Letter from the Roman Catholic Military Society from 1896

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896. (Front)

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896. (Front)

Dutch Reformed Church document from 1896.

Roman Catholic Military Society document from 1896

 

This is the oldest written document in my possession. It’s in some hard-to-read cursive (and Dutch), so I turned to Cousin Anje to learn a little more about it. Here’s her summary:

It is a letter of the Roman Catholic Military Society, signed 4 August 1896 by the chairman and secretary. It is a letter to a honorable man (whose name is not mentioned), who has been selected as an honorary member of the society in the meeting of 3 June 1896. The letter tells him that he will also receive a “material token of a appreciation.” They express the wish that this present will serve him well and that it will remind him of the Society.  
What the present is and to whom the letter is written remains a secret to me. It is mentioned that he served in a garrison in den Helder (den Helder is a marine city in the dutch province Noord-Holland). 
My best guess is that this document somehow ties to Dirk de Wit, who was an active member of the Dutch Reformed Church.
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WWII: Wartime letter from Halbo Kool, Christina Kolle in Haren, Netherlands

Wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle

Page one of a wartime letter from Halbo Kool (b. 1873) and Christina Kolle. (Courtesy Halbo Kool)

Wartime letter from Halbo C. Kool, Christina Kolle

Page two of a wartime letter from Halbo Kool (b. 1873), Christina Kolle. (Courtesy Halbo Kool)

Halbo Kool, son of Halbo Christiaan Kool and grandson of Halbo Kool (b. 1873), sent me this wartime letter from 1942 — from Halbo Kool (b. 1873) and Christina Kolle to their grandchildren — along with an extremely helpful translation with annotations. Halbo Kool called it “A bit off the cuff and not very polished translation but rather close to the original.” I call it a godsend on account of me not being able to read Dutch. Google Translate still isn’t user friendly. Without further ado…

START LETTER

Haren 24 July 1942

(Haren is a place near Groningen where my grandparents had a house on the Rijksstraatweg in a residential area. It was requisitioned later and my grandmother lived for years with her brother-in-law Hendrik, but moved in 1956 back to her house in Haren (but got only half of it, the rest was still let) and lived there till she died in 1957.)

Dear Children!

The last few days it was here too an unpleasant atmosphere. Sunday all the man’s bicycles were seized and Monday they asked door by door to hand them over. Then there was suddenly the rumour that the blankets were also asked for but it appeared to be a false alarm.

What a situation these days, I can understand that it’ll be bad in Amsterdam. Is it true of all those suicides?  People say that Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been surrounded with barbed wire, is that true as well? There seems to be much tension in the air, everybody is very nervous.

As far as food is concerned things aren’t to bad here, we still have a regular supply of potatoes and vegetables. Milk is getting difficult and is going to be rationed from August. It’s a big problem for Dad (Halbo Kool b. 1873) as I’m always making porridge from the bread, the grains (larger bits) stick in his throat and then he must cough terribly. (Christina’s note: Halbo Kool (b. 1873) died the following year)

The weather is a bit rotten these days and we don’t go out of the house now that’s it’s almost August.This morning we received a letter from Kees (her son Cornelis Kool) and Loes (Christina’s note: Louise Lopes-Cardozo) demanding us a statement about our parents and ourselves so he can prove that we don’t descend from Jews (mixed Aryan-Jewish – excuse me the unacceptable expression – couples were then still had some respite, and it may well have saved Loes and her children from deportation, as it did for the first husband of my sister Anneke’s first husband, Emile Mot. His parents were both Jewish, almost all their family was deported, but he and his parents escaped, they lived in Hilversum, not far from Naarden, and a policeman had — to my knowledge –declared that Emile was his son from an adulterous relation with Emile’s mother.)

What can he do with this, perhaps that things are a bit easier for Loes? We’ll do of course straight away the necessary. Monday auntie Trui (Geertruida Kolle, sister of my grandmother) has her birthday and if at all possible I’ll pay her a visit. Auntie Marie (probably Johanna Maria Kolle, another of her sisters) is there and she’ll be able to tell us where we should go (for the information). Did you already visit Mrs. Cardozo (should be the mother of Loes, who was sent off to a concentration camp with or like her daughter Frederika, neither returned. This information and the names of the aunties was given to me by Anje.) or she you? How terrible all this is, such a family being ripped apart like this. You hear about such things but if you know the people well, you really feel it.

How are you Willy (my mother)? Do you still get extra food and are the children all right again? Are things all right in Haarlem (where Willy’ s parents and sister live). Do give them my greetings when you can. What kind of sugarsweet product is that, Halbo, and under what name is it sold in the shops, is it something for us to buy?

Well, dear children, the very best, greetings and a kiss from your loving Grandpa (and) Grandma. (C. Kool-Kolle)

END LETTER

I find this letter super interesting because it really reflects the issues of the day. It sounds like Cornelis Kool was trying to arrange it so his wife and family would avoid persecution and execution during the war. One of my uncles had said that was possible because Cornelis worked at a paper mill and the Nazis needed paper; therefore, his family was probably lower on a list somewhere (and speaking of commandeering bicycles, he’d saved for years for the car the Nazis took from him and stayed angry about that for many years after). As for this, though, it sounds like maybe he was doctoring some genealogy records? I certainly would.

Editor’s note: The name of Halbo Kool (b. 1973) has been updated in this posting. It was misstated in an earlier version of this post.

POW letters from Klaas Siersema at Oflag XIII-B to wife Maria Wilhelmina Siersema-van Erp

A POW notice was sent from the Nazis to Maria Wilhelmina Siersema-van Erp on May 15, 1942, saying what she should send to her husband and why he had been taken into custody. Klaas Siersema was imprisoned at Oflag XIII-B, a prisoner of war camp for officers that was at the time in Hammelburg, Germany. I am not sure of his  exact rank at the time, but I’ll add it to this post if I am able to narrow it down. Later, he or someone he knew drew this sketch of the camp. Although I can’t read them, I did want to share them in case anyone else can. Here are photos/scans of the letters he sent back, in order of postmark:

June, 1, 1942

Front of the postcard from Klaas "Niek" Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Front of the postcard from Klaas “Niek” Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Back of the postcard from Klaas "Niek" Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Back of the postcard from Klaas “Niek” Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

June 26, 2014

Front of a letter from Klaas "Niek" Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Front of a letter from Klaas “Niek” Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Letter from Klaas "Niek" Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

Letter from Klaas “Niek” Siersema at the Oflag XIII-B prisoner of war camp in 1942.

July 8, 1942

Letter front from Klaas Siersema at Oflag XIII-B in 1942.

Letter front from Klaas Siersema at Oflag XIII-B in 1942.

Notice on POW stationary saying it's only for prisoner of war use and they must write on the line. The words are in German and Polish.

Notice on POW stationary saying it’s only for prisoner of war use and they must write on the line. The words are in German and Polish.

A letter written in pencil from Klaas Siersema to his wife while he was a prisoner at Oflag XIII-B in 1942.

A letter written in pencil from Klaas Siersema to his wife while he was a prisoner at Oflag XIII-B in 1942.

FullSizeRenderFront

POW LETTERS: To Gertrude van Lier, from Joseph Terraubella at Stalag VB 19

Front of a letter from Joseph Ferraubella at Stalag VB 19 to Gertrude van Hier in 1942.

Front of a letter from Joseph Ferraubella at Stalag VB 19 to Gertrude van Hier in 1942.

Back of a letter from Joseph Ferraubella at Stalag VB 19 to Gertrude van Hier in 1942.

Back of a letter from Joseph Ferraubella at Stalag VB 19 to Gertrude van Hier in 1942.

This letter was in a box of my great-grandmother’s things and it stood out to me for obvious reasons. Turns out, one beautiful thing did make it out of the war -this painted rose by Joseph Terraubella. I don’t even know how painting materials make it into a prisoner of war camp.

Anyhow, I would really like to know more about Joseph and Gertrude, who I am guessing was a friend or relative of my great-grandmother’s. I’ve scoured the Internet with no luck. My great-grandmother, Helena de Wit, also lived in Utrecht, a fact which lends itself to my theory that they were friends or relatives.

UPDATE: After reading through Anje’s comments below (thank goodness she can read cursive better than I can), I remembered this newspaper clipping I also found in a box that originally belonged to my great-grandmother:

Newspaper clipping about Gertrude "Truus" van Lier.

Newspaper clipping about Gertrude “Truus” van Lier.

As Anje notes, van Lier, a CS-6 Dutch Resistance fighter, was executed Oct. 27, 1943, at a POW camp. She was 22 years old. Please see Anje’s comments below for links to webpages about her.

LOVE LETTER FROM 1898: Century-old poem from Dirk de Wit to Wubbina Swalve


I recently procured a box of old documents and photos from my grandmothers house. In it, I found this 114-year-old love letter from my great-great grandfather, Dirk de Wit, to his then future wife, Wubbina Engellina Petronella Swalve.

My distant cousin Anje Belmon, who lives in the Netherlands and knows English as well as Dutch, helped translate (she also notes that, in Dutch, the letter rhymes):

Wubbina,

When you friendly eyes
May rest upon these pages,
Think about him,
Who wrote these (pages), and who loves you,
More than the light of eyes.

May everything on this globe perish
His love for you will always exist.
But he also hopes for thy love:
Your love gives him joyful pleasure
In restless working and striving.

And if sometimes adversity threatens
Stand firmly! Hold your head up high!
Be aware that at heaven’s proud bow,
Clouds also pass through!

Thine, thou always loving, Dirk