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“I'd rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
― Lucille Ball

Friday, February 22, 2013

WWII diary of Klaartje de Zwarte - Walvisch: "Alles ging aan flarden"

Klaartje at a wedding in april 1940
Recently I read the WWII diary of Klaartje de Zwarte - Walvisch, which was first published in 2009. It is a very straightforward day-to-day description of a Jewish woman originating from Amsterdam, from 22 March to 4 July 1943. She was killed on 16 July in extermination camp Sobibor in east Poland. In Sobibor at least 167.000 people were killed, most of them Jews.

I was so impressed of this diary that I want to share the existence of this story with everyone who is reading my blog posts. Of course the diary and the publication are written in Dutch and there seems to be no English translation (yet), so I will copy an English summary, and I will give you some interesting links to different sources, in Dutch and English.

Contrary to Anne Frank's diary, which described her life during the hiding of the Frank's family in Amsterdam, the diary of Klaartje describes the period in Amsterdam before she was deported to the concentration camps in Vught and Westerbork and during her life in these camps. Horrible what she and the other inmates had to endure day and night and day after day.

It is amazing that the anonymous diary was saved by her brother-in-law, just before she was transported from camp Westerbork to the death camp Sobibor. It took until 2008 before the diary was rediscovered by some TV-makers and was revealed in a booklet in 2009, with the title "Alles ging aan flarden" or translated in English "Everything went to pieces".

Citation of the Jewish Monument Community on Klaartje de Zwarte - Walvisch.

During the war Klaartje and her husband decided not to go into hiding. In March 1943 they were arrested at home. On that day Klaartje decided to start a diary. She wrote in detail about her stay in the Hollandsche Schouwburg and in Vught concentration camp. On 4 July 1943 her diary ends. Less than two weeks later she was killed in Sobibor.
On the day Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch was put on transport her brother-in-law stood by her. He described their farewell as follows:
‘Klaar, just brought her to the train. Did everything possible to make her comfortable. She had a firm attitude, to be admired. One from many I saw leave from here. Even though she was very alone, she manages just fine. Our table was very touched, because she has been very sweet for everyone’.
And another source (Ed van Rijswijk) describing in more detail the subsequent phases she went through.
Klaartje was born on 6th February 1911 in Amsterdam as the ninth child of Barend Walvisch and Mietje Breemer. She had 10 brothers and sisters. Four of them died at a young age, only her two oldest sisters survived the war. On the 22nd of March 1943, in the afternoon, she is arrested by 2 Dutch men who worked for the SD at the office of the Zentralstelle für Judische Auswanderung in Amsterdam. Klaartje and her husband Joseph de Zwarte got their first call for deportation on the 25th of July 1942 but they decided not to appear, but they also decided not to go into hiding.
First, they were taken to the Zentralstelle. A lot of Jewish people that were arrested were kept there before transportation to the Hollandsche Schouwburg. Starting in March 1943 the nazi's were giving fee's for every Jew that was arrested. Specialised personel from the SD, like the Colonne Henneike, arrested hundreds of Jews in the months after for fl. 7,50 (guilder) per captured Jew.
In the night of the 1st and 2nd of april, Klaartje and her husband, are taken to the concentrationcamp of Vught. From there Klaartje's husband is taken to Moerdijk, near Rotterdam, to work on the defensive constructions that are being build in case of an Allied invasion on the Dutch coast. Klaartje herself is put to work in the Philips factory in camp Vught.
On the 4th of July Klaartje is taken to the Westerbork camp, without her husband. After nine days, on the 13th of July, she is deported from Westerbork to Sobibor. The train arrives there on the 16th and all of the 1990 men, women and children on that train die the same day.
Klaartje has kept a diary from the 22nd of March untill the 4th of July. She gave this diary to her brother-in-law Salomon de Zwarte in Westerbork. He managed to survive the war. In 2009 her diary is published under the title; Alles ging aan flarden (Everything went to pieces).
Alles ging aan flarden; Het oorlogsdagboek van Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch; Uitgeverij Balans 2009, ISBN: 9789460032189.

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