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Returning home

NOS 75 years of liberation
It’s the 40th newsletter this week, with an emotional reunion and heart-breaking losses. In addition, sea lions that refused to ‘dive’ and a special Rotterdam war archive that has been opened up.
Only now, a month after the capitulation, the large flow of returnees to the western Netherlands is getting underway. The area will be released June 1 after a quarantine to prevent travellers with infectious diseases from entering. From Maastricht and Eindhoven returnees can take the train home.
On their way home
On their way home
It leads to moving reunions, as for Lien Brilleslijper, who his reunited with her husband Eberhard during a piano performance. Elsewhere, relatives wait in vain for the return of relatives: Otto Frank will not find anyone in Amsterdam.
Another large migration that continues steadily is the return to Arnhem. Last September, virtually all the inhabitants had to leave the city, now they return to a place where a battle took place twice and the Germans plundered. “Everyone immediately started cleaning their house.”
The O 27 also gets a big clean-up. The Dutch submarine was rescued in the nick of time when the British Navy realised that they had come across a Dutch vessel. A crew and a cleaning crew were assigned to make the neglected sub ready for use again.
Even the beaches are being taken care of. As part of the Atlantic Wall, huge minefields were laid down there, which now have to be cleared by German prisoners of war. It’s a violation of the laws of war, but no-one cares about that at the moment: after all, weren’t they the ones that put them there?
So people have to forgo a day at the beach for now. Artis Zoo, on the other hand, appears to have survived the war particularly well. Apart from some petting zoo animals that disappeared during the Hunger Winter, the animals were mostly spared. The park even served as a shelter for animal refugees from other zoos.
The fact that the war is now really over is also evident from the fact that Radio Oranje is going to disappear: the station from London, the sound of the government in exile, is no longer necessary now that the Netherlands has been liberated. In Germany, the Allied superpowers divide the country into four pieces, ending its existence as a sovereign country.
In Limburg, a post-war tradition is slowly emerging: Memorial Day is solemnly observed for the first time at the cemetery in Margraten.
War reports
Other messages this week:
Diaries
Over the past few months we have regularly published articles about a group of Auschwitz survivors. We followed them back to the Netherlands. Often the question was asked how we got all the information about them.
It started like every article does: on January 27, 1945 Auschwitz was liberated and we were curious if Dutch survivors had said anything about what it was like. We found a poignant diary of Ro de Winter from Zutphen. We also knew Otto Frank had taken notes. As Anne’s father, much is known about him. With the names we found in the diaries and in the lists of survivors, we continued to search.
And as it turns out, many writings have been published over the years. Many have been forgotten. In 1947 the foreword of Cocktail Gollandski-Ruski already read “the general public now reads fewer war books”.
Thanks to the diaries, letters and books, we could follow a group of people who make the long journey back home from Auschwitz. Via Katowice with a long, long train journey to Odessa, from there by Monowai to Marseille and by train to the Netherlands.
They’re touching stories. And the website gives us the opportunity to describe the steps. Most articles and books do not dwell on the time after the liberation and often go directly to the homecoming.
Unfortunately we did not find photo or film material from the long journey back. Not so surprising perhaps, though it would gave coloured the stories even more. We did find the picture below. Taken in 1950 in Switzerland. Three survivors from Auschwitz: Elfriede Geiringer (Fritzi Frank), Ro de Winter-Levy and Otto Frank.
Not used on the site
During the writing of the article on Artis we also found a ‘strange reportage’ under the headline ‘The financial position of Artis after the war’ in the otherwise quite serious Financial Daily. It turned out not to be an economic report, but a satirical article. The writer resented the sea lions did not ‘dive’ (go into hiding), crocodiles demanded “more visitors bending over the railing too far” and an purging council made up of orangutan, hyena, dwarf deer and wildebeest. “It is clear that a number of monkeys who gave the Hitler salute during the occupation period have to answer to the tribunal.”
The entire contribution can be found here in Dutch
Post-war crowds in the zoo (national archives)
Post-war crowds in the zoo (national archives)
75 years later: WO ll and liberation news from 2020
Rotterdam has made public arrestee cards from the war years. They contain details of everyone who was arrested at the time, such as personal data, reason for arrest and the belongings they carried.
David Ferlier, “escaped from Westerbork"
David Ferlier, “escaped from Westerbork"
Film footage of a special project in Friesland in the 1930s has surfaced: a kibbutz near Franeker. In the joint agricultural project, Jews were prepared for a life in Palestine. “A vital, vibrant community that wanted to get out of hostile Europe.”
Preview
Next week the suicide of NSB-leader Rost van Tonningen, the heartbreaking search for Jewish foster children and the liberation of the very last part of the Netherlands: Schiermonkoog.
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