Henk Arendse

Henk Arendse

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It's crisis time and my parents did not know that somewhere deep down in Germany on March 21, 1933, the Dachau concentration camp was opening its doors.

They married on September 26, 1934 and ran their own glue factory, "Perfecta", later called "Bisonkit". Financially it was not a good time.

My father went on a bike from The Hague to the shoe factories in Brabant and explains how easy it is to paste soles instead of using nails and stitching. My mom does the accounting and is his secretary. They may at some point sell the business to Italians but with a fascist country you do not do business. (ironically, the factory was sold to Italian investors some years ago) So they sell it to someone in Goes, who has no understanding of chemistry but where has money. My father then is employed elswhere. On 21 December 1940 their first daughter Kitty was born.

In early 1941, my father was approached by the resistance group where his brother took part in. My parents have the mimeograph machine in the house and the meetings take place at their home. Pamphlets are distributed by them and my father distributes them in trains and at stations as he is traveling. On September 9, 1941 at 17:30 in the afternoon he is arrested at home.

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With the statement "He'll be back home in no time lady" they are left with no time to say goodbye. But "in no time", meant 3 years and 9 months later. He landed in prison in Scheveningen, the "Orange Hotel", and stays there until March 1942 when he is transferred to Camp Amersfoort. He gets pneumonia and, as sick as he is, after a few weeks, is sent to Buchenwald. He gets the NN classification there, which means "you do not exist anymore for the outside world". It's hard work there, and after half a year he is, still sick, deported to Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg. After some days in the main Camp he is sent to the outside command Klinker .

Saksenhausen is the "workshop" of the infamous architect Speer. He has to work, up to his knees in the water and clay for months. He falls seriously ill and after 3 months is brought back to Sachsenhausen to the dead barak. He sees how many die, the demise of the man. He refuses to eat for fear of infections that predominate. By a miracle he manages to bribe a guard and ends up in block 17 where a Belgian fellow prisoner helps him. Then he is sent to Natzweiler. Hunger oedema make holes fall into his body. His feet open to the bone he carries lorrys up and down the mountain. The Allies are advancing and they leave in early September to Dachau. He is transferred to Allach the BMW factory where he must work.

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Begin January, all NN ers are gathered in the mother camp Dachau and he comes into contact block 29. Typhus brakes out and he is 2 weeks in coma. Then there is the sudden liberation on April 29, 1945 at 17:20 pm by the Americans. It takes some time before he gets home but the night of 1 to June 2, 1945 is the day. The whole family sits at home with my mother waiting for him. A truck brings him home from Eindhoven. Intense emaciated but happy he arrives. Every time someone comes in, he gallantly offers his seat. "Of course" I can stand up ... They give him money so he can buy something for himselve, but instead he gives my mother a new dress. She waited for him all these years and she was loyal and has taken good care of their daughter. The value of money makes no sens to him anymore.  After a week he picks up the thread again. Efforts need to be.

On July 3, 1946, Sonja was born. Initially, my father decided to emigrate to Australia, a country with no war record but my mother said no just before the trip and they stay in the Netherlands. They then decide to swap the Hague for Laren.

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In my youth, I see many friends of my father visit with their young women and their children.

The Natzweiler friends is a tight group and we will be the first children to the reunions of this group and holidays there are often started or ended. It is a social person, not hateful but often difficult for his family, worried and quickly tempered. In spring and autumn he has nightmares and is very depressed. On April 26, 1996 my father dies after a long illness aged 84. And April 29, 1996 at 17:20 pm the day and hour of the liberation of Dachau, he was cremated. I keep good memories of my father. He was a caring, loving father having his heart in the right place for his fellow man. He has taught me not to be resentful towards the Germans, "there were some who could not do otherwise"

Sonja Holtz-Arendse