Why the story of Edith Stein is still relevant.

Edith Stein

An increasing amount of people say that stories of the Holocaust are no longer relevant and should be left in the past. I don’t subscribe to that point of view, remembering the Holocaust is now more important then it ever has been.In a time where some politicians are making policies based on hate, it is relevant to remember it could cost the lives of millions.

The story of Edith Stein also has personal relevance to me. It is a story that intrigues me for it shows how much the Nazis hated the Jewish people, for, and I do apologize for the phrase but I don’t think there is any other way of saying it. to the Nazis once a Jew always a Jew. It also highlights an ignorance I had as a youngster.

I will not go to deep into the life of Edith Stein because so much is already written about her, and I will not be able to add any value to that.

1938

Edith Stein was born to Jewish parents in Breslau on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11. In 1921 she converted to Catholicism, as did her sister Rosa Stein.

Edith entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery St. Maria vom Frieden (Our Lady of Peace) in Cologne in 1933 and took the religious name of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

In 1933 the Nazis also came to power, according to their Nuremberg Race laws both Edith and her sisters were considered to be Jewish, despite the conversion to Catholicism, therefor to avoid persecution by the Nazis, Edith and her sister were transferred to a monastery in Echt in the Netherlands.

Klooster

As I mentioned my youthful ignorance before, Echt is only about 15 km away from my birthplace. It is a small town in the province of Limburg in the south east of the Netherlands. In my late teens and early twenties I would often frequent a nightclub’the Majestic’ in Echt. which was really a stones throw away from the monastery. I also would go their by train and would get off on the very same station which was used decades earlier to transport Edith and Rosa to Camp Amersfoort. And I was completely oblivious to all of that.

station

The Stein sisters were arrested by the SS on 2 August 1942. They were imprisoned at the concentration camps of Amersfoort and Westerbork before being deported to Auschwitz. A Dutch official at Westerbork was so impressed by Edith’s  sense of faith and calm, he offered her an escape plan. She  refused his assistance, stating, “If somebody intervened at this point and took away her chance to share in the fate of her brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation”

Edith and Rosa among 985 other Jews were sent to Auschwitz on August 7,1942. It is believed that Edith and her sister both died in the gas chambers on August 9th 1942.

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Nazi Sport propaganda in the Netherlands.

 

NSBSport was important in the Nazi ideology. Often athletes would be portrayed as warriors and many German athletes were drafted into the several branches of the Wehrmacht.

The Nazi also understood the power of sport as Propaganda and especially in a sports loving country like the Netherlands, the Nazis saw merit in promoting sports.

The poster below is advertising an evening of Sports on March 12 1941. The evening will include Cycling,Boxing,Singing and Music.Organized by the W.A. the military branch of the NSB(Dutch National Socialists)

wa

On January  10 1942, an international youth boxing tournament was organized between the Netherlands and Germany.

boxin.JPG

Even in some of the concentration camps sports was encouraged. In camp Schoorl a hurdle match was held. Looking at the height of the hurdles it appears to me it was designed to cause harm.

Kamp Schoorl

schoorl

Between 19-21 September 1941 a light athletics tournament was hosted for the SS and Heer troops posted in the Netherlands.

ss.JPG

Football has always been the most favourite sports in the Netherlands, On December 12 and 13 1942, 2 matches between Germany’s top team München 1860 and the Wehrmacht were planned. I suspect this was also to show the Dutch how superior the Germans were.The 1st match was played in the Hague and the 2nd in Amsterdam

1860

These sporting events weren’t arranged for the good of the people or to entertain them but to distract from the horrors and the crimes committed by the Nazi occupiers.

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The Children of Castle Hoensbroek

Kinderen Hoesnbroek

I came across the above picture a few years ago and the information I got with it is that the children in the picture were orphans, staying with the nuns in Castle Hoensbroek, in Limburg .the south east of the Netherlands

However all the children had been placed under guardianship. They originally came from a town in North-Holland called Velsen where they had been students of a boarding school ,run by Nuns.

In October 1942 the German occupiers had ordered the boarding school to be evacuated, for it was going to be demolished. The Germans were going to build a 5 km long defense line and the boarding school was in the way.

Frantically the nuns looked for an alternative accommodation. They were offered the castle Hoensbroek in December 1942. They moved in on December 23 just in time for the Christmas celebrations. The distance between Velsen and Hoensbroek is about 200km. For the children that must have felt like moving to the other side of the world.

Hoensbroek

The children lived a relatively undisturbed live in the castle. Several times it had been declared unsuitable for the Germany army. However a few days before liberation there were a few nervous moments.

Kinderen

Some SS men on leave. had stayed in the adjacent farm and had been throwing hand grenades in the canals surrounding the castle, just for fun. They had also been walking around naked.

On September 12, 1944 a highly placed SS officer had visited the castle for inspection, he was told there was no room. His reply was not too worry about that, the SS would make some room, while he was looking around at the yard where the children were playing at  the time.But he left.

The following day another highly placed SS officer,with a limp, came to the castle but he too left.

On September 17, 1944 Hoensbroek was liberated by the allied forces. As a part of the celebrations the children were dressed up in the traditional clothing of the Velsen-Volendam region. The pictures taken were send to the US to show the people there that the troops had arrived in the Netherlands.

klederdracht

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The Civil Servants part in the Dutch Holocaust.

BEWIJS

I am proud of my country and I am a proud Dutch man, the fact I live somewhere else does not change this. However it would be hypocritical of me to say that the Netherlands has nothing to be ashamed off, because it certainly does.

The Dutch have a reputation to be reliable and diligent in their work and mostly that is true. But this same diligence combined with complacency and staying conform to policies,regardless who is in charge has contributed to the death of thousands.

deportatie.JPG Despite being a  neutral country, the Netherlands was invaded on the morning of 10 May 1940.

As the country was occupied it   was controlled by a German civilian governor, unlike it’s southern neighbour Belgium which which was under German military control. The civil government, the Reichskommissariat Niederlande, was headed by the Austrian Nazi Arthur Seyss-Inquart.

seyss

The Dutch civil service, however, adopted an accommodating approach to the Germans. And I don’t want to judge here because I don’t know what I would have done.

The Dutch elite also had an ‘understanding’ with the German occupiers, and sometimes even played an active role in the persecution of Jews.

One Civil Servant in particular went out of his way to please his new paymaster.

Jacobus  Lentz was vital in developing a personal identity card, to be carried by all Dutch citizens.

Jacobus Lentz

The idea of a national identity card was rejected by the Dutch government in early 1940, for it went against Dutch traditions, an national identity card with assume that every Dutch person was a potential criminal.

A few months later though, Lentz was able to sell the idea of a personal identity card to the German occupier. And in April 1941 every Dutch person above the age of 14 was obliged to carry an ID Card.

The ID Card gave the Germans a powerful tool to carry out its oppressive policies.The Identity Card was of such a good quality that it was seen as the best in Europe, and the resistance never really succeeded in forging them properly.

Especially when it came to the persecution of Jews in the Netherlands it proved to be invaluable for the Nazis, Every Jewish ID Card was stamped with a J.

Jood

The system of the personal Identity cards has cost the lives of thousands, because it made it so easy to find Jews but also members of the resistance.

Jacob Lentz was also eager to register every full blood Jew. On January 10th 1941 every Jew of full or partial Jewish blood was obliged to register.Once they registered they received a letter to confirm they were registered.

Letter

By September 5 1941,Lentz was able to tell his German paymasters the exact number of Jews living in the Netherlands.

Full blooded Jews 140,552

Half blooded Jews 14,549

Quarter Blooded Jews 5,719

Many of them died, it is estimated that 75% of the Jews residing in the Netherlands perished during the Holocaust.

After the war he received a prison sentence of only 3 years. It was judged the Jacob Lentz was the prime example of someone doing his job without looking at the bigger picture and not considering the consequences.

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jck.nl

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The lonely journey of Otto Frank on the Monowai steamship.

Monowai

I am a father of 3 children and every time they leave the house a million scenarios go through my head of things that could happen to them, but I am not unique in this for it  is what fathers and mothers do, they worry for their kids.

Otto Frank was a father and a husband to 2 beautiful daughters and a remarkable wife, I just can’t fathom the anxiety he must have felt on the 4th of August 1944, when the Gestapo raided the annex of the building, Otto and his family had been hiding in since July 6 1942.

annex

The uncertainty of the fate of his family must have driven him to the brink of insanity.

On the 22nd of  April 1945, a few weeks before the end of the war in Europe, the Monowai,flying the New Zealand flag,  set sail from England for Odessa on the Black Sea.it was carrying 1600 Soviets who had been captured serving with the Germans in France. The Manowai then embarked Jewish Holocaust survivors from Western Europe, on of them was Otto Frank – who had been liberated from the Auschwitz death camp on January 27th 1945. by the Soviet army. On 21 May the ship traveled with the Jewish survivors   from Odessa to Marseille, where it arrived on the 27th of May.

Marseille

While aboard the Monowai, Otto Frank wrote the following letter:

“The closer we get to home the greater our impatience to hear from our loved ones. Everything that’s happened the past few years! Until our arrest I don’t know exactly what caused it, even now, at least we still had contact with each other. I don’t know what’s happened since then. Kugler and Kleiman and especially Miep and her husband and Bep Voskuil provided us with everything for two whole years, with incomparable devotion and sacrifice and despite all danger.

I can’t even begin to describe it. How will I ever begin to repay everything they did. But what has happened since then? To them, to you to Robert (His brother). Are you in touch with Julius and Walter? (Edith’s brothers) All our possessions are gone. There won’t be a pin left, the Germans stole everything. Not a photo, letter or document remains. Financially we were fine in the past few years, I earned good money and saved it. Now it’s all gone. But I don’t think about any of that. We have lived through too much to worry about that kind of thing. Only the children matter, the children. I hope to get news from you immediately. Maybe you’ve already heard news about the girls”

By this time Otto had discovered that his wife, Edith, had died at Auschwitz

This letter broke my heart. We know so much about Anne through her diary and also but to a lesser extend about Margot, but none of us can ever imagine the pain Otto felt when he heard the news about his daughters.

Frank

The sad thing is that Anne Frank’s diary did not have to be published if the US had not cancelled the Frank’s visa in December 1941, just after Germany had declared war to the US.  I am not accusing the US government but it is sad nonetheless.

The even sadder thing is that Otto Frank was accused of tempering with Anne’s diary. I really don’t understand the mindset of people like that. accusing a man who lost everything. To me he is a hero who despite everything kept his sanity and ensured that the story of his daughter and the rest of his family would be told.

Otto Frank died of lung cancer on 19 August 1980 in Basel.

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Source

New Zealand History

Wikipedia

 

8301

20180602_125129.jpg

8301, not just a number or mathematical equation.

8301 sacrifices made for the freedom of others.

8301 young lives ended by violence

8301 heroes

8301 reasons why we should never forget what hate,ignorance and intolerance can do.

8301. although a large number it is only a small percentage of the overall sacrifices made.

8301 men whose future was taken.

8301 who found their final resting place in Margraten,the Netherlands.

20180602_130749.jpg

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Transport 64:Westerbork-Sobibor

Westerbork

The Transport 64  from Westerbork in the Netherkands , was the designated transport number for the moving of 2511 people to Sobibor in Poland, on May 18th 1943.(The transport also had designated number 12, there would often be more numbers for 1 transport)

Trein

Most of them were residents of the city of Nijmegen. In the middle of the night 17/18 May they were taken from their homes by the SS and NSB.

The journey would take 3 days, those 3 days were the last days of the 2511 alive.Among these 2511 were,620 children. One of those  children was 10 year old Lotte Löbenstein .

cHILD

As they arrived in Sobibor all 2511 were led straight to the gas chambers and were killed.All that was left of these people were their names on a list, a number, no longer seen as a human being.

Lijst

 

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Stichting Sobibor

Joods Monument

 

 

The effects of Operation Market Garden are still being felt today.

Garden

Operation Market Garden started on September 17 1944. It was supposed to end the war in the Netherlands.But the operation failed, as a result the war was prolonged for several months,compounded with one of the severest winters on record it resulted in a famine for the northern provinces.

POW

But there was more,as a form of reprisal the Germans started stealing everything valuable they could find. although Market Garden failed the Germans knew the war was coming to an end and they would be on the losing side.

Dr J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem, stored 6 works of art in a bank vault for safekeeping during the Second World War.

Dr

One of the pieces was a painting called The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt The paintings were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis plundered the town.Although the instructions were given not to loot the banks a German officer called Temmler paid no attention to those instructions.

Even Himmler had warned about Temmler, he said he would bring disrespect to the Nazi party, killing millions was okay, but stealing art was disrespectful.

The painting then made a bit of a mysterious journey. In 1971 was acquired by the property  Harold Samuel,  it had  painting reappeared on the Swiss art market ,a few decades after the war, where Harold Samuel bought it

Harold Samuel  bequeathed the painting to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe uncovered the history of the painting and discovered the rightful owners. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the daughter of Dr van Gelder,she is now aged 97.

It was returned to her in November 2017.

The painting will go on auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018, estimated value 2.5 Million Pounds Sterling.

oyster meal

 

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BBC

Sotheby’s

Rembrandt’s tragedies

Nachtwacht

There is this funny riddle, it goes like “What’s Rembrandt’s first name?” Rembrandt of course is his first name, his last name is van Rijn.

But unlike the riddle his life wasn’t funny. He suffered many tragedies in his life.He got married on June 22 1634 to Saskia van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt en Saskia.JPG

Saskia was the cousin of a friend of Rembrandt,Hendrick van Uylenburgh, Hendrick was also an art dealer. and when Rembrandt first moved to Amsterdam he stayed with  van Uylenburgh.

Rembrandt and Saskia got married in the local church of St. Annaparochie without the any of Rembrandt’s family being present.

Their first born, a son by the name Rumbartus died in 1635, only 2 months after birth.Their first daughter Cornelia died in 1638, she was only 3 weeks old. Their second daughter also called Cornelia died in 1640 who barely lived for a month.

In 1941 their 4th child, a son called Titis was born.Saskia died in 1642 most likely from tuberculosis. Titus survived into adulthood and became a monk for a while.

Monk Titus

Rembrandt never remarried but he did have a long term relationship with Hendrickje Stoffels, who had initially been his maid. They had a daughter together in 1654, and to no surprise she was called Cornelia, who died in 1684 in Batavia, Java, Indonesia.

His son Titus did marry Magdalena van Loo, the daughter of a Silversmith.

Rembrandt outlived both Hendrickje, who died in 1663, and Titus, who died in 1668, leaving a baby daughter,Titia. He died within a year of his son, on 4 October 1669 in Amsterdam. His son’s wife and mother-in-law also died in 1669.

selfie

 

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The first broadsheet newspaper

Oudste_krant_Nederland_1618

On this day 400 years ago the first Dutch newspaper was published. Courante uyt Italien, Duytslandt, &c. was the first Dutch newspaper and published weekly. The paper does not reveal the name of the printer or the publisher, but based on similar papers published later, it is thought that Joris Veseler was the printer and Caspar van Hilten its editor and publisher.

It was a regular weekly publication. It can be called the first broadsheet paper, because it was issued in folio-size. Before this, news periodicals had been pamphlets in quarto-size.

The Courante appeared until about 1672 and was then merged with the Ordinarisse Middel-Weeckse Courant and the Ordinaris Dingsdaegse Courant into the Amsterdam Courant, which eventually merged with De Telegraaf in 1903.

telegraaf

Stanley Morison and some other authors regard the Courante as the world’s first proper newspaper. In their view, the earlier news periodicals, such as the German Relation: aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien and the Avisa Relation oder Zeitung, were not newspapers but pamphlets or newsbooks. They argue that the Courante was the first to express the typographic conventions that have been associated with newspapers ever since.
Two years after starting the Courante, Veseler printed the first newspaper in English for the publisher Pieter van den Keere. It followed the format of the Courante.
After the very beginning, English news periodicals reverted to the pamphlet form. However, in 1665 the Oxford Gazette was published following the style of the Dutch Courante and that ended the era of the newsbooks in England.

courante

 

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