Like lambs to the slaughter they were led.

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Like lambs to the slaughter they were led.But with one significant difference, lambs were treated more humanely. They were not tortured before death.

I recently saw the movie “The Resistance Banker” it has one subtle but yet powerful scene, no words were spoken. A regular passenger train is stopped to facilitate a transport train to pass by. The passenger in the regular train see people crammed in cattle cars on the transport train and they hear babies crying. The scene only lasts for a minute, but that image will last for a lifetime.

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I knew the circumstances in the cattle cars were dire but that bit of movie made it so clear to me, the crying babies it made my heart stop for a second.

The horrors even dawned more clearly on me then. I have traveled with young children on a luxurious  21st century train and it was extremely difficult to keep my kids entertained and quiet, this was in a train where they were able to move around and get refreshments if they wanted to.

It is impossible for me to fathom the anxiety,fear,stress and psychological terror parents on those transport trains must have felt, leave alone the physical discomfort and pain, caused by so many crammed into a small wagon.

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Even before they reached their final destination they were stripped from their dignity. Yet they had to try to stay positive for the youngsters to ensure hope would not fade away.

So many showed in these inhumane circumstances a humanity which none of us nowadays are able to display. They had everything to lose and indeed lost everything often even their lives. They knew what their end would bring, like the lambs brought to the slaughter.

We have everything to gain by never forgetting the horrors they endured.

Train

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Sources

NIOD

Netflix

 

Attack on the twentieth convoy to Auschwitz.

Train

War often brings out the worst in people. they commit crimes they would usually never even contemplate, but equally war also brings out the best in people performing heroic acts they know can cost their lives.

Early 1943 Jews throughout Belgium were rounded up and arrested.People like three members of the Gronowski family(Mother,son and daughter), who were arrested for committing the awful ‘crime’ of being Jewish.

Gronowski.JPG

After the round up they were transported to the Kazerne Dossin,army barracks in Brussels.For most this would be last ‘residence’ in Belgium they would ever be in, for this was the gathering place for the final transport to the death camps.

Kazerne

On 18 April,  1,631 were informed they were going to be  deported by train the following day.The end station would be Auschwitz. The train was designated as Transport 20.

Shortly after the train had set off on route to Auschwitz it was stopped.

Three young students and members of the Belgian resistance including a Jewish doctor, Youra Livchitz  and his two non-Jewish friends Robert Maistriau  and Jean Franklemon armed with  only one pistol, and a makeshift  red warning  lantern ,  stopped the train on the track Mechelen-Leuven, between the towns of Boortmeerbeek and Haacht. This was the first and only time during World War II that any Nazi transport carrying Jewish deportees was stopped.

The train  was guarded by one officer and fifteen men from the Sicherheitspolizei. After a quick  battle between the Germans train  the three Resistance members, the train started again.In the mean time the resistance fighters had opened one rail car and were able to set 17 people free.

The train driver Albert Dumon most I have felt inspired by this  he deliberately drove  slow enough . and stopped frequently to allow people to jump without being injured or killed, 236 in all escaped. 115 of those were never recaptured.

Youra Livchitz unfortunately  was arrested by the Gestapo one month later, but managed to overpower his guard and escape; he was rearrested in June and executed by firing squad the following year.

yoyra

His two brothers in arms survived the war. As did Simon Gronowski the son of the Gronowski family.

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Sources

BBC

 

The last single Journey: Westerbork-Auschwitz

Sign

One of the cruel jokes the Nazis played on their victims was giving them hope. Like a railway sign indicating a return journey that was never to be. Only empty trains returned ready to pick up more victims like lambs led to the slaughter.

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On September 3,1944 the last transport by train from Westerbork Transit Camp to Auschwitz took place.

Westerbork

Between July 15 ,1942 and September 13,1944 a total of 99 trains had left Westerbork for either Auschwitz,Sobibor,Theresienstadt and Bergen Belsen.

On the September 3rd transport 1019 victims were transported to Auschwitz. A journey which would take 3 days. Even before they reached Auschwitz they endured hell, because they were cramped in cattle cars, quite literally like cattle. There were no toilets, barely any food or water, nowhere to sleep. Some would die even before they reached their final destination.

What makes this transport special is because of one family, A Father,mother and 2 daugthers, only the father would eventually survive. This family was the Frank Family.

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Anne and Margot Frank had one more journey to make on 28 October they were selected to be transported to Bergen-Belsen, where both girls died. Otto and Edith Frank remained in Auschwitz but Edith eventually died of starvation in January 1945.

Frank Family

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Train journeys for Jews

Train

The terror the Jews ,in Nazi Germany, had to undergo was not only physical. Probably the most sickest aspect was the psychological terror.

The Nazis took over every element in the lives of the Jews, they decided who lived and died. And none of the victims knew when their time would come, because the criteria in relation who would live or die changed constantly, depending on what need the Nazis had for Jews at any give time. The ultimate aim though was the total eradication of the Jews, but sometimes they needed them.

Even a simple train journey out of town was controlled by the Nazis.

The Reichsbahn (state railway), was one of many state agencies that endorsed the the German Reich’s anti-Semitic policies and immediately adhered to and implemented the policies, as soon as the Nazis were in power.

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On September 1st, 1941, Reinhard Heydrich ordered that Jews   would only be allowed to
leave their town of residence with a police permit. This paved the way for mass deportation.

Permit

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I am passionate about my site and I know 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

Deutsches Technik Museum

Transport 64:Westerbork-Sobibor

Westerbork

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

Trein

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

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

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

Lijst

 

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I am passionate about my site and I know 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

Stichting Sobibor

Joods Monument

 

 

The final destination for the Cohen family from Geleen-Auschwitz

Geleen Limburg

This blog will be based on facts and some presumptions, but the presumptions are more then likely correct.

I was going over the history of the deported Jews from my birthplace Geleen, south east of the Netherlands. when I noticed the name of the Cohen family. There is not a lot I know or could find out about them except for the fact they used to have a clothing shop in Geleen and Maastricht  prior to  World War Two.

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I do know they were a family of 6. The Father Simon, the Mother Esthella Carolina Cohen-ten Brink. Daughters Josephine, age 12, Henny age 16.Frieda age 17 and 1 son Gerrit. Gerrit is the only one who survived the war. He died on September 22, 1998, age 76. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Beek, a town a few miles from Geleen.(Picture courtesy of Frank Janssen)

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On 25 August 1942, approximately 20 Jewish citizens were brought to and then deported from town hall by the Germans. The Cohen family were among them. They were then taken to Maastricht.

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On that same day they were put on transport to Westerbork on the 25th of August 1942. On the 28th of August they left Westerbork for Auschwitz where they arrived on the 30th of August.

Simon,Esthella Carolina,Josephine and Frieda all died on the 31st of August. Henny died on the 26th of September.

Gerrit Cohen had escaped on August the 25th  1942. When the Nazis had come for the family he managed to escape via a roof window and went into hiding.

When I mentioned presumptions earlier I was referring to the transport dates, for I do believe they are correct but I could not fully verify them. The transport date from Westerbork  to Auschwitz is correct though.

Treinbord_Westerbork-Auschwitz_Auschwitz_State_Museum

Such was the evilness of the Nazi regime that they even gave people on the transport hope, pretending there was a possible return journey.

One of the citizens of Geleen,Rie op den Camp, mentioned in her diary of the 25th of August 1942, when the Jews were put on transport to Maastricht, she overheard one of the German soldiers saying  “Arme Menschen, wir müssen uns schämen, dass wir zu so eines Volk gehören”, which translates from German to English is “Poor people. we should be ashamed to belong to a people like ours” This indicates that not all Germans subscribed to Adolf Hitler’s ideology but also that they were aware what fate awaited the people on those transports.

kamp westerbork.jpg

 

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Mechelen transit camp-The logistics.

Mechelen-SS-Sammellager_-_Dossin_Casern

I know the title may seem a bit disrespectful but it is not meant that way, it was the only way I felt I could describe it.

In the summer of 1942, the Nazis made preparations to deport the Jews of Belgium. They converted the Dossin de St. Georges military barracks in the city of Mechelen (Fr., Malines) into a transit camp. Mechelen, a city of 60,000, was considered an ideal location for this purpose. Located halfway between Antwerp and Brussels, two cities which contained most of the Jewish population of Belgium, the city had good rail connections to the east.

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At the start of the war, the population of Belgium was overwhelmingly Catholic. Jews made up the largest non-Christian population in the country, numbering between 70–75,000 out of a population of 8 million. Most lived in the cities of Antwerp, Brussels, Charleroi and Liège. The vast majority were recent immigrants to Belgium who had fled persecution in Germany and Eastern Europe, and, as a result, only a small minority actually possessed Belgian citizenship.

Shortly after the invasion of Belgium, the Military Government passed a series of anti-Jewish laws in October 1940. The Belgian Committee of Secretary-Generals refused from the start to co-operate on passing any anti-Jewish measures and the Military Government seemed unwilling to pass further legislation. The German government began to seize Jewish-owned businesses and forced Jews out of positions in the civil service.

Proclamation_about_Jews_in_German-occupied_Belgium

The first group of Jews arrived in the camp Mechelen from Antwerp on July 27, 1942. Between August and December 1942, two transports with about 1,000 Jews each left the camp every week for Auschwitz-Birkenau. Between August 4, 1942, and July 31, 1944, a total of 28 trains carrying 25,000+ Jews left Mechelen for Poland; most of them went to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Below is a breakdown of the transports, the logistical numbers.I usually don’t like the statistics but if you see the numbers from a relatively unknown and small deportation centre it is just staggering.

Transports from Mechelen to Auschwitz-Birkenau
Deported people per age (above and below 15 years old) and gender. All were Jewish people, with the exception of Transport Z in 1943.

Transports Date Men Boys Women Girls Total
Transport 1 4 August 1942 544 28 403 23 998
Transport 2 11 August 1942 459 25 489 26 999
Transport 3 15 June 1942 380 48 522 50 1000
Transport 4 18 August 1942 339 133 415 112 999
Transport 5 25 August 1942 397 88 429 81 995
Transport 6 29 August 1942 355 60 531 54 1000
Transport 7 1 September 1942 282 163 401 154 1000
Transport 8 10 September 1942 388 111 403 98 1000
Transport 9 12 September 1942 408 91 401 100 1000
Transport 10 15 September 1942 405 132 414 97 1048
Transport 11 26 September 1942 562 231 713 236 1742
Transport 12 10 October 1942 310 135 423 131 999
Transport 13 10 October 1942 228 89 259 99 675
Transport 14 24 October 1942 324 112 438 121 995
Transport 15 24 October 1942 314 30 93 39 476
Transport 16 31 October 1942 686 16 94 27 823
Transport 17 31 October 1942 629 45 169 32 875
Transport 18 15 January 1943 353 105 424 65 947
Transport 19 15 January 1943 239 51 270 52 612
Transport 20 19 April 1943 463 115 699 127 1404
Transport 21 31 July 1943 672 103 707 71 1553
Transport 22a 20 September 1943 291 39 265 36 631
Transport 22b 20 September 1943 305 74 351 64 794
Transport 23 15 January 1944 307 33 293 22 655
Transport Z 15 January 1944 85 91 101 74 351
transport 24 4 April 1944 303 29 275 18 625
transport 25 19 May 1944 237 20 230 21 508
transport 26 31 July 1944 280 15 251 17 563
Total August 1942 – July 1944 10,545 2,212 10,463 2,047 25,267

Transport Z was designated for Roma

Of the 25.267 deported only 1240 survived

Statue_20th_convoy

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know 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

United States Holocaust Museum

Wikipedia Belgium