienstbereiche – Heads of Service” have been changed as follows:

                        Administration .......................  R. Friend
                        Field Service .........................  E. Zielke
                        Technical Service ................... E. Wachsmann
                        Guard Service .......................  A. Pisk
                        Medical Service ..................... Dr. F. Spanier
                        Clothing Repair Shop ............. G. Frank
                        Woodworking Shop ............... H. Beyer

2e. In order to maintain discipline in the camp, the above mentioned services will continue to operate.

3e. The representatives in whom I have placed my trust, and who have promised to work alongside with
me in the interest of camp life are as follows:

                         M. de Jong
                         F. Schiff
                         K. Schlesinger
                         Dr. Speijer
                         A. van Witsen

These men will form together with me the leadership of this camp.

4e. Everyone is advised to carry out his or her task in his own best interest, and to maintain camp
discipline.

5e. I will not hesitate to take corrective action against anyone who, one way or another, attempts to
disturb order and discipline in the camp.

6e. Labor hours will be changed as follows:

  women: from 8 until 12 o'clock, or when required at other times.
  men: from 8 to 12 o'clock and from 14 to 16 hours (2 to 4 in the afternoon).

  No work will be required after Saturday at noon until Monday morning.
  Should it be in the best interest of camp life these hours may be adjusted to a longer work schedule.

The office for the directors of the camp is in Barrack No. 33 as of this afternoon.

                                                                              Signed by Aad van As

     Westerbork, d. 12 April 1945.                            ( A. van As Jr.)

Translation of the Dutch order issued by Aad van As, dated 12 April 1945″

The late Ed van Thijn, former Mayor of Amsterdam and Dutch Minister for Interior affairs, was one of the 876 people who were liberated.

In the spring of 1943, Eddy van Thijn and his mother are taken from home in a raid. They end up in camp Westerbork and after three months they go on the train, not to Auschwitz but back to Amsterdam.

Thanks to a ruse by his father, the family did not have to go to the concentration camps in Eastern Europe.

However, he had to go into hiding as a 10-year-old boy.

He went into hiding in Brunssum, a town in the province of Limburg, and subsequently went to 18 different hiding places in Limburg and Overijssel. The eighteenth address was betrayed and so he ended up in Westerbork again in January 1945

Hidden in a kitchen cupboard, he heard soldiers’ boots on the stairs. He was betrayed and arrested. But because the war was coming to an end, he again avoided transport from Westerbork to the Auschwitz extermination camp. ,,I wasn’t allowed to exist, but I do exist’, said Van Thijn later. Both his parents survived. Ed van Thijn died on December 19,2021

Ed asked himself the following questions most of his life, I think we can ask ourselves some of those questions also.

“Had I not been a child in the war, how bravely would I have behaved? Would I have joined the resistance? Would I have resisted? Would I have been as untouchable as my father? Would I have had the courage to jump out of a moving train? Would I have succeeded in getting my child out of Westerbork?’

sources

https://www.normandy1944.info/blog/liberation-of-camp-westerbork-nl

https://www.annefrank.org/en/timeline/225/westerbork-transit-camp-is-liberated/

https://holocaustmusic.ort.org/places/camps/western-europe/westerbork/

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/liberation-of-westerbork

https://kampwesterbork.nl/en/history/second-world-war/durchgangslager/66-history/durchgangslager/268-liberation

https://kampwesterbork.nl/de-stichting/nieuws/item/in-memoriam


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Testimonies on Ohrdruf Concentration camp.

I am not a great believer in posting graphic images, but when it comes to the Holocaust there really is not always a way around it.

The picture above was taken in Ohrdruf shortly after it was liberated, it is actually one of the least graphic pictures.

The Ohrdruf camp was a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp, and the first Nazi camp liberated by US troops.

The camp was liberated on April 4, 1945, by the 4th Armored Division, led by Brigadier General Joseph F. H. Cutrona, and the 89th Infantry Division. It was the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by the U.S. Army. There is a scene in ‘the Band of Brothers’ where they liberate a camp, the name isn’t mentioned but I believe it to be Ohrdruf.

One of the 4th Armored Division soldiers, David Cohen, said: “We walked into a shed and the bodies were piled up like wood. There are no words to describe it. The smell was overpowering and unforgettable.”

The horrific nature of what the 4th Armored Division had discovered led General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, to visit the camp on April 12, with Generals George S. Patton and Omar Bradley. After his visit, Eisenhower cabled General George C. Marshall, the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, describing his trip to Ohrdruf:

“The most interesting—although horrible—sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said that he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda.'”

Ohrdruf had also made a powerful impression on battle hardened Patton, who described it as “one of the most appalling sights that I have ever seen.” He recounted in his diary that:

“In a shed … was a pile of about 40 completely naked human bodies in the last stages of emaciation. These bodies were lightly sprinkled with lime, not for the purposes of destroying them, but for the purpose of removing the stench.

When the shed was full—I presume its capacity to be about 200, the bodies were taken to a pit a mile from the camp where they were buried. The inmates claimed that 3,000 men, who had been either shot in the head or who had died of starvation, had been so buried since the 1st of January.

When we began to approach with our troops, the Germans thought it expedient to remove the evidence of their crime. Therefore, they had some of the slaves exhume the bodies and place them on a mammoth griddle composed of 60-centimeter railway tracks laid on brick foundations. They poured pitch on the bodies and then built a fire of pinewood and coal under them. They were not very successful in their operations because there was a pile of human bones, skulls, charred torsos on or under the griddle which must have accounted for many hundreds.”

John W. Becket was another soldier who entered Ohrdruf that day. On the 17th of April he documented his experiences and impressions.

“As we came along our way we saw a sign pointing to ‘OHRDRUF,’ 15 kilometers from here, that is where the Germans had a concentration camp. What we saw was enough and at that it was pretty well cleaned up.”

“… an MP captain was questioning one of the liberated prisoners. He was Polish, spoke German, & as he related it was translated to us by the captain.” The prisoner showed them places where prisoners were beaten, tortured, and executed. Beckett wrote, “As the Polish prisoner talked, tears seemed to come to his eyes but he fought them down.”

“All such atrocities that were known to savages & Roman times & here it exists today in 1945, how is it possible, how can a man treat another as such. The question perhaps can’t be answered and I pray they will receive their just rewards, both here & in the life to come. Practically the whole battery went to see it & Patton wanted as many of his men that could go to see it & know that it is real & not propaganda. Its real, all too grotesquely real.”

Bruce Nickols was yet another soldier who recalled on what he saw that day. In 1998 he wrote a report on it.

“Fifty years have passed since this day but I recall my first impression of the camp called Ohrdruf which I found later was associated administratively with the camp called Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was named after the town of the same name, apparently locally famous for its history of being the place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of his works..

April 4, 1945
REPORT ON SURRENDER OF THE GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMP AT OHRDRUF:
The date was April 4, 1945 and I was on a patrol as a member of the I &R platoon attached to the Headquarters company of 354th Infantry Regiment, of the 89th Infantry Division, 3rd Army U.S.A.

As I recall it was a beautiful spring morning marred by the fact that we were under mortar attack. I remember very well my surprise when I observed Brigadier General Robertson strolling upright down the road. He was an elderly avunular gentleman who thought nonchalance under fire characterized the general officer’s role model.

I was impressed but remained prone in the drainage ditch until the atttack ceased. Shortly thereafter, an acquaintance let it be known that a camp had been liberated further up the hill.

Fifty years have passed since this day but I recall my first impression of the camp called Ohrdruf which I found later was associated administratively with the camp called Buchenwald. Ohrdruf was named after the town of the same name, apparently locally famous for its history of being the place where Johann Sebastian Bach composed some of his works.

From the outside, the camp was unremarkable. It was surrounded by a high barbed wire fence and had a wooden sign which read, “Arbeit Macht Frei.” The swinging gate was open, and a young soldier, probably an SS guard, lay dead diagonally across the entrance. The camp was located inthe forest and was surrounded by a thick grove of pine and other conifers. The inside of the camp was composed of a large 100 yards square central area which was surrounded by one story barracks painted green which appeared to house 60-100 inmates.

As we stepped into the compound one was greeted by an overpowering odor of quick-lime, dirty clothing, feces, and urine. Laying in the center of the square were 60-70 dead prisoners clad in striped clothing and in disarray. They had reportedly been machine gunned the day before because they were too weak to march to another camp. The idea was for the SS and the prisoners to avoid the approaching U.S. Army and the Russians.

Adjacent to the”parade ground” was a small shed which was open on one side. Inside,were bodies stacked in alternate directions as one would stack cord wood, and each layer was covered with a sprinkling of quick-lime. I did not see him, but someone told me that there had been a body of a dead American aviator in the shed. This place reportedly had been used for punishment, and the inmates were beaten on their back and heads with a shovel. My understanding is that all died following this abuse.

I visited some of the surrounding barracks and found live inmates who had hidden during the massacre. They were astounded and appeared to be struggling to understand what was happening. Some were in their 5 tier bunks and somewhere wandering about.

This was the first camp to be “liberated” by the Allied armies in Germany. Ohrdruf was visited by Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley and there are photographs of them observing the bodies of the machine gunned inmates. According to Eisenhower, Patton had refused to visit the punishment shed as he feared he would become ill. He did vomit at a later time.

Further into the camp was evidence of an attempt to exhume and burn large numbers of bodies. There was a gallows, although I really cannot remember whether I saw it or not. I don’t remember leaving the camp. I recall being numb after seeing the camp. I had just turned 20 years old and I had read the biographical “Out of the Night.” It was a pale and inadequate picture of a German concentration camp by a refugee German author.

I recall becoming very upset when we got back to our quarters, but the whole experience was far beyond my understanding. I wrote a letter to my parents describing the experience which was read at a local gathering of business men. It was widely disbelieved.

Bruce Nickols”

sources

https://www.ushmm.org/learn/timeline-of-events/1942-1945/liberation-of-ohrdruf

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/ohrdruf-concentration-camp

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/ohrdruf

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Liberation of Auschwitz-January 27 1945

On 27 January 1945, Auschwitz was liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army during the Vistula–Oder Offensive. Even though the majority of the prisoners had been forced onto a death march, about 7,000 had been left behind.

The Soviet soldiers were shocked by what they saw. The date is recognized as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Rather then going into the details of that day, because so much has already been written about it, I just want to offer just a few reflective words in a poem titled “We all say Amen”

We all say Amen.

We all have the same colour blood.

We all have the same organs.

We all wear the same clothes.

We all eat when we are hungry.

We all drink when we are thirsty.

We all cry when we are sad.

We all laugh when we hear a joke.

We all pray to the same God, although perhaps in a different way.

We all love in the same way, but maybe in another configuration.

We all say Amen.

Yet it is these few differences you chose to single us out.

We were Jews, Jehovah Witness, Gay, Roma, Disabled or just not in agreement with you.

We all say Amen

Instead of embracing these differences that make us unique, you chose indifference .

Instead of Love, you chose hate and ignorance.

Instead of joy, you chose bitterness and fear.

You wanted everyone to be the same. Have just one identity.

An identity only so relatively few could identify with.

Yet we all say Amen.

The treatment of Dutch Jews after liberation.

I came across this document which made me glad on one hand, but on the other hand it was also disturbing.

But before I go into the details I have to give some background information first. The south of the Netherlands was mostly liberated by October 1944. At that time the Netherlands was made up of 11 provinces(a few decades ago a 12th province was added)

The most southern province is Limburg with the capital Maastricht. In October 1944 the province was governed by the military commissioner.

He received the letter on October 16,1944. It was send to him 3 days earlier.

The letter mentions a bombing which took place on October 5,1942. This was a so called friendly fire bombing by the RAF. It killed 83 in my home town Geleen, and it left thousands homeless. The RAF thought it was Aachen in Germany.

I hadn’t realised that some of the bombs also were dropped on the neighbouring town of Beek.

The letter says that after this bombing, some homeless families in Beek were housed in the homes of Jewish families who had gone in hiding. But now after liberation the Jewish families claimed back their property, understandably so stated the mayor of Beek.

However he said there was one complicated case. A local butcher had his house and shop destroyed by the October 1942 bombing. He was assigned the house and the butcher shop of a Jewish butcher, who had left(turns out he was also in hiding). This arrangement was ordered by the NSB(Dutch Nazi party) mayor of Beek at the time.

But now the Jewish butcher had returned, after liberation, and he wanted his shop and his house back. The mayor asked the military commissioner for advice on what to do in this situation.

What made me glad in this story is that some of these Jewish people had survived the war. What disturbed me was the fact that advise was asked. To me it should have been a clear cut case of just giving back the property to the rightful owner , there should not be a question about it.

This is something what a lot of Dutch Jews experienced after the war, Their property would be occupied by others and more often then not, their houses or apartments would not be returned to them.

source

https://www.rhcl.nl/nl/info/nieuws-map/update-inventarisatieproject-archief-militair-gezag

https://jck.nl/nl/page/beek

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Richard Dimbleby and Dirk Bogarde’s accounts on what they saw in Bergen Belsen

It absolutely amazes me that in this day and age there are still people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. In fact there appears to be an increase of Holocaust deniers.

Some use the picture above, of liberated women in Bergen Belsen as their ‘evidence’ that the Holocaust was a myth. They say of you look at the picture you can see that the women are healthy and seem to be happy. Well of course they were happy, they had just been liberated and they may appear to be healthy, but they are fully covered up and you can’t see the scars and bruises. Additionally some were ‘healthy’ because the human soul and mind is a powerful thing, they just kept going no matter what.

From late 1944, food rations throughout Bergen-Belsen continued to shrink. By early 1945, prisoners would sometimes go without food for days; fresh water was also in short supply.

Sanitation was totally inadequate, with few toilets and water outlets for the tens of thousands of prisoners imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen at this time. Overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions, and the lack of adequate food, water, and shelter led to an outbreak of diseases such as typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and dysentery, causing an ever increasing number of deaths. In the first few months of 1945, tens of thousands of prisoners died.

Despite all of this being well documented there are still some who deny the Holocaust.

The Holocaust did happen, but don’t take my word for it but take the words of 2 neutral and very reputable and trustworthy men, English broadcaster and Journalist Richard Dimbleby, and British actor Dirk Bogarde. Both men had been present at the liberation of Bergen Belsen, These are the accounts of what they saw that day.

Richard Dimbleby

“I have just returned from the Belsen concentration camp where I drove slowly about the place in a Jeep with the chief doctor of the Second Army. I had waited a day before going to the camp so that I could be absolutely sure of the facts now available.

I find it hard to describe adequately the horrible things that I’ve seen and heard but here unadorned are the facts.

There are 40,000 men, women and children in the camp, German and half a dozen other nationalities and thousands of them Jews. Of this total of forty thousand, four thousand two hundred and fifty are acutely ill or dying of virulent disease. Typhus, typhoid, diphtheria, dysentery, pneumonia and childbirth fever are rife.

25,600, three quarters of them women, are either ill from lack of food or are actually dying of starvation.

In the last few months alone thirty thousand prisoners have been killed off or allowed to die. Those are the simple horrible facts of Belsen.

But horrible as they are they can convey little or nothing in themselves.

I wish with all my heart that everyone fighting in this war – and above all those whose duty it is to direct the war from Britain and America – could have come with me through the barbed-wire fence that leads to the inner compound of the camp.

Outside it had been the lucky prisoners – the men and women who had only just arrived at Belsen before we captured it.

But beyond the barrier was a whirling cloud of dust, the dust of thousands of slowly moving people, laden in itself with the deadly typhus germ. And with the dust was a smell, sickly and thick, the smell of death and decay of corruption and filth.

I passed through the barrier and found myself in the world of a nightmare.

Dead bodies, some of them in decay lay strewn about the road.

And along the rutted tracks on each side of the road were brown wooden huts. There were faces at the windows. The bony emaciated faces of starving women too weak to come outside – propping themselves against the glass to see the daylight before they died.

And they were dying, every hour and every minute.

I saw a man wandering dazedly along the road then stagger and fall. Someone else looked down at him, took him by the heels and dragged him to the side of the road to join the other bodies lying unburied there. No one else took the slightest notice, they didn’t even trouble to turn their heads

Behind the huts two youths and two girls who’d found a morsel of food were sitting together on the grass in picnic fashion sharing it. They were not six feet from a pile of decomposing bodies

Inside the huts it was even worse.

I’ve seen many terrible sights in the last five years but nothing, nothing approaching the dreadful interior of this hut at Belsen0

The dead and the dying lay close together

I picked my way over corpse after corpse in the gloom until I heard one voice that rose above the gentle undulating moaning.

I found a girl, she was a living skeleton impossible to gauge her age for she had practically no hair left on her head and her face was only a yellow parchment sheet with two holes in it for eyes. She was stretching out her stick of an arm and gasping something. It was ‘English, English. Medicine, medicine’ And she was trying to cry but had not enough strength.

And beyond her down the passage and in the hut there were the convulsive movements of dying people too weak to raise themselves from the floor. They were crawling with lice and smeared with filth. They had no food for days. For the Germans sent it down into the camp en bloc and only those strong enough to come out of the huts could get it. The rest of them lay there in the shadows growing weaker and weaker

There was no one to take the bodies away when they died. And I had to look hard to see who was alive and who was dead

It was the same outside in the compounds. Men and women lying about the ground and the rest of the procession of ghosts wandering aimlessly about them.

In the shade of some trees lay a great collection of bodies. I walked round them trying to count. There were perhaps a hundred and fifty flung down on each other – all naked, all so thin that their yellow skins glistened like stretched rubber on their bones.

Some of the poor starved creatures whose bodies were there looked so utterly unreal and inhuman that I could have imagined that they had never lived at all. They were like polished skeletons, the skeletons that medical students like to play practical jokes with.

At one end of the pile a cluster of men and women were gathered around a fire. They were using rags and old shoes taken from the bodies to keep it alight and they were heating soup on it.

And close by was the enclosure where 500 children between the ages of five and twelve had been kept. They were not so hungry as the rest for the women had sacrificed themselves to keep them alive.

Babies were born at Belsen, some of them shrunken wizened little things that could not live because their mothers could not feed them.

One woman distraught to the point of madness flung herself at a British soldier who was on guard in the camp on the night that it was reached by the 11th Armoured Division. She begged him to give her some milk for the tiny baby she held in her arms. She laid the mite on the ground, threw herself at the sentry’s feet and kissed his boots. And when in his distress he asked her to get up, she put the baby in his arms and ran off crying that she would find milk for it because there was no milk in her breast. And when the soldier opened the bundle of rags to look at the child he found it had been dead for days.

I have never seen British soldiers so moved to cold fury as the men who opened the Belsen camp this week and those of the police and the RAMC who are now on duty there, trying to save the prisoners who are not too far gone in starvation.

The SS guards who shot several of the prisoners after we’d arrived in the camp when they thought no one was looking are now gathering up all the bodies and carting them away for burial. German prisoners are being sent up for the same sort of work.

Kramer, the SS major who was Commandant of the camp and who had been second-in-command of one of the mass murder camps in Poland lies today in a British prison cage.

As we went deeper into the camp and further from the main gate we saw more and more of the horrors of the place and I realised that what is so ghastly is not so much the individual acts of barbarism that take place in SS camps but the gradual breakdown of civilisation that happens when human beings are herded like animals behind barbed wire. Here in Belsen we were seeing people, many of them lawyers and doctors and chemists, musicians, authors, who’d long since ceased to care about the conventions and the customs of normal life.

There had been no privacy there of any kind. Women stood naked at the side of the track washing in cupfuls of water taken from British Army water trucks. Others squatted while they searched themselves for lice and examined each other’s hair. Sufferers from dysentery leaned against the huts straining helplessly. And all around and about them was this awful drifting tide of exhausted people neither caring nor waiting – just a few held out their withered hands to us as we passed by and blessed the doctor whom they knew had become the camp commander in the place of the brutal Kramer.

We were on our way down to the crematorium where the Germans had burned alive thousands of men and women in a single fire. The furnace was in a hut about the size of a single garage – and the hut was surrounded by a small stockade.

A little Pole whose prison number was tattooed on the inside of his forearm, as it was on all the others, told me how they burned the people. They brought them into the stockade, walked them in and then an SS guard hit them on the back of the neck with a club and stunned them and then they were fed straight into the fire, three at a time, two men, one woman. The opening was not big enough for three men and that I verified by measuring it. They burned 10,000 people in this fire in reprisal for the murder of two SS guards.

And back in the hut by the main gate of the camp I questioned the sergeant who’d been in charge of one of the SS squads. He was a fair-haired gangling creature with tiny crooked ears rather like gerbils and big hands. His SS uniform was undone and dirty; he was writing out his confession while a young North Country anti-tank gunner of the 11th Armored Division kept watch on him with a tommy gun that never moved. I asked him how many people he had killed. He looked vacant for a moment and then he replied ‘oh I don’t remember’.

I have set down these facts of length because in common with all of us who’ve been to the camp I feel that you should be told without reserve exactly what has been happening there.

Every fact I’ve so far given you has been verified but there is one more awful than all the others that I’ve kept to the end.

Far away in a corner of Belsen camp there is a pit the size of a tennis court. It’s 15 feet deep and at one end it’s piled to the very top with naked bodies that have been tumbled in one on top of the other.  Like this must have been the Plague pits in England 300 years ago, only nowadays we can help by digging them quicker with bulldozers, and already there’s a bulldozer at work in Belsen. 

Our army doctors on examining some of these bodies found in their sides a long slit apparently made by someone with surgical knowledge. They made enquiries and they established beyond doubt that in the frenzy of their starvation some of the people of Belsen had taken the wasted bodies of their fellow prisoners and had removed from them the only remaining flesh, the liver and the kidneys to eat.

May I add to this story only the assurance that everything that an army can do to save these men and women and children is being done and that those officers and men who’ve seen these things have gone back to the Second Army moved to an anger such as I have never seen in them before.

Richard Dimbleby, BBC, broadcast April 19th 1945.

Dirk Bogarde wasn’t sure about the date, he thought it was the 13th of April but the camp was liberated on the 15th of April 1945.

“I think it was on the 13th of April—I’m not quite sure what the date was when we opened up Belsen Camp, which was the first concentration camp any of us had seen, we didn’t even know what they were, we’d heard vague rumours that they were. I mean nothing could be worse than that. The gates were opened and then I realised that I was looking at Dante’s Inferno, I mean … I … I still haven’t seen anything as dreadful. And never will. And a girl came up who spoke English, because she recognised one of the badges, and she … her breasts were like, sort of, empty purses, she had no top on, and a pair of man’s pyjamas, you know, the prison pyjamas, and no hair. But I knew she was girl because of her breasts, which were empty. She was I suppose, oh I don’t know, twenty four, twenty five, and we talked, and she was, you know, so excited and thrilled, and all around us there were mountains of dead people, I mean mountains of them, and they were slushy, and they were slimy, so when you walked through them … or walked—you tried not to, but it was like …. well you just walked through them, and she … there was a very nice British MP [Royal Military Police], and he said ‘Don’t have any more, come away, come away sir, if you don’t mind, because they’ve all got typhoid and you’ll get it, you shouldn’t be here swanning-around’ and she saw in the back of the jeep, the unexpired portion of the daily ration, wrapped in a piece of the Daily Mirror, and she said could she have it, and he” [the Military Police] “said ‘Don’t give her food, because they eat it immediately and they die, within ten minutes’, but she didn’t want the food, she wanted the piece of Daily Mirror—she hadn’t seen newsprint for about eight years or five years, whatever it was she had been in the camp for. … she was Estonian. … that’s all she wanted. She gave me a big kiss, which was very moving. The corporal” [Military Police] “was out of his mind and I was just dragged off. I never saw her again, of course she died. I mean, I gather they all did. But, I can’t really describe it very well, I don’t really want to. I went through some of the huts and there were tiers and tiers of rotting people, but some of them who were alive underneath the rot, and were lifting their heads and trying …. trying to do the victory thing. That was the worst.”

sources

https://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/richard-dimbleby-describes-belsen/zvw7cqt

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/bergen-belsen

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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. 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.

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