May, 2015

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Monday, May 25 Memorial Day

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Coincidence that this came to light on Memorial Day?

I came across an article in the June 2014 issue of the “Reveille”, a quarterly newsletter of the Rainbow Division Veterans Foundation Brigade. The name Jaap van Mesdag is mentioned. He is a 93 year old Dutch political prisoner survivor of  Dachau.  The main camp was liberated on April 29 1945 by the Rainbow Division of the 7th US Army Infantry Division. When I e-mailed the publisher/historian of the “Reveille” to bring to his attention the “AGFA-Commando” and our mother’s short stint with the American Warp Press contingent after her liberation, he asked me if I could tell him which unit intercepted the Death March at Wolfratshausen. I had always assumed that this would have been the same Rainbow Division. But it turns out that it was the 12th infantry regiment of the 4th Infantry Division that crossed the Isar River into Wolfratshausen at daybreak on May 1st. On May 2nd, units of the 101st Airborne division joined the 12th infantry regiment in Wolfratshausen and relieved the 4th Infantry Division a few days later. Thus the German AGFA-Commando camp commander, Stirnweis, surrendered to the 12th infantry regiment on May 1st and received MP protection for the approximately 450 Death March prisoners; who had found temporary shelter in the Walser Hof farm hayloft.

The 12th infantry regiment had landed in Normandy, took part in the liberation of Paris, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, with the 101st Airborne Division. J.D Salinger author of “Catcher in the Rye” happened to be part of the 12th infantry regiment at Wolfratshausen.

It just so happens that my very first assignment, in 1961, in my two years of military service was with the 57th Transportation Battalion which was attached to the 4th Infantry Division, stationed at Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Washington.  Including the 12th Infantry Regiment. Had I known this at that time I might have been able to exchange some  facts about the Wolfratshausen experience. In November 1961 we shipped out to Vietnam with our 20 twin rotor H-21 Helicopters. We were the first full company to arrive in Vietnam. President Kennedy had sent his secretary of defense, Major General Maxwell Taylor to Vietnam and he came back with the suggestion to help the Vietnamese army with helicopter support. General Taylor was the commander of the 101st Airborne Division in May 1945. The 12th infantry regiment shipped to Pleiku from Fort Lewis in 1966.

I am hoping that through this new contact with Jaap van Mesdag, Suellen Mc Daniel and Frank Burns I may have some more details to report about the event that took place seventy years ago. Who knows I might even get an opportunity to thank a survivor of the liberators who, at great risk and sacrifice, losing many of their comrades on the way to Wolfratshausen, brought our freedom back.

 

Wednesday, May 20. I’m back.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

I actually returned on Saturday, May 9th. from the three week trip to Holland and Belgium. But the web site was in intensive care in Holland, it is repatriated and back up running again as of this morning. I had attempted to consolidate my various sites with a hosting service I have been using for the Dutch version of The Mastmakers’ Daughters, in Holland. But when I transferred this site everything went wrong.

A couple of young boys are swimming here in the marina. Summer is here. It has been in the mid seventies (25C) all week after the fog burns off.

Slide Show on June 3rd at the GHYC : Presentation starts at 7 p.m. Bar is open from 6 p.m. address: 8209 Stinson Avenue, zip 98332. Everyone is welcome. This will most likely be my last opportunity before I head south the end of the summer.

A year ago I presented a slide show of part of my circumnavigation at the Gig Harbor Yacht Club. This time I will show other parts of the voyage. And a repeat of the shipwreck, which is short and spectacular. Because the Gig Harbor Maritime Gig Festival is the weekend that follows June 3rd, I will show my visit to Croatia in 2012. Since the festival has its roots in the, predominant, Croatian heritage of Gig Harbor. In 2012 I attempted to find connections between Croatia and Gig Harbor, aboard “Fleetwood”, and possibly a church connection for the 2014 centennial celebration of my parish St. Nicholas, which was founded by the Croatian community. I found a number of related families, particularly in Sumartin on the island of Brac.

I will have “The Mastmakers’ Daughters” (see right margin for details) book for sale and signing for $15. I need the money otherwise you’ll have to put up with me for another year, before I can have the boat ready to continue my interrupted itinerary. I also will have DVD’s of my entire trip’s slide show videos, with text and audio, for $5  and for interested GHYC members one which includes a short slide show of GHYC events of the eighties. The book is the biography of my mother, a major part of it tells the story of her involvement in the resistance and her captivity in several concentration camps. My visit to Holland was to attend the 70th annual memorial of the liberation of Dachau. Mother was one of the survivors remembered in a theater performance by high school students on May 4th. See my blogs on May 4th for details and pictures.

The book I wrote about the nine year circumnavigation, “Soloman”, is finished in Dutch and now I am writing the English version. While in Holland I called on several friends to help me with the editing and I found the right designer for the cover. Here is a preview of a possible cover.

Soloman-cover-duot

 

Monday May 4th. “Names instead of Numbers”, the 70th anniversary of the Dachau liberation.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

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The presentation started at 9 p.m. due to the fact that every year on May 4th a two minute silence is observed from 8 p.m. I went with two of my cousins to the Noorder Markt to observe the event. A brass band played just before the silence. They played “Abide with me”. This brings back strong emotions because this was the hymn the women, our mother was with, sang when they were stuffed in the box cars, on their way from the camp Vught in Holland to the hell of Ravensbrück on the 5th of September 1944. : (Blijf bij mij, Heer, want d’ avond is nabij)

Abide with me, fast falls the even tide.

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

 Henriette Schulze, a German student, wrote the biography of our mother in the “Names instead of Numbers”. My twin brother who lives in Germany  assisted her with the information she used. I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with her last Saturday, together with the only other German student in the eleven students cast, Anne Krombacher. Henriette did an outstanding biography. And I am sure that our mother will be very pleased, when she gets to read her copy. This was well worth the long journey. I feel proud, grateful and honored to have had a mother and father who stood their ground and acknowledged their strength and survival to have come from God.

Nineteen numbers have been changed in to names in the book that Jos Sinnema put together with these students stories, including the one of our mother. In addition it is also a very good history of concentration camp Dachau by the details and historical photos that were added to these nineteen biographies. It is available at: http://www.verzetsmuseum.org/museum/nl/exposities/expositie-geen-nummers-maar-namen/publicatie

Projected Rennie de Vries-van Ommen

Projected Rennie de Vries-van Ommen

the cast

the cast

Henriette receives her rose from Jos Sinnema

Henriette receives her rose from Jos Sinnema

Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff

Willemijn van Gurp-Petroff

Willemijn, the 96 year old, the last ambulant AGFA Commando Dachau survivor tells her story and shares her advice to all of us but particularly the students.

Sunday May 3rd and Monday Morning. Whirlwind winding down.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

On Saturday one of the choir members told me that she had seen me in the Amsterdam Central Station. That was no accident, because I have gone through the station so often since my arrival that I have lost track.

Yesterday, Saturday, I met the German student, Henriette Schulze, who did the biography in “Names instead of Numbers” of our Mother. She and her German friend Anna Krombacher, who has done the “Name” on Kiky Heinsius (one of my sources for the story in “The Mastmakers’ Daughters”) are here a few days ahead of the Monday evening presentation to rehearse their roles in the performance. In the afternoon I attended the general rehearsal of the choir I sang with in 2012/2013. They are giving another concert on Memorial Day, May 4th. They are once again singing parts of Fauré’s Requiem,  parts of it and the soprano solo brought goose bumps and emotions once again. It was a real treat to see my friends again and have a drink afterwards.

Sunday morning I attended church in the English Reformed Church in the Bequinage. My new friend Christa from the consulate teaches Sunday School and she brought her uncle Bert van Ingen Schenau, who was one class below me in my elementary school. We had lots of memories to share and to exchange our ways since grade school.

Rev. Dr. Lance Stone and another USA flag, like previous blog, away from home.

Rev. Dr. Lance Stone and another USA flag, like previous blog, away from home.

In the afternoon I took the train to Culemborg to visit my cousin Karel and his wife Ankie in Eck en Wiel. You might recall my previous visits to their farm house where I house sat, the chickens and cats. The Storks are expecting in a week or so.

Ankie and the other chicks.

Ankie and the other chicks.

 

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The tulips and even the daffodils are still in bloom. The Skagit Valley is over a month ahead of the Dutch bulb growers.

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If you are a smoker on a Dutch railroad station look for your designated area. It apparently works judging by the popularity. Maybe we need similar designated areas for the food and smart phone addicted.