Saturday, 12 April 2014

Famous Friends

Yesterday was a day of unexpected pride for me. Not pride for anything I'd done, but two of my friends made it to television on the same evening in two different programs!

First, Jeroen van Zanten, who wrote a biography of King Willem II of the Netherlands appeared in a television series on the history of the Dutch kingdom. As such he has made many appearances on TV and radio over the last few months. Let´s say that this series takes a low brow approach to appeal to a broader audience. But at least they have talked to serious historians as well.

Watch it here

Next, Michiel Schwarzenberg, who works at the Red Cross archive, was shown digging up information on a Dutchman who had died as a labour volunteer in Germany during WWII. In the Netherlands it was decided just after the war that the Red Cross should collect all the information on people transported to Germany (eg Jews, forced and volunteer labourers, volunteers for the SS) or in the Dutch East Indies.

The archive includes copies of Dutch, German and Japanese administrative accounts, but also many returnees were interviewed to find out what had happened to others so that they could be traced by family, or at least it was known where they had died. For example, the archive holds the records of Anne Frank´s transport to Bergen-Belsen, but also a note from a survivor that she had died in the camp just before the end of the war.

The archive in this case helped to figure out where the labourer, grandfather of the man searching in the TV program, had been buried in an unmarked grave.

watch it here

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