Every year when I go to Europe I visit the city of Burgsteinfurt and this time again, the middle of July, 1966.
I was born in this place on February 24, 1894 in the Kirchstrasze No. 17. This house has now been transformed and quite different compared to what it looked like before.
It was an old house.
I always was a citizen of the Netherlands, as according to the law, a child takes the nationality of the Father, different to that of the U.S.A. In this country, you are an American when you are born here.
When I wanted to immigrate to the U.S.A. prior to the War 1939 – 1945, I was unable to. I was considered and fell under the German quota, having been born in Germany, although according to the Dutch Law, I and my parents, and grandparents were all Dutchmen.
If I had been born in the Netherlands, I would fall under the Dutch quota, and able to immigrate to the U.S.A. soon after I had applied. For the Germans, it took 6 to 7 years – in 1939 – before the number of the quota is certain on account of the many German Jews ousted and harassed by the German people. Therefore I had no chance, and unable to go.
Also, it was impossible to go and immigrate to other countries like England, and France for which I tried. Even a letter, as a reply, took many months. So when the Germans invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, we were like a rat in the trap.
I had some far relatives (from my mother’s side) and they often told me, that they and the other Jews, as from 1933 on, were not allowed to go to the parks, the gardens around the “Schloss.” Even their best friends, did not greet or salute them when they were on the streets.
The whole German people was infected with the germ of anti-semitism. Very few Germans were exceptions.
The Jews were not allowed to enter the gardens and or sit on the benches.
I heard this complaint from the relatives of my mother’s side and this complaint impressed me immensely.
Near the house where I, my brother o.s.j., and sister o.j., killed by Hitler- (his remembrance be cursed) all lived, I saw a group of people going into the Kindergarden, where the three of us also went as young children. I was in charge of my sister and brother o.s.j., when we had to walk to this Kindergarden. It was a funny sight, as the family always told me, when I grew up, the way I took care of these kids. I had them by the collar and did not let them go.
For what reason I had to be so careful, I don’t know and cannot understand.
There were no cars, automobiles, hardly any cycle, maybe a carriage with a horse, but practically, there was no traffic on this and other streets, especially in a hamlet like Burgsteinfurt.
I ran to the group of people, mostly women, and when the crowd of about 100 people went in, I joined the crowd, headed by a priest. He wore a black coat and white collar. We all passed the fore-court, passing the church, and the priest talking to the about 100 women, explaining the beauty of this church, showing them the lines, the architecture. Beauty is relative, of course, in my opinion it was a simple church, but of course you cannot argue about the beauty of a structure. He then told the crowd, with his hand directed to the stone wall that this was the wall at the outskirt of Burgsteinfurt, a fortress.
And then further away, “you see these houses – in the World War, 26 human beings were killed by a bombardment on the city of Burgsteinfurt.” He mentioned a few times “World War” and I was immensely interested in his talk.
After a little while I asked the priest whether I could say a few words to this crowd of women and he replied “selbstverstaendlich” (naturally) “Ja” (Yes). So I told them that I was born in this city more than 72 years ago, that my father was “Tierartzt” (veterinary surgeon), attending to the horses and animals of the “Fuerst of Burgsteinfurt”, all Dutchmen, and that in 1900, he, with his family returned to the Netherlands again.
In 1940, for no reasons whatsoever, the German armies invaded Holland and I, as a Jew – with my family, were sent to prison and concentration camps.
Very many countries were invaded by Hitler and his armies, and nobody could understand that the Germans, considered to be the leaders of the World in Culture, etc. followed a “Verbrecher” ( Criminal).
6 millions of Jews have been killed in a most awful and terrible way, after having been stripped of their material belongings, and humiliated. For the sole reason – of being a Jew.
Some woman in the beginning of my talk, asked me then why I came to see this place again. Well, for reasons that I have all the recollections of my father of this city, and that I was able to come here, on account that myself and my family, the only family of the Netherlands not being killed. That is 4 people out of over 100,000 as a family unit, and one who has not followed the laws of the Germans. I told the crowd that the whole German nation is responsible for this massacre with few exceptions.
Another woman told me that they did not know of the mistreatment of the Jews and they only heard this after the war. I said to this woman: “Dass muszten Sie wiss en” (You should have known this), that all Jews were sent away as early as from 1933 on, that was years before the war broke out. That the synagogues in every city, village and hamlet was burnt, all Jews were killed and thousands and thousands, from 1933, sent to concentration camps. But, you and all the people did NOT want to know, as to what was going on. That all Germans are responsible for the crimes, committed from 1933 to 1945. All ” Verantwortlich” (responsible).
“Aber darf ich Ihnen einen guten Rat geben” (But can I give you a good advice?) “Vielleicht wird Gott Ihnen vergeben” (Maybe G.d will forgive you).
I had spoken for about 10 minutes in the German language and I must say that it was a good speech. At the end of this speech I said, “Und jetzt geht zur Kirche und betet zu Gott “(Now go in the Church and pray to G.d). I knew that many women were impressed by what I said.
I thought I had done a good job and was satisfied with myself, as to the way and the circumstances, I held this talk.
After the talk I turned to the priest and gave him my card, and showed him he picture postcards which I wrote to my family and mentioning Burgsteinfurt, where I was born. I told him that I would very much like to speak to an elderly gentleman, who probably will have known my father o.s.j. Well, he said, I am the Pastor of this town and my father is over 80 years of age and sure he must have known your father. I was rather excited to meet again some man, who might have known my father, just as a few years ago, who remembered him and gave me all the information, etc. I made a big mistake, but very luckily, when I asked him, “Was your father also the “Pastor” of Burgste…… ?” I did not finish the sentence and the priest did not know as to what I wanted to ask.
He gave me a slip of paper with the names, etc.
I will go to see this “Pastor” next time I hope to be in Burgsteinfurt and eventually to see the father of the Roman Catholic Priest Heinrich Rehorst. Just as a notable man, as my father was, a Veterinary Surgeon, one of them in this small town, he will tell me all the good things, the particulars ,etc. of “Herr Dokter Frankenhuis”.
Excerpt from Frankenhuis Collection Archive No.147