A family murdered in Auschwitz

I was going to write about a young boy called Jonas van Oosten. He was murdered in Auschwitz on January 16,1943, aged 16.

When he was two years of age he won a kite competition. The kite was much bigger then himself.

He proudly posed with his kite for a photograph, in front of a house designed by his uncle. He won the kite competition on Queen’s day in 1928, which was the national celebration of Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday.

Jonas and his kite mad it into the local news paper in Assen, the Netherlands.

The caption said “The biggest kite with the smallest kite flyer”

A young proud boy.

Later on Jonas became a member of the Achilles football association in Assen. His name appears with those of seven other Jewish club members killed during World War II on a monument at the sports complex of this association on the Marsdijk.

14 years after the picture was taken, Jonas was murdered along with the rest his family. As I said at the start I was only going to do a piece on Jonas, because that picture of a boy with a kite, could have been a picture of me, or of my sons. But then I saw pictures of the whole van Oosten family, the parents and three sons. The other 2 boys were even younger then Jonas.

Father Machiel, Mother Johanna, youngest brother Maurits Henk and the other brother Israël Berty aka Iwan.. The family owned a furniture and bedding shop

called the “Walvisch” ,Whale.

There was also an uncle called Maurits.

In July 1942 the mayor of Assen requested that Maurits van Oosten, who lived at 10 Gedempte Singel in Assen, be located, detained and brought to trial. Following the hiding of the Machiel van Oosten family, his wife Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs and the children Jonas, Israel and Maurits Henk van Oosten.

Maurits Henk van Oosten. Born in Assen, on 7 January 1933.Murdered in Auschwitz, 24 September 1943He reached the age of 10 years.

Maurits van Oosten was the youngest son of Machiel van Oosten and Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs. Maurits was seven years old when the war started. He was in primary school. In September 1941 it was forbidden for Jewish children to go to regular schools any longer. From September 1941 there is a Jewish primary school in Assen, where Maurits probably was a student. The school existed until 31 August 1942. From May 1942 Maurits was also obliged to wear a yellow star on his clothing. Maurits was called ‘Maunie’ by his family. The Nazis had confiscated his parents’ shop and house. Shortly afterwards, the Van Oosten family went into hiding on a small island in the Frisian lakes. There they were discovered and arrested. Maurits father, his uncle and his eldest brother Jonnie were sent to camp Amersfoort. His mother, his brother Iwan and himself were sent to camp Westerbork.

Israel Berty van Oosten aka Iwan was born on December 27, 1927 in Assen.

He was murdered in Auschwitz, on 24 September 1943.He reached the age of 15 years.

Iwan was a student at the public school, but could no longer go there because of the measures against Jews after the summer of 1941. From September 1, 1941, Iwan went to the Jewish school. Around June 1942, the family was told to get out of the store and clear everything. At first they were temporarily housed by other Jewish families, until a barn became available behind Boele Geerts’ café that had been used as a horse stable. After a cleaning and major clean-up, the family had temporary accommodation there. But they didn’t stay long in that shed.

With the help of the café owner Boele Geerts, the family was transported to a hiding place in Hindelopen. From the police report:

Saturday, July 18, 1942. 12 noon. Commissioned by Mr. H. I. v. P., an investigation was launched into the absence of the family of M. van Oosten, Gedempte Singel 10. An investigation showed that the family of Van Oosten approx. 10 days ago moved into a barn space, behind the café Boele Geerts on the Groningerstraat, as the plot Gedempte Singel 10 had to be cleared. Wednesday evening July 15th. the family was still seen in Assen, but not anymore. The family consists of:

  1. Machiel van Oosten born April 22, 1899 in Assen, Ned. Jew.
  2. His wife, Johanna Jakobs, born 27 May 1902 in Emmen, Ned. Jewess.
  3. Jonas van Oosten, born 9 August 1926 in Assen.
  4. Israel Berty van Oosten, born December 27, 1927 in Assen.
  5. Maurits Henk van Oosten, born January 7, 1933.
    as well as the live-in brother 6. Maurits van Oosten born 26 November 1901 in Assen, Ned. Jew.

Machiel and Maurits should have reported to the Jewish labor camp near Orvelte on Sunday 19 July 1942 along with other Jewish men from Assen. Behind their names on the departing list was: missing. On September 10, 1942, a guard in Sneek reported that the van Oosten family had been arrested in De Hel-It Heidenskip. They were accidentally discovered by Germans looking for an English channel. The family was separated. Johanna ended up with Iwan and younger brother Maurits in Westerbork transit camp on 25 September 1942. And Machiel, Uncle Maurits and Iwan’s older brother Jonny went to camp Amersfoort. On September 21, 1943, after almost a year in the camp, Iwan and his brother Maurits were deported with their mother to Auschwitz. When they got there, they were immediately killed.

Jonas was called ‘Jonnie’ by his family. The Nazis had confiscated his parents’ shop and house. Shortly afterwards, the Van Oosten family went into hiding on a small island in the Frisian lakes. There they were discovered and arrested. Jonnie, his father and his uncle were sent to camp Amersfoort. His mother, his brother Iwan and brother Maurits were sent to camp Westerbork.

In camp Amersfoort, Jewish prisoners were treated very badly. The food was poor and the prisoners were mistreated. In letters from camp Westerbork, Jonnie’s mother writes about her concerns about her husband, brother-in-law and children: “The people here are full of hope and cheerful. I also think by winter the end (of the war) but I’m afraid we’re still going. My poor little boys. I want to save them so badly. And here waiting for my trio (husband, brother-in-law and son). I occasionally hope they are still alive. It’s like going crazy in this hell and then alone. Nobody knows how good it has been, and how good we had it those 18 years and that it’s gone now, that’s impossible. And my Jonneman who is now almost 17 years old. What that poor child suffers if he is still alive. You don’t have to think about that. It is said that Mau (Jonnie’s father) and Jonnie passed through Oberhauzen Essen about 20 November with 80 other Jews. And Mie (his uncle) about December 19 the same direction. Yesterday I spoke to an Aryan who was with him in Amersfoort. Mie has also said that he will do his best to make it through to the end and he thought Jonnie was a sweet good kid. He was the youngest there, but Amersfoort has been very bad.”

Johanna van Oosten-Jakobs. Born in Emmen, on 27 May 1902 . Murdered in Auschwitz, 24 September 1943. Reached the age of 41 years.

She wrote a few letters while in the camp. This one is about the worries she had about her son Maurits aka Maunie:

“What a sick boy he was, He’s like an old man and so nervous. Maunie is looking forward to tonight. He hasn’t eaten anything in four days and now Aunt Leen has promised to cook him potatoes. She will bring them tonight. That’s something he’s really looking forward to.”

In another letter she wrote:

“The people here are full of hope and cheerfulness. I also think by winter the end (of the war) but I’m afraid we’re still going. My poor little boys. I want to save them so badly. And here waiting for my trio (husband, brother-in-law and son). I occasionally hope they are still alive. It’s like going crazy in this hell and then alone.

Machiel van Oosten was the son of Jonas van Oosten and Gonda Godschalk. He had two brothers and a sister. Machiel was known as Mie. Machiel ran the furniture shop De Walvisch (which opened in 1896) with his father Jonas van Oosten and his brother Maurits. In addition to selling home furnishings, the firm arranged moves. The firm’s large orange lorry was the first transport vehicle in Assen. The extensive advertising included the song ‘De Groote Walvischtrein’, of which the words to the first of the three stanzas were:

If you want to move, fear you need not feign:

Van Oosten has a big whale train,

to bring your things without a penny of pain”

Machiel was born in Assen, on 22 April 1899.He was murdered in Auschwitz, 11 January 1943.

Everyone in the van Oosten family, including grandparents, uncles and aunts were murdered.






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Happy Birthday Aron Polak

Aron would have been 81 today, but he didn’t even get to the age of 2. He was born in Amsterdam on September 8, 1941. He was murdered in Sobibor March 26,1943.

The fact that he was murdered at such a young age is not even the saddest part of his story. There was actually a chance he could have survived.

Aron’s Father, Joseph, was sent to Westerbork, I am not sure on what date, bur sometime after November 1941. After that Aron’s Mother, Lena, went into hiding with Aron. She moved several times. Eventually she stayed with Family but due to tensions Lena decided to voluntarily report herself and Aron to Westerbork.

Lena actually believed that her Husband had a job in Westerbork, sorting out gold and silver. She probably thought that he could provide for his family, even in Westerbork.

Lena and her son Aron eventually reported themselves voluntarily in Westerbork on 27 February 1943. They stayed in barrack 72 and on the 1st of March, Joseph was also in that barrack. On March 23,1943, , the Polak family was deported to Sobibor and on arrival there on 26 March 1943 immediately sent to the gas chambers, and were murdered.

What is so disturbing about this, is that the Nazis somehow created the illusion that even when you were sent to Westerbork, there was a chance of a reasonable normal life.

As for young Aron, I will be looking up to the sky tonight, imagining he is one of the stars I will see. Happy Birthday little man, you were a star to your parents, and you are a star for all of us. A beacon to remind us of what you went through.




(updated September 8,2022)

Children murdered on September 6, 1944.

I was going to do a piece on Ursula Gerson, who was murdered in Auschwitz on September 6,1944 aged 8. But then I saw there were more Dutch Jewish children and Jewish refugees, who fled Germany and Austria with their parents, who were murdered that day.

Duifje Gans. murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11

Mirjam Lisette Katz, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Heijman Karel Franken, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 10.

Jeanette Regina Schenk, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mary Winnik, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 7.

Mietje Judith Moscou, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 11.

Samuel Groenteman, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 6.

Karel Jacobs, murdered in Auschwitz, September 6, 1944. Aged 13.

These are only a few. There were at least327 Dutch Jews whose death were registered on September 6,1944.About 30 % or so were children

I was wondering why there were so many on that specific date.Then it dawned on me. They were all on the last transport from Westerbork to Auschwitz, which left the Netherlands on September 3,1944. Anne Frank and her family were also on that transport.

I know that I will have nightmares tonight with the faces of these poor souls haunting me, but it will be worth it. There fate and names should never be forgotten.