April 1, 2018

Starving Dutch children pointed to cause of celiac disease

Filed under: History,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:34 pm

The ‘hunger winter’ of 1944 as it is called here was a time when all the cities of the western Netherlands went hungry during a famine the country had never experienced before. An estimated 18,000 to 22,000 people died because of the famine, mostly elderly men.

In The Hague, paediatrician Willem Karel Dicke noticed that the children in his care with celiac disease were improving, as they were starving. At that time, doctors had known about celiac for years, but there was no consensus on its cause or how to treat it. Today, celiac disease is known to be a genetic autoimmune disorder.

In the 1930s Dicke had suspected that wheat was the main celiac offender, although the recommendation at the time was eating bananas rather than eliminating wheat. When the famine hit, people ate anything they could find, including ground up tulip bulbs which had next to no nutritional value, and contain glycoside, which can be poisonous. What Dicke noticed though was that starving children with celiac deteriorated less quickly. And once wheat products were available again, the children would get sick. The mortality rate of children in the Netherlands with celiac fell during the food shortage from 35 percent to nearly zero.

Once wartime was over and food was more readily available, children began suffering from celiac disease. Dicke then conducted years of research to prove and record what he had observed during the war. “In 1948, using five test subjects, Dicke provided different cereals for them to eat, carefully measuring patient weight and examining feces for fat absorption. In 1950, Dicke published his findings that wheat and rye flour aggravated celiac symptoms. Importantly, he also gave the children wheat starch to no ill effect, discounting the theory that complex carbohydrates were the cause, another working theory at that time. With the help of other colleagues, he later pinpointed gluten as the ultimate culprit.”

Dicke was almost awarded a greater honour: the Nobel Prize for Medicine, but when he died at age 57 and unfortunately Nobel Prizes are are not awarded posthumously.

(Link: atlasobscura.com, Photo: the Maria Christina neighbourhood in Heerlen, Limburg, built by Hitler)

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February 19, 2018

Bunker Day to feature two ‘unopened’ bunkers

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 6:54 pm

On 9 June, two unique WWII bunkers in the small town of Driehuis, North Holland will be open to the public for one day only. According to Ruud Pols of the Bunkermuseum in IJmuiden, North Holland, this will be the first time these bunkers will actually be opened since the end of the war. Both bunkers are part of the Festung IJmuiden, one of the most important strategic defenses of the German Atlantic Wall. In fact, they’ll be open on National Bunker Day (Bunkerdag).

Pols also has no clue what they’ll find. Will it have been frozen in time or did someone already visit it that they don’t know about? No less than 2300 bunkers have been built in and around IJmuiden, a Dutch port city, and when taking a train and looking out the window in that area, you see cows grazing around the bunkers like it’s a normal sight.

(Link: nhnieuws.nl, Photo: cyberbunker in Zeeland)

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April 10, 2017

Amersfoort commemorates mass execution of Soviet prisoners

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 11:28 am

According to Remco Reiding of the Russisch Ereveld Foundation, April 9 marked 75 years since the second biggest mass execution in the Netherlands during WWII took place, a very little known history fact.

In September 1941 prisoners of war from the Eastern front, probably Uzbeks, made a two-week journey in cattle trucks to Amersfoort, Utrecht. They had been displaced, starved and beaten, and found themselves in a country where they could not communicate with others.

“The Nazis took them to the Netherlands to show Dutch people what untermenschen (‘those inferior people of the East’) looked like. They were paraded and exhibited like animals through the city on their way by foot to the camp while people watched. Once in the camp, they were left outdoors for days as a warning to Dutch prisoners.”

Instead of shocking Dutch onlookers, the prisoners caused a wave of sympathy, as the Dutch wanted to give them water, fruit and bread, which the Nazis did not allow. There was even a film crew charged with having the prisoners fight among themselves over some bread they threw to them, which also failed. The men took the bread and shared it instead, regardless of how hungry they were.

The terrible tragedy goes on, but in the end, the starving, mistreated soldiers had started dying off and were useless as a propaganda tool, so they were eventually all shot.

(Link: nos.nl)

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October 7, 2015

National holocaust monument becomes glass house

Filed under: Architecture,History by Orangemaster @ 6:38 pm


The green and white wooden house is one of the last remaining buildings at Kamp Westerbork, a WWII Nazi transit camp in Hooghalen, Drenthe where Dutch Jews, Sinti and Romani stayed and were readied for transport to Nazi concentration camps elsewhere. German Jewess Anne Frank passed through there as well in her final months before being transported back to Germany. The house was declared a national monument in 1994.

Intended as a memorial to WWII, the large glass box creates a vitrine-like enclosure around the clapboard residence of SS commander Albert Konrad Gemmeker. According to Oving Architecten from Groningen, it will both preserve the structure and be used to host educational events.

(Link: www.dezeen.com, photo ovingarchitecten.nl)

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January 14, 2015

World’s biggest ship named after Nazi arrived in Rotterdam

Filed under: History by Orangemaster @ 2:01 pm


On 8 January a crowd watched world’s biggest and most expensive vessel ever built, the Pieter Schelte, float into the Port of Rotterdam. The ship was named after Pieter Schelte Heerema, founder of the Swiss-based Allseas group and a maritime engineer, but also a member of the Nazi Waffen SS, convicted and sent to prison for three years for his crimes against humanity in WWII.

The ship is owned by Schelte’s son, Dutch businessman Edward Heerema who has received much flack and petitions from Jewish groups and others to change its name. The Dutch government had given Allseas’ Netherlands subsidiary a $1 million tax break for its part in designing the ship, adding to the ship’s controversial nature. “While Mr Heerema’s father had been recognised by the courts as providing “very important” services to the resistance, he was earlier a “prominent” figure among Dutch collaborators with the Nazis,” according to the Netherlands Governmental Institute for War Documentation.

Edward Heerema distances himself from his father’s past, stating that the ship was named after “the offshore pioneer that he was”. Read more about this huge vessel and see more pictures.

(Links: www.ad.nl, www.jpost.com, Photo of Pieter Schelte ship by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)

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December 8, 2014

Dutch professor’s past changes view on Holocaust

Filed under: History,Literature by Orangemaster @ 1:04 pm


Dutch-American Saskia Sassen, 67, is a professor of sociology at Columbia University in New York City whose Nazi collaborator father is part of a recently translated book from German into English entitled ‘Eichmann Before Jerusalem’ written by German philosopher Bettina Stangneth in 2011. Sassen’s father, Willem Sassen was a Nazi journalist and close to Adolf Eichmann when they both lived in Argentina in the 1950s. Sassen would extensively interview Adolf Eichmann, a major Holocaust figure, at their home in Argentina on Sundays, which upset Saskia’s mother a great deal and had her parents arguing after he left.

For a long time Saskia Sassen refused to talk about that chapter of her life, leading a very successful career as a professor author and authority on many subjects in her own right. However, in recent years Sassen has, “found herself repeatedly confronting this missing chapter of her biography, as archival records emerge and scholars, journalists, and filmmakers seek her participation in projects connected to her father’s history.”

In 1948 Willem Sassen escaped with his family to Argentina, where he met a group of local and refugee Nazis who were obsessed with discrediting what they saw as enemy propaganda about the Holocaust. Sassen was horrified by the bloody details he learned about the concentration camps, but was sure Eichmann had been manipulated into organizing such crimes. Sassen wanted to write a book about it all, but it never materialised. In 1960, Israeli agents abducted Eichmann and rumors spread in Argentina that Sassen had betrayed him.

The rest reads like a thriller and could make an excellent holiday gift for some of you.

(Link: chronicle.com)

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