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'Amsterdam knows nothing of Sobibor'

NOS 75 years of liberation
Three days of celebrations in Amsterdam. The city commemorates its liberation. It stands in shrill contrast to the loss of Sobibór-survior Jules Schelvis, or Heinrich Steinbach, the last member of his once large family. Also in the 44th issue of our newsletter: gamers collect money for the Airborne Museum and the airforce in Finland finally says goodbye to the swastika in their emblem.
It is a bizarre scene the liberation parade in Amsterdam. A float with freed prisoners behind barbwire. It was one of the war scenes acted out in the parade. There also were impressions of the underground press, the support given to the starving children and the railroad strike that lasted for months. There was also a lot of room in the parade passing the Royal Palace for the military, for both Allied soldiers and their Dutch help.  
The liberated prisoners
The liberated prisoners
Amsterdam takes three days to celebrate liberation. The day before the parade for example the Euterpestraat is renamed the Gerrit van der Veenstraat, after the murdered resistance hero. The old name had been tainted by the SD-headquarters located in this street.
In Rotterdam joy also returns to its citizens: here people flock to the the Feijenoord stadium. The national team takes it on the team of the British Liberation Army (in which seven internationals played).
All of the cheering must have felt weird for 24-year-old Jules Schelvis. He survived seven camps, among which Sobibor. Between the 2nd of March and the 20th of July nineteen trains left from Westerbork to that death camp in East-Poland. Of the 30.993 Dutch persons who arrived there, Schelvis was one of eighteen survivors.
“When I meet someone the conversation is always about the Hunger Winter”, Schelvis says upon his return. “It left such a large impact on people. So I do not tell them about the hunger in the camps. They clearly had their own troubles.”
Schelvis with his wife Rachel, who was killed in Sobibór
Schelvis with his wife Rachel, who was killed in Sobibór
After the war Schelvis remarried and had children. After his retirement in 1982 he immersed himself into researching the prosecution of the Jews and published books on his own experiences. He dedicated the rest of his life to preserving the memories connected to Sobibor: he did research and founded the Sobibor Foundation and while 90-years of age he was one of prosecutors during the trail against camp guard John Demjanjuk.
Schelvis impressed during the memorial concert A train drives towards Sobibor (2015), in which he reports on his journey to the camp. “I still struggle with it”, is how he started his story, “but I find it important that you learn from it.”
A train drove to Sobibór
A train drove to Sobibór
Heinrich Steinbach also feels the sorrow. The Sinti violinist known as Moeselman returned as the last member of his family to the Netherlands.
Moeselman never recovered from his loss. After a long search for information on what happened to his wife and children he dies on June 9th, 1946 in Maastricht with a broken heart. He was 44. The city of Maastricht takes care of his grave.
Sinti-people do not like speaking of the dead. They want to provide rest for those who have passed. This caused the identity of his daughter Settela, the famous girl in the door opening of the train to Auschwitz, to remain unknown for decennia. It was not until 1994 that her identity was discovered. 
Jews returning to Limburg face even more hardships. German-Jewish asylum seekers are bound to end up in camps with other German citizens, even war criminals. “As if the concentration camps continued.”
Amongst all the misery a slight beam of joy shines through: the moment Max Cahen returns home. In Vught he is reunited with his wife and he meets his daughter for the first time.
Meanwhile the new Dutch government is working on the reconstruction of our country and the battle against Japan. They are trying to find a way to retake the power in the East-Dutch-Indies. A taste comes during the battles for Borneo, where small groups of Dutchmen fight along the Australians. Someone who is eager to help in the colony is prince Bernhard: on his birthday he says that he wants to go to Indonesia.
War reports
Other messages this week:
  • ‘Aunt Riek’ led the biggest resistance-organization in our country; this week it becomes clear that she has not survived
75 years later: WO ll and liberation news from 2020
It was a stripped-down Veterans’ days last Saturday. much to the regret of 103-year-old Paul Moerman. He always attends the parade with a paper around his neck with the names of his twelve comrades who died during WW2. “At night I let the day cross my mind, feeling thankful that I once again got to experience it.”
Players of a wargame have collected money for the Airborne Museum in Arnhem. So far they have already collected roughly 13 000 euros.
Refugee children from the Second World War ask the Netherlands to take in refugee children. They point out the dangers total strangers faced for them back in the day. “The Dutch people do not take any risk or have to sacrifice anything to help. The one thing that is asked of this country is compassion and common human mercy.” 
And the Finnish air force says goodbye to the swastika in their emblem after a century. It never had a relation to the Nazi’s, but it did draw out questions and astonishment.
The old logo and the new
The old logo and the new
Next week the future of Prime minister Churchill is at stake during the British elections. We take a look at where the German soldiers ended up after they left our country and lastly Wilhelmina returns to The Hague.
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