Dr. Leonhard Levy.

LRVY

I often wonder how many really died during the Holocaust and where they did stop being considered a fatality of the Holocaust?

I think the real numbers are much higher because I don’t think the numbers include victims who died after the war as a direct result of the Holocaust.

Dr. Leonhard Levy was born July 14, 1898, in Hamburg .He married Gertraud Friedländer  in April 1943. I wish I could say more about him, but unfortunately there is not much more I found out. The only thing I know, but I don’t even know for certain is that at some stage he moved to the Netherlands.

What I do know for certain is that he had been imprisoned in Bergen Belsen concentration camp and was liberated from there. However due to the hardships he had endured while imprisoned, he had become very ill.He eventually still succumbed to the horrors of Bergen Belsen and died on November 23,1945,in Vaals , the Netherlands more then 6 Months after the liberation of the Netherlands.

Dutch Notification

He was laid to rest on November 26,1945 in a Cemetery in Maastricht.I know it’s not much but the only consolations is that he died a free man surrounded by people who loved him. His wife survived the war.

begraaf

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Wim Kan’s World War 2 years.

WIM

Anyone living outside the Netherlands or the Flemish speaking part of Belgium will probably have never heard of Wim Kan.

It is actually not that easy to describe what he was, his title was cabaretier ,which is French for Cabaret performer. But I think the term ‘stand up comedian’ would be more relevant nowadays, even though that doesn’t really describe it accurately either.Because he cracked jokes, sang songs he had written himself, told stories.

He was one of the ‘Great 3’ cabaret acts of the Netherlamds, together with Win Sonneveld and Toon Hermans.

3

In 1936, he established the ABC Cabaret, which soon became one of the most successful Dutch cabaret groups, in which several artists debuted who later became famous.Wim Kan’s wife,Corry Vonk, was also a member of the group.

In 1940, the ABC Cabaret was touring the Dutch East Indies.(Now called Indonesia)While they were on tour in Indonesia, which was a Dutch Colony at the time, Germany invaded the Netherlands therefor Wim Kan and his Cabaret company could not return to the Netherlands.

POSTER

On 8 December 1941, the Dutch government-in-exile declared war on Japan. Wim Kan was called as a conscript with the KNIL. The Royal Dutch Indies army. He was assigned to  the Department of War as a radio broadcaster.By March 1942 all of Indonesia was occupied by Japan.On Friday the 13th of March, Wim Kan was made a prisoner of war, with POW number 71502.

He survived 13 Japanese camps. Probably because of his fame he ,did enjoy some protection of hard physical labour, but he was not completely exempt from working on the Burma railway.

railway

While he was in the camps he did do what he always done, entertain. He continued doing shows albeit in adapted form, and he continued writing songs. He also kept a diary of his years under captivity. These diaries were only released relatively recently.

Mt Dros, who was one of the 15,170 Dutchmen who survived the Burma Railway, said in an interview with a Dutch newspaper” The performances of Wim Kan were like small rays of light, and made us feel like we were home in the Netherlands again albeit for a short time.”

Shortly after the war ,on November 6,1945 Wim Kan staged a benefit show in Bangkok  for former prisoners of war. The show was called ‘Mystery in Budapest’

AFFICHE

Wim Kan and his wife returned to the Netherlands in 1948, where he became an even bigger star as when he was before the war.

When the Japanese Emperor Hirohito came for a state visit to the Netherlands October 1971, Wim Kan strongly protested and urged the Dutch government to get the Emperor tried for war crimes.

Wim Kan died age 72 on September 8, 1983.

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Sources

Trouw.nl

NIOD.nl

New York Times

Dutch Wikipedia

 

 

 

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Scrappy invaluable bits of paper.

letter

This week the painting with the name “Haystacks” by Claude Monet was sold for $110 Million.But that value pales compared to the value of the scrappy bits of paper which contained the last words of those who were killed in the Holocaust.

Those bits of paper are invaluable and no amount of money on earth, could ever reflect their value.

The letter at the start of the blog was written by Martijn Konijn on January 11,1943 It was mots probably smuggled out of Westerbork, It is not clear to who it was addressed to but it must have been either a Brother or Sister in Law. The letter is in Dutch but below is the translation.

“Westerbork 11/1 ‘43

I write you because than I am sure it will arrive.

Today on transport to the east I salute you all family and friends.

I hope you won’t forget me en hope to see all of you again.

Don’t send anything to Westerbork because I won’t be there.

Show all people who know me, this card. It is a pity but cannot do anything about it.

Bye. Your brother in law Martijn.

MARTIJN KONIJN Westerbork B66.

The latter below was the last sign of life of Leendert Arbeid. he died in 26 February 1943.

Leendert

It can’t make out the address at the to of the letter but it was written on February 23,1942. This letter is also in Dutch .

letter 2

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today we went on transport.Think as long as possible about Jeff and Stella who are in Vught(another camp).Warn the family, also Abram and Gina, Hoping to see each other again some day. Leendert en Jet.

Many kisses and greetings to everyone also (can’t make out the first name) Bandy and Sophie.

Leendert had been married to Henriette Achtsteribbe(I believe he calls her Jet in the letter). They got married on March 24,1920. They both died on February 26, 1943 in Auschwitz.

akte

The story of Louis van Leeuwen is probably the saddest of the three. His famly don’t even know the exact date or place where he died.

louis van leeuwen

The Dutch Red Cross declared on the 27th of  November 1951 that Louis died   not earlier than 15-01-1945 and latest 02-02-1945, somewhere in the Middle of Europe,either Auschwitz or Gross Rosen.

declaratie

Below is the last letter Louis wrote, he addressed it to his wife but I could not trace the name of his wife, the letter is in Dutch with the English translation below.

Louis

 

“Dearest wife

In relation to my health, I am well, Via this way I want to let you know that Riba and many other seamstresses have received a letter to come to the “Centralstelle” with proof of identification to receive a stamp.Inform yourself once more how it is with(after that there is a line I couldn’t read because it was in a crease of the paper)

I got dressed again but I will stay at home, therefore my value won’t decrease because I remain at home the whole day.

Strength in your knees and much power/

Your loving husband and reliance.

Louis van Leeuwen”

Louis’s sister was Roza van Leeuwen. She married Salomon Arbeid in July 1948. Salomon was the son of Leendert and Henriette Arbeid.

Bruidspaar

Although those last few words of those three men were written on scrappy bits of pieces. Those bits of papers have become invaluable for their loved ones who survived.

 

 

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Sources

Holocaust History Archive

Joods Monument.

 

Major Jan Linzel- WW2 Hero.

Major Linzen

On May 5,2019 on the 74th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. One of the heroes who contributed to this liberation passed away aged 103.

Like me he was Dutch and like me he had a love for Ireland and we both ended up making this emerald isle our home. But where I am merely a simpleton ,writing about history. I could only aspire to even reach 10% of the man Major Linzel was. He a true hero.

The WWII veteran had moved to Ireland in 1978 after he, his wife Marianne and their teenage son began holidaying in Glengarriff , in Co Cork five years earlier and fell in love with the locality.

Major Linzen was the last survivor of the Royal Dutch Air Force that tried to repel the Luftwaffe when Germany declared war on the Netherlands on May 10, 1940

Born in  Stadskanaal, a town of the North Eastern province Groningen the Netherlands on December 7th 1915, He  always had a keen interested in flying and, after joining the Royal Dutch Air Force in May 1938, was attached to a fighter squadron at Ypenburg when Germany declared war on the Netherlands on May 10th 1940.

He shot down two German fighters before being hit himself and bailing out with a bullet wound in the leg.

plane

In an interview with the Irish Times , 3 years ago he recalled that ‘dogfight’, in his Fokker DXX1

“I saw the silhouette of an aircraft that I had never seen before… I then saw the German markings and gave a short burst – a very bright violent flame came out of its right engine and then black smoke – it went down straight away,” he recalled.

“I climbed up again and saw a large formation of Heinkels in the direction of the Hague – I dived down to on the hindmost right aircraft and fired everything I had at close range – I am sure I hit it but I did not have time to see the result.

“When I pulled away, a bullet came through the floor and exploded in my thigh – there was a lot of blood and I started to feel faint. I threw off the hood and bailed out – you have no idea how quiet it is when you are hanging in the air.”

fokker

Landing in a field of cows, Major Linzel lay there wounded for almost two hours as a local dairy farmer reckoned he was a German paratrooper but when the farmer finally approached, Major Linzel told him that he was “as Dutch as your cows over there”

He was taken to a hospital together with some German pilots, were he was discharged after 6 weeks.

Undeterred, he joined the Dutch Resistance before making his way to Britain,via Switzerland, France, Spain and Portugal,in 1943 where he joined the RAF with whom he flew almost 100 sorties.

Members of the Royal Netherlands Air Force gathered in a quiet country graveyard in West Cork on Thursday,May 9th.2019 to honour one of the last of their famous May Fliers who defended their country against the Nazis.

RIP

Majoor Linzel, Rust in Vrede en bedankt wat U voor uw Vadeland en Koningkrijk gedaan hebt.

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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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Sources

Irish Times

Examiner

Irish Sun

 

May 10,1940- The Day that shocked the Netherlands.

War

Perhaps the Dutch government were naive to believe that they would able to stay neutral like they did in WWI. Perhaps they thought they had nothing to fear from the Germans.

However when Germany invaded Norway and Denmark in April 1940, it became clear that neutrality was no protection. Frantically the Dutch started to prepare for war.

nijmegen

On the th of  May 1940, the Vatican advised the Dutch envoy to the Vatican that the Germans planned to invade France through the low countries. With the blessing of the Pope, the Vatican sent a coded radio message to its nuncios in Brussels and The Hague. The messages were intercepted by the Nazis.

The Dutch didn’t stand a chance against the overwhelming power of the German army.

Hours before dawn on the 10th of May, the Luftwaffe swept over the Netherlands, bombing the defenses around key targets. Around 4:30 AM, more planes followed, dropping paratroopers.

An attack on The Hague was a failure. Paratroopers tried to capture the city and its airfield but were defeated by the Dutch defenders. This prevented the Germans from landing planes full of troops there.

Germany had commenced operation Fall Gelb and attacked the Netherlands, without a declaration of war given before hostilities.

para troopers

The Dutch army gave a good fight but after  the devastating bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe on 14 May, the Germans threatened to bomb other Dutch cities if the Dutch forces refused to surrender. The General Staff knew it could not stop the bombers and ordered the Dutch army to cease hostilities.

It was also deemed essential that Queen Wilhelmina be brought to safety; she left around noon from Hoek van Holland, where a British Irish Guards battalion was present, on HMS Hereward, a British destroyer, but the presence of   sea mines made it too dangerous to try to reach Zealand, she therefore went to England.

hereward

At 05:00 on 15 May a German messenger reached The Hague, inviting Winkelman, the Commander-in-chief of the Armed forces of the Netherlands,to Rijsoord for a meeting with von Küchler to negotiate the articles of a written capitulation document. Both quickly agreed on most conditions, Winkelman declaring to have surrendered army, naval and air forces.

Winkelman

Below some photographic impressions of the 10th of May 1940 and the aftermath of what would be the biggest shock to the Netheralnds.

Two downed German luftwaffe planes.One plane is at the side of the road, the other one at the back of the road.

plane

A German Wehrmacht soldier taking position on the top of the ‘steenberg'(stone mountain) of the Sates mine Maurits in Geleen,shortly after the Germans had crossed the border on May 10.

maurits

Members of a German Propaganda division in Rotterdam May 14,1940.

propaganda

Rotterdam in ruins.

Rotterdam

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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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Sources

Rijksmuseum

War History on Line

One last song

betty

I want to sing one last song , maybe “Hoedje van Papier” (hat made out of paper) my Dad sings that for me everyday and I know all the words.

I want to draw one more picture. Perhaps of a butterfly who sits still on a tulip in the garden.

I want to have one more ice cream, vanilla flavour if you don’t mind.

I want to hear my Mother read to me one more time. The Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales I like the most.

I want to feel the warmth of the sun one more time.

I want to sing one more song, but I can’t.

I am Betty Vredenburg daughter of Abracham and Rachel.

Born in Amsterdam on May 6th 1940, 4 days before the Nazis came.

I want to sing one more song, but my voice was silenced on May 22,1944 in Auschwitz. I was only 4.

Yes I was only 4.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Thanks Melody and Sudhir for bringing Betty to my attention

Edda van Heemstra aka Audrey Hepburn

Audrey

There is one myth about Audrey Hepburn I have to dispel, she was not British-Belgian. In Belgium as in many other European countries you don’t automatically obtain citizenship just because you’re born there. You get the nationality of your parents, usually the nationality of the Father or sometimes the Mother.

Audrey was born on May 4,1929 in Brussels to a British father and Dutch mother.Therefore she was half British and half Dutch.

She was born  Audrey Kathleen Ruston or Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston , was a British subject born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. Her Mother was Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch noblewoman. Her parents got married in Indonesia which was a Dutch colony at the time.Shortly after they married they moved to Europe, initially London but then later to Brussels.

Audrey’s grandfather Aarnoud van Heemstra, was the governor of the Dutch colony of Suriname.

audrey's gran

She had 2 half siblings from an earlier marriage of her Mother.

The WWII years of Audrey Hepburn do proof that it didn’t matter how well connected you were, survival was not a certainty for anyone.

In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists, and allegedly were great admirers of Adolf Hitler. In 1935 Audrey’s Father abandoned the family. Following that mother moved with Hepburn to her family’s estate in Arnhem. Audrey and her mother did briefly live in Kent in 1937 but moved back to the Netherlands after Britain had declared war to Germany, The Netherlands were a neutral country and had remained neutral during WWI. Audrey’ mother hoped this would be the case again this time.

After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Audrey changed her name to Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name could be potentially dangerous.

invasion

Her mother  had already introduced Audrey to ballet lessons while they were still in England. The German occupation took a hard toll on the young Audrey Hepburn, who used ballet as a form of  escapism from the harsh reality of war. She trained at the Arnhem conservatory with ballet professor Winja Marova and became her star pupil.

The reality of war hit even harder when her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum(the husband of her Mother’s sister Miesje) was killed by the Nazis as reprisal for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement;on August 15 1942, while he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family’s prominence in Dutch society.

otto

Stirum’s murder turned Audrey’s Mother away from Nazi ideology, to become an avid member of the Dutch Resistance.

Audrey once said in an interview after the war.

“We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again… Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine”

In 1944, Hepburn met with Dr. Hendrik Visser ’t Hooft, a local physician, and Dutch Resistance leader. She became a volunteer for the Dutch Resistance, using her passion for dancing and talents for ballet by having secret shows to fund resistance groups.

She also worked as a courier.Many Dutch children were couriers because they were less likely to raise the suspicions of the Nazis.

Hepburn also witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, of which she later said:

“More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child”

TRANSPORT

The situation turned dire for Audrey Hepburn. Living conditions grew very bad and Arnhem was subsequently heavily damaged during Operation Market Garden. During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch people’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder.

Hepburn’s family had to do with flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuit as food. Audrey developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems and œdema due to malnutrition.This would affect her for the remainder of her life.

After the war, she read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and felt greatly impacted by the book. Luca Dotti, Audrey Hepburn’s son, talked about his memories of her in an interview with People Magazine.

“My mother never accepted the simple fact that she got luckier than Anne, She possibly hated herself for that twist of fate.”

Maybe that’s why she turned down the chance to play the part of Anne Frank.

Donation

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Sources

Vintage News

IMDb

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn5/heemstra

 

 

 

The Numbers

Drawing

Below are the estimated numbers of the Holocaust victims. The keyword is estimated because an exact number is not known.

I believe the actual number is higher when you take in consideration the numbers of victims who died on the transports, not all of them will have been recorded. Women who were late in their pregnancies whose babies may have been born on the trains or shortly after arriving, many of those babies would have died and not have been recorded.

I have no evidence of this but it only makes sense that this would be the case.

The numbers

Jews:6 million

Soviet civilians:5.7 million

Soviet prisoners of war: 3 million including 50,000 Jewish soldiers.

Non-Jewish Polish civilians:1.8 million

Serb civilians (on the territory of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina):312,000

People with disabilities living in institutions: 250,000

Roma: 196,000–220,000

Jehovah’s Witnesses: around 1,900

Repeat criminal offenders and so-called a-socials: at least 70,000

Homosexuals: several thousand

Then there are an undetermined number of political activists, Spanish republican soldiers,Esperanto speakers,freemasons.

But those numbers on their own really mean nothing. They are merely statistics. What we need to remember is not so much the numbers but that there is a story behind each of those millions of deaths.

Stories like Sophia Viool-Soesman

Sophia

She was born in Rotterdam on January 28,1895 in a family of 8 children , one of her siblings died at birth.Three other siblings died before World War 2. Sofia was killed on 23 April 1943 in Sobibor, aged 48.

Her brother Leo was blind but survived the war, he died on May 4th,1970.

We should never ever forget the stories behind all the victims and when we know their stories or part of it we have to tell those stories,

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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Sources

USHMM

Yad Vashem

The drawing at the start of the blog is by Alfred Glück (1921-2007)

All I want is to be treated as a Human being.

max

All I want is to be treated like a Human being.

I don’t want big presents or fancy food.

I don’t even want to be treated like a Prince.

All I want is to feel the sunlight touch my skin on a warm summer day.

Or to hear the crackling of the snow under my feet in the winter.

I am not complicated.

To me 1 +1 is 2

Simple as.

I do not ask for a special treatment. Just the same treatment as you would give to yout nephew ,your cousin, the son of a friend or the boy next door.

But you can’t even grant me that simple wish.

I am Max Henri van Son, born in Amsterdam killed in Auschwitz,October 1, 1942.

The most simple wish of being treated as Human being was impossible to be granted, purely because of hate. Hate for a 4 year old boy, how is that even possible?

 

Isaäc Swart and Henderika Piller.

isaac

Isaäc Swart, what can be said about him and who is ?

Basically there is not much that can be said about him , he was just an ordinary travelling sales man.

Today would have marked his 95th birthday. He was born April 21,1914 in Amsterdam. Three days before his 26th birthday he married Henderika Piller on April 18,1940 in Amsterdam.

henderika

It was only a few weeks  before Germany would occupy the Netherlands and a Nazi regime would control the country.

The story of Isaäc and his wife Henderika is at first glance unremarkable. Just 2 young people,newlyweds who went about their daily mundane lives.

However their’ wittebroodsweken’ (this is the Dutch term for the first 6 weeks of marriage)  were disrupted in a way they did not expect.

May 15th after the bombardment of Rotterdam, the Dutch resistance was broken and the Germans invaded the Netherlands, bringing with them the most brutal regime the country had ever seen.

For most newlyweds life did not change all that much but Isaäc and Henderika were now considered enemies of the German occupiers, not because they had taken up arms to fight them but because they were Jewish, That was the only reason, A loving couple who never harmed anyone, were now considered enemies.

During the first few months there were only a few changes to their lives. But gradually their lives were made increasingly difficult. as it would be for every Jewish person in the country.

Isaäc and Henderika were arrested at their home  on  the 7th of  September 1943 , together with Isaäc’s aunt Schoontje Bont-Schenkkan. That  very same day they where deported to Auschwitz. On arrival there on the 10th September, his aunt was immediately killed.  Isaac and Henderika were selected for hard labor. Henderika  died  in Auschwitz on 30 November 1943,aged 28. Isaäc died in Auschwitz on 31 March 1944.aged 29. Only 3 weeks away from his 30th birthday.

There is one solace to be found in this. These ‘unremarkable’ people became remarkable heroes and were made heroes by the regime that saw them as subhuman. Like all the other millions who were murdered, each one of them a hero and a reminder that we are not allowed to let this happen again, for now we have the hindsight of history.

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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Sources

Joods Monument