Ernst Cahn- the Koco affair.

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Ernst Cahn, a German-Jewish refugee,son of Salomon Cahn and Rosa Katzenstein. He married in 1914 and had two children who survived the war.

He lived with his family from 1924-1928 in Amsterdam. In 1936 he returned to the Netherlands, to Huizen, from Germany because of the persecution of the Jews.

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Ernst Cahn co-owned ice-cream parlour Koco in the Van Woustraat in Amsterdam with business partner Alfred Kohn.They  were well liked by both Jews and gentiles of Amsterdam. After the Germans occupied the city, several customers purchased weapons for the owners and installed a 20-inch ammonia flask to the parlor wall to ward off unwanted visitors. When a German police patrol was sprayed with ammonia, a riot ensued. The event became known as the Koco affair.

On Wednesday, 19 February 1941, a patrol of the Nazi Ordnungspolizei carried out a raid on the ice-cream parlour. Inside, a bunch of heavies were waiting for them, as they had expected an attack by pro-Nazi Dutchmen. Ammonia was squirted from the ice-cream parlour. Ernst Cahn and Alfred Kohn were arrested and condemned by a Nazi court after they endured serious physical abuse in Amsterdam and in the penal barrack in Scheveningen’s prison.

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Despite being tortured ,Ernst Cahn did not divulge the name of the technician who had designed and installed the ammonia flask. Ernst Cahn was condemned to death. He was executed on 3 March 1941. Ernst Cahn was the first person in the Netherlands to die in front of a firing squad.Alfred Kohn died in Auschwitz in April 1945.

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The “Koco Affair” in Amsterdam instigated the Nazis’ first roundup of Dutch Jews. German troops entered the Jonas Daniel Meyer Square in the Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam on February 22, 1941.

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They arrested and physically abused approximately 400 Jews, most of whom were then deported to the Buchenwald concentration camp.

 

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Battle of Heiligerlee-1568

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The Battle of Heiligerlee (Heiligerlee, Groningen, 23 May 1568) was fought between Dutch rebels and the Spanish army of Friesland. This was the first Dutch victory during the Eighty Years’ War.

The Groningen province of the Spanish Netherlands was invaded by an army consisting of 3,900 infantry led by Louis of Nassau and 200 cavalry led by Adolf of Nassau.

Both were brothers of William I of Orange.

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The intention was to begin an armed uprising against the Spanish rulers of the Netherlands.

The Stewart of Friesland and also Duke of Aremberg, Johan de Ligne, had an army of 3,200 infantry and 20 cavalry.Aremberg initially avoided confrontation, awaiting reinforcements from the Count of Meghem. However, on 23 May, Adolf’s cavalry lured him to an ambush at the monastery of Heiligerlee. Louis’ infantry, making up the bulk of the army, defeated the Spanish force which lost 1,500–2,000 men, while the invading force lost 50, including Adolf. The rebels captured seven cannon.

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The invading force however, did not capture any cities and was soon defeated at the Battle of Jemmingen.

The death of Adolf of Nassau is mentioned in the Dutch national anthem (4th verse):

Lijf en goed al te samen
heb ik u niet verschoond,
mijn broeders hoog van namen
hebben ‘t u ook vertoond:
Graaf Adolf is gebleven
in Friesland in de slag,
zijn ziel in ‘t eeuwig leven
verwacht de jongste dag

“Count Adolf stayed behind, in Friesland, in the battle

June Ravenhall- Forgotten Hero

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I often ask myself the question “Would I risk mu own life to save another?” and the honest answer is “I don’t know” I think I would but when it comes to it I don’t know.

However there are so many in History who asked themselves that same question. One of these brave souls was June Ravenhall.

Ravenhall was born Elsie June Stickley in 1901. She was a native of Kenilworth who moved to The Hague with her husband, Leslie Ravenhall, whom she married in 1925.The couple left Coventry for the Netherlands due to Les Ravenhall’s business, and started a business importing Coventry Eagle motorbikes.

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Their house and business were expropriated when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. As a British citizen, and since Britain was then in war with Germany, June’s husband was sent to a prison camp in Poland, and she relocated to Hilversum.

Mrs Ravenhall was approached by the Dutch Resistance and asked to hide a young Jewish journalist called Levi(Louis) Velleman. She agreed and he lived with the family for three years.

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When, in the summer of 1942, the first orders were issued for Jews of the Netherlands to report for “work in the East”, Levi Velleman, born in 1919 in Haarlem, was in a hospital in Hilversum (prov. North-Holland) with tuberculosis.
As not enough Jews did report, the Germans started to round up Jews. As Velleman was a well-known journalist and radio reporter in the Netherlands going by the less Jewish sounding name of Louis., he feared that he would be sought too. He thus turned to one of the physicians in the hospital who contacted the adjacent recuperation center asking if someone there could take him into hiding. June Ravenhall, who was living in the immediate vicinity of this center, came forward even though she had some initial hesitation to take in a person with a contagious disease. June had the lone responsibility for her three young teenage children after her husband Leslie had been arrested. Both originally from Britain, they had come to live in The Hague where Leslie had found a business opportunity importing motorbikes. Three days after the capitulation of the Netherlands in May 1940, Leslie was taken as a prisoner of war to a camp in Germany, where he remained until the liberation some five years later.

June gave Louis Velleman the room of her oldest daughter, where he stayed all the time. Since sunshine was considered favorable for healing, Louis sat in the garden when the weather was nice and June thought that there was no immediate danger. However, when the Germans learned that many Jews were in hiding in the town of Hilversum, many house searches were carried out, among them in the Ravenhall home. The Ravenhall children were well instructed to keep the Jew hunters delayed for awhile, so that Louis could get into his hiding area. Once he escaped by jumping out of a window at the back of the house. When the policeman found some men’s clothing and confronted June with it, she feared immediate arrest. It turned out that the policeman had only come to warn her of a pending house search.

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The winter of 1944-1945 was especially difficult in the western parts of the Netherlands, as food supplies from the rural eastern parts of the country were forcefully stopped by the occupier. Moreover, there was no electricity or gas. Many Dutch had to survive on flower bulbs and many more died of starvation. The Ravenhall family could not support an extra mouth, and thus Louis was taken to Wieger and Sijbrig Beks, living close-by, who were able to feed him. Once a week, Louis ate at the Beks: “I could eat in one day more than during the entire week with the Ravenhalls”.

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The Beks were heavily involved in a local resistance cell, among other things by delivering false identity papers to Jews in hiding in the area.
Louis Velleman survived the war thanks to June and the Beks. He stayed in touch with all until his passing in 2000.

 

The Dutch government in exile

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The Dutch government in exile , also known as the London Cabinet () was the government in exile of the Netherlands, headed by Queen Wilhelmina, that evacuated to London after the German invasion of the country during World War II.It was established on May 13 1940.

Prior to 1940, the Netherlands was a neutral country, generally on good terms with Germany. In May 1940 Queen Wilhelmina escaped to London; the Dutch government under Prime Minister De Geer would follow a day later, after the German invasion.

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The government was established at Stratton House in the Piccadilly area of London, opposite Green Park.

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Initially their hope was that France would regroup and liberate the country. Although there was an attempt in this direction, it soon failed, because the Allied forces were surrounded and forced to evacuate at Dunkirk.

The government-in-exile was soon faced with a dilemma. After France had been defeated, the Vichy French government came to power, which collaborated with Hitler.

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This led to a conflict between De Geer and the Queen. De Geer wanted to return to the Netherlands and collaborate as well. The government in exile was still in control of the Dutch East Indies with all its resources: it was the third largest oil producer at the time (after the US and the USSR). Wilhelmina realised that if the Dutch collaborated with Germany, the Dutch East Indies would be surrendered to Japan, as French Indochina was surrendered later by orders of the Vichy government.

Because the Netherlands’ hope for liberation was now the entry of the US or the USSR into the war, the Queen dismissed her prime minister, De Geer, and replaced him with Pieter Sjoerds Gerbrandy, who worked with Churchill and Roosevelt on ways to smooth the path for an American entry.

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Aruba and Curaçao, the then-world-class exporting oil refineries, were important suppliers of refined products to the Allies. Aruba became a British protectorate from 1940 to 1942 and a US protectorate from 1942 to 1945. On November 23, 1941, under an agreement with the Netherlands government-in-exile, the United States occupied Suriname (sometimes referred to as Dutch Guiana) to protect the bauxite mines.

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An oil boycott was imposed on Japan, which partially triggered the Pearl Harbor attack.

In September 1944, the Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourgish governments in exile began formulating an agreement over the creation of a Benelux Customs Union.

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The agreement was signed in the London Customs Convention on 5 September 1944.

The Queen’s unusual action was later ratified by the Dutch parliament in 1946. Churchill called her “the only man in the Dutch government

A sports challenge during WWII

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The Dutch take their sports serious, despite what happens in the world. It is part of the Dutch psyche to not give up,keep going regardless(although looking at the performance of the Dutch National football team, you might be forgiven for thinking differently)

Despite being occupied by the Germans the Dutch felt compelled to organize the skating marathon called “De elfsteden tocht” (Eleven cities tour)

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A skating tour, almost 200 KM (120 mi) long, which is held both as a speed skating competition (with 300 contestants) and a leisure tour (up to 16,000 skaters). It is held in the province of Friesland in the north of the Netherlands, leading past all eleven historical cities of the province.

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The tour is held  only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimetres (6 in) thick.When the ice is suitable, the tour is announced and starts within 48 hours. In 1941 and 1942 it was felt the Marathon skating event had to be held because of the harsh winters which made the ice perfect.The Germans did allow it but did put severe restrictions in place.

In the early morning hours of 6 February 1941, 1900 people fastened on their skates. The race of all races was about to begin: the Elfstedentocht (Eleven Cities Speed Skating Tour). The weather was mild (0.0 °C/32 °F)and the ice looked inviting. But there were also some concerns. An imposed blackout meant a large part of the race would have to be skated in the dark, making it very difficult for many participants. The Frisian skater Auke Adema finished first.

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On 22 January 1942, after a long spell of frost, the Elfstedentocht was held again. As many as 4,800 skaters signed up.

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The atmosphere was very special. Being together in Friesland, free from the Germans with their rules and bans, gave the participants a feeling of solidarity. The Germans could barely comprehend the nation’s fervour for this skating marathon. Given they had little control over the crowded event, they chose not to interfere. In 1942, Sietze de Groot of Weidum won the race. He skated the 200 kilometres in a record time of 8 hours and 44 minutes. The temperature was significantly lower in 1942 (-11.7 °C/10.94°F)

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Ironically during this grueling sporting event  the contestants felt humanity again, a sense of freedom despite occupation.

Like all the others since 1912 the names of Auke Adema and Sietze de Groot’s names were engraved on the coveted silver trophy cup that is passed from winner to winner, which is still the custom today.

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The last time this race was held was on 4 January 1997. Although in 2012 the conditions were ideal, at the last minute it was decided not to go ahead with the race.

An “alternative Elfstedentocht” has been held every year in January since 1989 on the Weissensee in Carinthia, Austria.

 

Battle for The Hague-The lost victory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Dutch Fokker T.Vs bombed the Ockenburg airfield,

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destroying idle Ju-52 transports.

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

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

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

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The last German atrocity in Amsterdam.

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On 7 May 1945, three days after German capitulation, thousands of Dutch people were waiting for Canadian troops to arrive on the Dam square in Amsterdam. In the Grote Club, on the corner of the Kalverstraat and the Paleisstraat, members of the Kriegsmarine watched as the crowd below their balcony grew and people danced and cheered.

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The Germans then placed a machine gun on the balcony and started shooting into the crowds. The motives behind the shooting have remained unclear; the Germans were drunk and possibly angered because contrary to previous agreement Dutch police had arrested members of the German military.

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The shooting finally came to an end after a member of the resistance climbed into the tower of the royal palace and started shooting onto the balcony and into the club. At that moment, a German officer together with a Resistance commander found their way into the club and convinced the men to surrender. At the brink of peace, 120 people were badly injured and 22 pronounced dead.

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In 2013, evidence was brought to light that suggested the number may have been higher: possibly 33 people died, and there were 10 more unconfirmed possible victims.

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On May 9th1945 the German soldiers were rounded up by the Canadians from the Grote Club and transported to Germany. The motive behind the shooting was never been investigated and the perpetrators were never been prosecuted.

 

The liberation of the Netherlands

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On 4 May 1945 at Lüneburg Heath, east of Hamburg, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery accepted the unconditional surrender of the German forces in the Netherlands.

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On 08:00 AM on the 5th of May 1945 the Netherlands is officially liberated, although the Southern provinces had already been liberated by September 1944.

Below are photographs of the liberation of the Netherlands.

Liberation of Geleen and Sittard in the south eastern province of Limburg on the 18th and 19th September 1944.

Liberation of Hoensbroek also in Limburg on the 17th of October 1944.The kids were orphans being cared for by the Nuns near castle Hoensbroek, The kids dressed up for the occasion.

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The liberation of Ermelo

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An ecstatic crowd in Utrecht welcomes the Canadian liberators

An ecstatic crowd in Utrecht welcomes the Canadian liberators

Groningen

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Holten-Rijssen April_1945

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Some tender medical care

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Ontarios parade in Holland to celebrate Dutch liberation, 1945

Ontarios parade in Holland to celebrate Dutch liberation, 1945

Citizens of Utrecht celebrate newfound freedom on May 5

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World War II: Liberation of the Netherlands–South of the Rhine (September-December 1944)

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Liberation Parade in Witteveen, Netherlands.

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Some final personal words.

My young friend, you sacrificed your live selflessly for my freedom.

We never met but yet your act of valour has changed my life.

My young friend, I thank you for it is because of you I am here.

Often I ponder why you did what you did so that I can thrive.

 

From afar you came to deliver us from evil.

And evil you witnessed all around you.

Leaving a safe place just to be thrown into upheaval.

To see death, destruction and chaos too.

 

You don’t know it but my life you did change.

For if it wasn’t for you I may never have been conceived.

You gave up your life for a land that wasn’t yours but was strange.

Freedom was given by you and by me is thankfully received.

 

Alas there are those who do not realize the debt we owe to you.

They talk about leaving bygones be bygones and forget those who died.

My young friend not me, never will I forsake the memory of you.

The promise I make to you is that your bravery will be the source of my pride.

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Helga Deen- Another teenage girl,another diary.

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We all know the story of Anne Frank but unfortunately Anne wasn’t the only teenage who died in the camps. Helga Deen another teenage girl who lived in the Netherlands also died as result of the Nazi ideology and she also wrote a diary.

Helga Deen (6 April 1925 – 16 July 1943) was the author of a diary, discovered in 2004, which describes her stay in a Dutch prison camp, Kamp Vught, where she was brought during World War II at the age of 18.

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Deen was half-Dutch. Initially her father lived with his German GP wife in Germany, but moved back to the Netherlands as persecution increased. Her mother worked for a time as a doctor at a concentration camp at Vught. She was given leave to remain but chose to accompany her family to Sobibor, where she died.

After her last diary entry, in early July 1943, Helga Deen was deported to Sobibór extermination camp and murdered. She was 18 years old.

Helga Deen wrote her diary in a three-month period of time in 1943, the year she was eighteen, and also the year she died.

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The diary shows how desperation slowly set in. In an excerpt dated June 6, 1943, just after 1,300 children were deported to Auschwitz and Sobibor death camps in Poland, she wrote: “Transport. It is too much. I am broken and tomorrow it will happen again. But I want to (persevere), I want to because if my happiness and willpower die, I too will die.”

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In the diary, Deen recorded some of her day-to-day experiences for Van den Berg, but even more of her emotions, Weling said. “Maybe this diary will be a disappointment to you because it doesn’t contain facts,” Deen wrote to Van den Berg. “But maybe you’ll be glad that you find me in it: conflict, doubt, desperation, shyness, emptiness.”

Among other entries, Deen’s diary recorded the relief she felt after her family was once not selected for deportation — and the fear they might be chosen next time. “We are homeless, countryless and we have to adjust ourselves to that way of life. What we have seen in these last months is indescribable, and for someone who hasn’t been there, unimaginable,” she wrote.

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Helga hoped hard work might save her from deportation. But, in early July 1943, she was told her family would be on the next train.Below is the last entry of her diary, dated 6th of July 1943.

“Packing, and this morning a child dying which upset me completely,” she wrote.

“Another transport and this time we will be on it.”

A memorial stone to Helga and her family has been placed by a member of the Dutch Sobibor Foundation on the pathway which used to lead to the gas chambers (‘Road to Heaven’).

Memorial Helga Deen Tilburg

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4th of May-Honoring the Heroes.

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Every 4th of May at 20.00 PM, 2 minutes of silence is observed in the Netherlands to remember those who died in WWII and other military conflicts.

Today I want to honor those who died for my freedom. It is impossible to honor them all for there were so many. The ones I selected are buried only a few miles from where I was born in the War Cemetery of Sittard.

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The Fallen Hero

 

Thank you soldier for setting my country free.

You did not want to die but yet you gave your life.

It was for strangers you sacrificed yourself, who weren’t even family.

Your ambitions were cut short never again did you see your wife.

 

Thank you, young man to liberate my land.

Your youth stolen from you by a violent act of hate.

A picture of a young girl you held in your hand

The blood drenched battlefield sealed both your fate

 

Thank you proud parents for sending us your son.

The pain you feel is something I will never be able to comprehend

But know this your child did not die in vain, his memory will go on

Even if everyone else forgets, I will remember until my end.

Pvt John Bowles

Died Jan 23 1945 -Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment), 6th Bn. Age 21

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Dennis Donnini

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Birth: Nov. 17, 1925. County Durham, England. Died Jan. 18, 1945,Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany.

World War II Victoria Cross Recipient. He received the award posthumously from British King George VI (presented to his father) at Buckingham Palace in London, England for his actions as a fusilier in the 4th/5th Battalion, Royal Scot Fusiliers, British Army on January 18, 1945 near Stein, Germany during Operation Blackcock in World War II. Born in Easington, Durham, England, his father emigrated from Italy during World war I and owned an ice cream shop and billiards establishment in Easington. During World War II he was placed in an internment camp because of his connection to a country that was at war with England. Shortly after his older brother was killed in combat in May 1944, he enlisted in the Royal Scot Fusiliers and following his training, he was sent to the European Theater of Operations where he was killed in combat at the age of 19 near Stein, Germany. His Victoria Cross citation reads: “In North-West Europe, on 18th January 1945, a Battalion of The Royal Scots Fusiliers supported by tanks was the leading Battalion in the assault of the German positions between the rivers Roer and Maas. This consisted of a broad belt of minefields and wire on the other side of a stream. As the result of a thaw the armour was unable to cross the stream and the infantry had to continue the assault without the support of the tanks. Fusilier Donnini’s platoon was ordered to attack a small village. As they left their trenches the platoon came under concentrated machine gun and rifle fire from the houses and Fusilier Donnini was hit by a bullet in the head. After a few minutes he recovered consciousness, charged down thirty yards of open road and threw a grenade into the nearest window. The enemy fled through the gardens of four houses, closely pursued by Fusilier Donnini and the survivors of his platoon. Under heavy fire at seventy yards range Fusilier Donnini and two companions crossed an open space and reached the cover of a wooden barn, thirty yards from the enemy trenches. Fusilier Donnini, still bleeding profusely from his wound, went into the open under intense close range fire and carried one of his companions, who had been wounded, into the barn. Taking a Bren gun he again went into the open, firing as he went. He was wounded a second time but recovered and went on firing until a third bullet hit a grenade which he was carrying and killed him. The superb gallantry and self-sacrifice of Fusilier Donnini drew the enemy fire away from his companions on to himself. As the result of this, the platoon were able to capture the position, accounting for thirty Germans and two machine guns. Throughout this action, fought from beginning to end at point blank range, the dash, determination and magnificent courage of Fusilier Donnini enabled his comrades to overcome an enemy more than twice their own number.” He was the youngest soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II.

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Major Magnus Vivian Gray

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Died January 22 1945. Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

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Trooper Alfred Thomas Heath

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Birth:Dec. 26, 1924, Staffordshire, England. Died Nov. 21, 1944, Germany.Royal Armoured Corps

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Gunner Robert R McCOLLESTER

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Birth 1940:Burnley, Died December 20,1944.Royal Horse Artillery.

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Andrew Churchill

Birth unknown. Died February 6 1945. Gunner, Royal Artillery, 59 (Newfoundland) Heavy Regt. Age 32..

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