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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Remembering Those Who Died in the Dutch Resistance and the Death Camps (Update)

The Terezin concentration camp - a day trip away from Prague - was the subject of a PBS show earlier this evening. There were two stories to tell. 
  • One was of a generation of Czech musicians incarcerated in the camp only to be transported to death camps to be killed on arrival. A total of 140,000 of them - equal to half the population of Newark, NJ - were locked up and taken away to die. During their incarceration they put on many performances of a Requiem Mass. "We only had a piano, and we had to memorize all the music and the Latin words," said a survivor, "but it seems as though we had a full orchestra." They sang in defiance of their Nazi captors, who came to listen, and they were transported to a different world.
  • The other story was how the Nazis utilized Terezin to fool the Swiss Red Cross into thinking this is how Jews were treated in the camps. They scrubbed the town and made it look like a paradise. It was a true Potemkin Village, with false storefronts stocked with what they confiscated from the prisoners. The only word I can think of to describe what they did is diabolical. 
Then on Facebook a relative, Terry Mesritz, notes that the day is in Europe devoted to the memory of war heroes, and she remembers Jan ("Canada") Boissevain, Adrienne "Mies" van Lennep  Boissevain, their sons Gi and Janka and their cousin Louis Daniel. 

Another relative doesn't know whether they died or not - I can answer that. Jan "Canada" was arrested first and died eventually in Buchenwald. Gi and Janka, who were leaders of CS6 (named after Corellistraat 6 where their parents lived) were shot at the same time in Overveen and are buried in the Eeregraafsplaats Bloemendaal. Mies survived the war and became further known for inventing the Festival Skirt to symbolize the rebuilding of Holland with what is available. I am adding a link to her name for anyone who wants to know about this family of Resistance leaders in the Netherlands.

Comment - Update

At the request of a relative and someone who wants to make a television miniseries out of two of my mother's books, I have been posting more on the Boissevain family during the Dutch resistance. The posts are by way of chapters of a book.