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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Episode 1: The Family

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Izak as a young employee in the green- and fruit-grocery

The Family

Levie and Izak Cohen fled to Great Britain to outrun the Jew-baiting in the Netherlands. Near to the Spanish border their journeys parted and so does their relationship the rest of their lives.

They are the sons of Simon Cohen a greengrocer in Hengelo. The family's nick name was "Cohen van 't breutje" (Cohen from the bread), as he and before his father went around the farmhouses in the area to sell their products. It was tradition that the farmers gave them a small food gift, meat or fat, but as a Jew they resigned kindly for the pork meat. In stead they got a small bread or "breutje".

The family Cohen consists of father Simon, his wife Helena from Germany and the children Levie, Regina and Izak. Helena passes away in 1937 as a result of cancer. Father Simon is managing a green- and fruit-grocer located at the Driener street, where his sons are helping him to manage the business.

Their house is opposite of  their store at the Wolter ten Cate street. When the war started and it was clear that the Jews wouldn't be safe, Simon decides to go in hiding. At long last he was betrayed, later it was said that it happened because of the gold and other worth-full possessions he had. Simon was finally killed in 1944 in concentration camp Auschwitz. He died at 59 years of age.

Regina, who is usually called Rini, is hiding in a poultry house in Lemmer, in the province of Friesland in the north of the country. She will survive the war.
The grocery business of the Cohen family

Levie (born November 14th, 1911) and Izak (born January 2nd, 1918) don't like to go into hiding. They want to leave the country and go to Great Britain.

They have to wait for the right moment to leave. Through the contacts with Jules Haeck, a Frenchman living in Hengelo and also in the greenery business, they become aware of the pilot escape route to France.
Jules Haeck

It is a well known and many times used escape route, with many save hiding places along the route to France, Spain and Portugal. From there most escaped people go to Great Britain. Jules Haeck, a deserter in WWI, used the same route in the opposite direction to flee from France to the Netherlands, which was a neutral country in WWI.

Now he is the one who is helping people to flee in the opposite direction to freedom. Especially allied pilots who were shot down by the Germans in the Hengelo area.

Haeck brings them often personally to the Dutch-Belgian border, from where they continue their escape route to the south of Europe. The Frenchman is one of the most important underground escape coordinators in East Netherlands.

This is going on for a couple of years until he is betrayed in 1944 and killed by the Germans at Twente airport near to Hengelo.

Translation by Leo Kolwijck, 2014


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