Happy Birthday Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot

Dear Catharina Vrouwtje de Groot, today there should have been 80 candles on a birthday cake. 80 candles for you to blow out and make a wish on your 80th birthday. But you never had any candles on any of your birthday cakes.

You were born on September 20,1941 in Arnhem, in the Netherlands , just over a year later you were murdered in Auschwitz, on October 19,1942. There are no pictures of you blowing out any candles, in fact there are no pictures of you to be found. The only picture we have to associate you with , is a picture of that horrific place where you were murdered.

We don’t know much about you but we do know you had a life insurance policy. your parents must have already been concerned for you on the day you were born. The life insurance policy is still open to be cashed in. But no one will because no one in your family survived the Holocaust. Your big sister Grietje, aged 3, was also murdered on October 19,1942, as was your Mother.

You last name is the opposite of mine, your names indicates big, where as mine indicates little. Yet it is me who became big and you who was murdered when you were still little.

Wherever you are up there between the stars, I want you to know, I will be looking up to you tonight and will celebrate you short life.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/151740/catharina-vrouwtje-de-groot

Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 80 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a change he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/649374/het-lot-van-lena-barend-haar-man-joseph-polak-en-hun-zoontje-aron.

https://geheugenvanoost.amsterdam/page/26420/geen-afscheid

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.

source

Remembering Isaias(Sjakie) Degen

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for his breakthrough work in science.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great book he wrote.

I wish I could say I am remembering Sjakie Degen for a great painting he painted.

I wish I could say that Sjakie Degen was the Sjakie mentioned in the Dutch song “Sjakie van de hoek” Sjakie from the corner, the mischievous boy who broke a window by kicking a ball through it.

But none of that would be true, Sjakie Degen was just a boy.

He was born on December 13.1939 the first born son of Loutje and Beppie Degen and was nearly 3 1/2 years old, when he and his parents were registered in Camp Westerbork on 23 March 1943. He stayed with his parents for a few days in barrack 60. They were all deported on the 6th April to Sobibor. Upon arrival there on 9 April 1943, Sjakie and his parents were murdered in the gas chambers the very same day.

So all I can say about Sjakie is that he was murdered 25 years and 1 day before I was born.

He had brother who survived.

source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/562959/about-isaias-sjakie-degen

T4

September 1,1939 is well known for the German invasion of Poland, triggering World War 2. However it is less known as the date that the official killing of disabled people was made law, albeit it under the guise of euthanasia.

It was only 5 lines which determined the fate of hundreds of thousands.

“Reichsleiter Bouhler and Dr. med. Brandt are hereby instructed and authorized to broaden the powers of designated physicians to the extent that persons who are suffering from diseases which may be deemed incurable according to standards of human judgment based on a careful examination of their condition shall be guaranteed a mercy death.”

— Adolf Hitler, Memorandum Authorizing Involuntary Euthanasia, Berlin, 1 September 1939.”

It is of course easy to put all the blame on the Nazi regime, however something which is often overlooked is that the 1st victim was on request by the parents of the child. He was actually killed prior to the law being enacted.

Gerhard Kretschmar was born in Pomssen, a village south-east of Leipzig. His parents were Richard Kretschmar, a farm labourer, and his wife Lina Kretschmar. Schmidt describes them as “ardent Nazis.” Gerhard was born blind, with either no legs or one leg, and with one arm. (The original medical records are lost, and second-hand accounts vary.) He was also subject to convulsions. Brandt later testified that the child was also “an idiot”, although how this was determined is not stated.

Richard Kretschmar took the newborn Gerhard to Dr Werner Catel, a pediatrician at the University Children’s Clinic in Leipzig, and asked that his son be “put to sleep.” Catel told him that this would be illegal. Kretschmar then wrote directly to Hitler, asking that he investigate the case and overrule the law that prevented “This Monster” (as he described his child) from being killed. As was usual with such petitions, it was referred to Hitler’s private secretariat (the Kanzlei des Führers), headed by Philipp Bouhler. There it was seen by Hans Hefelman, head of Department IIb, which dealt with petitions. Hefelman and Bouhler showed the petition to Hitler, aware of his frequently expressed support for the “mercy killing” of people with severe disabilities.

Hitler summoned Karl Brandt, one of his personal physicians, and sent him to Leipzig to investigate the Kretschmar case. Hitler told Brandt that if Gerhard Kretschmar’s condition was indeed as described in Richard Kretschmar’s petition, then he, Hitler, authorised Brandt to have Gerhard killed, in consultation with the local doctors, and if any legal action were taken, it would be thrown out of court. In Leipzig, Brandt examined the child and consulted with Catel and another physician, Dr. Helmut Kohl.He also went to Pomssen and saw the Kretschmars. When Brandt informed the Leipzig doctors of Hitler’s instructions, they agreed that Gerhard Kretschmar should be killed, although they knew this was illegal.

The Pomssen church register says that Gerhard Kretschmar died at Pomssen of “heart weakness” on 25 July. He was buried in the Lutheran churchyard three days later. Although no medical records exist, and although the testimony of Brandt and Catel after the war was contradictory and evasive, Schmidt believes that Gerhard was killed in the Leipzig clinic with an injection of a common drug such as luminal, and that the church register was falsified to conceal this fact.

In Dr. Ewald Melzer’s 1923 survey of the parents of the disabled children in his care, they were asked: “Would you agree definitely to a painless shortcut of your child’s life, after it is determined by experts that it is incurably stupid?” The results, which surprised Melzer, were published in 1925: 73 percent responded they were willing to have their children killed if they weren’t told about it.

Of course the T4 program allowed the Nazis to get rid of anyone they deemed unfit for life. In reality that could be anyone, Political opponents, Jews, Roma even people with the slightest disability. I would probably have been a victim, being half blind and having Rheumatoid Arthritis.

The scary part though is that we have not learned from the mistakes of the past. In several countries eugenic laws, not unlike-although not as extreme- are currently quite common.

sources

https://www.jstor.org/stable/41345169

https://eugenicsarchive.ca/discover/tree/517305eaeed5c60000000029

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerhard_Kretschmar

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/the-last-children-of-down-syndrome/616928/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/down-syndrome-iceland/

https://apnews.com/article/e1731db26be41810f79e7e148d087a04

Donation

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Remembering de Couzijn Family

The Couzijn family consisted out of 3 people. Marcus, his wife Hanni end their daughter Mirjam.

Three people who were at the start of family life. Yet they were denied that most basic right, life. Not only were they denied the right of life they were also denied the dignity of being buried as a family.

Mirjam was murdered age 1, only 5 days after her birthday, She was gassed together with her mother on August 28,1942.

Initially it was believed that Marcus also was murdered that day ,but it later emerged that he was murdered on January 4, 1943.

Usually I like to delve deeper into the family history of these families, but today I can’t for some reason. It is just hard for me, maybe it is because I am a father. Marcus was born on Christmas day 1905.

Source

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/197235/marcus-couzijn

A Yellow star-marking the enemy

As of April 29, 1942, Jews in the Netherlands were required to wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing. This was to single them out as different from the rest of society. Although the only difference between the Jews and the rest of the Dutch population was their religion. Other then that they were the same. In fact some of the Jews had been in the Netherlands for hundreds of years and were more Dutch then many Dutch themselves.

Freedom of religion was a part of the Dutch constitution but of course after May 1940, the Dutch government had gone into exile and the country was occupied by Nazis, and I deliberately say Nazis and not Germans because some of the Nazis were Dutch.

There was no difference between the Jews and the Dutch, they were all the same. They were all Dutch, some were Catholic, some were Protestant. some where were Jewish and some others were Atheists. The similarities and the common ground outweighed the differences.

The Nazi regime saw the Jews as enemies of the state. They were considered inferior to the Aryan race. The fact that the Aryan race actually originated in Asia was completely overlooked by the Nazis. Their version of the Aryan race was of their own construct and was based on old mythical Germanic characters , or in short fairy tale creatures. Yet they had so many believing that this so called Aryan race was superior to everyone else, even though it was a made up race.

But as I mentioned earlier the Nazis saw the Jews as their enemy, and not just an enemy but their biggest enemy. Of course one would suspect that this enemy was a war mongering people. A real threat to society. Below are some examples of the enemies to the Nazi state.

Jansje and Benjamin Pais from Harlingen murdered in Auschwitz on November 23, 1942. Aged 8 and 9.

Jewish musicians, their weapons; violins, clarinets and an accordion.

Nurses from the Jewish Hospital in Amsterdam.

I have heard people ask why there was a Jewish Hospital in Amsterdam, yet I have never heard anyone ask why there were several Catholic Hospitals across the country.

People should realize it was not the similarities that made the Netherlands but the tapestry of the differences that made is a prosperous nation.

source

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Tuesday August 1,1944. Anne Frank’s last diary entry.

On August 4,1944 Anne Frank, her family and all the others hiding in the annex in the office building in Amsterdam are arrested.

Anne was 15 at the time, the same age my daughter is now. However my daughter is free to meet her friends, go to the shop, compete in rowing regattas and even free to go to school or the freedom to be embarrassed by her dad’s singing and dancing while he is cooking a dinner . Anne was denied all these freedoms that last years of her life.

Anne’s best friend was probably Kitty, not a human being ,but a diary. On August 1,1944 which was a Tuesday, 3 days before she was arrested, she wrote her last words to Kitty.

“Dearest Kitty,

“A bundle of contradictions” was the end of my previous letter and is the beginning of this one. Can you please tell me exactly what “a bundle of contradictions” is? What does “contradiction” mean? Like so many words, it can be interpreted in two ways: a contradiction imposed from without and one imposed from within.

The former means not accepting other people’s opinions, always knowing best, having the last word; in short, all those unpleasant traits for which I’m known. The latter, for which I’m not known, is my own secret.

As I’ve told you many times, I’m split in two. One side contains my exuberant cheerfulness, my flippancy, my joy in life and, above all, my ability to appreciate the lighter side of things. By that I mean not finding anything wrong with flirtations, a kiss, an embrace, an off-colour joke. This side of me is usually lying in wait to ambush the other one, which is much purer, deeper and finer. No one knows Anne’s better side, and that’s why most people can’t stand me.

Oh, I can be an amusing clown for an afternoon, but after that everyone’s had enough of me to last a month. Actually, I’m what a romantic movie is to a profound thinker – a mere diversion, a comic interlude, something that is soon forgotten: not bad, but not particularly good either.

I hate having to tell you this, but why shouldn’t I admit it when I know it’s true? My lighter, more superficial side will always steal a march on the deeper side and therefore always win. You can’t imagine how often I’ve tried to push away this Anne, which is only half of what is known as Anne-to beat her down, hide her. But it doesn’t work, and I know why.

I’m afraid that people who know me as I usually am will discover I have another side, a better and finer side. I’m afraid they’ll mock me, think I’m ridiculous and sentimental and not take me seriously. I’m used to not being taken seriously, but only the “light-hearted” Anne is used to it and can put up with it; the “deeper” Anne is too weak. If I force the good Anne into the spotlight for even fifteen minutes, she shuts up like a clam the moment she’s called upon to speak, and lets Anne number one do the talking. Before I realize it, she’s disappeared.

So the nice Anne is never seen in company. She’s never made a single appearance, though she almost always takes the stage when I’m alone. I know exactly how I’d like to be, how I am… on the inside. But unfortunately I’m only like that with myself. And perhaps that’s why-no, I’m sure that’s the reason why I think of myself as happy on the inside and other people think I’m happy on the outside. I’m guided by the pure Anne within, but on the outside I’m nothing but a frolicsome little goat tugging at its tether.

As I’ve told you, what I say is not what I feel, which is why I have a reputation for being boy-crazy as well as a flirt, a smart aleck and a reader of romances. The happy-go-lucky Anne laughs, gives a flippant reply, shrugs her shoulders and pretends she doesn’t give a darn. The quiet Anne reacts in just the opposite way. If I’m being completely honest, I’ll have to admit that it does matter to me, that I’m trying very hard to change myself, but that I I’m always up against a more powerful enemy.

A voice within me is sobbing, “You see, that’s what’s become of you. You’re surrounded by negative opinions, dismayed looks and mocking faces, people, who dislike you, and all because you don’t listen to the advice of your own better half.”

Believe me, I’d like to listen, but it doesn’t work, because if I’m quiet and serious, everyone thinks I’m putting on a new act and I have to save myself with a joke, and then I’m not even talking about my own family, who assume I must be sick, stuff me with aspirins and sedatives, feel my neck and forehead to see if I have a temperature, ask about my bowel movements and berate me for being in a bad mood, until I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside g out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if… if only there were no other people in the world.

Yours, Anne M. Frank”

sources

https://didyouknowfacts.com/hot-aug-1st-anne-franks-last-diary-entry-august-1st-1944-said/

https://www.annefrank.org/en/anne-frank/diary/complete-works-anne-frank/

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/08/01/opinion/prose-anne-frank-final-diary-entry/index.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Diary-of-a-Young-Girl

Gesina Groen-Murdered on her first Birthday.

Gesina Groen would have been 80 today. But she was murdered on her 1st birthday.

She was born on July 26,1941 in Amsterdam and murdered in Auschwitz July 26,1942, together with her mother.

There are no pictures of Gesina, just a picture of the house she lived in. The address is Nieuwe Keizersgracht 70, Amsterdam, which is a prime location in Amsterdam nowadays. The house would be too expensive to afford for most people now.

All I know though is that when Gesina lived there, there were in total 12 people living in that building. None of them survived.

The oldest resident was Sophia Cohen-Rosenberg, she was murdered April 9, 1943 in Sobibor, aged 78.

There may have been another child on the address, Abraham de Vries he was the foster son of Marcus Rooselaar. Abraham de Vries was murdered in Sobibor ,July 16, 1943, aged 11. However it is not certain that he lived on the address.

Sources

http://nieuw.schaduwkade.nl/app/fsm.php?vwr=lijst&mid=103

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/186652/gesina-groen

Happy Birthday Gretha Reintje Cohen

Happy Birthday Gretha Reintje Cohen. It should have been your 84th birthday today.

An evil regime did not even allow you to reach your 6th birthday. You were murdered 10 days before your 6th birthday in Sobibor, on July 9th 1943.

No matter how sad your death is, it is even sadder to see that your whole family was murdered on the same day.

Your parents,Rebecca Cohen-Maritz and Mozes Cohen married in 1934 in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

You were there first child. Such an experience for any parent. The uncertainty of what lies ahead. The costs that come with raising a child, The fears of the future and so many more things that goes through a parents mind. But there is also the joy and that sense of magic of new life.

You were born in Rotterdam on July 19,1937.

On April 13,1941 your baby brother, Salli Cohen, was born. A year or so later you and your family moved to Amsterdam.

On July 9,1943 your whole family was murdered in Sobibor. Not because you were dangerous people ,but because a political idea and regime created by the Nazis, deemed all of you not worth of life.

All that is left of your family is an unclaimed life insurance policy.

Dear Gretha, up there among the stars. I wish you a Happy Birthday.

Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/124306/rebecca-cohen-maritz

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/124308/mozes-cohen

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/124302/salli-cohen

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/124304/gretha-reintje-cohen