I usually include a photograph when I write about the youngest victims of the Nazi regime. But I could not find a picture of poor little Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw. In a way I am happy about that, I have looked into too many eyes of the innocent souls that were brutally murdered ,and regardless how tough I think I am, it does take a toll.
The story of Mirjam Rosalie de Leeuw is particularly sad because she could have been saved. Mirjam was given up by her parents as a foundling aged 1, to save her from the Nazis. However when her parents were arrested they felt the desire to be reunited with their daughter. I know that some people may ask themselves ” Why, did they want to be reunited?” I can totally understand why, they were more then likely first sent to Westerbork, where things weren’t ‘too bad’ , and there must have been hope that they would all survive.
The de Leeuw family lived on “Stations Laan 25′ in Stadskanaal in the Northern Dutch province of Groningen. As you can gather from the address they lived near the station.
One of their neighbours ,a 12 year old girl who kept a diary, wrote the following of Mirjam and her family.
“I want to return to that time during in the war in Stadskanaal. When the first Jews were rounded up in Stadskanaal in 1942 and brought to Westerbork, panic broke out among these people.
Bertus de Leeuw, newly married, lived opposite us with his wife Nannie. They had a baby Mirjam. This woman was so panicked she didn’t know what to do. She put the child in the pram with some clothes and walked off. But where was she to go? At one point we saw her walking on the rails pushing the pram desperately in front of her . Mother sent me there to help her. She was so scared she could hardly walk. It was very difficult to get home as the boulders between the rails prevented us from making progress. She stayed with us for a while and afterwards her husband and father talked for a long time. Then they went back home and in the following days in the evening when it was dark, a bed with accessories was brought and placed in the empty back room. Two of Bertus de Leeuw’s aunts would be housed here for a few weeks. Unfortunately, these two women did something very stupid. Instead of quietly disappearing, they brought their cats to acquaintances and when asked where they were going they said that they would be staying with the Mulder family in Stadskanaal, this went around like wildfire through the village and also was brought to the attention of bad people, strangers to the family. This is why father was arrested by Blomberg(a police officer and detective in Stadskanaal during World War 2). These two ladies were arrested that same night by the S.D. the same evening. and deported.
The corner cupboard in the front room was also cleared and food from the de Leeuw family was stored there, as well as in the basement where their weck(a jar used to conserve fruit or vegetables) was kept. The de Leeuw family went into hiding. The child was abandoned (we only learned this much later, when they were arrested.) In that winter 1942/1943 Bertus de Leeuw came from time to time via the rail tracks, in the pitch darkness to get food. He would be dressed all in black with a hat pulled far over his head.”
Mirjam would have celebrated her 80th birthday today, but she and her Mother were both murdered in Auschwitz on November 19,1943. Mirjam was just 2 year old.
Mirjam’s death was registered in Stadskanaal after the war.
Her Father was murdered in Sobibor on May 28,1943. It is disturbing to know that the rail tracks he used to navigate his way to the places where he would get food, were the same rail tracks that carried him to his death. What happened to his aunts I don’t know but I presume they were murdered too.
Except for the family name I do not know the identity of the neighbour nor do I know what happened to her Father. I do know the name of her daughter who posted the Dutch text of her mother’s letter on Joods Monument.
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