Football in time of Horror-The football competition in Westerbork

voetbal

This must be one of the most amazing events I came across but amidst all the killing,torture,deportations and other horrors in Camp Westerbork, they actally found time to set up a football competition.

The competition was made up of several teams of Jewish inmates and started in spring 1943, it was a welcome distraction and gave some sense of hope of survival.

It must also have been a way of taking a bit of revenge on the members of the OD(Ordnungsdeinst) or Capos some of them also played in the tournament.

Some players did survive the Holocaust but the majority of them died in the extermination camps, along with Han Hollander who had been a famous Dutch sports commentator,with the broadcaster AVRO prior to  the war. He died on July 9,1943 in Sobibor.

han

Juda de Vries, who had been a celebrated goal keeper of HFC Haarlem was send Westerbork in 1942. For a short time he entered the competition, he was transported to Sobibor in May 1943 where he was killed.

Juda

Although the competition was short lived for most it had given them that feeling of ‘normal’ life again, however short lived it was it must have felt magical.

spel

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Sources

NIOD

 

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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.

Trein

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.

scheule

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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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 .

cHILD

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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Sources

Stichting Sobibor

Joods Monument

 

 

Johnny & Jones-Jazz musicians, killed because they were Jewish.

Prentbriefkaart_Johnny_and_Jones

Aside from the human costs of he persecution of the Jews by the Nazis, it also had a devastating impact on culture. So many very talented painters,writers,musicians and other artists were killed because they were Jewish. Artists whose art could still have been enjoyed today,but they never got a chance.

Johnny & Jones were a Jazz/Cabaret duo from Amsterdam. Nol (Arnold Siméon) van Wesel (Johnny) and Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser (Jones).

The duo worked together at the De Bijenkorf (Beehive) department store.bijenkorf

During a company party in 1934, they joined up with The Bijko Rhythm Stompers, where their talents were discovered. Two years later they quit their jobs and began performing under the name Johnny & Jones. Their biggest hit was “Mr Dinges doesn’t know what swing is” (“Mijnheer Dinges weet niet wat swing is”).

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They made jazz music accompanied by the guitar, and their lyrics, invariably pronounced with an American accent, were characterized by humorous, topical parodies. Beginning in 1937 they were regularly played on the VARA-radio and became immensely popular.

In May 1940 the Germans invaded and occupied the Netherlands, gradually but at a fast pace the Nazi began introducing antisemitic laws. Also laws banning some musical genres were introduced, Jazz was labelled as Entartete Musik or Degenerate music, alabel applied in the 1930s by the Nazi government in Germany to certain forms of music that it considered to be harmful or decadent.

Entartete_musik_poster

Because they were Jewish,  Johnny & Jones could only play for Jewish audiences, during the German occupation,and after 1941 were not allowed to play at all. In 1943 Max,Nol and their wives were arrested and were send  to the Westerbork transit camp.In the camp they performed once under the name Jonny und Jones since in the revue only the German language was allowed. In 1944 they were sent on a day’s work assignment from Westerbork to Amsterdam, during which they managed to clandestinely record the song “Westerbork Serenade”.

The song starts of with them singing that they don’t feel like themselves and that they aren’t great. Their hearts beat like the airplane demolishing  yard, which was actually the job assigned to them in the camp,dismantling crashed warplanes.

(Drawing by Leo Kok, a Jewish artist who drew this picture of ‘Johnny and Jones’ dismantling planes in 1944. Leo Kok died a week after liberation day)Tekening_Nol_van_Wezel_en_Max_Kannewasser

Below is the translated text of the song.

“Hello we feel a little out of order,
To pull myself together is quite hard,
Suddenly I’m a different person,
My heart beats like the airplane wrecking yard.

I sing my Westerbork serenade,
Along the little rail-way the tiny silver moon shines
On the heath.
I sing my Westerbork serenade
With a pretty lady walking there together,
Cheek to cheek.
And my heart burns like the boiler in the boiler house,
Oh it never hit me quite like this at Mother’s place
I sing my Westerbork serenade,
In between the barracks I threw my arms around her
Over there
This Westerbork love affair.
And so I went over to the medic,
The guy says: “there is nothing you can do;
Oh but you will feel a whole lot better
After you give her a kiss or two
(But that you must not do…)”

Even in this dark period they managed to keep composure and a sense of humour.

On 4 September 1944 Van Wesel and Kannewasser were deported on one of the last transports from Westerbork to a series of concentration camps: Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, Ohrdruf and Bergen-Belsen. They died of exhaustion during the last days of the war in 1945, Nol van Wesel (Johnny) died on 20 March 1945

Max (Salomon Meyer) Kannewasser (Jones) .on 15 April, the day that the camp was liberated.

Vergeb Belsen

The only consolation in this story is that Johnny and Jones songs can still be heard and because of modern day technology their voices can still be heard all over the world.

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Source

Wikipedia Netherlands

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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De retour reis die nooit plaatsvond

++++++Text is in Dutch++++++++++

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‘Westerbork-Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Westerbork’ staat op dit metalen treinbord. De terugreis die wordt vermeld wordt door niemand gemaakt. Op 15 en 16 juli 1942 vertrekken de eerste twee treinen met ruim 2000 joden van doorgangskamp Westerbork naar het vernietigingskamp Auschwitz in Polen.

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De geschiedenis van kamp Westerbork is onlosmakelijk verbonden met het lot dat de Joodse gemeenschap tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog trof. De Jodenvervolging die zich tussen 1940 en 1945 afspeelde, zorgde ervoor dat een gemeenschap die zich sinds honderden jaren in Nederland bevond, grotendeels werd uitgeroeid.

Bijna 107.000 mensen zijn met 97 transporten vanuit kamp Westerbork gedeporteerd.
Op 15 juli 1942 vertrok het eerste transport naar Auschwitz-Birkenau. Vanaf 2 maart 1943 tot 16 november 1943 was er sprake van een wekelijks ritme: iedere dinsdag vertrok een trein met duizend tot soms meer dan drieduizend personen.

westerdeparture
De deportaties werden georganiseerd vanuit Berlijn: datum, bestemming en het aantal te deporteren mensen. De SS-commandant van Westerbork was verantwoordelijk voor het opstellen van de transportlijsten. De uitvoering werd overgelaten aan de Joodse kampleiding. De bestemming was meestal Auschwitz of Sobibor. Enkele keren Bergen-Belsen en Theresienstadt en soms een ander kamp. Het laatste grote transport vertrok met 279 Joden op 13 september 1944 naar Bergen-Belsen. Slechts 5.000 gedeporteerden overleefden de oorlog.

De gevangenen in Westerbork leven tussen hoop en vrees, van transport tot transport. De avond voor het vertrek is ondraaglijk. In de barak wordt dan bekendgemaakt wie moet vertrekken. De volgende dag is er geen ontkomen aan. In iedere smerige wagon van de lange trein worden soms wel 70 mensen met bagage gepropt. De deuren worden aan de buitenkant vergrendeld. ‘Mannen wordt het te machtig, ze slikken de tranen weg. De trein gilt; de giftige slang begint te schuifelen’, schrijft Philip Mechanicus in Westerbork in zijn dagboek.

Vanuit Nederland zijn 107.000 joden en 245 Sinti en Roma grotendeels via Westerbork weggevoerd.

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The “Jewish-SS” of Westerbork

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Ironically Camp Westerbork had been set up in 1939 to house Jewish refugees fleeing from Nazi Germany to the Netherlands.

Following the German invasion of the Netherlands, the Nazis took over the camp and turned it into a deportation camp. From this camp, 101,000 Dutch Jews and about 5,000 German Jews were deported to their deaths in Occupied Poland. In addition, there were about 400 Gypsies in the camp and, at the very end of the War, some 400 women from the resistance movement.1024px-Westerbork-monument2

The Ordenienst, or Jewish police in Westerbork, were universally detested by camp inmates for their cruelty and role in collaborating with the Nazis. Composed of Jews from Holland and other European countries, members of the OD were responsible for guarding the punishment block and generally maintaining order in the camp. The OD consisting of 20 men in mid-1942, grew to a peak of 182 men in April 1943 and stood at 67 in February 1944. Wearing the “OD” badge on the left breast was decreed in Camp Order No. 27 of 23 April 1943.

41.-NIOD-96763

The general supervision of the camp was in the hands of the SS and early on they were also responsible for the security in the vicinity of the camp. Daily life inside the camp was overseen by different Jewish work groups, including the Ordedienst  (Order Service). The members of this group, who wore these green coveralls, were responsible for fire safety and internal security.

 

They supervised the labour gangs, both inside and outside the camp. They also guarded the people scheduled for transport to the concentration and extermination camps. At times the Jewish Order Service was also deployed for razzias (roundups) in Amsterdam

 

And also  to retrieve the sick from their homes and for instance to empty the Jewish psychiatric hospital the Apeldoornsche Bosch in 1943.Hoofdgebouw_Apeldoornsche_Bosch_(ca._1930)

Needless to say, members of the Orderdienst were not particularly popular among Westerbork’s prisoners and often referred to as the ‘Jewish-SS’. Ultimately, most of the members of the Jewish Order Service were transported as well.

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Eddy Hamel- Player of AFC AJAX,killed in Auschwitz.

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AFC Ajax is one of the most well known football clubs in Europe if not the world.Aside from dozens of national trophies it also won 12 international trophies, a feat repeated by only a few other clubs.

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Historically, Ajax was popularly seen as having “Jewish roots”. Although not an official Jewish club like the city’s WV-HEDW, Ajax has had a Jewish image since the 1930s when the home stadium was located next to a Jewish neighbourhood of Amsterdam-Oost and opponents saw many supporters walking through the Nieuwmarkt/Waterloopleinbuurt (de Jodenhoek—the “Jews’ corner”) to get to the stadium.

Die-hard Ajax supporters call themselves “Joden” — Dutch for “Jews” — a nickname that reflects both the team’s and the city’s Jewish heritage. This nickname for Ajax fans dates back to before World War II, when Amsterdam was home to most of the Netherlands’ 140,000 Jews.

The club  has an academy where it draws most of its players from but it has also always attracted foreign players. Eddy Hamel was no exception.

Hamel was the first Jewish player for Ajax. Born in New York City, New York, he moved to Amsterdam in his teenage years. As a right winger, Hamel became a first team regular for Ajax. He was the first player with a Jewish background who made it to the first team, and to date only three others have followed in his footsteps – Johnny Roeg, Bennie Muller and Daniël de Ridder. Hamel was a fan favourite and was cited by pre-World War II club legend Wim Anderiesen as part of the strongest line-up he ever played with.He was Ajax’ right winger from 1922 to 1930.  He scored eight goals in 125 league games.

After his retirement as a player, he managed RKV Volendam, in 1935 they became champion and he also managed  Alcmaria Victrix for three years and continued to play in an Ajax veteran squad.

alcmaria_victrix_logo

Hamel was also to become the club’s only war victim who played for the first team of Ajax. In 1941 all Jewish players were dishonorably discharged from their clubs as decreed by the Nazi’s.He possessed a United States passport, which he could not produce when Nazi Germany invaded.

In October 1942 Eddy Hamel and his family were arrested and deported to Westerbork to the “English Baracks” where he meets and befriends Leon Greenman.

He was murdered in the Auschwitz concentration camp on 30 April 1943. In the TV document Auschwitz: The Forgotten Evidence, fellow inmate and friend  Leon Greenman said he was in front of Eddy when he told him he had an abscess in his mouth, while in a regular medical selection queue, while Leon passed that selection Eddy was sent to the gas chambers because of his abscess.

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The return journeys that never happened

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This metal train sign ‘Westerbork-Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Westerbork’ indicated a return trip that nobody would ever make.

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On 15 and 16 July 1942, the first two cargo trains packed with more than 2,000 Jews left the Westerbork Transit Camp headed for the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland. Most of the people aboard these transports were killed the same day they arrived. A total of 65 trains left for Auschwitz alone.

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The prisoners at Westerbork lived from transport to transport and between hope and fear. The evening before a departure was unbearable because the names of those who would be transported were announced then. The next day there was no escape. Sometimes as many as 70 people with all their bags were crammed into each filthy boxcar of the lengthy train. The doors were then bolted shut from the outside. ‘It is overwhelming for the men; they swallow their tears. The train screeches: the poisonous snake begins to inch forward,’ wrote the Dutch writer and photographer Philip Mechanicus in the diary he kept in Westerbork.

philipmechanicus

Of the 107,000 Jews and 245 Sinti and Roma who were deported from the Netherlands, for the most part via Westerbork, only a total of 5,000 people returned.

Sadly enough Westerbork was established and built by  Dutch government as a refugee camp, in 1939, financed partly by Dutch Jews, to absorb fleeing Jews from Nazi Germany. The Jewish refugees were housed after they had tried to escape Nazi terror in their homeland.

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Following the German invasion of the Netherlands, the Nazis took over the camp and turned it into a deportation camp.

The general supervision of the camp was in the hands of the SS and early on they were also responsible for the security in the vicinity of the camp. Daily life inside the camp was overseen by different Jewish work groups, including the Ordedienst  (Lit. Order Service). The members of this group, who wore these green coveralls, were responsible for fire safety and internal security.

41-overall-ordedienst-westerbork

They supervised the labour gangs, both inside and outside the camp. They also guarded the people scheduled for transport to the concentration and extermination camps. At times the Jewish Order Service was also deployed for razzias (roundups) in Amsterdam, to retrieve the sick from their homes and for instance to empty the Jewish psychiatric hospital the Apeldoornsche Bosch in 1943.

apeldoornse_bosch_personeel1937

Needless to say, members of the Orderdienst were not particularly popular among Westerbork’s prisoners and often referred to as the ‘Jewish-SS’. Eventually, most of the members of the Jewish Order Service were transported as well.

0fc7482266f5f7d2270c5f2ddabb5da1

 

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Barrack 66-Camp Westerbork-the Christmas wish of a little boy.

westerbork-123

The Dutch Christmas is slightly different then other Christmas celebrations. On the 5th of December the Dutch celebrate “Sinterklaas” Saint Nicholas,although it is basically the same figure as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. There are subtle differences in the “configuration”

Sinterklaas doesn’t come from Lapland but from Spain and arrives on a steam boat and a white horse rather then a sleigh and reindeer. His helpers aren’t elves but are moors called ‘Zwarte Piet’ Black Pete, and he comes in the traditional dress as a Bishop. Although it is a Christian tradition generally it is celebrated across most religions.

Leo Meijer was a small Jewish boy in September 1942 when he was aged 7 he was taken from his home together with his Family and was deported to Camp Westerbork.

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In December 1943 he wrote the following note to Sinterklaas

“Dear Sint en Piet,I really like the role of mints and I now give you the last piece of my Rye Bread for your horse. my father is very ill and I don’t like it it in Westerbork, it’s a nasty place. Do you remember from before when I lived in Zwijndrecht you gave me a Trainset. I know you will be coming to Barrack 66, I’ll be there too.”

Leo Meijer attended the Onderdijkschool in Zwijndrecht. When Jewish children had to leave the school, he enrolled at the Jewish school in Dordrecht. Leo Meijer excelled in drawing.

meijer_kader1-foto1-schoolklas

In 1943 he got drawing paper from Sinterklaas. Leo used this paper to draw his experiences in Westerbork and his memories of the time he lived in his hometown Zwijmdrecht, like the time he went to the Circus and he had seen an elephant.

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Leo and his family were deported from Westerbork to Theresienstadt on 5 September 1944 and subsequently to Auschwitz on 4 October 1944.Where Leo and his mother are send to the gas chambers upon arrival.

leo-meijer-met-moeder1

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