View profile

Jewish traitor, Jewish saviors

NOS 75 years of liberation
The complex story of Ans van Dijk shows the difficulty of judging the morality of someone’s actions during the war. A Jewish woman forced to betray her peers, who betrayed so many people she received the death penalty after the war. Furthermore, in the 43rd issue of our newsletter we cover the surprising follow-up on the search for Robbie and a retraced war victim.
A cunning traitor the media called her. There was a standing ovation when the court was asked to rule a death penalty. Ans van Dijk herself said that she acted out of a mind numbing fear, but her “deep sorrow” was received with laughter. She was arrested on July 20th, 1945.
Ans van Dijk before the judge (NIOD/Beeldbank W02)
Ans van Dijk before the judge (NIOD/Beeldbank W02)
After the war she was the only woman amongst the 39 people executed because of their acts during the war. On January 14th 1948, 42 year old Ansstood before the firing squad, on a remote location near Fort Bijlmer. Her request for a pardon was declined by queen Wilhelmina herself. Just before her death she said her goodbye to her half brother Maurice and his wife in a letter. They did not want anything to do with her. “Never will you know what I have been through. Will you ever think about me without hate?” Her funeral on the Noorderbegraafplaats in Amsterdam stayed unattended.
Opposite of the treason committed by Van Dijk stands the love that the Birnbaum family shared with the helpless children, even in the camps. Otto and Henny took those left without parents under their wings.   
The extraordinary story of the family Birnhaum continues after the war. Once they returned to the Netherlands the orphans they had taken back with them were taken away. The family settles in Bussum with their six children and a group of other orphans. Many survivors came to them asking if they knew anything about their children, their family.
During the 50s they moved to Israel. The six Birnbaum-children are all still alive. They are seniors that do not mind sharing their story. The NOS made a documentary about them. Martine Letterie recently wrote the book Wij blijven bij elkaar (We stay together) on them, based on conversations with the six Birnbaum-children.
the Birnbaums
the Birnbaums
The family Viejou from Naarden also continues their search for their missing foster child Robbie. They have not heard from him in months, after he was arrested.  
Kitty Viejou would find Robbie. Weakened by lack of nutrition and sickness she found him in Eindhoven. He would spend the rest of his youth with the family in Naarden, and later on he became the father of two daughters with the wife he married in 1965, Greetje Troostwijk. Her parents where also killed during the war, together with her newborn baby brother . 
Their story took another bizarre turn in 2001. In the book Onbekende kinderen (Unknown children) on the last transport from the camp a nurse remembered a perky boy named Robbie that came along. This was moment Greetje realized she had shared the train with her future husband. She was two, he was four. Their lives had crossed and split but ended up united.
Because of all the misery it was quite logical that the Jewish media pleaded for a Jewish representative at founding conference of the UN. Thesepeople without a country once again feel forgotten. Despite the protests the charter is accepted without a special envoy.
Most inhabitants of the Netherlands are busy with other business. Children that where left underfed due to the Hunger Winter are slowly returning home, the mistreatment of detained collaborators is dealt with and people are worried about the influence that the Canadian soldiers on morality. Also, the mourning starts: on the Dam square the first iteration for a monument is given. And people are wondering what is going to happen with the many mass graves that were found throughout the country.
Our government’s attention is also directed towards the battle against Japan: our country wants to quickly have troops ready to fight in the Dutch-East-Indies. The first batch of soldiers arrives this week. The cabinet lacks a lot of information on the occupied colony, however they do know the situation in the camps is alarming.
The Jeroen named in the article on Tjideng is Jeroen Brouwers, the quotes used where taken from his autobiographical Bezonken rood (Sunken red). And even though it technically is a novel he did mention that his descriptions of the camps are faithfull. When the book hit the shelves in 1981 his gruesome descriptions of the camps let to a heated polemic with Rudy Kousbroek on the question whether the Japanese camps were comparable with the German deathcamps.
War reports
Other messages this week:
Not on the site
While wondering trough the war newspapers in Delpher we came across a rather noticeable story on the 22nd of June. Multiple papers had written on an attempt by the Dutch SS members to free the NSB-leader Mussert and chief of propaganda Blokzijl from prison. The ANP made report of the people behind the attempt. They where collaborators who where holed up in Clingendael, where Seyss-Inquart had lived during the war. De Waarheid spoke of “werewolfs”, the guerilla branch of the SS. A Dutch resistance member was reported to have been killed.
Nevertheless you will not find anything on the story on our website. Because the story was deemed false. Trouw had their doubts on the story. “Something just does not add up” is what the paper wrote. There was a lack of details and how those responsible had made their escape was unclear.
A few days later the paper concluded that “The ANP made the story up from thin air.” The story turned out “to be a total hoax”. Why the ANP made the story public is not clear. “Are the gentlemen still suffering from the German sickness of lying?” is what Trouw asked itselve, and wondered if the collaboration of the press agency during the war had made it less reliable.
Srebrenica-Newscasts
This year it’s 25 years since in the Muslim-enclave Srebrenica in Bosnia roughly 8400 Muslim boys and men were killed by Bosnian-Serbian troops, without the Dutch Dutchbat being able to prevent it. It was the first genocide in Europe since World War Two.
In a vein similar to the format of the Liberation Newscasts the NOS will make seven newscasts between the 6th and 12th of Juli to explain this dark page of history. Herman van der Zandt with military historian Christ Klep will explain daily how Yugoslavia fell apart, why nationalism raged rampant, what happened to the victims and what role Dutchbat played in it all.
The NOS Srebrenica newscast with Herman van der Zandt
The NOS Srebrenica newscast with Herman van der Zandt
75 years later: WO ll and liberation news from 2020
Anton de Kom (here our story on him) is one of the new additions to the Canon of the Netherlands. Together with for example Mary of Burgundy and the phenomenon of immigrant workers. Willem Drees, who we already came across as resistance fighter, was exchanged for Marga Klompé.
Corrie van der Sluijs
Corrie van der Sluijs
A appeal by the RTV Rijnmond has helped our colleague Marjolein Bax round off her research for the book Een Wrang Feest. Bax describes the 220 people that lost their lives surrounding the liberation, but two victims in Kralingen remained unidentified. Now is known that those two were 15-year-old Corrie van der Sluijs and Leendert van Wijnen, one year her elder. “On the death certificates both vicitms were marked to have passed on the 4th of May 1945 at 23:30 hrs.”
And Russia celebrated its victory against Germany, with a parade that was postponed due to corona.
Preview
Next week prince Bernhard wants to go fight in the Dutch-East-Indies, the national side plays soccer against the British army team and the battle for Borneo intensifies.
Do please share this newsletter. Remarks or feedback are happily recieved.
See you next week, in the meantime please follow nos.nl/75jaarbevrijding. You can also follow our Instagram-account 75 years liberation for more photo’s and video’s.