1945 Letter to Bureau of Ex-Political Prisoners

K.G. Smit                                                                     Den Haag, 7 November, 1945

23 Paul Krugerlaan

Den Haag

To the Bureau of Ex-political-prisoners, Honthorststraat 3, Amsterdam


In the month of August j.l. [?] I sent a number of communications to the Concentration Camps  Resolution Bureau in Vucht, but since I don’t know to what degree you and they exchange information, it probably does no harm for me to repeat these to you.

On March 18th, 1944, I was arrested in Paris in the company of Mister Frans van Hugenpoth (who had lived in Den Bosch, on the Oude Dieze. In May, 1944, I saw van Hugenpoth once again during a move from one prison to another. I have learned via rumors that he died in Germany. In a cell near mine was one Mr. de Zeeuw, a sailor from Schiedam. He left in June 1944, I do not know to where.

On August 15th, 1944, Fresnes was evacuated to Buchenwald. This transport arrived in Buchenwald on August 20th. The Dutch people who found themselves part of this transport were:

  • 1. Abraham van Boetzelaer, who lived in Amsterdam at Minervaplein 3
  • 2. Victor Swane, resident of Vucht
  • 3. Victor van Gunsteren, who stated that he was a reserve naval officer and who held from May 1940 a clandestine language institute on Valkenboschlaan in the Hague. Further, he said he had a wife and children. He was a great guy, and he kept our morale up for the rest of us. He is unknown among the population of the Hague. I have been unable to discover any surviving relatives of his.
  • 4. de Roos, a chemist by trade, from Woerden
  • 5. Herman Laatsman, working at the Dutch Consulate in Paris, to where he has returned
  • 6. Janssen, worked at the Dutch Embassy in Vichy, to where he has returned
  • 7. One Mr. Arnolds, from Rotterdam, to where he has returned
  • 8. One Mr. Moore (M?), or Mohre, who worked in a KLM branch office in Paris
  • 9. A Roman Catholic Clergyman, Rijpstra, from Friesland
  • 10. A major in the Royal Military Police, an old man who said he lived in Breda and later in Paris. His name was Brandsen or Brantsen van ………… I have forgotten his surname.
  • 11. One Victor Mandaat from Haarlem
  • 12. One Spierenburg, from Leiden but lived later in America, who was an officer with the R.A.F.

On September 1st, 1944, we were transported to DORA near Nordhausen. Those who stayed in Buchenwald were:

  • 1. Father Rijpstra (with diarrhea)
  • 2. Hr. Moore (with diarrhea)
  • 3. Victor Mandaat (was not sick)
  • 4. Arnolds (was not sick and has returned to Rotterdam)
  • 5. Spierenburg (was not sick)

On September 8th we were transferred from DORA to ELLRICH. Janssen and Laatsman stayed behind in DORA; both have returned [home].

At the end of October or the beginning of November, 1944, Victor Swane died of a lung infection.

On October 22nd, 1944, I was sent with an infirmary transport from DORA back to ELLRICH and after my recovery was put to work there in the hunting terrain. Here I received messages reporting the deaths (the crematorium for Ellrich was in Dora) of:

  • 1. de Roos in December 1944
  • 2. Victor van Gunsteren on January 1st, 1945
  • 3. van Boetzelaer in March, 1945

In March 1945, in my infirmary in Dora, Jahannes Palthe, former resident of the Hague at 234 Nunspeetlaan, died of a lung infection and general weakness. I informed his surviving relatives).

On April 5th the Dora barracks was evacuated with an unknown destination. Those who remained, ill, behind in our infirmary barracks were:

  • 1. Houtzagers, a police agent from Eindhoven
  • 2. Strietman, a cheese wholesaler in Amsterdam
  • 3. Veltman, an analyst of laboratory assistant from Amsterdam

In Ravensbruck, in April 1945, I met:

  • 1. Eric Roest, a student who lived in Rijswijk, South Holland
  • 2. v.d. Put, son of a lawyer from Eindhoven
  • 3. van Gelder, a salesman from Amsterdam

I do not know if any of these men returned home.

In conclusion I can also inform you that one Dijkstra, who lived on Troelsgrakade in the Hague, died in DORA on March 13th, 1943.

I have hereby transmitted to you all of the information that I know. I am enclosing a list with the names of those who I know with certainty returned to the Netherlands. It’s possible that there are some with whom you are not in contact and who can shed further light on things. I am also enclosing a passport photo, as requested, as proof of my identity.


12 responses to “1945 Letter to Bureau of Ex-Political Prisoners

  1. Hi,
    I am the son of Suzanne Hiltermann, a resistant from Dutch-Paris who save many allied pilots during the second world war. I would like to write a biography about Herman Laatsman; a friend of my mother quoted in this article. If you have any information about this gentleman, please forward them to me.
    Best regards,

    • Dear mr ‘Alain’,
      Is there any news about the intended biography of mister Herman Laatsman?
      I used to know him more than fifty years ago when a child in Egypt.
      Kind regards.

  2. Dear Alain,
    mr Laatsman has three daughters, Caroline, Danielle en Henriette. As far as I know Caroline Laatsman lives in Brussels. Henriette lives in the Hague. I do not know where Danielle Laatsman lives exactly. I also know that mr Laatsman went to work in the embassy of Cairo after his stay in Paris. In the dutch embassy in Cairo he worked with professor Van der Dussen, who currently lives in Heerlen (Netherlands). Maybe these people are willing to help you out on giving extra information.
    I would be very interested in a biography about my grandfather.

    Kind regards

    • Brigitte Giani

      Dear Richard, I am a niece of Ms Roos Bekking-Laatsman in the second range and live in Germany. Roos visited us several times in Kassel after the WWII. I would like to find out something about her daughters. They must be of my age.
      Thank youry much in advance.
      Best wishes, Brigitte Giani, Frankfurt/Main

  3. I’m a niece of Ms Roos Bekking-Laatsman, wife of Herman Laatsman. I like to have contact with my dutch relatives and hope to find someone, who could give me a hint whre they live.

  4. Jean-Marie Aendekerk

    My former father-in-law, Henri Crener, was a belgian diplomat, posted in Madrid and Barcelona. He was befriended with Hermann Laatsman and his wife Ms Bekking. She was an outstanding aquarellist and my father-in-law received (or bought) two works of her. One is still in the house of my son. The other (magnificent) was unfortunately robbed.

  5. Brigitte Giani

    Dear Mr.Aenderkerk, thank you for your mail. It is nice to hear, that you saw some works of Roos Laatsman-Bekking. I never did. If it is possible, please could you send me a foto of the aquarell in your son’s house?
    I’m pleased to hear from you.
    Best wishes, Brigitte Giani, Frankfurt/Main

    • Jean-Marie Aendekerk

      Dear Ms Giani, I could find the aquarel in the house of my son and made two fotos of it. But when I examined the signature it appeared that it’s probably a work of Dan Bekking, brother of Roos, made in 1942 in Holland. Nevertheless it’s a fine work and interesting. Please tell me how I can send you the pictures. As for Caroline Laatsman, she actually lives in Brussels and her adress and tel. can be found on Internet.
      Best wishes. Jean-Marie Aendekerk, Brussels.

  6. Jean-Marie Aendekerk

    I certainly will send you a photo of it…but you’ll have to wait a couple of days. The aquarell is actually framed and under glass, and to get you a good photo of the subject and the signature I’ll have to unframe it..and speak about it with my son.
    Best wishes. Jean-Marie Aendekerk, Brussels.

  7. Brigitte Giani

    Dear Mr.Aendekerk, I thank you, that you will take the photo..but not with such an effort! It’s enough to take the picture within the frame, when possible. If the signature is not be seen, it doesn’t matter.
    Did you know Roos Bekking’s brother? He was also a painter and lived in Amsterdam. He died in 1973. He visited us 2 times in Kassel with his wife Christine. His name was Daniel (Daan Wilhelm Bekking). He has a homepage, where one can see some of his paintings and drawings.

    Best wishes, Brigitte Giani

  8. Jean-Marie Aendekerk

    Dear Ms Giani, Very well, I’ll see for the best solution and let you know. Many thanks for the information about Ms Bekking’s brother. I suppose that these exchanges about paintings don’t really fit in the special aim of this blog. Maybe we could in such case use our e-mail. The mine is jm.aendekerk@skynet.be.
    Best wishes, Jean-Marie Aendekerk

  9. Thank you so much for your mail. I was astonished, that Roos Bekking painted also pictures. Roos was educated as sculpturer. If you are able to send digital fotos, please to my address dabrigi@web.de. Thank you in advance, best wishes Brigitte Giani.

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