Saturday April 4, Easter in Confinement

Written by Jack van Ommen on April 4th, 2020

Since I started my sailing adventure in 2005 I have celebrated the feast of Christ’s Resurrection until 2014 in a different church and mostly a different country, with the exception of 2011 and 2012 which were in the same church, in Holland. This year it will be a surprise how and where I will be in the Corona confinement.

75 years ago, on April 1st 1945, our mother celebrated Easter in confinement, as a political prisoner in the AGFA Commando satellite Dachau concentration camp. Officially religious gatherings were not allowed in the SS run concentration camps. In this satellite camp the 200 Dutch women were housed in a partially bombed apartment complex, surrounded with barbed wire and watchtowers, but the guards left them alone in their quarters. Our mother had the only new testament and the German civilian workers in the factory had lent the ladies an old testament which they translated and wrote out longhand on discarded correspondence they recovered from the factory trash cans. They also made up a hymnal from the collective memories of the women.


Here is what mother recorded and is part of my book :

Easter in Dachau

April 1s, 1945. Easter Sunday.

It was Joukje Grandia-Smits’[1] turn to lead our Easter service.

The entrance song was Hymn 221 verses 1 and 2.

Hail to You first of the days

Dawn of the Resurrection

Through Whose light the power of hell has been conquered

And death has been eliminated

The text for the sermon was taken from Matthew 25, 1-22, the story of the Resurrection. Our recessional song was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

Later in the day, we all joined the Roman Catholic women at their Easter Service. They used my New Testament. We appropriately sang together “The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ the Lord”.

The song book made by the prisoners.

# 24 is the third verse of the hymn “Diep, o God, in’t stof gebogen” sung in America as “Comfort, comfort oh my people” On Right is the front of the correspondence out of the factory trashcan. Note the “Heil Hitler”. The letter is dated May 1, 1940, just days before the Fascists invaded Holland.

On the preceding Good Friday, it was our mother who gave the homily, which she ended with:

“The risen Lord Jesus Christ was first seen by women,

by women who had knelt at the foot of the Cross”.

[1] Joukje Grandia-Smit known under her code name “Clara” is known as the very first courier for the Dutch Resistance, the LO-LKP.


Wishing everyone a Blessed and Happy Easter, under the circumstances.


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