Witnesses of Theresienstadt

 

Realisation project:

Radboud University Nijmegen, Faculty of Religious Studies

 

Timeframe: 1943-1945, postwar period
Location: Amsterdam, Theresienstadt, Westerbork

Number of interviews: 25

 

Restricted access

 

 

 

With a dozen filmed interviews, this project contributes to the knowledge and image of the Jews deported from the Netherlands and their memories of the German concentration camp Theresienstadt in the present Czech Republic. Theresienstadt was mainly a transit camp for Jews, who were mostly sent to the extermination camps. The interviewees are Jews who were deported from the Netherlands to the camp in 1943 and 1944 and stayed in the camp for short or long periods of time (or even twice) during the last two years of the Second World War. The following questions are central to the interviews: How did the eyewitnesses experience Theresienstadt and which elements played a decisive role in their survival strategies? How did the prisoners cope and what gave them their strength?

 

The approximately 5000 Jews from the Netherlands in Theresienstadt were a very heterogeneous group. About half of them were German-speaking and as Austrian or German emigrants or refugees they had a completely different history than the Jews born in the Netherlands. There were also several groups of privileged Jews (such as the ‘Barneveld group’ and the ‘Mussert Jews’), while other categories (such as the Jews on the ‘Puttkammer list’) had a much less protected status.

 

It is often said about the Dutch group that they were conspicuous in Theresienstadt for their unwillingness to work, their maladjustment and their passive resistance. These characteristics, attributed mainly to Dutch prisoners, were mentioned indirectly in the interviews with survivors, but were not automatically confirmed by the respondents.

 

Porgel & Porulan in the Resistance

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

Stichting Lumen Film

 

Timeframe: 1935-1946
Location: Nederland, Amsterdam, Alkmaar
Number of interviews: 5 (19 parts)

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zft-huzt

 

Interviews can be seen via:

 

Although little known, Jews were also active in the resistance during World War II. They were members of communist and social-democratic resistance groups, the Ordedienst and were involved in the February strike of 1941.

The ‘PP-group’, named after the fantasy creatures Porgel and Porulan from the clandestine published nonsense rhyme by Cees Buddingh, was led by Bob van Amerongen and Jan Hemelrijk. Both had a Jewish father. The resistance group specialised in helping Jewish people in hiding and probably saved the lives of dozens of Jews (mainly family and friends). Bob van Amerongen occupied himself with hiding people and Jan Hemelrijk specialised in forging identity cards. 

The group got more and more work as the war progressed. As a result, more and more members came from the group’s own circles. Most members had a Jewish background, such as interior designer Ab Stuiver and actor Rob de Vries, but there were also non-Jewish members, such as Tini Israël and her friend Karel van het Reve. By the end of the war, the PP group had grown into a close-knit organisation with 19 core members, mostly former pupils of the Murmellius Gymnasium in Alkmaar, where Jan and Bob had been at school, and the Vossius Gymnasium in Amsterdam.

 

The PP-group was one of the 38 Amsterdam resistance groups that united in 1944 in the federation Free Groups Amsterdam (VGA). It was only on this occasion that Jan Hemelrijk gave the group the name PP-group; all groups had to choose a pseudonym. The 38 groups, of which about 20% of the members had a Jewish or half-Jewish background, played an active role in helping Amsterdam Jews even before the LO (the national organisation for helping people in hiding) became active in the summer of 1943.

The five interviewees – Dineke Broers-Hemelrijk (Jan Hemelrijk’s sister), Mark van Rossum du Chatel (a member of the PP group) and Bob van Amerongen and his hiders Jaap Lobatto and Miep Gompes-Lobatto – talk about their experiences during the Second World War.

Rozenberg Quarterly

 

Headquarters Porgel and Perulan, © Lumen film

 

VPRO 2Doc: Fatsoenlijk land

The interviews (recorded 2008-2009) have been incorporated into the documentary and the book ‘Fatsoenlijk land’ (2013) by Loes Gompes.

Headquarters Porgel and Perulan, © Lumen film
 

Memories of my Amsterdam sister or brother

Hanna van de Voort was the leading “hiding mother” in Limburg

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

LGOG Maastricht ©; (2009)

 

Timeframe: 1943-1945
Location: Nederland
Number of interviews: 8

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-xq5-67fm

 

The interviews can be seen via:

 

During the war years 1943-1944, about 123 Jewish children were smuggled out of Amsterdam and placed with families in North Limburg. Much is known about how these children experienced their time in hiding. Research has also been carried out into the reactions of the children from the Limburg host families to the stay in their midst of the young people in hiding. To support and supplement this research, this interview project interviews people who, as children, received an Amsterdam ‘brother or sister’. The interviews reveal in a penetrating manner how they experienced the arrival of the foreign children in their family. It becomes clear how it was for them to suddenly have to share their parents with young Jewish people in hiding, who were accepted into their family as household members.    

 

The Jewish children – mostly from the crèche opposite the Hollandsche Schouwburg – were smuggled out of the capital by an Amsterdam student resistance group led by Piet Meerburg. In northern Limburg, the hiding organisation for the children was in the hands of Hanna van de Voort, a midwife from Tienray. She was assisted in her resistance work by the young Nijmegen student Nico Dohmen, who had gone into hiding in Tienray because he had not signed the declaration of loyalty.

Allied bombing of the Fokker factory in Amsterdam-Noord in July 1943

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

 

Stichting Historisch Centrum Amsterdam Noord (HCAN)

 

Timeframe: July 1943
Location: Amsterdam
Number of interviews: 7

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-z9s-nxc9

 

In July 1943, the Allies tried to drop bombs on the Fokker aircraft factory in Amsterdam-North, because it was involved in the German war industry. The Allied attack on the factory largely missed its target and bombs fell on residential areas, a monastery and a church. There were more than 200 casualties, mostly civilians. Because it was allied bombs, this tragic event has always been a sensitive subject.
In this oral history project, seven witnesses of the bombing will be interviewed. Special attention is paid to the organisation of the relief effort, which for the most part had to be started from the centre of Amsterdam. A number of interviewees discuss the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Ritakerk parish, which was hit during the celebration.
In July 1943, Amsterdam-Noord was targeted three times by Allied attacks, which were aimed at the camouflaged Fokker factory that looked like a friendly residential area. On Saturday 17 July, 41 Flying Fortresses of the inexperienced American Eighth Airborne Army went into action. Not a single bomb hit Fokker and 152 civilians were killed. Of the hundreds of wounded, many died later from their wounds. On Sunday 25 July, 10 British Mitchell bombers did hit the Fokker aircraft factory and largely reduced the complex to ashes. On Wednesday 28 July it was the Free French who attacked. This attack cost the lives of 17 more civilians in Noord and the devastation was enormous.

The Jewish market in the Gaaspstraat in Amsterdam (1941-1943)

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Realisation project:

Stichting Kindermonument

 

Time frame: november 1941-november 1943
Location: Gaaspstraat, Rivierenbuurt, Amsterdam
Number of interviews: 11

 

Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-xe6-njs4

 

When the Jewish merchants had to disappear from the markets on 3 November 1941 as part of the arisation of the Jewish retail trade, the special Jewish markets were not yet ready. The Jewish markets, intended for Jewish market vendors and their Jewish customers, existed for two years, from the end of 1941 to the end of 1943. For these markets, the German and municipal authorities chose spacious, fenced-off places (‘gänzlich umzäunte Gelände’) and therefore sports fields and children’s playgrounds were often chosen.

 

As part of this oral history project, local residents at the time look back on the days of the Jewish markets. What were the consequences of the German measure on a neighbourhood in Amsterdam (the Rivierenbuurt) where Jews and non-Jews lived together? The interviews also address the question of the extent to which these events affected the interviewees’ later lives.

Witnesses to the history of Anne Frank

GETUIGENVERHALEN.NL

 

Project realisation:

Anne Frank Stichting ©

 

number of interviews: 18

 

Thematical collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog

DANS: https://doi.org/10.17026/dans-zpd-u97g

Anne Frank’s diary and the letters she wrote to her family and friends before she went into hiding contain people and events about whom there are hardly any written sources and about whom little is known. There are also many gaps in our knowledge of the other people in hiding and their helpers. Thanks to the testimony of 18 people who knew these hitherto unknown figures in Anne Frank’s environment, our understanding of her social environment is enhanced.

 

Like the Frank family, a number of the witnesses interviewed in this oral history project came from Germany. Their children also went to the Montessori school, the Municipal Lyceum for Girls or the Jewish Lyceum and were in Anne and Margot’s class. One of the ‘witnesses’, a girl next door to the Frank family who lived at Merwedeplein at the time, tells her story about Anne. Another interviewee is a woman who was transported in the same train carriage as the Frank family from Westerbork to Auschwitz. In the camp she stayed with Anne, Edith, Margot and Augusta van Pels in the same barracks.

Annes vriendin, Hannah Pick-Goslar, bij een klassenfoto van de Montessorischool (2015) Fotocollectie: Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam / foto: Cris Toala Olivares