You didn’t have to do it.

Gemmi

You didn’t have to do it. You didn’t have to kill me.

You didn’t have to do it, you wanted to.

You didn’t have to do it, but you hated me and didn’t think twice.

You hated me, why?

You hated me, because someone told you to hate me. Were you really that stupid that you couldn’t make up your own mind?

No one could make you love someone you didn’t want to love. Yet they could make you hate someone you didn’t know. A child you didn’t know.

You hated me, but I did not hate you. How could I? I didn’t know you. I got have been a dear friend because that is my name Liebfreund, Dear Friend.

Aren’t you embarrassed that a 9 year old boy knows more then you. A 9  yar old boy whp knows that it is wrong to hate. Because hate turns to anger, anger turns to bitterness, bitterness turns into self pity. It is this self pity that turned you into this pathetic excuse of a human being. Some people call you a monster, but you are not, You are a human being . You are responsible for your actions.

I am Gemmi Liebfreund. I was born on 7 October 1933, in the Hague. I was killed in Sobibor on 13 March 1943.

Your smiley face makes me cry.

11 months

Your smiley face makes me cry.

It makes me cry because I know you were born on June 13,1942 in The Hague , the Netherlands and you were killed June 11,1943 in Sobibor. You were not even given the opportunity to blow one candle on your first birthday cake.

I cry but I no longer have tears because they have dried up due to crying for the 1.5 million childer that were killed.

There is one question that occupies my mind constantly. Why?

I know why, but I just can’t comprehend.

Ywo days before your birthday you were murdered.

You are Joseph Blok, you could have been an  inspirational musician or a motivation speaker, or  just simply the father of my best friend.

The biggest fear of your parents  should have been to keep you safe from the measles,chicken pox ,mumps and rubella, but it was men who probably had children themselves, perhaps even babies like you.

Men, who did not see you as human being they though of you as vermin, but it was these men who were the real vermin.

Men who felt heroic for killing babies who could not defend themselves.

Rest in peace young Joseph Blok.

 

 

Diet Eman- WWII Hero.

Diet

Only the good die young, all the evil seem to live forever is a line from an Iron Maiden song, and there have been times where I thought this to be true, because I saw so many evil people living a long and prosperous lives.

But thankfully ever now and then that theory is proven wrong when you hear stories about people who personify the word good and you see they lived a long good life.

As was the case with Berendina Roelofina Hendrika  Eman aka Diet Eman. A genuine hero who lived to the age of 99, she died 2 weeks ago. What is amazing I had never heard of her until 2 friends, Norman Stone and Andy Ludwig( I am sure they won’t mind me giving them an honorable mention) pointed the story of Diet out to me.

She was born on April 20, 1920 in the Hague, the Netherlands and died on September 3, 2019 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A

She grew up in a religious Christian family she had 3 siblings and she was the 2nd youngest.

Om May 10,1940 when the Germans invaded the Netherlands her brother in law was killed.Shortly afterwards, Diet and her fiancé Hein Sietsma decided to join the resistance.The pair together with some friends established a resistance group with the code name “HEIN” which was in reference to Hein Sietsma but was also an abbreviation for “Help Elkander In Nood”which translates in Help each other in Need.

Diet and Hein

Initially the group listened to the BBC and translated the text of the broadcast in Dutch and distributed the transcripts in Dutch resistance magazines.They also smuggled  downed Allied pilots to England.

Soon they began to help Jewish friend find hiding places. Diet recalled after the war.

“There came a day,when my Jewish friend Herman, who worked with me in the bank in The Hague, began to understand that, for him, as a Jew, life could not go on in the same way anymore. He thus became the first Jewish person that we helped during the Occupation.”

Their resistance group began  to focus on stealing food and gas ration cards, forging identity papers and sheltering hundreds of fugitive Jews.

forged

At one stage Diet delivered supplies and moral support to an apartment in The Hague which housed 27 Jews in hiding, in late 1942. The walls were paper thin. Crying babies and even toilet flushing risked raising the suspicions of neighbors, who know that the apartment was owned by a single woman,Mies Walbelm.

Diet warned Mies, she told her “You’re living on top of a volcano that’s ready to erupt” but Mies did not heed the warning and housed more people, which was immensely brave but also extremely dangerous and could jeopardize the woman’s life but also those she hid. Despite that Diet kept visiting the apartment ,bringing supplies, sometimes 5 times a week Eventually the Gestapo did raid the apartment. A diary that contained Diet’s code name was discovered.One day Diet’s parents called her to warn her the Gestapo had turned up and told her not to return home. 

Diet and Hein Sietsma had plans to marry in September 1944, but in April Sietsma was arrested carrying false papers. In May Diet Eman, also, was caught on a train carrying a false ID. Luckily she managed to dispose of the incriminating papers she was carrying at a busy station while the Germans’ backs were turned, distracted by one of the men’s new plastic raincoat, a novelty at the time.

Diet was taken to Scheveningen prison and was later send to Vught concentration camp for  a few  months. However she kept insisting stubbornly that she was not Diet Eman but a simple housemaid. she managed to convince the Germans and she was released. She immediately rejoined the resistance and remained with it until May 1945. It was in June 1945 she found out that fiancé Hein Sietsma had died in Dachau in January 1945.

By some miracle, a letter he had written on a single sheet of toilet paper and tossed from a train as he was being transported to the camp found its way to her.“Darling, don’t count on seeing each other again soon,Even if we won’t see each other on earth again, we will never be sorry for what we did, and that we took this stand.”

He signed off with the Latin phrase that was engraved on the gold engagement ring that he had given her: “Omnia vincit amor.” Love conquers all.

A brother of Diet died later in a Japanese prison camp.

After the war she moved to the US, She became a nurse, learned Spanish, worked for Shell Oil in Venezuela, married an American engineer named Egon Erlich, divorced and moved to Michigan, where she also worked as a nurse and later for an export company. She raised a son and daughter.She kept quiet k about her resistance work until 1978. That year, she spoke at a “Suffering and Survival” convention. Here she met Dr. James Schaap who worked with Eman to write her memoir, “Things We Couldn’t Say”, which was published in 1994.

Things

On August 23, 1998, Yad Vashem recognized Berendina Roelofina Hendrika Eman as Righteous Among the Nations.

An amazing woman who risked her life to safe others, the world needs heroes like her today. Rust zacht Diet, ik zal U niet vergeten.

Persoon

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Sources

Holocausteducatie.nl

The New York Times

Smithsonian

Telegraph UK

Yad Vashem

 

If a pictures tells a 1000 words, how come I am speechless?

Jankl

I often come across people who seek my advice. Not that I am counselor or a psycho therapist, I don’t qualify for any of that. But for some reason people know I have had a life full of experiences.

They often tell me “life isn’t fair” and I sometimes reply £Life is not supposed to be fair but challenging, if you have no challenges in life you never have any victories either” And I genuinely do believe that.

But then there are times where I am speechless.

What do I say to little Jankl Zuckerkandel? He stood so proud in a photo studio in the Hague to get his picture taken, in his best clothes and his little cap ,his pure whit socks. It was 1941 when the picture was taken. Already his life was in danger, even as a toddler he was perceived to be a danger, A dangerous toddler, that also leaves me speechless.

He was killed in Sobibor aged 3

What do I say to that little beautiful boy? Do I tell him”Life wasn’t meant to be fair” But this doesn’t apply to him,because he didn’t have the chance to get a life yet.

Do I tell him “All will be fine”, then I would tell him a lie.

What do I tell him? How do I explain to him why he was murdered? I can’t, I am speechless. If a picture tells a thousand words, how come am I speechless.

All I can do is hope that his life as a little Angel brings him joy.

 

Sources

USHMM

Jan Ruschkewitz

Jantje

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy. A young bot born in the Hague in the Netherlands.

23 years after the international peace palace was established. A palace that was suppose to safeguard your peace.

In the picture you are about 2 or 3, but your peace would soon be destroyed.

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy, a boy who could have been anything. You were born 28 days before my father was born.

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy , a young boy who remained a young boy. He was brutally murdered 23 October 1942 , 10 days before his 6th birthday. A so called enemy of the state. What state has 6 year old children as enemies.?

Jan Ruschkewitz, just a name of a young boy, a boy whose name I will forever remember.

 

 

Marcus Lelyveld-Jewish Footballer-Killed.

marcus

The Dutch are a proud footballing nation, the sport is part of our DNA. But there is a part of our footballing history which has been forgotten.

Marcus Lelyveld born September 9,1905 in the Hague, the Netherlands. His father made furniture but in 1914 he changed from furniture to selling fruit.

Marcus was  a talented football player. When he was 17 he managed to secure a place in the first team of VUC, a club based in The Hague.He was a defender and sometimes played as a defending midfielder.In 1930 Marcus was selected as part of a elite The Hague team to play a match against a Belgian team from Brussels.

Later that year he was selected to play with the B-team of the Dutch National squad.In 1931 the head coach  of the National team, Bob Glendenning selected him for a match against France in Paris, Although Marcus was selected he didn’t get a chance to play.

However on February 14 ,1932 he finally got a chance with the mighty Dutch national team. Mauk Weber, of ADO Den Haag, wasn’t fit enough to play so Macus took Mauk’s spot. The match was a friendly match against Belgium and was played in the Amsterdam,Olympic Stadium. The Belgian team won by 2-3.

11 tal

Unfortunately that was the last official international match he played for the Dutch national team. He did play several international matches on club level against the Irish Champions F.C. Bohemian,, and also against English teams like Port Vale and Stoke.

In 1934 he was sacked by VUC but the Dutch FA(KNVB) intervened and he was reinstated. However it would be the last season he played Football.

On June 19,1935 he married a single Mother Theodora Antonia Schoonen, unlike Marcus she was not Jewish.

In 1942 a Dutch judge sent Marcus to jail for a minor offence,due to the overcrowding of jails he was sent to Camp Erica,near Ommen instead, in June 1942.

Erica

The camp was designated mostly for Dutchmen convicted of black market trade or resistance to the occupational authorities; only eight Jews were detained here.The camp was notorious for the brutal behaviour of its personnel.

Herbertus Bikker aka The Butcher of Ommen was a member of the Waffen-SS. In this function he served as a guard at the prison and work camp Erika.

Although there were a few Jewish prisoners there, they were particularly harshly treated.

Marcus Lelyveld suffered severe physical abuse in the camp and he eventually died on September 5,1942 as a result of the abuse.

On 19 januari 1943, a second Jewish prisoner,Salomon Roet, dies as a result of severe physical abuse.

What I find very disturbing about these deaths is that they were personal, it wasn’t done by a bullet or by gassing, but by beating, kicking on a one on one basis. Whoever abused these men most of looked in their eyes.

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Sources

Joods Monument

WO2 Slachtoffers

 

The forgotten Live Aid acts.

live aid

On July 13 1985, one of the biggest ever music concerts took place. Live Aid. The aim of the concerts was to raise  funds for relief of the ongoing Ethiopian famine.

The concerts are often referred to as a dual-venue benefit concert, which is actually not true. Yes the main concerts took place in London and Philadelphia but there were other concerts held in tandem in Australia,Asia and other European countries.

Another thing that happened was the relaxing on restrictions to Rock music in the Soviet Union

The Soviet Unions’s  Contribution for Live Aid was the Band ‘Autograph’

USSR LINK

Their performance was broadcast via Satellite from Moscow to Wembley,London.They were introduced by Introduction by Vladimir Posner .They played 2 songs Golovokruzhenie ( ” Vertigo “) and Nam nuzhen nir ( ” We need peace “).

Yugoslavia contributed with their equivalent to Band Aid and USA For Africa with a song called “For a Million Years” the song was introduced by Mladen Popovic , who also gave some background information to the song.

BB King was performing at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague,Netherlands that night and joined also via satellite link and played 4 songs.

“When It All Comes Down”
“Why I Sing the Blues”
“Don’t Answer the Door”
“Rock Me Baby”

BB King

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American-Dutch diplomacy

embassy

On April 19, 1782, John Adams was received by the States-General and the Dutch Republic as they were the first country, together with Morocco and France, to recognize the United States as an independent government. John Adams then became the first U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands and the house that he had purchased at Fluwelen Burgwal 18 in The Hague, became the first U.S. embassy anywhere in the world.

Johnadamsvp.flipped

In July 1780 Adams replaced Laurens as the ambassador to the Dutch Republic, then one of the few other republics in the world, ironically less then 3 decades later it became a monarchy. With the aid of the Dutch Patriot leader Joan van der Capellen tot den Pol, Adams secured the recognition of the United States as an independent government at The Hague on April 19, 1782. In February 1782 the Frisian states was the first Dutch province to recognize the United States, while France had been the first European country to grant diplomatic recognition in 1778. He also negotiated a loan of five million guilders financed by Nicolaas van Staphorst and Wilhelm Willink. By 1794 a total of eleven loans were granted in Amsterdam to the United States with a value of 29 million guilders. In October 1782, he negotiated with the Dutch a treaty of amity and commerce, the first such treaty between the United States and a foreign power following the 1778 treaty with France.The house that Adams bought during this stay in the Netherlands became the first American-owned embassy on foreign soil.(Medallion given to John Adams in 1782 by Johann Georg Holtzhey to mark United States as an independent nation by the Netherlands)800px-Erkenning_onafhankelijkheid_Verenigde_Staten_foto2

 

Adams liked the country. At an earlier visit to the Netherlands in 1780, Adams wrote to his wife Abigail:

“The country where I am is the greatest curiosity in the world. This nation is not known anywhere, not even by its neighbours. The Dutch language is spoken by none but themselves. Therefore they converse with nobody and nobody converses with them.

The English are a great nation, and they despise the Dutch because they are smaller. The French are a greater Nation still, and therefore they despise the Dutch because they are still smaller in comparison to them.

But I doubt much whether there is any nation of Europe more estimable than the Dutch, in proportion. Their industry and economy ought to be examples to the world.

They have less ambition, I mean that of conquest and military glory, than their Neighbours, but I don’t perceive that they have more avarice. And they carry learning and arts I think to greater extent. The collections of curiosities public and private are innumerable.”

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Battle for The Hague-The lost victory

German_PLane_Destroyed

The Battle for The Hague took place on 10 May 1940 as part of the Battle of the Netherlands between the Royal Netherlands Army and Luftwaffe Fallschirmjäger (paratroops). German paratroopers dropped in and around The Hague in order to capture Dutch airfields and the city.

Attack_on_The_Hague_(1940)_EN-en.svg

After taking the city, the plan was to force the Dutch queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands to surrender and to thus defeat the Kingdom of the Netherlands within a single day. The operation failed to capture the Queen, and the German forces failed to hold on to the airfields after Dutch counterattacks. The main body of surviving troops under Von Sponeck retreated toward the nearby dunes where they were continually pursued and harassed by Dutch troops until the Dutch supreme command, due to major setbacks on other fronts, surrendered five days later.

Hans_Graf_von_Sponeck

A German airfleet crossed The Netherlands under cover of darkness and, once over the North Sea, headed back towards the Dutch coast aiming for The Hague, the Dutch seat of government.

Surrounded by fighters and fighter-bombers, a large number of Junkers 52/3m transports carried the 5.000 men of the German 22nd Airborne Division.

images

The audacious objective of this unprecedented massive airborne operation was to seize the three airfields surrounding the city, arrest the Dutch government and capture the Dutch Royal family in their residency.

Attacks on Dutch airfields began at 04.15 and despite the alarm that had gone out around 03.00 (when the German airfleet had crossed the border) many Dutch fighters and bombers were damaged or destroyed on the ground..

The Germans planned to surprise the Dutch and so catch them off guard, allowing them to isolate the head of the Dutch Army. It was their intention to fly over the Netherlands, in order to lull the Dutch into thinking that England was their target. This was to be followed by approaching the country from the direction of the North Sea, attacking the airfields at Ypenburg, Ockenburg and Valkenburg to weaken potential Dutch defenses before taking The Hague. It was expected that the queen and the commander in chief of the Dutch forces, Henri Winkelman, might agree at this point to surrender.

Henri_Winkelman

However, if the Dutch did not surrender, the Germans planned to cut off all roads leading to The Hague in order to quell any subsequent Dutch counter-attack.

Although the German troops managed to capture the three airfields, they failed in their primary objective of taking the city of Hague and forcing the Dutch to surrender. Accordingly, the Dutch Army launched a counter-attack several hours later

The counter-attack was started from Ypenburg. Though outnumbered and relying on ammunition that they had captured from the Germans, the Dutch Grenadier Guards fought their way into position to launch artillery attacks against their own airfield, causing heavy damage to it. Following the attacks, the German troops were forced to evacuate the airfield’s burning buildings, losing their strong defensive position. The Dutch troops were able to advance into the airfield, and in the skirmishes that followed, many of the German soldiers were forced to surrender. Those who did not were eventually defeated.

Four Dutch Fokker T.Vs bombed the Ockenburg airfield,

Fokker_T.V

destroying idle Ju-52 transports.

ju52r13_2

The Dutch troops followed up by storming the airfield. The Germans were forced into retreat, and several were captured. However, some of the German troops withdrew to the woods near the field and successfully defended themselves against the counter-attack. The Dutch forces were later ordered to disengage and turn instead to Loosduinen, and so the Germans were able to head towards Rotterdam.

Having sealed off Leiden and the village of Wassenaar, the Dutch retook an important bridge near Valkenburg. When reinforcements arrived, the Dutch began attacking the Germans on the ground at the same time when Dutch bombers destroyed the grounded transport planes. While the Germans put up a defence at the outskirts of the airfield, they were forced to evacuate under heavy fire. Several skirmishes to liberate occupied positions in the village of Valkenburg nearby were fought between small groups of men on both sides, the Dutch with artillery support from nearby Oegstgeest, the village being heavily damaged in the process.

By the end of 10 May, Dutch forces had retaken the captured airfields, but this tactical victory was to be short lived as on 14th May the German Rotterdam Blitz forced the Dutch armed forces to surrender.

Rotterdam,_Laurenskerk,_na_bombardement_van_mei_1940