The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II

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German soldiers formed a solid line of defence between Boxmeer and Weert. With the River Maas on one side and the marshes of the Peel on the other, this was not easy terrain for the British and the Americans to control. It was not only the Canadians, British and Americans who helped to liberate our country — in October , some 16, Polish troops crossed the border into Brabant from Belgium. En route from Baarle-Nassau to Moerdijk, they retook towns including Breda.

Where did the Poles come from? And where did they stay? All life has a small beginning. A single cell which then divides. From this division come new cells which then also divide. The Jewish Annie Troostwijk-Samuel [27] knew that is how life begins.

Just another six weeks, according to the calendar, and then her little baby would be due. But there were regular raids in her home town of Arnhem. In October Annie fled to Amsterdam with her husband Abraham She left her one year old daughter Greetje behind in a safe hiding place. As the war progressed, Jewish persecution in Europe was increasing at a frightening rate. Concentration camps were built in various places in Europe, including in North Brabant.

An SS concentration camp was established at Vught in which about 12, Jews; men, women and children, were imprisoned. In April , nine-year-old Lore Samson, her parents, and her year-old brother, Alfred, fled to Tilburg from the German Rhineland to escape increasing anti-Semitism in Germany. In Tilburg he earned a living as a leather and shoe salesman. The family moved into a beautiful house at Bosscheweg now Spoorlaan Simon van Adelberg was secretly in love with his aunt Maaltje, and particularly loved her red hair.

Simon and his brother Louis were spoilt rotten; the aunts had a cupboard full of toys. The sisters ran a tobacco shop in Tilburg. Roosje Glaser, the daughter of an affluent family, was raised in Kleve, Germany, where her father was a factory manager. The growing anti-Semitism towards the end of the s was a huge blow to the family and the father lost his job.

Seeing no future in Germany, the family relocated to the Netherlands. She was raised in Bergen op Zoom in a devout Catholic family. Where better to do that than in the monastery? On Tuesday 16 May , a roundup took place in Eindhoven and a young girl was arrested. Three days later, she was deported together with her family from Camp Westerbork to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where she also died.

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Joodse kinderen liepen tijdens de bezettingstijd evenveel gevaar als hun ouders. Joost en Freddie Oppenheim probeerden het.

Hun ouders vluchtten al in uit Duitsland en gingen in Eindhoven wonen. Totdat in ook daar serieus jacht op hen werd gemaakt. Ze moesten weg, allemaal. Maar waarheen? Waar vind je voor iedereen veilig onderdak? Erwin Michael Joseph — always known as Michael — was Jewish. Early in the s his father committed suicide. A couple of years later Jewish persecution began in Germany. Elli and Michael looked for suitable shelter in Amsterdam as a way of avoiding fate.

During the war, the Sicherheitsdienst Security Service or SD hunted down state enemies, a group that included Jews, communists and resistance fighters. Some people tried to escape these investigations by fleeing to neutral territory or by hiding. His father was director of the Voba light bulb factory in Tilburg. He developed diphtheria while still in the cradle; when he was six he suffered severe concussion in a car accident. Eleven years later Theo escaped death. While shooting water rats — a pastime with friends — a bullet penetrated his pericardium and an operation was necessary.

In early , he joined the newspaper Trouw and started distributing it in West Brabant. Jan van der Laan, a salesclerk from Groningen who was one of the leading propagators of Trouw, was arrested in February Van Gils had been in regular contact with him, and therefore knew he needed to be careful. Just before he was arrested, Van der Laan urged him to avoid a suspicious address in Princenhage, close to Breda. In the summer of , unmarried brothers Janus 60 , Jan 58 and Driek Hoeks 54 lived together at Hertheuvelsehoef, a farm on the border between Eersel and Bergeijk. The farm was owned by the Postel Abbey.

Janus arranged the field work and dealt with all the trading. Jan did the housework and Driek, the youngest, was the carpenter. After May , they lived in relative ease on their remote farm, never wanting for food. In order to get the troops behind German lines, in the middle of occupied territory, Montgomery devised a life-threatening ruse: Operation Market Garden. He drops his soldiers from aircraft just south of the three great rivers, the Meuse, Waal and the Rhine. The aim was to free up the bridges crossing the rivers so that the ground forces could invade from Belgium.

It was the summer of and the raids on Amsterdam were well under way. During one of the raids, a student from Utrecht noticed four Jewish toddlers who had been left out on the street. Her parents lived on Hoofdstraat, which at the time was called Dorpsstraat, in Heeswijk and ran a confectionery shop.

The couple secretly hid a Jewish couple for three years. The Biesbosch — the tidal zone of land and water — was avoided by the German occupiers during the Second World War. For a long time, the people hiding in this wilderness felt safe and they sometimes worked for local farmers. On 10 November , the German occupiers set up machine gun posts and started patrolling the area by boat.

The recently liberated town of Drimmelen was showered with gunfire.

The Enemy I Knew : German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II

He was so happy and relieved. Three days earlier, Jan had seen the Allies arrive in Tilburg, fifteen kilometres to the south. The arrival of the Allies meant an end to the yoke that he and his loved ones had lived under for so long. She came from a weaving family and was familiar with a needle and thread, but Coba Pulskens had never needed to crochet a bedspread for her marital bed.

But actually Coba was married: to Tilburg, her town. Only once would she ever go on a long journey — one of more than seven hundred and twenty kilometres. Radio Orange, 5 September This section of the Dutch resistance was set up to help the liberators. Now the Allied troops appeared to be approaching so fast, the Ordedienst got itself prepared.

Churches in the Netherlands had healthy attendances during the war. Many churches, abbeys and monasteries condemned national socialism, and some even called for resistance. Dutch churches also openly protested, particularly against the persecution of the Jews. Ministers, vicars and priests were arrested throughout the country. One of those was priest Kerssemakers.

There was no wind that morning, thin patches of mist were lying low on the ground. It should have been a glorious day. Despite that, mayor Fried Manders cycled nervously across the Leenderhei heath on 6 July The year that Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany and the Nazis came to power. The determined Paula quickly found a job as bath attendant in the Veghel municipal swimming pool where she was known as the Pool Lady.

That day — 5 September — will go down in history as Crazy Tuesday. The Allied advance was going smoothly when suddenly the Germans seemed to be in a hurry to get home. That was enough to make even the most cautious people over-confident. When the war broke out, Mientje Proost from Bergen op Zoom was a 19 year-old girl. She grew up in a close middle-class family and dreamt of becoming a nurse. They were German according to their paperwork. Life was simple then, the only things to worry you were the tax return or soot in your chimney.

The War seemed a long way away. Wars are fond of ordinal numbers. But you only realise that after the second or third. Philips was founded in the centre of Eindhoven and developed into one of the largest companies in the Netherlands during the beginning of the s. When the Second World War broke out in the Netherlands, Philips was ordered to produce radio equipment for the Germans.

This made the company a target for the Allied forces. On Saturday 5 December , the children in Eindhoven followed tradition and put their shoe out before they went to sleep, in the hope that Sinterklaas Saint Nicholas would leave something behind. The next morning bombers took off from Britain with one single goal: eliminating Philips. On the table in front of Ed Post 81 is an aerial photograph of Kaatsheuvel. He points with his finger to where he grew up. He explains that as a child, he would sometimes play in the forests near Kaatsheuvel, but that during the Second World War, part of the forest was used as a storage area for ammunition, everything from bullets to bombs.

On 5 September , it was alleged that Allied forces had liberated Brabant. The forested area in which Post had grown up was still full of ammunition. There was a huge explosion, so huge that every window in a two-kilometre radius was broken. The brutal violence of war did not touch everything. Often the children were able to play without a care. For them, the war was a great adventure, every day there was something to do.

How can I get hold of reliable news? This question became more urgent for many Dutch citizens as the war years progressed.


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Slowly but surely fewer sources of news in the Netherlands were autonomous. On 13 May came the order: all Dutch citizens must hand in their radios. Anyone not doing so risked imprisonment or worse. Many people decided to hide their radios. On 4 May , prominent Dutch citizens were arrested.

They included politicians, professors, clerics, musicians, lawyers and writers, who were taken hostage by the Germans to help them tighten their grip on the Dutch resistance.

One of the youngest hostages was Piet Sanders from Schiedam. It was torture, until I received your wonderful letter. Oh sweetheart, I am so happy now. The first letter from her beloved Karel van de Werken from Sprang-Capelle, after being separated for over six months, was a godsend for Aria Colijn from Almkerk. After Hitler had overwhelmed the Netherlands in May , every Dutch person was faced with a choice: resist against the Neuordnung New Order , accept the situation, or collaborate.

Anyone who sided with the Germans would have to justify themselves after the war. This led to a bitter feud in the town of Deurne which attracted nationwide attention. Teammates Koos and Alfred were probably also staring at the ground. There had seldom been such a crushing defeat, losing to the Tilburg SET team. But revenge was delayed, eight days after the changing room humiliation, war broke out. Not inside Dutch football lines, but beyond them.

Page 2, top left. Arts-Woestenbergh hereby announce the birth of their daughter Susanne. But the joy at the newspaper was without doubt great. The editor, Harry Arts had a new daughter. Two and a half months later he placed another announcement in his own paper. An obituary. For his wife. The assiduous, brutal nature with which these Jew hunters went about their work was unprecedented.


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Piet Gerrits was one of them. A Tilburg police officer and agent of the German Sicherheitsdienst Security Service , resistance fighters were eager to get their hands on him and he on them. Many things have been spilt over me: hailstones, beer, confetti. Even shell cartridges, although the war did not scare me away. Because Gemert is in me — and I am in Gemert. Before that time they called me the Borretplein Borret Square. The soles of monastery sandals and genteel footwear have passed over me. All their footstep have faded away. Except those of 11 May That afternoon, large numbers of residents fled Grave to Nuland, Heesch and Geffen.

Items drawn from other documents within the IWG release are marked by a double asterisk. It is precisely the immediate and thorough eradication of the Jews in Italy which is [in] the special interest of the present internal political situation and the general security in Italy. To postpone the expulsion of the Jews The longer the delay, the more the Jews who are doubtless reckoning on evacuation measures have an opportunity by moving to the houses of pro-Jewish Italians of disappearing completely.


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In short, these decrypts contain much detail about the early German decisions to deport Italian Jews to Auschwitz, and they suggest that Karl Wolff was an essential participant in this process. He was brought to trial in West Germany only in the s. Most of the SD messages in this collection took British cryptographers little time to decipher. The translations were usually distributed by British intelligence within a few days following the radio transmissions.

Officers of X-2, the counterespionage branch of William J.

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Donovan's Office of Strategic Services, worked very closely with their British counterparts in London. As a result of a special sharing agreement reached earlier in , X-2 officers were recipients of British decrypts of German intelligence messages. Preliminary research suggests that because of this special relationship with the British, X-2 officers in London, and perhaps even officials at OSS headquarters in Washington, may well have had access to the SD decrypts outlining Nazi plans for a roundup of the Jews of Rome at the same time as the British.

There are other examples, in this newly released collection, of this special liaison with the British. These summaries offer an unprecedented inside-look at the workings of the Nazi espionage system. They paint a portrait of a German intelligence community in decline and denial. Another set of British records consists of excerpts of secretly tape-recorded conversations among German POWs. This practice was apparently carried out extensively during the last year of the war, and British analysts scrutinized the recordings and transcripts made from them for interesting and relevant information.

Some of the POWs were generals in the army or the SS; others were simple soldiers, policemen, and sailors. While it would be hazardous to attempt to estimate soldiers' attitudes on the basis of the sample examined so far, the transcripts do indicate a considerable difference in attitude toward the Nazi regime between the army and the SS.

The generals and soldiers frequently reviled Himmler: he was the symbol for them of what was wrong in the Nazi regime. Many POWs discussed the killings of Jews and atrocities in concentration camps, in most cases confirming that such things had happened, in some cases questioning how such things had happened. But some prisoners defended the harshest treatment for enemies of Germany. In some cases, soldiers and SS men discussed how much they had seen of specific incidents. One example was a very detailed description of the December shootings of Latvian Jews at Liepaja Libau in German by members of the SS, Latvian auxiliaries, and German naval gunners.

The POW transcripts offer a kind of running inside commentary on Nazi officials and on events during the last months of the war. They reflect the hopes, fears, and concerns of many Germans, and they will be used by scholars as a gauge for measuring German opinions late in the war.

Still other British records contain summaries of interrogations of captured SS and police officers that served in Nazi-occupied countries. British intelligence analysts often developed a detailed picture of just who did what, whom got along with whom, and who was still around. Even more importantly, they gained a realistic understanding of how the Nazi administrative machinery worked.

One example of an important debriefing is that of Constantin Canaris, commander of the Security Police and SD in occupied Belgium and the nephew of Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German intelligence organization known as the Abwehr. The younger Canaris gave his British interrogators substantial information about the relations between his uncle and Reinhard Heydrich, head of the RSHA. Canaris, however, did not discuss the roundup and deportation of the Belgian Jews, a process in which he had played some part. Canaris's example illustrates a more general problem: American and British interrogators had difficulty determining who was likely to be a war criminal unless the individual volunteered incriminating information or unless they had independent sources of information.

British intelligence gathered some information about Nazi officials at various concentration camps and extermination camps through interrogation of some captured camp officials and debriefing of some prisoners. Whether these documents will produce new evidence or details about camp activities depends on a close comparison of the documents with the existing literature--something that will take some time.

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But the documents will offer a much better glimpse of how much Western officials knew about Nazi atrocities and specific perpetrators in Kolbe, codenamed George Wood, became Allen Dulles's best source in Bern during and this story is well known to intelligence historians. Many of Kolbe's documents and extracts from them are scattered throughout various locations of the open OSS collection, but the IWG release contains a complete set of them in translation, showing that they were sent to President Roosevelt and others.

This set may provide new information and will offer researchers much greater ease of use. A State Department special interrogation mission debriefed Kolbe in September , and a copy of the report made its way into OSS records. This debriefing of Kolbe had been declassified previously, but with a number of redactions.

The fully declassified version now available indicates that Kolbe drew upon the assistance of some twenty other Germans, whom he called the "Inner Circle. Further research may develop more information about these individuals, who are not well known in the German resistance. Kolbe also identified specific sources of information about German economic activities in Spain, which had been redacted previously.

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