BBC at War

In the last few years, the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) has lost some of its credibility, but during World War II, it was a vital source of information for resistance groups in the Netherlands and other occupied countries.

The caption of the picture above said “January 4, 1944. Jammers and betrayal make listening to the B.B.C. not easy. We listen at night, 11:45 p.m., B.B.C.”

An employee of an illegal newspaper listening to the BBC.

The founders of the first illegal newspapers came to their initiative out of indignation about the German invasion and annoyance about what the equalized newspapers wrote. There was also a need to warn the population against National Socialism and to call for united opposition to the German measures. In 1940 there were about 62 underground magazines and within a year this number rose to 120. Some magazines had succeeded in finding printers and were, therefore, able to abandon the time-consuming stencilling. By the end of 1942, the number of papers had dropped to 96 because many editors of smaller papers considered their activities superfluous when bigger and better editions appeared. In 1943, new illegal newspapers sprang up like mushrooms. These were mainly concerned with translating and distributing the war news received via hidden radios. In total, about 1300 different magazines existed during the occupation years, which together had a circulation of millions of copies.

Due to a lack of radio sets and power, the BBC news had to be brought to the people via the underground. This is where the messages came in.

From the beginning of her exile, Queen Wilhelmina took up her task with great willpower. Uncompromising and with unshakable confidence in the Allied victory, she was able to convey this conviction to others. She constantly advocated the interests of the Netherlands to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the President of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her attitude and effort commanded the respect of the Allied leaders.

The message of thanks to BBC radio for the so-called ‘Round the World birthday celebration programme’ broadcast in honour of Wilhelmina during the BBC’s European Empire Programs on 30 August 1941. Her inaction against the treatment of the Dutch Jews before, during and after the war has tainted her legacy somewhat.

The original caption reads: ‘Recording of the B.B.C. news, via a DC receiver as Goes was also without power, for the purpose of the illegal press. Goes.’
Two employees of the illegal magazine ‘Vrije Stemmen’ in Goes are working on the BBC’s news reports.

Radio Orange; Mrs A. A. Koch – de Waard.

The original caption of this photo reads: “BBC European Service: Dutch Section.
The Dutch Section’s principal woman announcer.”

One of the ways, in which Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch government maintained ties with the population in the occupied territory was Radio Oranje. The broadcasts were invariably opened with ‘Hier Radio Oranje, the Voice of the Struggling Netherlands’. In addition to news commentary and entertainment, Radio Oranje broadcasts were also used to pass on code messages to the resistance in occupied territory.

Anyone caught listening to the BBC or other anti-Nazi radio stations could face execution.


The Re-Burial of Hannie Schaft

There were very few Dutch who defied the Nazi occupiers, this is not to judge, because I was never put in that situation and I just wouldn’t know what I would have done. But it is a fact that there were only a few who offered resistance.

Hannie Schaft was one of those few. Born Jannetje Johanna (Jo) Schaft on 16 September 1920. She became known as “the girl with the red hair” (Dutch: het meisje met het rode haar). Her secret name in the resistance movement was “Hannie.”

On 1 March 1945, NSB police officer Willem Zirkzee was executed by Hannie Schaft and her friend Truus Oversteegen, in Haarlem. On 15 March they wounded Ko Langendijk, a hairdresser from IJmuiden who worked for the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), a Nazi intelligence agency.

Hannie was eventually arrested at a military checkpoint in Haarlem on 21 March 1945 while distributing the illegal communist newspaper de Waarheid (literally ‘The Truth’), which was a cover story. She was transporting secret documentation for the Resistance. She worked closely with Anna A.C. Wijnhoff. She was brought to a prison in Amsterdam. After much interrogation, torture, and solitary confinement, Schaft was identified by her former colleague Anna Wijnhoff, by the roots of her red hair.

She was executed by Dutch Nazi officials on 17 April 1945. Although there had been an agreement between the occupier and the Binnenlandse Strijdkrachten (‘Dutch resistance’) to stop executions, she was shot dead three weeks before the end of the war in the dunes of Overveen, near Bloemendaal. Two men, Mattheus Schmitz and Maarten Kuiper, a Dutch policeman, took her to the execution site. Schmitz shot her in the head at close range. However, the bullet only grazed Schaft. She is said to have allegedly told her executioners: Ik schiet beter! (“I shoot better!) after which Kuiper delivered a final shot to her head. Kuiper was sentenced to death after the war.

Hannie was buried in a shallow grave in the dunes. On 27 November 1945, Schaft was reburied in a state funeral at the Dutch Honorary Cemetery Bloemendaal. Members of the Dutch government and royal family attended, including Queen Wilhelmina who called Schaft “the symbol of the Resistance.”


A German in the Dutch Army in World War II

The picture above was taken on 30 October 1941. It is clear to me that it was taken for propaganda purposes. It is Prince Bernhard, who was the husband of the Dutch Crown Princess, handing Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands a check for the purchase of torpedo boats.

Prince Bernhard married Princess Juliana in The Hague on 7 January 1937. Earlier, Bernhard had been granted Dutch citizenship. He was a German-born nobleman.He was the elder son of Prince Bernhard von Lippe and Baroness Armgard von Sierstorpff-Cramm

He had been a member of the “Reiter-SS,” a mounted unit of the SS and had joined the Nazi party before the war. He later also joined the National Socialist Motor Corps.

Various members of his family and friends were aligned with the Nazis before the second world war, and a number of them attended the royal wedding. Protocol demanded that the prospective Prince-Consort be invited to an audience with his head of state, who at the time was Adolf Hitler. Hitler gave an account of the conversation he had with Bernhard in his Tischgespräche (Table Conversations). This book was a collection of monologues, remarks, and speeches Hitler gave during lunch or dinner to those he had invited.

Bernard cut off relations with those members of his family who were enthusiastic Nazis. As a sign of his “Dutchness”, near the end of the war, he spoke only Dutch when negotiating the surrender of German forces in the Netherlands.

After taking his family to safety in England (May 12, 1940), he immediately returned to lead Dutch troops in battle against the Germans; after the Dutch Army surrendered on May 14, 1940, he fled to England with the remnants of his troops.

According to Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema, Soldier of Orange, “For Bernhard, the Prince of the Netherlands, the war was a frustrating business. Born a German, he had married Queen Wilhelmina’s only child, Princess Juliana. In due time made a conscious and meaningful transition of loyalties to his new homeland, because of the doubts about his background, initially invoked among some Britons, he longed more than anyone for a chance to get at Holland’s aggressors.”

After being appointed, in August 1940, a captain in the Dutch navy and a colonel in the army, Prince Bernhard assumed increased responsibilities and, by 1944, as commander of the Netherlands Forces of the Interior, he directed all Dutch armed forces. Also serving as a Dutch liaison officer with the British armed forces, Bernhard became a pilot and flew with the Royal Air Force (1942–44).

In 1944 Queen Wilhelmina appointed him Supreme Commander of the Netherlands Armed Forces and the Netherlands Forces of the Interior (the military resistance). In September 1945 the Prince was honourably discharged from these posts and, at the same time, appointed Inspector-General of the Royal Netherlands Army. For his services during the Second World War, Prince Bernhard was awarded the highest military decoration – the Cross of Commander of the Military Order of William – in 1946. For his achievements as a pilot on active service, he received the Flying Cross. In 1984 he was awarded the Resistance Cross.

The role of his mother-in-law during the war was to say at least questionable. On May 4 2020, the current Dutch King Willem Alexander acknowledged that his grandmother could and should have done more for the Dutch citizens, although he did not say it directly he was clearly implying the treatment of the Dutch Jews.

“Fellow people felt abandoned, insufficiently heard, insufficiently supported, if only with words. Also from London, also by my great-grandmother, still steadfast and fierce in her resistance. It is something that will not let me go.”



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The Dutch Queen did offer some resistance to the Nazis, but very little.

Queen Wilhelmina was Queen of the Netherlands from 1890 until her abdication in 1948. She reigned for nearly 58 years, longer than any other Dutch monarch. Her reign saw both World War I, although the Netherlands was neutral during WW1, and World War II, as well as the Dutch economic crisis of 1933.

It is during World War 2 where ,in my opinion and that of others, she didn’t as much as she should or could have done.

On May 4, 2020, King Willem-Alexander gave a speech where he too criticised the role of his great grandmother.

Speech by His Majesty King Willem-Alexander, National Remembrance Day, 4 May 2020
Speech | 04-05-2020

“It feels strange to be standing in an almost empty Dam Square. But I know that you all feel part of this National Remembrance Day, and that we are standing here together.

During these exceptional months, we have all had to give up some of our freedom. This country hasn’t experienced anything like this since the Second World War. Now, we are choosing our own path. For our lives and our health.

Back then, the choice was made for us. By an occupier with a merciless ideology that caused the deaths of millions of people. How did that total lack of freedom feel?

There is one testimony I shall never forget. It was given here in Amsterdam, in the Westerkerk, almost six years ago. A short, clear-eyed man – standing proud at 93 years old – recounted his journey to Sobibor, in June 1943.

His name was Jules Schelvis. There he stood, fragile but unbroken, in a full but utterly silent church. He spoke about the transportation of 62 people in a single railway wagon. About the barrel on the bare floor. About the rain that spattered in through the gaps. About the hunger, the exhaustion, the filth.

‘You began to look like a pauper,’ he said. And you could hear the heartbreak in his voice. He recalled the soldiers ripping the watches off prisoners’ wrists on arrival. And how he lost his wife Rachel in the ensuing chaos. He never saw her again.

‘What normal human being could have imagined this? How could the world allow us, honest citizens of the Netherlands, to be treated like vermin?’ His question lingered among the pillars of the church. I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t.

What I also remember is his account of what happened before his journey. Following a Nazi raid, he and his wife and many hundreds of others were taken to Muiderpoort station. I can still hear him saying: ‘Hundreds of onlookers watched as the overcrowded trams went by under heavy guard, and they didn’t once protest.’

Straight through this city. Straight through this country. Right before the eyes of their fellow countrymen. It all seemed so gradual. And with each new step it went further.
No longer being allowed to go swimming in public pools.
Being excluded as member of an orchestra.
No longer being allowed to ride your bike.
No longer being allowed to go to college.
Being put out on the street.
Then arrested and taken away.

Sobibor began in the Vondelpark. With a sign saying: ‘No Jews Allowed’. Certainly, there were many people who protested. Men and women who took action, bravely going against the tide and risking their own safety for the sake of others.

I also think of all the civilians and military personnel who fought for our freedom.
Of all the young soldiers who lost their lives on the Grebbelinie in those days of May.
The military personnel who served our Kingdom in the Dutch Indies and paid for it with their lives.
The resistance fighters who were executed by firing squad on the Waalsdorpervlakte or suffered inhuman treatment in labour and concentration camps.
The military personnel killed or severely wounded in peacekeeping operations.
True heroes who were prepared to die for our freedom and our values.

But there is also another reality. Fellow human beings, fellow citizens in need, who felt abandoned unheard. Who felt they should have received more support, if only by words. Also from London, and from my great-grandmother, despite her unwavering and fierce opposition. This is something that will always stay with me.

The impact of war lingers on for many generations. Even now, 75 years after our liberation, it remains with us. The least we can do is: not look away. Not justify it. Not erase it. Not brush it aside. Not normalise something that is anything but normal. And nurture and defend our democracy and the rule of law. Because only that can protect us from tyranny and chaos.

Jules Schelvis went through hell and yet managed to make something of his life as a free person. Much more than that. ‘I kept my faith in humanity,’ he said. If he could do that, then so can we. We can do it, and we will do it together. In freedom.”

However there were little acts of resistance or rather attempts, by the exiled Queen, to boost the morale of the Dutch civilians, from her residence in London.

Two (orange) packs of cigarettes, with the V-sign on the cover and the text ‘The Netherlands will rise again’. In the night of 30 to 31 August 1941, tens of thousands of orange packages are dropped over the Netherlands. Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday was on August 31. At the other side of the pack the letter W of Wilhelmina.

I know this was meant well, the goal was to boost morale. But on the other hand it also could have caused harm, anyone caught with these by the Nazis, would be severely punished, They could even face the death panalty.

Portrait of Queen Wilhelmina, published in the illegal press on her 61st birthday, August 31, 1941. The original portrait in pencil was made by Cor Visser. Dutch ‘war artist’ living in England.

The King mentioned Jules Schelvis.

He was a Dutch Jewish historian, writer, printer, and Holocaust survivor. Schelvis was the sole survivor among the 3,005 people on the 14th transport from Westerbork to Sobibor extermination camp, having been selected to work at nearby Dorohucza labour camp. He is known for his memoirs and historical research about Sobibor, for which he earned an honorary doctorate from the University of Amsterdam, Officier in the Order of Orange-Nassau, and Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland.

Below is one of his testimonies.

“The Jews of the Bahnhofskommando were very heavy-handed getting us of the train onto the platform. They let on they were Jewish by speaking Yiddish, the language of the Eastern European Jews. The SS men standing behind them were shouting ‘schneller, schneller’ (faster, faster) and lashed out at people once they were lined up on the platform. Yet the first impression of the camp itself aroused no suspicion, because the barracks looked rather like little Tyrolean cottages, with their curtains and geraniums on the window sills.

But this was no time to dawdle. We made our way outside as quickly as possible. Rachel and I, and the rest of our family, fortunately had no difficulty in swiftly making our way onto the platform, which had been built up of sand and earth. Behind us we could hear the agonised cries of those who could not get up quickly enough, as their legs had stiffened as a result of sitting in an awkward position for too long, severely affecting their circulation. But no one cared. One of the first things that occurred to me was how lucky we were to be all together and that the secret of our destination would now finally be revealed. The events so far did not hold out much promise though, and we understood this was only the beginning.

It was obvious we had arrived at our final destination : a place to work, as they had told us in the Netherlands. A place where the many who had gone before us should now also be working. Our presence must be of quite some importance, why else would the Germans have bothered to bring us all the way here, traveling for three days and nights, covering a distance of two thousand kilometres?

Yet the Germans were using whips, lashing out at us and driving us on from behind. My father -in-law, walking beside me, was struck for no reason. He shrank back in pain only for a moment , not wanting anyone to see. Rachel and I firmly gripped each other’s hand, desperate not to get separated in this hellish situation. We were driven along a path lined with barbed wire towards some large barracks and dared not look round to see what was happening behind us.

We wondered what had happened to the baby in our wagon , and to the people unable to walk; and what about the sick and the handicapped ? But we were given no time to dwell on these things and, besides, we were too preoccupied with ourselves. ‘What shall I do with my gold watch?’ Rachel said. ‘They will take it from me in a minute.’ I replied, ‘Bury it, because it could be worth a lot of money later.’ As she was walking, she noticed a little hole in the sand and quickly threw the watch down, using her foot to cover it up. ‘Remember,’ she said, ‘where I’ve buried it. We can try digging it up later when we have a little more time.’

Like cattle, we were herded through a shed that had doors on either side, both wide open. We were ordered to throw down all our luggage and keep moving. Our bread and backpacks, with our name, date of birth and the word ‘Holland’ written on them, ended up on top of the huge piles, as did my guitar, which I had naively brought and carefully guarded all the way. Quickly glancing around, I saw how it ended up underneath more luggage. It dawned on me then that there was worse to come. Robbed of everything we had once spent so much care and time in acquiring, we left the shed through the door opposite.

I was so taken aback and distracted by having had all our possessions taken from us, that although I had seen an SS man at some point, I never noticed, until it was too late, that the women had been sent in a different direction. Suddenly Rachel was no longer walking beside me. It happened so quickly that I had not been able to kiss her or call out to her. Trying to look around to see if I could spot her somewhere, an SS man snapped at me to look straight ahead and keep my ‘Maul (gob) shut.’

Along with the men around me, I was driven on at a slightly slower pace to a point just past an opening in a fence, where yet another SS man was posted. He looked the younger men up and down fleetingly, seeming to have no interest in the older ones. With a quick nudge of his whip, he motioned some of them to line-up separately by the edge of the field. Directly in front of me, my brother -in-law Ab was directed to join this growing group. My father-in-law, David, and Herman, my thirteen -year old brother-in-law, were completely ignored. My father-in-law was too old, Herman too young. Glancing at me for just a moment, he let me pass as well. He needed to select only eighty healthy-looking men.

Those who had not been selected had to move along into the field and sit down. That Friday 4 June 1943, the Sobibor sun beat down on our heads. It was midday and very hot already. There we were, defenceless, powerless, exhausted, at the mercy of the Germans, and completely isolated from the rest of the world. No one could help us out here. The SS held us captive and were free to do as they pleased.

The rows of men out on the field were getting bigger as those from the other wagons joined us. While we were waiting, I had a little time to collect my thoughts. Our harsh treatment seemed to be in conflict with the image of the Tyrolean cottage-like barracks with their bright little curtains and geraniums on the windowsills. They had had such a friendly and calming effect on me after all the tensions of the preceding days. The camp had seemed devoid of any other people, apart from the Germans and the Jews who had ‘welcomed’ us on the platform.

As I sat there, I noticed a few Dutch prisoners had approached from the other side of the barbed wire fence and were trying to make contact with us. I recognised Moos van Kleef, the owner of the fish shop on the corner of the Weesperstraat. My arms gestured a question: how are things here, what can we expect? To assuage us, he yelled out to us that it was all right here, no reason to be concerned. I heard him say: ‘We have a job here, everything is new or has to be built.’ My mind was ticking over faster. I thought: this must be the new camp for which they will require some sort of order service (police). That must be why they need those young men. My intuition told me I would want to be a part of that group. Not so much for the order service, but to be with my brother-in-law whom I could still see in the distance.

The field had become quite crowded and I had already come to terms with the idea of working in the camp when I saw the same SS man approaching. With his hands behind his back he ambled past the rows of men quite smugly, seeming quite pleased with himself. As he came closer, I suddenly remembered the order service. He had almost passed when I jumped up and put up my hand. I asked permission to ask him a question. Glancing back at me quite affably, he hesitated briefly and then nodded his approval. I requested in my best German, to join the other group. He stared into the distance, tapping his whip against his boot a few times. He turned around and asked: ‘How old are you?’ I replied: ‘Twenty-two, Herr Officer.’ Healthy? ‘Jawohl, Herr Officer.’ I had no idea what his rank was. ‘Can you speak German?’ Jawohl, Herr Officer.’

Not altogether disinterested, he searched me with his eyes for a moment, apparently lost in thought. Then nodding his head in the direction of the group, he said: ‘Na Los.’ I quickly ran towards it. The young men, relieved at finally being able to release some of the tension built up over the past few days, were chatting to an almost amiable SS man there. To my joy, my best friend Leo de Vries was also among them. The German looked surprised when I joined them, because he believed the eighty-strong group to be complete. A little incredulously he asked: ‘They sent you as well? So now we have eighty-one; one too many, because to my knowledge there should only be eighty.’

After standing around and exchanging thoughts for a while, we were cut off abruptly by the SS man, who, suddenly in quite a different tone of voice, told us to shut up. He continued: ‘My colleague has selected you to work at another camp not far from here. You will return to Sobibor every evening so you can meet and enjoy yourselves with your family and friends.’ Pointing towards the field , he carried on: ‘They are going to have a bath now. This is why the men have been separated from the women, because they obviously cannot bathe together. All the others who arrived today will stay here.

As he spoke, I also saw the SS man addressing the men out on the field, though I could not hear his exact words . Obviously they were being told to undress, because I saw them starting to take off their clothes. By the time ‘our’ SS man had lined us up in rows of five, all those out on the field had already removed their shoes and vests. Urged on by his loud Eins-Zwei-drei-vier cadence, he tried to get us to march smartly and in step towards the camp exit. He could not imagine how miserable we were after being scrunched up for days inside the cattle wagons. On our way to the train I must have passed the spot where Rachel had buried her watch. I could not remember it. But I thought I might remember again in a few hours’ time, when, on my return, I would be headed in the same direction as when we arrived.

Two wagons and an engine stood ready for departure. All traces of turmoil had been erased from the platform, as though it had never happened. The train arrived in Trawniki on the very same day, 4 June 1943. The group had to walk the remaining five kilometres from there to Dorohucza. Unlike other people, I never did see the narrow gauge railway at Sobibor, and neither did I see any people being thrown into rail carts. A possible explanation could lie in the fact that we were the first to enter the camp, so the sick and elderly would not have made their way onto the platform by then, and the tipper trucks were not yet required. They must have been there, ready for use, but without people screaming inside them I probably did not notice.”


A family murdered in Auschwitz

I was going to write about a young boy called Jonas van Oosten. He was murdered in Auschwitz on January 16,1943, aged 16.

When he was two years of age he won a kite competition. The kite was much bigger then himself.

He proudly posed with his kite for a photograph, in front of a house designed by his uncle. He won the kite competition on Queen’s day in 1928, which was the national celebration of Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday.

Jonas and his kite mad it into the local news paper in Assen, the Netherlands.

The caption said “The biggest kite with the smallest kite flyer”

A young proud boy.

Later on Jonas became a member of the Achilles football association in Assen. His name appears with those of seven other Jewish club members killed during World War II on a monument at the sports complex of this association on the Marsdijk.

14 years after the picture was taken, Jonas was murdered along with the rest his family. As I said at the start I was only going to do a piece on Jonas, because that picture of a boy with a kite, could have been a picture of me, or of my sons. But then I saw pictures of the whole van Oosten family, the parents and three sons. The other 2 boys were even younger then Jonas.

Father Machiel, Mother Johanna, youngest brother Maurits Henk and the other brother Israël Berty aka Iwan.. The family owned a furniture and bedding shop

called the “Walvisch” ,Whale.

There was also an uncle called Maurits.

In July 1942 the mayor of Assen requested that Maurits van Oosten, who lived at 10 Gedempte Singel in Assen, be located, detained and brought to trial. Following the hiding of the Machiel van Oosten family, his wife Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs and the children Jonas, Israel and Maurits Henk van Oosten.

Maurits Henk van Oosten. Born in Assen, on 7 January 1933.Murdered in Auschwitz, 24 September 1943He reached the age of 10 years.

Maurits van Oosten was the youngest son of Machiel van Oosten and Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs. Maurits was seven years old when the war started. He was in primary school. In September 1941 it was forbidden for Jewish children to go to regular schools any longer. From September 1941 there is a Jewish primary school in Assen, where Maurits probably was a student. The school existed until 31 August 1942. From May 1942 Maurits was also obliged to wear a yellow star on his clothing. Maurits was called ‘Maunie’ by his family. The Nazis had confiscated his parents’ shop and house. Shortly afterwards, the Van Oosten family went into hiding on a small island in the Frisian lakes. There they were discovered and arrested. Maurits father, his uncle and his eldest brother Jonnie were sent to camp Amersfoort. His mother, his brother Iwan and himself were sent to camp Westerbork.

Israel Berty van Oosten aka Iwan was born on December 27, 1927 in Assen.

He was murdered in Auschwitz, on 24 September 1943.He reached the age of 15 years.

Iwan was a student at the public school, but could no longer go there because of the measures against Jews after the summer of 1941. From September 1, 1941, Iwan went to the Jewish school. Around June 1942, the family was told to get out of the store and clear everything. At first they were temporarily housed by other Jewish families, until a barn became available behind Boele Geerts’ café that had been used as a horse stable. After a cleaning and major clean-up, the family had temporary accommodation there. But they didn’t stay long in that shed.

With the help of the café owner Boele Geerts, the family was transported to a hiding place in Hindelopen. From the police report:

Saturday, July 18, 1942. 12 noon. Commissioned by Mr. H. I. v. P., an investigation was launched into the absence of the family of M. van Oosten, Gedempte Singel 10. An investigation showed that the family of Van Oosten approx. 10 days ago moved into a barn space, behind the café Boele Geerts on the Groningerstraat, as the plot Gedempte Singel 10 had to be cleared. Wednesday evening July 15th. the family was still seen in Assen, but not anymore. The family consists of:

  1. Machiel van Oosten born April 22, 1899 in Assen, Ned. Jew.
  2. His wife, Johanna Jakobs, born 27 May 1902 in Emmen, Ned. Jewess.
  3. Jonas van Oosten, born 9 August 1926 in Assen.
  4. Israel Berty van Oosten, born December 27, 1927 in Assen.
  5. Maurits Henk van Oosten, born January 7, 1933.
    as well as the live-in brother 6. Maurits van Oosten born 26 November 1901 in Assen, Ned. Jew.

Machiel and Maurits should have reported to the Jewish labor camp near Orvelte on Sunday 19 July 1942 along with other Jewish men from Assen. Behind their names on the departing list was: missing. On September 10, 1942, a guard in Sneek reported that the van Oosten family had been arrested in De Hel-It Heidenskip. They were accidentally discovered by Germans looking for an English channel. The family was separated. Johanna ended up with Iwan and younger brother Maurits in Westerbork transit camp on 25 September 1942. And Machiel, Uncle Maurits and Iwan’s older brother Jonny went to camp Amersfoort. On September 21, 1943, after almost a year in the camp, Iwan and his brother Maurits were deported with their mother to Auschwitz. When they got there, they were immediately killed.

Jonas was called ‘Jonnie’ by his family. The Nazis had confiscated his parents’ shop and house. Shortly afterwards, the Van Oosten family went into hiding on a small island in the Frisian lakes. There they were discovered and arrested. Jonnie, his father and his uncle were sent to camp Amersfoort. His mother, his brother Iwan and brother Maurits were sent to camp Westerbork.

In camp Amersfoort, Jewish prisoners were treated very badly. The food was poor and the prisoners were mistreated. In letters from camp Westerbork, Jonnie’s mother writes about her concerns about her husband, brother-in-law and children: “The people here are full of hope and cheerful. I also think by winter the end (of the war) but I’m afraid we’re still going. My poor little boys. I want to save them so badly. And here waiting for my trio (husband, brother-in-law and son). I occasionally hope they are still alive. It’s like going crazy in this hell and then alone. Nobody knows how good it has been, and how good we had it those 18 years and that it’s gone now, that’s impossible. And my Jonneman who is now almost 17 years old. What that poor child suffers if he is still alive. You don’t have to think about that. It is said that Mau (Jonnie’s father) and Jonnie passed through Oberhauzen Essen about 20 November with 80 other Jews. And Mie (his uncle) about December 19 the same direction. Yesterday I spoke to an Aryan who was with him in Amersfoort. Mie has also said that he will do his best to make it through to the end and he thought Jonnie was a sweet good kid. He was the youngest there, but Amersfoort has been very bad.”

Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs. Born in Emmen, on 27 May 1902 . Murdered in Auschwitz, 24 September 1943. Reached the age of 41 years.

She wrote a few letters while in the camp. This one is about the worries she had about her son Maurits aka Maunie:

“What a sick boy he was, He’s like an old man and so nervous. Maunie is looking forward to tonight. He hasn’t eaten anything in four days and now Aunt Leen has promised to cook him potatoes. She will bring them tonight. That’s something he’s really looking forward to.”

In another letter she wrote:

“The people here are full of hope and cheerfulness. I also think by winter the end (of the war) but I’m afraid we’re still going. My poor little boys. I want to save them so badly. And here waiting for my trio (husband, brother-in-law and son). I occasionally hope they are still alive. It’s like going crazy in this hell and then alone.

Machiel van Oosten was the son of Jonas van Oosten and Gonda Godschalk. He had two brothers and a sister. Machiel was known as Mie. Machiel ran the furniture shop De Walvisch (which opened in 1896) with his father Jonas van Oosten and his brother Maurits. In addition to selling home furnishings, the firm arranged moves. The firm’s large orange lorry was the first transport vehicle in Assen. The extensive advertising included the song ‘De Groote Walvischtrein’, of which the words to the first of the three stanzas were:

If you want to move, fear you need not feign:

Van Oosten has a big whale train,

to bring your things without a penny of pain”

Machiel was born in Assen, on 22 April 1899.He was murdered in Auschwitz, 11 January 1943.

Everyone in the van Oosten family, including grandparents, uncles and aunts were murdered.



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The abdication of a Queen.


On 4 September 1948, after a reign of 58 years, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana, because of advancing age and declining health. The abdication meant that she would henceforth be known as addressed as “Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands”

She had been inaugurated as Queen aged 18 on September 6 1898.Technically she had been Queen since 1890, after the death of her Father ,King William III. But since she was only 10 at the time her mother,Queen Emma served as regent until Wilhelimina turned 18. Therefore technically her reign was for 58 years even though the first 8 years her Mother reigned in her stead.

Wilhelmina queen

During World War II she took charge of the Dutch government in exile,in the UK. On  August 5, 1942 She addressed the U.S. Congress and was the first queen to do so.


In the night of 20/21 February 1944 she was nearly killed during Operation Steinbock, sometimes referred to as Baby Blitz, by a bomb that took the lives of two  of her staff and severely damaged her country home near South Mimms in England.


She was not a great fan of  politicians, instead stating a love for the people. When the Netherlands was liberated in 1945 she was disappointed to see the same political factions taking power as before the war.

Following the end of World War II, she made the decision not to return to her palace but to move into a mansion in The Hague, where she stayed for eight months. She traveled throughout the Netherlands to motivate people, sometimes using a bicycle instead of a car. But in 1947, as  the country was still recovering from  the woes of World War II, the revolt in the oil-rich Dutch East Indies saw sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite.

Around the same time, her  health started failing , forcing her to  temporarily cede her monarchial duties to Juliana at the end of 1947 (14 October tto 1 December). At that stage she already contemplated abdication, but Juliana convinced  her to stay on for the stability of the nation, urging her to stay on the throne until 1950 so she could celebrate her diamond jubilee. Wilhelmina had the intention of doing just that , but unfortunately exhaustion forced her to relinquish  duties as a monarch  to Juliana again on 12 May 1948. The timing wasn’t great  as it left Juliana to deal with the early elections caused by the demand for  independence by the Indonesian colonies.

Dismayed by the return to pre-war politics and the pending loss of Indonesia, Wilhelmina abdicated on 4 September 1948.


During the last years of her life  she wrote her autobiography entitled Eenzaam, maar niet alleen (Lonely but Not Alone), in which she gave account of the events in her life, and revealed her strong religious feelings and motivations.

Wilhelmina died in Het Loo Palace at the age of 82 on 28 November 1962.



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.


Ans van Dijk-Jewish Nazi collaborator


One thing I find hard to comprehend is the collaboration of Jews with the Nazis. On one hand I can understand that they did this because of self preservation, it is a human instinct to survive at any cost, but on the other hand they must have seen the fate of their friends and families. They must have figured out at some stage that Hitler was only interested in the complete annihilation of every Jew on the planet.

The victims that became traitors.

Anna (Ans) van Dijk (Amsterdam, December 24, 1905 – Weesperkarspel, January 14, 1948) was a Dutch-Jewish collaborator who betrayed Jews to Nazi Germany during World War II. She was the only Dutch woman to be executed over her wartime activities.

She was the daughter of Jewish parents, Aron van Dijk and Kaatje Bin. She married Bram Querido in 1927, and opened a millinery shop called Maison Evany in Amsterdam.Her Father died in 1939 in the Psychiatric hospital ,Het Apeldoornse Bos.


He had suffered from paranoia.Shortly afterwards Ans divorced her husband.After the marriage ended, she began a lesbian relationship with a Jewish woman named Miep Stodel, who had worked for her in the shop.


The shop was closed by the Nazis in 1941 as part of their seizure of Jewish property (Jews were forbidden to own businesses or work in retail shops).After that she died her hair blonde and acquired false identity papers and changed her name to Alphonsia Maria (Annie) de Jong  Stodel fled to Switzerland in 1942.

Ans started selling goods from Jewish real estate and helped Jews to find hiding places.In January 1943 she had to go in hiding herself.

Van Dijk was arrested on Easter Sunday 1943 by the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) and detective Peter Schaap of the Office of Jewish Affairs of the Amsterdam police.



After promising to work for the SD, van Dijk was released. Pretending to be a member of the resistance, she offered to help Jews find hiding places and obtain false papers. In this way, she trapped at least 145 people (including her own brother and his family). Some 85 of her victims later died in concentration camps.She may have been responsible for the deaths of as many as 700 people.

After the war, she moved to The Hague, where she was arrested at a friend’s home on June 20, 1945, and charged with 23 counts of treason. On February 24, 1947, she was brought to the Special Court in Amsterdam.


She confessed on all counts, explaining that she only acted out of self-preservation, and was sentenced to death.


She appealed the conviction, but in September 1947 the Special Court of Appeals confirmed her punishment. Her request for a royal pardon was also rejected by Queen Wilhelmina.


On 14 January 1948 she was executed by firing squad at Fort Bijlmer in the then municipality Weesperkarspel (now the Bijlmermeer municipality of Amsterdam). The night before her execution she was baptized and joined the Roman Catholic Church.


She had written several goodbye letters the one below was sent to the Nun who had visited her in jail, after she had asked for roman catholic rehabilitation work. In the letter she tells the nun that she had been baptized and she would be receiving her 1st holy communion.