Het Parool – Het tragische lot van Erna

  • Paul Arnoldussen writes about the launch of the Dokin.nl website in Het Parool.
  • Written by: Paul Arnoldussen
  • Date: January 28th, 2014
  • Published in: Het Parool (Dutch newspaper)

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The following is the English Translation by Miriam Keesing:


Het Parool – Erna’s tragic destiny


The fate of the German Jewish children in 1938 and 1939 ended up in the Netherlands is recorded on a website .
Who is looking for information and who has it?
By Paul Arnoldussen

This newpaper has written about Miriam Keesing’s (1966) research project about more than 1800 German and Austrian Jewish children who were send  to the Netherlands by their parents after Kristallnacht (November 1938) in 1938 and 1939  for their own safety. They ended up with relatives, in foster homes and facilities. About one hundred children found shelter in the “Burgerweeshuis”. Social worker Truus Wijsmuller took these children out of that orphanage on the day of the capitulation in 1940 and took them with buses to IJmuiden where they were put on a boat to London.

Historian Miriam Keesing is researching these child refugees. She has now set up a website, dokin.nl (German War Children in the Netherlands), where, apart from some documentation about her research, we also find a database of all those children who landed in the Netherlands. There are names, backgrounds, correspondence of every child to the extent that surfaced and, if available, a photo.
This is not only worthwhile for those interested in the history, but also for the researcher herself. The – English – site encourages readers to provide information. Last week she received news about one of the children. To see the list of survivors, access must be requested.
How business-like the information on the site may seem, a human world lies behind it. We read about a person who needs to abandon a child, because it appears that several German friends of his have been imprisoned in concentration camps – he must now first take care of the children of the prisoners. We encounter Erna-Paula-Thea Eylenburg, born in Berlin in 1923. She was in the Burgerweeshuis, but left there on April 25, 1940, and ended up in a foster family in the Michelangelostraat. It seemed like a nice solution, but we, of course, know the consequences : she was murdered in Auschwitz on September 30, 1942 .
Nearly eight hundred children, could – usually before for May 1940, and with their parents – continue to emigrate, amongst others to England, America and South America.
Of the 1047 children still in the Netherlands in 1942, 547 were killed in the camps. That is more than half but less than the average in the Netherlands: 75 percent. Keesing does not, as yet have a satisfactory explanation. She hopes to give this in her book, which has yet to appear this year.