Sunday, April 11, 2010
Abraham & Eva Beem z"l
Rosetta Beem-Kannewasser with her children, Eva and Abraham, c. 1935 Salo Beem ( 1926 - 1931 ) Hartog & Rosetta Beem, 1953 ( in Geneva, at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress )( all pictures were found on the website of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam )
Tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day. I started this weblog seven years and a week ago. In one of my first postings I wrote that every time when I changed the diaper of our son ( who was born in November 2002), I was reminded of a column that I had read a few months earlier, while doing my reserve duty in the IDF, somewhere in the Negev. In that column, the Dutch journalist Frits Abrahams told the story of Bram ( Abraham ) and Eva Beem. That is, of the final years of their young lives, in which they were forced to hide. Their parents ( Hartog Beem ( 1892-1987), a Dutch-Jewish historian, linguist, and teacher, and an active member of the Jewish community, and Rosetta Beem-Kannewasser (1896-1976) ) hid - and survived the war - in their home town of Leeuwarden ( Friesland, the northern part of the Netherlands ). Bram and Eva were sent to a foster home in Ermelo ( Gelderland, the East of Holland ). For about two years, the children lived under fake names ( Eva was called Lini, Bram Jan ), went to school, had friends, and were even able to write coded letters to their parents. Then they were betrayed. In February 1944, during the night, four Dutch (!) policemen arrested the children and their foster parents from their beds. Crying, the children said that they were not Jews. The policemen forced little Abraham to undress. Frits Abrahams wrote: "I clearly can imagine the scene: those men looking at that small penis, and giving each other a delighted look: Gotcha!". Abraham and Eva were murdered in Auschwitz on 6 March, 1944. Only after the war did poor Hartog and Rosetta, who already had lost a son ( Salomon, 'Salo' ( 1926-1931 ) ) in a car accident, hear about the death of their children. It is not known who betrayed those two children. One of the four policemen was still alive when Teake Zijlstra, a journalist from Friesland, reconstructed this sad story in the late 1980s. The man had not been condemned to death because he had only followed orders as a member of the police force. I don't know if he or the other four policemen received any punishment for this crime, which probably was not the only one they committed in the years 1940-1945. Not that such punishment would have made the sorrow of the poor children's parents any less.
In the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, several pictures and personal documents of the Van Beem family can be found. I was very touched by this family's sad history, both as a ( Jewish ) father and as a historian for whom the Holocaust is of particular interest. Now that I have found the two children's pictures, the story moves me even more. Eva was only one year older than our daughter is today, and Bram looked very much like our three-year old son - may he, his sister, and brother live until 120 in health, happiness, and peace -, including the haircut and the glasses. May the memory of Abraham, Eva, Salo, Hartog and Rosetta Beem be a blessing.
Posted by Bert at 6:00 AM