Getting married is one of the mots wonderful things that can happen to you in life. It is a union of love which is quite powerful.
However it can also be nerve wrecking, admittedly more so for the bride then the groom. You want to make sure the day goes well, you hope the weather will be good and that the guests won’t complain too much. And of course then there is that all important wedding night, you may have made love before, but the wedding night is just that bit more special , and you may just want to be a bit more adventurous when it comes to sex.
Now go back to the period of 1940-1945. Your country has been occupied by a foreign power, helped by some of those you once may have known as friends or neighbours.
The Nazis who want to eradicate everyone like you, juts because you are Jewish. Your future is uncertain, you don’t know how long it will take before you are picked up and transported to who knows where.
But you are in love with a beautiful lady and the beautiful lady is in love with a handsome man. What do you do? Will you let hate stop you from loving each other?
No, because you know that despite everything there is no stronger power then love.
The loving couple is Elias(Edie) van Biene and Sonja Rood. I don’t know when they got married but it must have been after April 29,1942. That was the date the Dutch Jews were ordered to wear the Yellow star. I believe they got married in Rotterdam. Elias was murdered in Außernlager KZ Auschwitz, KZ Althammer, Poland. On January 20,1945. One week before Auschwitz was liberated. Elias was 26 when he died.
Sonja managed to hide initially, but she was captured and send to Auschwitz. She did survive and moved to Israel after the war where she died on April 25, 1971 aged 52.
Despite the horrors around them, and the hate that surrounded them. The love of these 2 people for each other conquered that hate and got married. The looks in their eyes shows pure unconditional love.
German troops invaded the Netherland in May 1940. The Nazi regime stayed in power in the the Netherlands until May 1945. Although the southern provinces had already been liberated in the autumn of 1944.
Despite the occupation, for many life went ahead as usual, at least to an extend. Sporting events were still allowed by the Nazi occupiers. I have often wondered why that was, but of course sports were ideal for propaganda purposes. It created an illusion to show the citizens that the Nazis weren’t all that bad. Also sports functioned as a distraction.
Cycling has always been popular in the Netherlands. Many Dutch still use the bicycle as their preferred means of transport. But also in a sporting sense it has always been popular and there have been many successful Dutch cyclists throughout the decades.
It is no wonder therefor that the Dutch continued to organizes cycling events like the Cauberg Criterium, which was an annual race in the most south Eastern part of the Netherlands , the province of Limburg, in the town of Valkenburg.
Two cyclists who would have competed in these races were Jan van Hout and Cor Wals.
Jan van Hout was a professional cyclist between 1933 and 1940. He was born in Valkenburg on October 17,1908.
He made quite a good living as a cyclist. With the money he earned as a cyclist he was able to but a pub in Eindhoven. When the Nazis occupied the Netherlands he closed his pub, he did not want to serve any drinks to the Nazis. He was a fervent anti Nazi. After he closed the pub Jan and his wife Anneke decided to join the Dutch resistance. They were involved in providing aid to refugees and people in hiding.
A few months before liberation Jan was arrested during a raid. He was sent to Neuengamme concentration camp where he died on February 22nd 1945.
Cor Wals was a Dutch cyclist, born February 26, 1911 in The Hague.
As early as 1931 Cor got contracts for the six-day races in Chicago and New York and made a name for himself as a six-day driver in the following years. Because of his unparalleled sense of balance, which stopped him from falling of the bike , he was nicknamed “Slingerplant” (Dutch: creeper). He took part in 39 races, of which he won seven, five of them with Jan Pijnenburg . In addition, he was three times Dutch master of the stayers(aka The pacemaker race, an endurance discipline of track cycling)
He was a fan favourite. However on July 21, 1941 during one of those stayers races, he took off his jacket and to the shock of the spectators ,they saw he was wearing a shirt with the SS symbol. He also gave the Hitler salute.
After winning the championship, he was whistled and booed during his lap of honor and cushions were thrown at him. He decided after that not to race again and to focus on a military career with the SS.
Initially he fought at the eastern front but he ended up working as a guard in several concentration camps. There was a rumour that he worked in Neuengamme when Jan van Hout was there, but this has never been verified.
After the war he was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but he was released in 1952.
He opened up a clothes shop in Eindhoven . One day Anneke van Hout-Louwers walked into the shop to buy some clothes for her son, Cor chatted with Anneke and cupid struck. The couple got married. Anneke van Hout-Louwers was the widow of Jan van Hout, there was a public outrage about the newly married couple. People were disgusted that Anneke married a traitor. The couple moved to Belgium soon after, they returned to the Netherlands in 1981.
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