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New book shed light on fate Harlingen’s Jews

Only one survived

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HARLINGEN - When researching facts and stories about the Frisian city of Harlingen during the war years, novice author Jan Norg came upon the little-known details of what happened to the Jewish inhabitants of the city. Norg recently published ‘Harlingen and the Secord World War, from Depression to Reconstruction’.

Norg’s interest in the history of his hometown during the German occupation has a distinct personal side. Born in 1944, Norg grew up without his father he had never known. Klaas Norg had been involved in resistance work, among others on behalf of the National Relief Fund. Arrested with seventeen other people from Harlingen on January 11, 1945, he was jailed with five resistancemen arrested two days earlier and with two rousted the following day. Within a week, thirteen of them were shipped to the concentration camp in Neuengamme where he was executed by hanging. Details of the fate of his father only came to the Norg family in 2002.

In 1940, there lived 47 Jews in Harlingen. All Jewish men were round up and ‘deported’ on August 10, 1942. Nearly two months later, the remaining women and children were caught in a dragnet and sent to death camps as well. Only one of the 47 survived.

Harlingen saw the first Canadian liberators in the evening of April 16, 1945, after German positions had been shelled. Three local people died in the bombardment, necessary because the German defenders had dug in after destroying harbour installations and blowing up seventeen vessels. Although the local unit of the Interior Forces (BS) - made up of former soldiers, policemen and other ‘abled bodies’ - had wanted to play a major role in liberating their city, Canadian officers disallowed the involvement of the BS, largely untrained soldiers. The Canadian infantery, often engaged in house-to-house fighting, captured some 350 Germans as prisoners of war.