TRIBUTE to KILA
To be able to write the history of Jewish Alkmaar we have been using the book of J. D. Kila: Kaddiesh voor Joods Alkmaar. To him and his book is written a tribute by Louis (Lode) Frankenberg, a holocaust survivor from Alkmaar. About him - and his sister who also survived the holocaust - can be read in the chapter of our website '1e STEENLEGGING'. (only in Dutch).
On this page the tribute to Kila is shown after the first presentation on the 2nd of November 2015 in Alkmaar.
TRIBUTE TO J.D. KILA
Who helped to preserve the memory of the Jews in Alkmaar, including that of my own family
Louis (Lode) Frankenberg
Sâo Paulo, Brazilië / Alkmaar November 2015
Alkmaar is the town where I was born. I only lived there until the age of six. My sister lived there until she was nine. We – my sister and I, our parents and our grandmother – were driven out by the Nazis on 5 March 1942. My sister and I were the only ones to survive the Holocaust.
Even though I spent very few years of my life in Alkmaar, I have great affection for this town which so warmly took in my family during four decades, from 1902 to 1942. Seventy-three years have elapsed since then, but never during this long period of time have I forgotten my birthplace, which I often visit and where I still feel at home.
I went to see J. D. Kila at his house in Alkmaar in 1992. On that same year, he had just published his book Kaddiesj voor joods Alkmaar. The book is a tribute to the Jewish citizens of Alkmaar, who had peacefully lived there for many centuries, but who were slaughtered by the Nazis during World War II. I told J.D.Kila stories about my family on that occasion, which he then included in the second edition of his book.
I would like to pay tribute to J. D. Kila in return for his spontaneous gesture of solidarity with Alkmaar’s practically extinct Jewish community. His book provided me with information for my autobiography and for the biography I wrote about my parents and grandmother. I will use this information here too, in order to remember the past of the other Jews from my home town.
Alkmaar is very important to the history of Dutch Jews. It was the first city to allow Jews to live within it, two centuries after they were prosecuted, killed or expelled in 1349, having been unfairly blamed for the bubonic plague that ravaged Holland and the rest of Europe.The Jews came back to Holland after they were driven out of Spain and Portugal with the Spanish Inquisition in 1492 and the Portuguese Inquisition in 1497. Many fled to Belgium at first, but when Antwerp was conquered by the Spaniards in 1585, they had to find somewhere else to go to, and one of their destinations was Holland.
The Utrecht Union pact signed in 1579, which brought together the provinces of the north, stipulated that no one could be prosecuted due to their religion. This included the Jews who lived in the region.
In 1602, Rabbi Uri Ha-Levie opened the first Jewish cemetery in Alkmaar. Two years later, in 1604, Alkmaar became the first Dutch city to allow Jews to settle in it. The first to do so were Portuguese Jews, whose ancestors had fled from the Inquisition.
In 1747, the Jewish cemetery on Westerweg road was opened in the middle of a beautiful wood and near other cemeteries, and two centuries later it was there that my grandfather on my father’s side would be buried.
In 1792 the first prayer room, i.e., a small synagogue, was built in Alkmaar. In 1796 the Jewish religion was officially recognized in Holland. With this, the Jews would acquire equal rights and become full citizens, and would be able to live anywhere they wished in the Netherlands.
Little by little, the Jewish population of Alkmaar began to grow. There were 81 Jews in 1810, 165 in 1824, 187 in 1840 and 232 in 1850. In addition to their Hebrew names, they had started to use civil names and surnames from 1811 onwards, as a result of a law passed by Louis Napoleon.
My grandfather, Louis Frankenberg, emigrated from Germany to Alkmaar in 1902. There he opened the Frankenberg N.V. stationer´s and printer´s, the second largest one in the Netherlands.
My father, Hans Lion Frankenberg, was born in this town in 1904. And I was born in Alkmaar on 8 October 1936, on the same date of the celebrations of the victory over the Spaniards. My grandfather died on the year I was born, and I thus inherited his name.
A few years later, in May 1940, Germany invaded Holland. As reported in the book by J. D. Kila, all Dutch Jews living in Alkmaar had to register at the Town Hall in 1941.
On 4 March 1942, the Germans commanded the Alkmaar Jews to leave the town by the next day and to go to Amsterdam. As a result of this absurd order, the Frankenbergs and many other families were sadly forced to leave Alkmaar.
J. D. Kila reports that uniformed policemen and other officers mingled with the crowd to ensure the Jews would board the special train to Amsterdam on 5 March 1942. Collaborating with them were Dutch traitors from the NSB (National Socialistische Bond) party, the equivalent to the German Nazi party. Amidst a deathly silence, the train left the station to the astonished gaze of friends and other citizens. Most Alkmaar Jews would never see their city again. This included my parents and my grandmother on my father’s side.
According to the book by J. D. Kila, the Jewish Council (Joodse Raad) strongly advised the Jews not to go into hiding, for those who were found would be severely punished and sent to the Mauthausen concentration camp in Germany.
This never came to happen in reality, for those who were found hiding – the ondergedoken – ended up being taken to Westerbork concentration camp first and then to the extermination camps of Sobibor or Auschwitz, in Poland next.
No one could imagine what would happen to the Dutch Jews at the time. According to official figures, of the 130 thousand who lived in the country, 83% would be decimated. It was later established that Holland was one of the countries in occupied Europe that lost the greatest percentage of Jews.
J. D. Kila compiled an almost complete list of all Jewish citizens of Alkmaar who were killed, including their professions, addresses, dates and places of birth, as well as the dates and places where they were murdered by the Germans in various extermination camps, mainly in Poland, but also in Bergen Belsen, Germany.
Among them are the names of my parents, Hans and Gertrude Frankenberg, of my aunt Els and her husband Frans Grünwald, as well as my cousins Leonard and Jetty Grünwald, and my grandmother Cilla Wolf Frankenberg. My sister Eva´s and my own name are not in the list. When he wrote the book, J. D. Kila did not know what had happened to us two.
My parents and grandmother were betrayed by a man called Hendrik Waalewijn, who worked for the German occupation forces in charge of the “Jewish Question”. My parents were captured on 14 July 1943. They were detained in Amsterdam for three days before being sent to Westerbork as Strafgeval on 17 July 1943. On 20 July 1943, together with 2209 Jews, they were transported to Sobibor in cattle carriages. They arrived there on 23 July 1943 and were murdered in the gas chambers on the same day.
My father, Hans Lion Frankenberg, who was born and raised in Alkmaar, considered himself to be more Dutch than Jewish. Having studied his life in depth, I believe he was a true patriot. I am equally proud of my grandfather Louis Frankenberg, who opened the renowned stationer’s, worked hard for the community of Alkmaar, helping both children and adults, and earned various decorations, including a Red Cross medal from Germany and one from Austria. His death in 1936 moved the city. The funeral procession with hundreds of people passed through Langestraat, the street where our shop was located.
In 1958 I had a tombstone erected in the Jewish cemetery where my grandfather had been buried in honour of my parents and grandmother killed who had died in Sobibor. The tombstone reads Ter nagedachtenis van Cilla Frankenberg-Wolf, Hans Lion Frankenberg, Gertrude Klara Frankenberg-Goldschmidt die in de oorlogsjaren 1940-1945 werden weggevoerd en niet truggekomen zijn-Mogen ook zij in vrede rusten.
The few Alkmaar Jews who survived never forgot their home town, and together with other citizens they rebuilt their Synagogue, now a community cultural centre that opened on 15 October 2011 in Hofstraat. My wife and I were present on the occasion, and we were moved by the celebrations and the plaque with the names of the Jews killed by the Nazis between 1940 and 1945.
I am proud to have been born in Alkmaar, the city where my ancestors lived and where there are people like J. D. Kila, who helped to preserve the memory of the Jewish citizens who contributed to the growth and prosperity of the town.
In 2004, I visited the Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork, in Drenthetogether with my wife and my son Roberto. Its library preserves the memory of the over 100 thousand Dutch Jews who were detained there before being sent to the extermination camps. When I returned to Brazil, the country where I now live, I sent the Herrineringscentrum Kamp Westerbork library my copy of J. D. Kila’s book signed by the author.
This brief text is a tribute to my ancestors who lived in Alkmaar and Den Helder, who ended up in Sobibor and Auschwitz. It is also a tribute and my way of saying thank you to J. D. Kila, who did not forget the Jews from Alkmaar. As long as there are noble people like him in the world, there is still hope for humanity.
I would like to thank De Stichting Stolpersteine-Alkmaar (now called Herdinkingsstenen Joods Alkmaar) and everyone else present here, including some of my descendants who have come with me for this ceremony of the Stolpersteine in honour of all the Jews who lived here for so many years in total harmony with the citizens of Alkmaar.
Sâo Paulo, `Brasil, November 2015