The ‘Stichting Gedenkteken Jodentransporten Cosel’ ( Memorial Jewish Transports to Cosel Foundation ) with families of the thousands of Jewish men and boys from the Netherlands (Limburg), Belgium and France, who were separated on the raliway station in Kedzierzyn Kozle (Cosel) between August 26 and December 10, 1942 from their families by Nazi Germany and then died in forced labour Nazi camps, have unveiled today on the same place 6 plaques and information panels as a memory of this terrible dark period in history.
Frits Barend who lost his grandfather and the brother of his grandfather says: ” it is something: something that remains and forever will commemerate the biggest genocide in history. And for this I am very grateful to the organisers Herman and Annelies van Rens. All the honour goes to you two… Kol a’khowot.”
The Limburg historian Herman van Rens wrote his Ph.D.-thesis over the persecution of Jews and gypsies in the Dutch province of Limburg during the Second World War (title: ‘Vervolgd in Limburg’(persecuted in Limburg)). During the research for his book he hit upon the unknown fact that the Limburg Jewish males aged 15-50 years were taken of the deportation trains to Auschwitz in the small town of Cosel (now part of the Polish town of Kedzierzyn-Kozle) in Upper-Silesia, before the war part of German Silesia. The Limburg men were on August 28 1942 the first people who were taken from the deportation trains, but they were followed by many others.
At the Cosel freight station between August 28 and December 10 1942, 39 trains with Jews from the camps Drancy and Pithiviers (France), Westerbork (the Netherlands) and Malines (Belgium) were stopped on the way to the Extermination Camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. SS-Oberführer Albrecht Schmelt, Heinrich Himmler’s ‘Special Commissioner for the Utilisation of Foreign Labour in Eastern Upper Silesia’ was in charge of taking Jewish males aged 15 to 50 off these deportation trains. About 9,000 men and boys were separated from their families. They were dispersed to numerous camps run by Organisation Schmelt in Silesia and adjoining areas. The biggest of the camps was Blechhammer (Blachownia). Starting in 1943 the approximately 165 Schmelt camps were either closed or transformed into sub-camps of concentration camps. Many of the men and boys perished from 1942 to 1944 in forced labour camps of Organisation Schmelt; many others from 1944 to 1945 in concentration camps and during death marches. Between 700 and 900 of around 9,000 men selected in Cosel survived the war.
Board of the ‘Stichting Gedenkteken Jodentransporten Cosel’:
Mr. Ralf Krewinkel, mayor of Heerlen, president
Mrs. Annelies van Rens-Wilms, secretary
Mr. Martien te Baerts, treasurer
Mr Edward Haduch, authorized person in Poland.
Committee of Recommendation:
Mr. Serge Klarsfeld, member of the administration Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and member of the International Council of the State Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Paris;
Emeritus Prof. dr. Hermann Weiss, University of Michigan USA;
Mr. Jaques Grishaver, president of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee;
Mr. Dirk Mulder, director of The Memory Center Westerbork;
Prof. dr. Johannes Houwink ten Cate, Netherlands Institute of War Documentation NIOD;
Emeritus Prof. Dr.-Ing. Leon Kaufmann (TU Eindhoven), son of a Limburg Cosel survivor;
Mr. Harry Burema, relative of a Limburg Cosel victim;
Emeritus Prof. dr. Fred Grünfeld, president of the Jewish War Memory Committee in Maastricht;
Mr. Benoit Wesly, president of the Limburg Jewish Community and honorary Consul of the State of Israel;
Mr. Edward Haduch, director of the Blechhammer Museum in Kedzierzyn-Kozle.
Mr. Alexandre Doulut, Holocaust historian, Paris.
If you are interested in this subject contact our team by sending your message to : firstname.lastname@example.org with the title: Cosel and we will bring you in touch with the ‘Stichting Gedenkteken Jodentransporten Cosel’.
Photos: Mr Ralf Krewinkel, Mayor of Heerlen and the president of ‘Stichting Gedenkteken Jodentransporten Cosel’.
Mr Ralf Krewinkel, Mayor of Heerlen and the president of ”Stichting Gedenkteken Jodentransporten Cosel” with the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Republic of Poland Mr Ron van Dartel.
Mr Frits Jelle Barend who lost his grandfather.