Neuengamme concentration camp and the impact on Dutch sports and culture.

Neuenegamme

The SS established the Neuengamme concentration camp on December 13, 1938.It would become the biggest concentration camp in Northwest Germany.In excess of 100,000 inmates would come through Neuengamme and its sub camps.

The death toll would be 42,900.14,000 in the main camp, 12,800 in the sub camps, and 16,100 during the death marches. These numbers are just hard to envisage.

To put it in context the death toll would be the equivalent of the full population of Hoddesdon in the UK, or Draper city in Utah, USA, or Drogheda in the Republic of Ireland.

Drogheda

The death toll had also an impact on sports and culture. I have mentioned Dutch sports and culture because it is nearest to me but undoubtedly it would have had an impact across Europe.

Coen Hissink:

coen

Coen Hissink  was a Dutch film actor of mainly the silent era. He appeared in 25 films between 1914 and 1942. He was also an author. In 1928, he wrote a volume of short stories relating to decadence, homosexuality, prostitution and cocaine. To get the inspiration for the stories , he visited a gay club in Berlin where he snorted cocaine in a bathroom. The book about his experiences was titled Cocaïne: Berlijnsch zeden beeld (Cocaine: Berlin’s vice image).

Cocaine

Any Dutch artist who wanted their works published in the Netherlands had to becomE a member of the” Reichs Kulturkammer” (Reich Chamber of Culture).Hissink refused to do so  and  joined the Resistance instead. In 1941, he was arrested  by the Nazis and sent to  Neuengamme where  he was killed on December 17,1942, age 34.

Jan Campert:

Campert

Jan  Campert  was a journalist, theater critic and writer who resided in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. During the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II He was arrested for helping  Jews. He was also sent to   Neuengamme , where he died on January 12, 1943.

He is most notably known for his poem “Het lied der  achttien dooden”(the songthe eighteen dead) describing the execution of 18 resistance workers (by the German occupier.

Below the English translation of the poem

The Song of the Eighteen Dead

A cell is but six feet long
and hardly six feet wide,
yet smaller is the patch of ground,
that I now do not yet know,
but where I nameless come to lie,
my comrades all and one,
we eighteen were in number then,
none shall the evening see come.

O loveliness of light and land,
of Holland’s so free coast,
once by the enemy overrun
could I no moment more rest.
What can a man of honor and trust
do in a time like this?
He kisses his child, he kisses his wife
and fights the noble fight.

I knew the task that I began,
a task with hardships laden,
the heart that couldn’t let it be
but shied not away from danger;
it knows how once in this land
freedom was everywhere cherished,
before the cursed transgressor’s hand
had willed it otherwise.

Before the oath can brag and break
existed this wretched place
that the lands of Holland did invade
and for ransom her ground has held;
Before the appeal to honor is made
and such Germanic comfort
our people forced under their control
and looted as a thief.

The Catcher of Rats who lives in Berlin
sounds now his melody,—
as true as I shortly dead shall be
my dearest no longer see
and no longer shall the bread be broke
and share a bed with her—
reject all he offers now and ever
that sly trapper of birds.

For all who these words thinks to read
my comrades in great need
and those who stand by them through all
in their adversity tall,
just as we have thought and thought
on our own land and people—
a day does shine after every night,
as every cloud must pass.

I see how the first morning light
through the high window falls.
My God, make my dying light—
and so I have failed
just as each of us can fail,
pour me then Your grace,
that I may like a man then go
if I a squadron must face.

Rein Boomsma:

Boomsma

Rein Boomsma had been  a Dutch football player between 1894–1907. He was a striker for both club,Sparta and the Dutch National team.

Team

From  1936 to 1939 he was a Colonel. Before the invasion during the mobilisation period in 1939, he was commander of Fortress Holland.  After the invasion, he became the commander of the Ordedienst for “Gewest Veluwe” an underground army.

The main objective of this underground army was to maintain contact with the exiled Dutch government in London via coded radio transmissions.

Rein was arrested and imprisoned 3 times for his activities in the underground army. The last time proved to be fatal. He died in Neuengamme on 27 May 1943.

Hans van Walsem:

Walsem

Hans van Walsem ) was a Dutch rower. He competed in the men’s coxed pair event, as the coxswain , at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

1936

The team qualified for the semi finals but unfortunately did not get any medals.

During the war he was a lecturer of chemistry in the Leiden university. He helped establish a small resistance newspaper called  “Ik zal handhaven” meaning I will maintain, which is the motto on the Dutch coat of arms.

The newspaper contained practical instructions on resistance activities. The German authorities arrested Hans and branded him as a fanatic member of the resistance, He was sent to Neuengamme where he died of tuberculosis on January 2. 1943.

Not only were these men heroic in their cultural and sporting endeavors, they were also heroic in standing up to evil and paid the ultimate price for it.

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December 2 1975 Terrorist attacks in the Netherlands.

Train

On December 2, 1975, 7 South Moluccan terrorists hijacked a train with about 50 passengers on board in open countryside near the village of Wijster, halfway between Hoogeveen and Beilen in the northern part of the Netherlands. The hijacking lasted for 12 days and 3 hostages, including the driver were killed.

The terrorists were seeking independence for South Molucca, a group of islands in the Western Pacific under Indonesian rule. Indonesia had been a Dutch colony until the late 1940’s.

At  10:07 the emergency cord was pulled on the local train Groningen-Zwolle.

Simultaneously 7 other south Moluccan terrorists had occupied the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam.

The train driver, Hans Braam, was immediately killed.

When on the third day the Dutch government had not give in to  the hijackers’s demands, 22-year-old national serviceman Leo Bulter was murdered and his body together with Hans Braam’s body  were thrown out of the train on the rails. That night 14 hostages managed to escape from the train.

The following day a young economist Bert Bierling was brought to the doors and shot  in full view of the police and the military as well as the press.

military

On December 11, the terrorists  released two elderly hostages after talks aboard the train with four mediators. This left at least 27 prisoners on the train.

On 14 December the hijackers surrendered. Among reasons for surrender were reports about retaliations on the Moluccan islands and the sub-zero temperatures in and around the train.

The occupation and hostage situation at the Indonesian consulate in Amsterdam ended on December 19. one hostage was killed.

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The forgotten disaster-The DSM disaster.

2018-11-07

Little did I know when I was aged 7, that 2 headlines in a regional newspaper would have links to my life in ways I could never have imagined.

On November 7,1975 2 events were in the Dutch newspapers. One event was a disaster which happened in a chemical plant, the other event was the release of a Dutch business man who had been kidnapped by the IRA.

The chemical plant was DSM, a petrochemical plant in my birthplace Geleen,in the Netherlands. The business man was Dr Herrema who was the Managing Director at the Ferenka steel plant in Limerick,Ireland.

43 years ago I did not think that 22 years later I would move from Geleen to Limerick.

DSM

As the title of the blog is ‘the forgotten disaster’ I will focus on that fateful day 43 years ago where 14 people died.

I deliberately called it the forgotten history because there is really not much to be found on the DSM disaster on most historical sites.One site actually quotes the name incorrectly.

beleven

On November 7,1975 at 9.50 AM  the naphtha cracker II-(Naphtha is a flammable liquid made from distilling petroleum, cracking, is a process in which large hydrocarbon molecules are broken down into smaller and more useful ones)-  was restarted after a revision. Unfortunately the restart didn’t go as planned due to a a pipe breaking in the compression unit.a mixture of liquids compressed was released under high pressure and flowed along the hot furnaces, causing a Vapor Cloud Explosion.

The extreme power of the explosion destroyed many installations around the cracker. In addition, fierce fires arose in pipeline streets and storage tanks.

nafte 2

The explosion was felt in surrounding suburbs and nearby villages.It was not uncommon for windows to tremble in the region,  because there would be regular bangs after the start up of any of the naphtha crackers, but people quickly realized that this was different.

nAFTA

As a 7 year old the experience was different of course. When you would hear a big bang or feel the explosion, there wasn’t a sense of fear but more a sense of excitement. Also the fact we were sent home early was a great bonus.

However soon after  you actually could see the reality.Men you would usually see going to work at the plant in the mornings, at the same time you’d go to school. suddenly weren’t there anymore.

After a while you’d get new neighbors  because families affected by the disaster moved out.

14 people died and 109 were injured that day.It would take 5 days for all fires to be extinguished.

vuur

Yet in the wider world the disaster has been forgotten even Dutch historical sites barely mention it and sometimes when they do they have the facts wrong.

Many people of my age and older still vividly remember the disaster and the aftermath of it. Ever since that day there was always the fear that something like this could happen again.

I remember in 1994 or 1995 there was an incident where an US Airforce AWACS plane flew over the DSM. and it got into some difficulties.

AWACS

The pilot had called the air control at the nearest airport, which was Maastricht-Aachen Airport. They had to drop some kerosene in order to land safely at their base, which was nearby in Germany. The air controller gave the pilot the okay to do so, not realizing the plane was directly over the torch of the naphtha cracker 4 at the time.(a burning installation where the waste product of the naphtha is burned)

nak 4

Even though the AWACS plane was high above the area , if the torch had been operational at the time the kerosene still could have gone into it potentially causing a major disaster.Aside from that the code the pilot had given was a military code which also could have meant dropping bombs.although the AWACS planes do not carry any weaponry.

This incident was highlighted on a investigative current affair program on Dutch TV a few months after it happened.The show had actually been about mistakes made at several air control centres across Europe, and I had just watched it by chance, I had switched over from another channel during the commercial break.

Chemelot

 

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Sources

Limburgs Dagblad

DSM

Chemelot

YouTube

The last train journey of 2 sisters.

Bergen BelsnTwo sisters, the younger one lively,outgoing and bubbly, the older one a bit more reserved and shy.

Two sisters who were very different and yet in many ways the same,

On this day in 1944 they both boarded a train. Not to go a big city to go for a shopping spree or to the cinema, like so many teenage girls would have done because it is one of the most normal things for young girls to do.

Nor did they go on a school trip or a holiday.

You see it was not that kind of train where you could sit down relax and enjoy the scenery,slowly passing by your window.

The train these girls were pushed in to was not fit for human beings, but they were not seen as human beings. They were seen as a disease, a plague of some sorts. Vermin and subhumans they were called.

The train left Auschwitz and headed for Bergen Belsen, a journey from one hell to another.

The two girls were Anne and Margot Frank.The dates of their deaths is not even exactly known, either February or March 1945. All that is certain they died in Bergen Belsen just a few weeks before it was liberated.

anne and margot

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They gave their today for our tomorrow.

1

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

Our tomorrow was sacred to them.

They gave their today for our tomorrow..

Sacrificing their own lives for those they would never meet.

They gave their today for our tomorrow..

A tomorrow which we should cherish even more.

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

Their bravery should forever be remembered and ingrained in our hearts.

They gave their today for our tomorrow.

To those who gave their today for my tomorrow, I bow humbly and respectfully and hope I was worth your sacrifice.

(The picture above is of a badly injured US soldier receivING the last Sacrament from Chaplain Anthony Dolavira of Brooklyn, somewhere behind the lines in France. The pictures below are of the Netherlands American War Cemetery in Margraten)

2

 

3

 

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Turning a blind eye

Blind eye

I would love to say there was not a single person in the Netherlands who turned a blind eye to the brutal Nazi regime and especially in relation  the treatment of their fellow citizens, who happened to be Jewish. But I’d be telling a lie.

There were many who at risk of their own lives helped the Jews escape or hid them. In February 1941 there was a massive national strike in protests against the treatment of the Jews,

And although there was a relative small percentage who actively helped the Nazis there were many who did nothing and turned a blind eye.

The Dutch Railways played an active part in the transportation and often the trains were driven by Dutch machinists.

Trein I don’t want to be hypocritical about it because I don’t know what I would have done, I’d like to believe I would have resisted but since I was never put in that situation I don’t know.

Many did see their fellow citizens being put on a train and didn’t question why their neighbours,friends,colleagues or schoolmates were deported. Partially because of fear for their own lives but also because they maybe just didn’t want to know,ignorance is bliss they say.

There was also this culture enshrined in the Dutch psyche to follow the orders of the authorities, without too many questions being asked.

trein 2

I am proud to be a Dutch man for there were many heroes who did so many selfless acts of bravery and they are my examples. But I also have to acknowledge there are black pages in my country’s history which should never be forgotten.

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SS and Nazis in the Dutch Coalmines

mijn

The most southern province of the Netherlands, Limburg, in the south east of the country used to be a rural area with mainly farming as employment opportunities, However in the late 19th and early 20th century something nicknamed “black gold” was discovered in the southern part of the province, this ‘black gold’ was coal.

The Dutch government exploited the discovery of coal by building 4 coal mines.

-Staatsmijn Wilhelmina in Terwinselen
-Staatsmijn Emma in Treebeek/Hoensbroek (1911 – 1973)
-Staatsmijn Hendrik in Brunssum (1915 – 1963)
-Staatsmijn Maurits in Lutterade-Geleen (1926 -1967)

Maurits

Although the mines brought jobs and prosperity it didn’t come without costs.The mine workers would receive a relatively high wage , the work was very physical and sometimes emotionally draining .A great number of mine workers  would not retire because of Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis(aka black lung disease)or Silicosis, they would die at a young age.

Lungs

During WWII the mines were exploited by the German occupiers, and the coal would be used for the German war effort.

Some dutch men had signed up to the SS and were also members of the NSB, The Dutch Nazi party. After the war some several hundreds of these men were imprisoned in Prisoner of War camps.

43743591_1034093993434756_2737810057973465088_nThey were sentenced  to work in the coal mines by the Dutch government and the Allied forces , mainly in the Maurits and the Emma.

43677268_1034096520101170_7400280748961300480_n

After their shifts they were made to walk back to the camp from the mine. Those working in the Maurits had to walk back to prisoner camp ‘Graetheide’ which was a 12-15 km march.

43749124_1034053120105510_7362689172257112064_n

Some records indicate that some men were sentenced to 25 years labor in the mines, but since the last mine closed in 1969 it is a clear indications that those sentences were reduced. Despite the hard labor in the mines they were let off easy.

Donation

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Sources

Demijnen.nl

Nostal Gia

 

Old enough

Oudgenoeg

My name is Frouktje Oudgenoeg, I am aged 2. My last name means Old enough.

That is exactly what I am.

I am old enough to sing and dance.

I am old enough to play outside in the garden, come rain or shine.

I am old enough to get my face dirty with jam and chocolate and old enough to get my hands all muddy.

I am old enough to have love given to me in abundance.

I am old enough to wake up at night because of a nightmare.

However I am not old enough to live in a nightmare.

I am not old enough to experience hate

I am not old enough to be deprived from everything that is good in this world.

I am not old enough to die.

And I am certainly not old enough to be brutally murdered.

Yes I was murdered at Auschwitz-Birkenkau on November 2,1942, age 2.

I hope I will be old enough to be remembered by you.

Forbidden for Jews

1

The Holocaust didn’t start with the mass extermination of Jews, it started in ways which could even be considered non violent, with gradually excluding Jews from society.

In this blog there are some examples of signs sating ~Forbidden for Jews” or”No Jews allowed” from several locations in the Netherlands.

On the signs above it says dogs are not allowed to walk freely, in other words they were allowed in the park but on a lead. Underneath it says “Forbidden for Jews” this indicates that dogs had more privileges than Jews.

Sign at the entrance of a shop

2

Sign on the door of a cinema

3

Sign at a butcher shop in Amsterdam

5

Propaganda was also used to isolate and alienate the Jewish population, the poster below shows the blatant disrespect and hate against Jews and others.

It says “Goering has forbidden vivisection on animals, we have enough Jews and Marxists to use instead.”

cartoon

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Source

Verzetsmuseum Amsterdam

NIOD

 

October 5,1942- The Bombing of Geleen.

Geleen 1

October 5th,1942, was one of the darkest if not the darkest days of WWII for my hometown of Geleen, at the time it was a small mining town in the south east of the Netherlands, in the province of Limburg.

Shortly after 21.30 the alarms sounded,warning the population of an imminent attack. The bombing  did happen  between 21:55 and 23:10. But it wasn’t the Luftwaffe but the RAF.

A squadron of 257 RAF bombers were on the way to Aachen in Germany , to bomb the mine’Anna’ in the German city near the Dutch border. However due to bad weather , and limited vision 30 of the 257 bombers had deviated from their course, When they had reached Geleen and  saw the Statesmine ‘Maurits’ they mistakingly believed they had reached Aachen and therefore they dropped their load.

aerial

The bombing resulted in 83 being killed,  57 houses totally destroyed , severely damaging 227 more house and causing further damage to another 1728 homes.

geleen 2

Additionally  13 coal miners were killed in the raid, the Maurits was heavily damaged and it took fire crews from several cities to help extinguish the fires caused by the bombing. There were even fire crews which came from Rotterdam which is about 200 KM away from the mine to help with the fires.

geleen 3

 

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a 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. Thanks 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

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Source

NIOD