Camp Vught-Concentration camp in the Netherlands

Before I start writing about Camp Vught in the Netherlands, there is something I have to get off my chest. Two days ago I was watching the Irish news, they were talking about the Stutthof camp, in connection with the recent detention of 96-year-old Irmgard Furchner, who worked as a secretary in the camp’s office.. The news reader said “Polish camp”. I immediately said “There will be complaints about this” and sure enough a day after Poland’s ambassador to Ireland protested against Irish national broadcaster, RTE.

In a letter to RTE CEO Jon Williams, Ambassador Anna Sochańska pointed out that wartime concentration camps in Poland were built and run by the Germans, who were occupying Poland at the time.

“This is completely wrong, because the death camps were Nazi-German camps in occupied Poland. Poland was under German occupation at the time when several Nazi-German concentration and death camps were operating on its territory,” Sochańska wrote.

Except for Ireland, UK, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Sweden and Switzerland all other European countries were occupied, or axis powers. In all occupied countries there were Nazis and Nazi collaborators, even in Poland. If the Polish government keeps denying that, they are betraying the memories of the brave Polish soldiers and resistance fighters who died fighting the Nazis and their helpers. They are distorting their own history and that helps no one, past and future generations will not thank them for it.

As you can see the title of this blog is “Camp Vught-Concentration camps in the Netherlands” and not occupied Netherlands.

The prisoners at Camp Vught included Jews, political prisoners, Sinti and Roma gypsies, and resistance fighters. They were subjected to slave labour and were forced to make products for the German war industry, such as torches and radios. Despite their difficult circumstances, the prisoners managed to resist even in the prison camp by sabotaging the goods they were forced to make.

The as camp located in Vught near the town of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. The camp was opened in 1943 and held 31,000 prisoners. 749 prisoners were murdered in the camp, and the others were transferred to other camps shortly before the camp was liberated by the Allied Forces in 1944. It is also known as ‘Herzogenbusch concentration camp’

After the war, the camp was used as a prison for Germans and for Dutch collaborators.

Camp Vught witnessed endless cruelty on order of the Nazi regime . One of the most infamous events was the bunker drama. On 15 January 1944, to punish prisoners for a women’s protest in the camp, the camp commander put 74 women in cell 115, a bunker measuring 9 square meters without ventilation. When the soldiers opened the bunker door the next morning, 10 of the women were dead.

Camp Vught was the only SS concentration camp outside Nazi Germany.

As I stated earlier every occupied country had indigenous people helping the Nazis, and to be honest I don’t know what I would do if I was put in that position. Many people helped the Nazis purely out of self preservation. The Dutch railways and the civil servants had a lot to answer for. Their actions enabled the murder of over 100,000 Jews and a great number of others. But the Dutch were not unique in this, the only difference is that the Dutch were more efficient because of a well oiled citizen registry.

It would have been physically impossible for the Germans to fight on 2 fronts, defend the Atlantic wall from Norway down to France. And control more than 44,000 incarceration sites, without getting help from the locals.

If we keep diluting history we will never learn from it.

sources

https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/destinations/provinces/north-brabant/the-camp-vught-national-memorial.htm

https://www.thefirstnews.com/article/poland-protests-irish-broadcasters-polish-concentration-camp-misnomer-25086

Happy Birthday Wolf Blits

In my opinion the best way to remember the victims of the Holocaust is to personalize their stories. Rather then a number, show the human side. Because that is what they were ,all those millions were all individual human beings, just like everyone else.

I wish I could show you a picture of Wolf Blits. I could perhaps include a picture of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, but he is not the same person.

Perhaps Wolf Blits also could have been a reporter, journalist or news anchor. But he was never given that opportunity. He was murdered when he was 4.

Wolf was born in Amsterdam on August 24,1938. He was murdered on June 11,1943 in Sobibor.

In those 4 years he travelled more then many 40 year old. In 1943 he traveled from Amsterdam to Camp Vught near Den Bosch in the Netherlands, where he arrived on June 6,1943.

From Vught he traveled to Westerbork near Amersfoort, in the Netherlands where he arrived on June 8,1943.

From Westerbork he traveled to Sobibor in Poland, where he arrived on or just before June 11,1943. There he was murdered on June 11,1943.

At the start of this blog is a picture of a card from Vught. On the card 4 year old Wolf was registered as a prisoner, as if he was a hardened criminal. Of course he wasn’t a criminal, nor were his parents or anyone else of those millions who were murdered. The criminals were those who murdered them, The disturbing fact though is that these criminals followed the letter of the law.

A law made up up by sick individuals who followed a warped ideology, an ideology based on hate.

Poor Wolf traveled quite a bit. I remember moving when I was a kid, it was only a few blocks away from where I lived, but to me it was like moving to the other side of the world. I thought they spoke a different language. I was very anxious. But I moved to a nice place. Poor Wolf traveled to be murdered.

It is his birthday today. Dear Wolf whatever star you are up in the skies, I wish you a happy birthday.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/nl/page/184678/wolf-blits

https://www.oorlogslevens.nl/tijdlijn/Wolf-Blits/02/13216

Marijke Godschalk -Murdered one week before her 2nd birthday.

Marijke Godschalk was born in Assen, the Netherlands, on June 18 1941. Less then 2 years later she would be dead.

Not because she was ill or had been involved in an accident. She died because of someone’s idea of her. Although she looked like any other Dutch or even German girl, I would even say she looked Aryan, she was deemed not worthy of life because she was Jewish.

Marijke Godschalk was deported to Sobibor in June 1943 from Vught via Westerbork on the so-called children’s transport. She was 1 year, 51 weeks old when she was murdered.

The train left on June 6,1943. It was not a German train she was on, but a Dutch train. According to a representative of the NS(Nederlandse Spoorwegen), Dutch Railways, the NS had “complied with the German order to make trains available. The Germans paid for it and said the NS had to come up with a timetable. And the company went and did it without a word of objection.”

I am struggling with this. Who was more guilty? The person who murdered Marijke, or the person who put her on the train, knowing that the likelihood of her survival were slim to none?

Marijke wasn’t the only child who was murdered. She was one of 1.5 million.

sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/151453/marijke-godschalk

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49233817

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David Koker- Not just a diarist.

David Koker

There are probably quite a few people who will have heard of David Koker,  or at least will know about the diary he wrote during his imprisonment at camp Vught, in the Netherlands.

The diary was published in 1977 with the name Dagboek geschreven in Vught and was published in 2012 it was translated into English and published wit the title  At the Edge of the Abyss: A Concentration Camp Diary, 1943-1944.It was written between 11 February 1943 and  8 February 1944.

On the night of 11 February 1943,David and his family were arrested in Amsterdam and arrested and transported to camp Vught. For this transport they actually received a train ticket, and if you see the ticket it looks like something nice was done to the Koker family. It appears to be an act of charity.

urn-gvn-EVDO01-MMNIOD01-244_1657-medium

It was issued by the ‘Centre of Jewish emigration Amsterdam, and ordered by the Hauptsturmbahnführer Woerlein.

The text of the ticket says ” The keeper of this permit and ticket referring to call up of the same number, has the right to travel free of charge by allocated train to the Station of Hoogthalen. The permit and ticket have to be shown without being asked to the train staff at the station of Hooghalen. The inspector will then tear the ticket from the permit”

At  the bottom it says “If you show this ticket you can avail at cost of transport via tram or bus at the above mentioned date”

Hooghalen

If you wouldn’t know the history you could be forgiven that the ticket was a charitable thing to do, but in fact it was the first step to the transition of systematic murder.

I won’t post anything from his diary. I leave it up to all of you to find the diary and read it yourself. However I will put down below 2 pieces he wrote. The first piece I belive is either from 1939 or early 1940. It illustrates David’s awareness of what was happening around him and in Germany.

“The finest experts of the human heart,can’t make me out.I’m quite a thing apart/ They say that from them I perhaps should quit. “You sir, don’t fit our system one small bit””

On 2 June 1944, while the family was being transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, David managed to throw a letter from the train. Below is an excerpt of that note.

“Dear friends, we are close to the border now. It is very disappointing, but we were prepared for it and remain hopeful. I think a lot about you. (…) I’ve got all your letters and photos with me. My dearest possessions. When will we see each other again? That will take a long time. But we shall survive. (…) Lots of love guys, thanks for everything. Goodbye.”

Auschwitz Birkenau would not be the final destination for David.On February 23 1945 he died in Gross-Rosen concentration camp. He was aged 23. David’s mother and brother Max survived the war.

Ending the blog with a picture taken in 1930 in Amsterdam of the Koker family..

koker

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Sources

https://www.joodsmonument.nl/en/page/507940/about-david-koker

https://geheugen.delpher.nl/nl/geheugen/view/oorlogsdagboek-koker-david-koker-david?coll=ngvn&maxperpage=36&page=2&query=Auschwitz&identifier=EVDO01%3AMMNIOD01-244_1657

https://books.google.ie/books?id=-cT2yHpiSgUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

https://www.coenraadrood.org/nl/westerbork/aankomst-in-kamp-westerbork

http://www.stationsweb.nl/station.asp?station=Hooghalen

 

 

 

 

Four Innocent Lives

4 kids

This picture really upset me, it comes from an album from the National Monument of Camp Vught. When I saw the picture first I thought it was a family picture of 4 siblings. But these kids are not related, it appears to be a staged picture taken at  Vught Concentration Camp

But that is not what upset me, what did, is the notion that these 4 kids were given some bit of hope of a life, but that life was taken from them.

4 futures taken for no other reason but hate.

What is even more upsetting is that so little is known of these children , only the bare facts and not even all the facts either.

The boy in the picture, top left, is Simon Koster born 20 January 1934 in Amsterdam.Murdered in Auschwitz 17 September 1942 .aged 8.

The little girl in front of  Simon is Dora Fresco, born 13 September 1940.in the Hague Murdered in Sobibor 16 July 1943, aged 2.

The oldest girl ,top right is Rabecca Pemina Vorst, date of birth not known, birthplace not known. Murdered in Auschwitz 26 March 1943.

The baby lying down on the bed is Rosalie van Baale, born 22 June 1941, in Amsterdam. Murdered in Vught Concentration Camp on 12 April 1943, aged 1.

NEVER EVER FORGET WHAT HATE CAN DO.

A slight correction, one of my readers found some additional information and discovered that the 4 children are related through their mothers who were sisters from each other, and the picture was made before they were sent to Vught.

The kids all have different surnames which indicates 4 mothers. This makes that picture even more upsetting because it means that 4 young families were either killed or torn apart.

 

 

 

 

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

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

Holocausteducatie.nl

The New York Times

Smithsonian

Telegraph UK

Yad Vashem