When Police Academy’s Commandant Lassard went to war.

lassard

Who hasn’t seen Police Academy or any of the sequels? I reckon mots people have. But one of the actors in the movie had such an interesting life that his story would warrant a movie and would probably become a box office success.

George Gaynes who played the clueless Commandant Lassard was born George Jongejans  May 3, 1917, in Helsinki, Finland  which  was then still, part of the Russian Empire , the son of Iya Grigorievna de Gay , a Russian artist, and Gerrit Jongejans, a Dutch businessman.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia had abdicated the throne on March 15, two months prior to Gaynes’ birth, and the Empire was about go through some turbulent times, and was already at war.

Tsar

The Jongejans familyy left the country, and George was primarily raised in France, England, and Switzerland.

George attended college in the vicinity of Lausanne, Switzerland and graduated in 1937. He then attended a music school in Milan, Italy for about a year.

In 1940, George Gaynes was living in France,when France was occupied by Nazi Germany. George attempted to flee France, by crossing the Pyrenees mountains into neutral Spain. He was arrested by the Spanish authorities for illegally crossing the border, but was soon released.

In 1943, George joined the Royal Netherlands Navy. With the Netherlands under German occupation, the headquarters of the Navy had moved to London, in the UK. George had no previous military experience, but he was noticed for multilingual skills. He was  fluent in   Dutch, English, French, Italian and Russian. He was soon detached to the (British) Royal Navy to serve as a translator.

During his naval service in World War II, George took part in the Allied invasion of Sicily, the Battle of Anzio in the Italian Campaign, and the Adriatic Campaign. The War ended in 1945 and George was honorably discharged in July, 1946. His highest military rank was that of a sergeant.

In 1946, George returned to France but an American theater director offered him a role in a Broadway musical and he moved to New York City later that year and became an American citizen in 1948.

In the early 1960s, George started appearing as a character actor in various television series. He was also offered a number of film roles. His career unexpectedly took off in the 1980s, with a major part in the television series Punky Brewster.

But his most famous role was that of Commandant Lassard in the Police Academy franchise.

police

He died at his home in North Bend, Washington, on February 15, 2016, at the age of 98.

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Sources

IMDB

 

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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.

 

 

Rachel de Groot- A teenage girl, murdered.

Rachel

I wish I could write about how Rachel de Groot survived the war and grew up to fulfill her potential, But I can’t, in fact I can’t even say that much about her. Not because there is not much known about her, because there is.

The reason why I can’t say too much about Rachel is because I am the Father of a teenage girl, the thought that something could happen to her lives with me 24/7 ,but that is normal for any Father or Mother for that matter.

Seeing a picture of Rachel makes me realize how fragile life is and how quick situations can change. One day you are living without a care in the world then suddenly you find yourself in hiding, hiding for people who hate you so much even though they have never met you.

Rachel, her parents and her younger brother al went into hiding in November 1942, the Dutch police, instructed by the Nazi occupiers were rounding up Jews.

Rachel liked to make handcrafts and she used these blac,gold and white beads for that purpose, I do not know for certain but I reckon she used them to make jewelry.

Just cheap disposable beads but they must have been extremely valuable to Rachel because they keep her mind occupied, an escape from the horrors and anxiety she faced.

beadz

Despite everything she still must have had hope because she even made a calendar when she was in hiding, indicating she was still planning her days. People who have no hope do not plan.

calendar

As I stated earlier, I have a teenage daughter and it could have easily been her and I ciuld have been that father with her in hiding, something I just can’t fathom.

Rachel was born on August 15, 1927. My daughter was also born in August. Rachel was murdered in Auschwitz on May 22,1944 together with her mother.Her Father arrived a few months later and was murdered on September 30,1944.Her brother survived the war

Now I know there will be some people who read this and will say that this blog is mainly based on presumptions, and that is true because I never met Rachel how could I have she was murdered before I was even born.But the only way for us to remotely understand the Holocaust(because for those who did not live through it can never understand) is by making it personal.

For some reason Rachel’s story touche me more then other stories, maybe it because of my paternal instincts.

Sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/artifact/beads-used-by-a-dutch-jewish-girl-in-hiding

https://www.joodsmonumentzaanstreek.nl/groot-de-rachel-chelly/

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/541363/about-rachel-de-groot

https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn513933

 

41 Months and 6 Days

alida

41 Months and 6 Days was all I was allowed to live.

After 41 Months and 6 Days I was given a death sentence.

No, I was not a criminal.

No, I harmed no one.

In fact I wasn’t even of a school going age as of yet.

What did I do in those 41 Months and 6 Days that warranted my death.

NOTHING

And I mean absolutely NOTHING.

My address was Bilderdijkstraat 138 II, Amsterdam but I died in Sobibor

My name was Alida Roeg , I was killed because I was Jewish.

 

Sources

Joods Monument

Find a Grave

Look into my eyes!!

John

Look into my eyes and will see mischievousness m you see the eyes of a boy who is playful.

Look into my eyes and you will see no sorrows.

Look into my eyes and you will see pure innocence.

Look into my eyes and you will see no hate.

Look into me eyes and you will see love.

Look into my eyes and you will see amazement and wonder.

Look into my eyes and you will see curiosity.

Look into my eyes and you will see a human being.

You did look into my eyes and saw an enemy

You did look into my eyes and you hated me.

You looked into me eyes and did not recognize my future and potentially your future.

You looked into me eyes and you killed me.

John Liepman Agstteribbe born in Amsterdam ,November 4,1939 .Killed in Auschwitz 11 December 1942.

 

Source

Joods Monument

 

 

 

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

 

Bethrina Kooperberg-Her dignity was taken away, yet she remained positive.

BETHRINA

I could write down the history of Bethrina Kooperberg but it is more poignant to use her own words to illustrate the person she was.

The text is translated from Dutch and comes from a postcard and letter Bethrina sent from Camp Vught to her friends, the Van Beek family, dated 24 April 1943.

“The first night we were here, Aunt Fie and I laughed like madmen, despite everything. As it happened, nobody could sleep, cry or scream. Anyway, it was just horrible but it’s getting easier to sleep now, and now when the bell rings I don’t want to get up.

Last week the men could not come on the Sunday as all the women were naked in the barracks, as we had to be deloused. In the end it didn’t happen until 9 o’clock on the Monday evening so we had been naked that whole day, too.

Oh, if you could see us through the keyhole, you know that I was always optimistic and sometimes I still am but there are days when I think the whole camp is going crazy with the treatment. It’s worse than I could ever have imagined and they treat us worse than animals.

They call this place the murder compound and if you knew what it’s like here, the gates would be stormed, but we still are still in good spirits, as if that’s possible.”

She was sent to Sobibor on May 9,1943 where she arrived on the 12th. Two days later on May 14, she was gassed.

Three of her siblings and her parents survived the war.It was very rare that so many members of the same  Jewish family survived.

But as a last act of indignity her death was only recorded in 1950, retrospectively.

register

I can’t blame the Dutch authorities for registering her death 5 years after the war ended, because it often would take a long time to get all the relevant data. But the way Brethina’s death was registered was just sloppy, they just crossed out all outdated data and hand wrote the new most up to date data next to it.Why not just create a new page and typewrite the information in a professional manner.That’s the least that could be done. But maybe I am just a bit bias towards Dutch bureaucracy.

 

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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

brabantremembers.com/persecution/lachen-als-gekken-in-de-moordcentrale

openarch.nl

Joods Monument

Traces if War

The 1943 German law that denies justice to be done.

Justice

In 1943 a law was passed in Germany which gave all foreign Waffen SS members the German nationality by default.

This law still prevents extradition of WWII War criminals to be extradited to their native countries, because these men have the German nationality , and Germany does not extradite it’s own citizens.

These are just 2 examples of Dutch war criminals who received no or very little punishment for the crimes they committed during WWII.

Herbertus Bikker AKA The Butcher of Ommen

bIKKER

Herbertus Bikker was a Dutch war criminal. He was a member of the Waffen-SS. He served as a guard at the concentration  Erika near Ommen, in the Netherlands. His brutal treatment of the prisoners earned him his nickname ‘the Butcher of Ommen’

Bikker is the alleged murderer of Dutch resistance fighter Jan Houtman [nl] who was killed, twenty-seven years old, on 17 November 1944.

Following the end of World War II, he was sentenced to death by a Dutch court.  he managed to escape from prison in Breda on 26 December 1952 and fled to Germany, crossing the border at Ubbergen near Cleves. He settledd down in the city of Hagen, where he livedundetected until 1995. Following the law from 1943, foreign members of the Waffen-SS automatically received German nationality. Germany does not extradite its own nationals.

Although he was not extradited he was taken to court in Germany, . Bikker’s managed  to evade any jail time  to claim diminished responsibility due to illness.Following a breakdown and fainting in court,  neurologists advised against Bikker standing trial tHE Court was adjourned on 2 February 2004.

Bikker lived in Hagen as a pensioner until his death on 1 November 2008  which was only announced in 2009.

Siert Bruns AKA the Beast of Appingedam.

Siert

Siert Bruins was a a member of the Dutch Nazi party NSB. During the war he and his brother both joined the Waffen SS and fought at the eastern front.

Siert got wounded  at the front and  returned to the Netherlands where he  became a member of the SD. He was active around Delfzijl hunting members of the resistance.

He was sentenced to death in absentia by a Dutch court in 1949 for the murder of Dutch farmer and resistance member Aldert Klaas Dijkema. The German government refused to extradite him to the Netherlands. The death sentence was later revised to a life sentence.

In 1978, Bruins was tracked  down by Simon Wiesenthal in the German town Altenbreckerfeld. He was arrested and put on trial in Germany, in 1980, where he was found guilty for the murder of two Jewish brothers, Meijer en Lazarus Sleutelberg.He spent 5 years in jail for those murders.

In 2003, the Dutch minister Donner tried to convince the German authorities to send Bruins to the Netherlands, but without success

He went on trial again, in the western city of Hagen in September 2013 for the murder of Aldert Klaas Dijkema, in September 1944 in Appingedam near the German-Dutch border.However, the case was dropped when judges said there was insufficient evidence to proceed, partly because there were no witnesses left alive.

Bruins died on September 28,2015 aged 94.

 

These were only 2 examples but there are still dozens of so called German citizens who are walking around as free men.

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Sources

BBC

Dutch News.nl

Dutch Wikipedia

Trial International

 

 

 

Alexander Zwaap AKA Lex van Delden

Lex

Although he was born as Alexander Zwaap, for most of his life he would be known as Lex van Delden. He was a truly remarkable man, despite hardships he never gave up.

He was born  in Amsterdam on September 10, 1919, as the only child of Wolf Zwaap, a school-teacher, and his wife Sara Olivier-Zwaap, Lex started taking piano-lessons from an early age, initially from  from Martha Zwaga and later from the celebrated pianist, Cor de Groot.

In 1938 he enrolled at the University of Amsterdam to study medicines, he wanted to become a neuro-surgeon, but he did not lose his love for music and composing.

In 1942, two years into German occupation of the Netherlands he was  forced to interrupt his studies,because he was Jewish. He had no other choice then  to go into hiding. Refuge and a hiding place was arranged at the home of a former colleague of his father, who was a headmaster at the penitentiary in Veenhuizen, In 1943, his parents who were also in hiding, were betrayed and deported to Sobibor, where they were murdered. Lex never saw them again. It was only in 1980, when he discovered a  postcard written by his  parents  to him from the Hollandse Schouwburg( a theater which was used as a deportation centre)   while awaiting their deportation.

schouweburg

While in hiding Lex  decided to take the pseudonym “van Delden”

Due to the fact he could not make any noise, leave alone play piano and had to hide under the raised floor of a basement closet.,he became depressed.His hosts eventually included him in their daily family life.

He helped by translating all kinds of literary works and also by helping  his host’s daughter with her homework. Via  a contact with the student resistance movement,  Lex joined the resistance he was sent to the province of Brabant, where he forged identity papers at the Personal Identification Card Centre. On a daily basis he visited, by bicycle, a family with a piano and even managed to give house concerts. Unfortunately his hopes of becoming a neuro-surgeon were dashed during this time due to an exploding carbide lamp, which virtually blinded him in his left eye while in hiding.

When peace came he hurled himself under the name Lex van Delden wholeheartedly into the world of music. Apart from composing he worked as a music journalist for Het Parool; later he was chairman of the Dutch authors’ rights association Buma Stemra.

Buma

He was a prolific composer  and during  the 1950s and 60s he was one of the most frequently played composers of his generation. Van Delden wrote for orchestras such as the Noordhollands Philharmonisch Orkest (North Dutch Philharmonic Orchestra), the Hague Philharmonic Orchestra and the Nederlands Blazers Ensemble (Dutch Wind Ensemble). He has won many prestigious music awards.

2019-09-10

His  music radiates an idealistic longing for life. The structure is tight; he often includes sharp contrasts between dramatic and lyrical passages.

Despite his plans of all his set backs and losing his parents,, he did not give up.He died on July 1, 1988 in Amsterdam.

His son also took the name Lex van Deldden became an actor and starred in movies such as A bridge too far and Soldaat van Oranje(Soldier of Orange).

Finishing up with one of Lex’s compositions.

 

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Sources

Leo Smit

forbiddenmusicregained.org

gramophone.co.uk

YouTube

 

 

Would I have the same courage as Benjamin Blankenstein?

Benjamin

What would I do? Or, how much courage would I have? These are questions that haunt me in relation to the Holocaust? Questions which are becoming more and more relevant these days.

There was a time where I would jeopardize my life to defend my principles in relation to justice and the treatment of my fellow man. But now that I have a family of my own and people who depend on me, that dynamic has changed, I am not so sure what I would do now and I would not have an answer for the 2 questions at the start of this blog.

I am sure Benjamin Blankenstein must have asked himself similar questions, but he answered those questions by taking action.

Benjamin Blankenstein was a teacher at the local Christian elementary school in the town of Soestdijk (prov. Utrecht) in the Netherlands.He was married to Maria who stayed at home as a home maker , on Septenber 10, 1940 the couple had a baby girl,Fieke.Benjamin was 26 at the time, Maria was a few years older.

In 1943 Benjamin became an active member of the  resistance , part of the countrywide Landelijke Organisatie (LO),Him and his wife also had a 2nd baby daughter,Betty, that year.

Blankenstein familie

The LO was an organization that assisted both Jews in hiding, and non-Jews wanted for resistance activity or evading forced labor in Germany.

Notwithstanding the gave dangers they could face the Blankensteins took the decision to hide Jews in their own home.

It was brought to Benjamin’s attention that the  Bernstein family from nearby Soest had been betrayed at an earlier hiding place. Benjamin and Maria gave refuge to Henry Bernstein, his wife Martha and their 14-year-old son Rolf, Jewish refugees from Düsseldorf, Germany.

On September 3, 1942 the Dutch police had issued the following statement.

“The mayor of Soest requested that the stateless Jews Henry Bernstein, his wife and their son Rolf Bernstein, all residing at 35a Kerkpad NZ in Soest and having violated the regulations by changing their place of residence without permission, be located, detained and brought to trial.”

The 2 families got on wonderful.In the evenings Benjamin would school Rolf so he would not fall behind in his education.

Unfortunately the families were betrayed. On June 5, 1944, while Benjamin was  at school. The police arrested the Bernsteins and looted the Blankensteins home About half an hour later , Benjamin was arrested at the school, and taken to prison in Amsterdam . Later he was sent to to the Vught concentration camp, aka Herzogenbusch concentration camp.

Vught

On September 5, 1944, with the Allied Forces approaching, Blankenstein was moved to camps in Germany and eventually died

in Bergen-Belsen on February 24, 1945.  Nine days earlier hsi 3rd daughter Thea was born.

The Bernsteins were taken from the Blankenstein home and deported. Henry and Rolf were murdered in Auschwitz.

Martha Bernstein survived the war. After  her return from the camp, ill and alone, she was again welcomed by Maria Blankenstein.

On March 27, 2005, Yad Vashem recognized Benjamin Blankenstein and Maria Suzanna Blankenstein-van Klingeren, as Righteous Among the Nations.

Benjamin en Maria

On August 6. 2010. De city of Soest placed a Stolperstein, a stumbling stone, which is a memorial to remember Benjamin Blankenstein. The memorial was placed outside their home on the  Van Straelenlaan 31.

Stolper stein

In 2006 Henry and Rolf Bernstein also got  memorials in the form of Stolper steine in their home in Hilden near Dusseldorf.

Bernstein

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

Yad Vashem

Joods Monument

.4-5-mei.nl/nieuws/1/4/stolperstein-benjamin-blankenstein