Felix Max Paul Leefsma

Dear Felix Max,

You were born 29,220 days ago. Approximately 701,280 hours or 42,076,800 minutes, or even 2,524,608,000 seconds ago.

These numbers are so hard to comprehend, just as hard to fathom that you were murdered only 550 days after you were born. The only consolation here is that you had one extra day of life because 1944 was a leap year.

You were born in Amsterdam, on 19 November 1942. You were murdered on 22 May 1944 in Auschwitz.

You were deemed an enemy of the state, of a foreign state, because the ones who thought that you were not fit for life, had occupied your country from another land. This doesn’t mean they didn’t get help from your fellow country man.

A one-year-old enemy of the state.

Dear Beautiful Angel, you look so much like me when I was your age. I hope you are looking down at me from heaven and that you find some comfort that your name is not forgotten.



Johannes van der Hoek—Born to be Murdered

This story has torn my heart open. I can’t tell you too much about Johannes van der Hoek all I can tell you is that he was born on November 6, 1942, in Westerbork. He must have been placed on a transport to Auschwitz, straight after his birth because, he was murdered there on November 9, 1942, with his mother and his 2-year-old sister, Johanna, just three days after he was born.

His father was murdered a few months later, April 30, 1943. also in Auschwitz.

The very sad irony is that on Johannes’s birthday, November 6, 1942, the Soviet POWs mutinied and escaped from Birkenau. Under cover of fog and falling darkness, they forced their way past the SS guard posts into a part of the Birkenau camp, still under construction, that was not fenced. However, the majority of them were shot or caught during the escape.

Why a 3 day old baby—why?





A murdered family.

The baby in the picture is Jonas David Kloot, he would have celebrated his 80th birthday today. He would have been blowing out 80 birthday candles on his birthday cake. But he didn’t even get to blow out his first birthday candle. Jonas was born on September 15,1942 in Amsterdam. Less then 9 months later, June 11,1943 he was murdered in Sobibor.

The other people in the photograph are Jonas’s dad, Hijman Kloot. Born in Amsterdam, on 5 June 1904. Murdered in Sobibor, 9 July 1943.Reached the age of 39 years. Occupation: Merchant

Jonas’s Mother, Femmina Kloot-Engelsman. Born in Amsterdam, 19 March 1908 . Murdered in Sobibor, 11 June 1943.

Jonas’s oldest sister, Clara Kloot. Born in Amsterdam, 7 March 1931.Murdered in Sobibor, 11 June 1943. Reached the age of 12

Jonas’s youngest sister, Annie Kloot. Born in Amsterdam, 7 August 1935.Murdered in Sobibor, 11 June 1943. Reached the age of 7.

Femmina and her 3 children were all murdered on the same day. They were all deported from Westerbork to Sobibor on June 8,1943 and were murdered on arrival on June 11,1943.

The Kloot family were not the only ones on that Transport. There were in total 3015 on that train, the majority were murdered on arrival in Sobibor on June 11,1943. Just think about that, about 2900 were murdered on one day.

The ages of those on the transport were:

Hijman Kloot and Femmina Engelsman married in 1929 in Amsterdam.

All members of the extended Kloot members were murdered in Sobibor, with the exception of Samuel Kloot and Isaac Kloot, 2 brothers of Hijman Koot, they were murdered in Auschwitz.

Samuel’s wife and 2 year old son were also murdered in Auschwitz. As were the 9 year old daughter, and wife of Isaac Kloot.




Happy Birthday Ina Winnik

In a way I hate saying Happy Birthday ,because is supposed to be Ina’s 80yj birthday today. But she didn’t even get to celebrate her 2nd. She was born in Amsterdam on August 30,1942. She was murdered on October 22nd,in Auschwitz.

The reason why I do say Happy Birthday is because she deserves to be remembered, all of her previous 79 birthdays also need to be remembered. She was just a baby when she was murdered, not an ounce of evil in her, just pure love.

Ina was also the nickname I had for one of my sisters, when I was a kid.

Ina and her mother were caught on 29 September 1943 during a raid in The Hague. And then transported via Westerbork to Auschwitz where they were immediately gassed.

Ina’s half brother was Stanley, but he never met his older sister.

“And then it goes wrong…. My father Ies Winnik is arrested. ‘Mitkommen’, the Nazi screams. They take him to the headquarters of the Security Service.

There he is harshly interrogated. Where did you put the fur coats, Jew?’, asks the Security Service at the head office. He stands firm and is dragged to his cell. At the last interrogation he stands alone in his underpants in front of the interrogator’s desk.

It is warm and the balcony doors are open. The secretary signals with her eyes to my father and the balcony. This is my last chance,’ he thinks and jumps over the balcony and flees….

Stanley, in the film clip below, talks about the places his half-sister Ina went before she was murdered by the Nazis.

The video is in Dutch but you can select English Subtitles in the CC(Close Caption)section at the bottom right hand corner.



Remembering Esther Brilleslijper

It is nearly impossible to quantify the number of people being killed during the Holocaust, I personally think the estimated number of 1.5 million children is too low.

The one thing that can be quantified accurately is the value put on life. For a family of 5 it would be 37.50 guilders ,or the 2022 equivalent of $250. That is the price that was paid to the Column Henneicke, for the betrayal of Esther Brilleslijper and her family.

Esther Brilleslijper was born in Amsterdam, on 13 August 1942 . She was murdered in Sobibor, on 11 June 1943. She reached the age of 9 months.

In those 9 months she was arrested , yes a 9 month old baby arrested, and sent to Vught concentration camp.

On 6 June 1943 Esther Brilleslijper was transported from Camp Vught to Camp Westerbork.In addition to Esther Brilleslijper, 2,277 other people are known to have been transported that day.

From June 8, 1943, Esther Brilleslijper was transported from Camp Westerbork to Sobibor. Where she was murdered together with her father Levie Brilleslijper, 3 year old brother Wolf Brilleslijper, and mother Judith Brilleslijper-van der Woude.

I am remembering Esther Brilleslijper today on her birthday. It happens to coincide with my daughter’s birthday.

Esther Brilleslijper would have been 80 today.




The murder of 210 Dutch Jews in Auschwitz on July 23,1942.

According to the Joods Monument (Jewish Monument) website, 210 Dutch Jews were murdered on this day 80 years ago, in Auschwitz.

I could write pieces on each single one of them, but I decided to stick with only one of the victims, because it symbolises the pure evil of the Nazi regime.

The picture is of Leendert Engelsman. He was born in Amsterdam on May 19,1940. He and his mother were both murdered on the same day. His father was murdered a few months later.

But at some stage several people have looked at this boy, looked him in his eyes, perhaps even rubbed his head and smiled at him. Yet they put him on a train to Auschwitz, knowing exactly what his fate would be.

Those same people would go home after work, have dinner. At night they would sleep in their own beds. Perhaps they even had a son the same age as Leendert and would them a bed time story, and tell them not to be afraid to of the bogeyman. Not realising they were the bogey man.

When Leendert arrived in Auschwitz, there would be someone, who looked at his beautiful angelic face and selected him and his mother to be murdered in a most horrendous way.




Eduard and Alexander Hornemann-used as experiments and murdered

Eduard and Alexander Hornemann are two of the 20 Bullenhuser Damm children who were murdered on April 20,1945. I have written about the Bullenhuser Damm children before, but I just want to focus on these 2 brothers now. The reason being , at another time it could have been my boys whose names would have been on that list.

Like Eduard and Alexander’s father, I too worked for Philips at one stage in my life.

Eduard, the elder of the two Hornemann brothers, was born on 1 January, 1933. He was known as Edo in the family. Alexander was born on 31 May 1936 and was nicknamed Lexje. The family were from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.

The father, Philip (aka Flip)Carel Hornemann, worked for Philips. After the occupation of the Netherlands by German forces, he and another 100 Jewish colleagues were deployed into a special department of the company. His wife Elisabeth hid on a farm with their son Alexander, whilst Eduard was taken in on another farm. When the Jewish employees of Philips were taken to Vught Concentration camp, Elisabeth Hornemann followed her husband with her two sons.

On August 18, 1943, German troops surrounded the Philips plant in Eindhoven, and arrested all the Jews. Philip Carel Hornemann and the rest of the Jewish employees were sent to Vught, a Dutch concentration camp, where they were put to work in a Philips operation that employed over 3,000 of the prisoners.

The Philips workers received extra rations and were given the special privilege of living together with their wives and children. When a Philips Corporation representative told Alexander’s mother that the company could guarantee her family’s safety only if she joined her husband in the camp, she felt that she had no choice but to go.

But prior to that their lives had already been interrupted. In 1942 the family lived in the Staringstraat in Eindhoven. The Nazis them to move to Gagelstraat, because they have to make way for a Nazi-minded family.

On June 3, 1944, the Hornemanns were deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland. The 2 boys remained with their mother and were sent to the women’s barracks. Conditions in the camp were horrendous. There was little food, and disease was rampant. Alexander’s mother contracted typhoid fever three months after their arrival, and died soon after. Philip died from exhaustion on transport to another camp.

Kurt Heissmeyer was a SS physician and the nephew of the senior SS officer August Heissmeyer. He was working to obtain his Professorship, which required original research.

Although previously research was dismissed ,Heissmeyer’s hypothesis was that injecting of live tuberculosis bacilli into subjects , the bacilli would function as a vaccine. Another aspect of his experiment was based on the Nazi racial theory that race played a factor in developing tuberculosis. By proving his theory he injected live tuberculosis bacilli into the lungs and bloodstream of 20 Jewish children, at the Neuengamme concentration camp. These were the 20 children selected by Joseph Mengele, amongst them were the 2 Hornemann boys. Eduard and Alexander Hornemann were brought to Neuengamme Concentration Camp on 28 November 1944.

On April 20, 1945, the children are taken to the abandoned Bullenhuser Schule. They were cheerful, happy to get out of the camp. The children were given a morphine injection that evening. Just before the injection, they were that they will be “put to bed quickly”. That night, all twenty children were killed by hanging in the basement of the Bullenhuser Schule.

On April 20, 1945, the British were less than three miles from the camp

“I don’t think that camp inmates are worth the same as people,” said 61-year-old Kurt Heissmeyer on June 21, 1966. “Why didn’t you use laboratory animals?” is the question he is asked. “Because there is no difference between laboratory animals and humans”, replies Heissmeyer. He then corrected himself: “Between laboratory animals and Jews”

Heissmeyer died on 29 August 1967.






The destruction of innocence and beauty.

The girl in the play pen is Renee Sara Gottschalk, born in the Central Refugee Camp Westerbork on 21 June 1941. The two girls in the dark dresses are the daughters of chief physician F. Spanier. The lady on the right is Rosa Strauss; Renee Sara’s mother. Her father is
Erich Gottschalk. Renee and her mother Rosa were killed in Auschwitz on 6 October 1944. Father Erich survived the war.

Rosa Strauss was born on February 24, 1911 in Bochum. Her parents were Emil Strauss and Johanna Strauss-Mendels. Her father was a cattle dealer and butcher. On February 5, 1937, Rosa married Erich Gottschalk, 5 years her senior in Bochum.

Shortly after the wedding, Rosa’s family fled to England via the Netherlands. From there they fled to South Africa. Rosa and Erich did not want to be chased out of Germany.

Erich was trained as a textile merchant, but under pressure from the Nazi measures, he was forced to work in his parents’ company, a wholesaler of advertising materials. The place was completely destroyed during the Kristallnacht. The next day he was arrested and taken to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Rosa was left alone. Because Rosa could prove that they had plans to emigrate, Erich was released on December 11, 1938.

Rosa and her husband fled to the Netherlands, where they ended up in a relief camp in Hoek van Holland. They planned to flee further, but were overtaken by the German invasion in May 1940. Rosa and Erich were taken to the Westerbork refugee camp. Their daughter Renée was born there on June 21, 1941. Because they were already in the camp during the refugee period, they were not put on transport for the time being.

They were ‘Alte Lagerinsassen’ but on September 4, 1944, Rosa, Erich and Renée Gottschalk were sent to Theresienstadt on transport. They only stayed there for a month. A month later, the family was sent to Auschwitz from Theresienstadt. Rosa and Renée were murdered here immediately after arrival, on October 6, 1944. Erich was chosen to work.

He survived the outside command Tschechowitz. Just before the liberation, he was sent on the death march ahead of the advancing Russian army. Erich Gottschalk was weak and collapsed, but was helped by Polish peasants. On 6 June 1945 he returned to Amsterdam as the only survivor of his family. His beautiful wife was murdered age 33. His beautiful and innocent daughter was murdered age 3.



The murder of Joseph Hartog van der Horst

The most beautiful announcement any parent can make, is the announcement of the birth of a child.

Mary Louise van der Horst-Beerenborg and Abraham Arthur van der Horst. must have been so proud when they put a notification in the Jewish weeklu(Het Joodsche Weekblad) on September 4.1942 that their son Hartog was born on August 29,1942 in the Hague, the Netherlands.

But from conception to death took only 18 months for Hartog. He was murdered aged 9 months, on June 7,1943 in Westerbork.

All that is recorded of Hartog is the newspaper notification and the notification of his death.

Both his parents were murdered just over a month later on July 16,1943 in Sobibor.





Sally van Dijk,8 year old boy Murdered on May 28-1943,Sobibor.

Sally was born on August 19, 1934 in Geffen, the Netherlands. I wish I could say more about Sally, but there is very little known about him. The fact that he was murdered on May 28,1943 in Sobibor is sad, What makes it even sadder, his father, mother and older sister were murdered the same day, in the same place.

In fact in total 2849 Dutch Jews were murdered that day in Sobibor. They had all been transported from Westerbork.

Sally’s short life already had been interrupted. From September 1, 1941, Jewish children had to go to separate schools and were no longer allowed to go to public schools.

The Mandatory Star of David was introduced from May 3, 1942 and obliged all Jews older than six years to wear the Star of David. It had to be worn visibly at chest height. The star was distributed by the Jewish Council and cost 4 cents each.

I don’t know when Sally and his family were forced to go there, but until 25 May 1943 Sally van Dijk was imprisoned in Camp Westerbork.

Only 3 days later, Sally and 2848 others were murdered in Sobibor.