Levy-Simon family

Victims of a criminal regime: Erwin Levy (1896-1943), Selma Levy-Simon (1897-1943) and their three sons: Manfred, G√ľnther and Dagobert.

Erwin Levy was born in 1896 in Carolinensiel (D). He was a son of Moritz Levy (1864-1942) and Röschen Leeuwarden (1870-1935), the eldest sister of my great-grandmother Gretchen Lehmkuhl-Leeuwarden (1877-1952). So, Erwin Levy was a cousin of my grandmother Rose Hugenholtz-Lehmkuhl.

On February 23, 1920 he married Selma Simon (1897-1943) from Setterich (D) (near Aachen). It must have been a great wedding party, because on that very day two brothers of Erwin (Dagobert and Richard) married two sisters of Selma. My grandmother Rose Hugenholtz-Lehmkuhl (1905-1992) was bridesmaid.

Erwin and Selma had three sons:
1. Manfred Levy. He was born in Nordenham (D) on August 12th, 1920. Manfred was a boy who contacted others very easily. He had a job in a shop for electrical devices, located in Heerlen. He was devoted to radio technology.
2. Günther Levy, born in Nordenham (D) on September 29th, 1923.
3. Dagobert Levy, born in Nordenham (D) on February 16th, 1930.

Around 1934, the parents of Erwin and his five brothers fled with their families to Palestine. They were very concerned about Erwin and Selma, who had fled to Eygelshoven (near Kerkrade) in the Netherlands. Moritz Levy, Erwin's father came over from Jerusalem and stayed from July 20th, 1937 until October 20th, 1937 in Eygelshoven.
Selma Simon grew up in Setterich (near Aachen). Her parents still lived there. When the terror against the Jewish people worsened, these very old people fled to the Netherlands on March 18, 1939. They found refuge with their daughter and son-in-law in Eygelshoven. According to the Dutch registration of Jews (very accurately looked after by Dutch officials), they all lived in the the Laurastraat 89 in Eygelshoven in July 1942.
Ultimately, Erwin, Selma and their three children were arrested and transferred to Camp Herzogenbusch (near Vught) in the Netherlands. Selma Levy's parents: respectively 86 and 81 years old were too ill to be transported to a concentration camp. Before they reached their destination in Vught, they had to be left behind in a home for the elderly. When they should recover, they were planned to be send to Vught also. However, they died within a few months. They were buried in the Jewish cemetery in Maastricht.
In the evening of April 9th, 1943 at the family arrived in Vught. Hours they had to stand in line until they finally stood up properly, according to the wishes of the SS. First, the men and boys over 13 years in the group were assigned to step out. A big shock because it was promised that the families could stay together. With packing the suitcases, they didn’t pack their bags separately. Then comes an even bigger shock when the women and children under 5 years had to step out of the group. Children aged 5 to 13 years had to stay behind. Mothers were violently forced to leave their children. Dagobert Levy and the other children remained behind on the square, “guarded” by SS with machine guns. The family was separated from that moment on. Once a week they were allowed to meet each other.

Initially, Manfred, Günther and his brother Gunter were employed in a labour camp in Moerdijk, where they had to provide forced labour under appalling conditions.
On June 8, 1943, all children younger than 16 years old were deported from Camp Herzogenbusch (through Westerbork) to Sobibor. This is the infamous children's transport. Erwin and Selma accompanied their 13 year old son Dagobert. The trip to Sobibor took three days. The children and their parents were murdered immediately upon arrival. Of the 3017 prisoners who, like Erwin and his family on June 11, arrived in Sobibor, no one survived the war.

Sobibor was one of the biggest extermination camps in Nazi Germany and was located in Eastern Poland. In this camp approximately 170,000 people were killed, mainly Jews but also Roma and non-Jewish Poles. Sobibor was not a camp such as Auschwitz and Majdanek. The only goal of Sobibor was to exterminate the prisoners. Sobibor is much less known than Auschwitz because only a few dozen people survived the camp. The entrance was friendly decorated. There were flower beds and signs to a nonexistent pool and restaurant, so the prisoners were given the impression to arrive in a rather comfortable camp. Upon arrival they were separated by gender. Moreover, a number of men chosen by the Sonderkommando for labour. Luggage and valuables had to be left behind. All prisoners had to undress and the hair shaved off. Then the naked prisoners were drive by the SS and their Ukraine helpers to one of the three gas chambers. The gas chambers of Sobibor were fed to the exhaust of a diesel engine. Between March and July 1943, 34 313 Jews from the Netherlands were deported toSobibor.

The building which housed the gas chambers looked completely normal. It was a large brick building on the outside with a sign with the inscription "Baderäume" and a Star of David. The gas chambers themselves looked like a large shower rooms.. Every room was crammed with 200 people. The doors were sealed and then the engine started. Soon, people started screaming. After 5 minutes that was gradually reduced and after 20 to 30 minutes everyone was dead. Because of the loud noise of the engine and the thick walls screaming was barely audible for the next group of prisoners who already listened to the reassuring speech of Hermann Michel ("The Preacher").

Günther had been deported to Sobibor one month later on July 16, 1943. Like most others he must have been killed within a few hours after arrival.

Some time after Günther had been murdered in Sobibor (Summer 1943) a resistance group organised an uprising on October 14, 1943. Approximately 300 prisoners managed to flee the camp, but most were killed in the manhunt that followed.

Manfred Levy was deported to Auschwitz. He was killed on January 21, 1945. The gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz-Birkenau were already destroyed in November 1944 to hide the traces of their crimes from the advancing Russians. At the end of 1944 it was clear that the Nazis would lose. The Red Army marched into Poland and would also reach Auschwitz, and the Germans panicked. In January 1945 the evacuation of Auschwitz began. Many prisoners had to march to the West -the infamous death marches -. Some 50,000 inmates participated in these marches. The intention was that they had to work elsewhere. During the death marches many inmates died (it froze about 20 degrees Celsius) or were executed. Prisoners who were too weak were left behind. It is estimated that about 10,000 of them were killed in the death marches. When the Red Army liberated Auschwitz on January 27, 1945 there were around 7,500 sick and dying people present. The Germans had initially planned to kill them all, but they did not have enough time. The remaining German guards were killed within half an hour by the Russians.

This information is mainly based on information I have obtained from Mr. Frits van Hoorne (for which many thanks). In his book "The Jews of Eygelshoven" (in Dutch) (published in April 2010) he described the story of the eight Jews Eygelshoven. Seven of these individuals belonged to the family of Erwin and Selma. If you are interested in this book, let me know and I'll forward your message to the author.
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Harry and Erwin Levy
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Whole family: left-right sitting: Erwin, Willy, mother Röschen, father Moritz, Dagobert
standing: Harry, Richard and Alfred Julius
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Marriage of three brothers Levy (Richard, Dagobert and Erwin) with three sisters Simon: Setterich (D), 1920
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Villa Rosa: Family guest house of Moritz and Röschen Levy-Leeuwarden in Wangerooge, one of the German Wadden islands.
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Erwin Levy, ca 1920
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Selma Levy-Simon with her eldest son Manfred (1920-1944)
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Selma Levy-Simon with her sons Manfred and Günther
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opa Gottschalk Simon, Günther, Dagobert, oma Henriette Breuer
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opa Gottschalk Simon, Günther, Dagobert, oma Henriette Breuer
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Proud Erwin Levy with his two oldest sons: Manfred and Günther.
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Manfred, Dagobert, Selma Simon-Levy Erwin Levy and Günther Levy
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front: dagobert, opa Gottschalk Simon, oma Henriette Breuer, Lieselote Lehman,
back: Manfred, Rosa Lehman-Simon, Sally Lehman, Selma Simon, Günther, Erwin Levy NO ONE IN THIS PICTURE SURVIVED THE WAR
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Selma Levy-Simon,Günther, Moritz Levy, Röschen Levy-Leeuwarden, Dagobert Levy
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High School of Günther Levy (1923-1943). Second row, third van right
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Manfred Levy (1920-1944)
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Picture of Günther used for his identity card in August 1941
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Dagobert Levy (1930-1943)
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Their former home in the Laurastraat 89 in Eygelshoven (picture 2012)
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Visit with my father Hans Hugenholtz (1932) and my sons Alexander and Christiaan to the Monument in Vught for the children's transport of 6 en 7 June 1943 to Sobibor
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“Dagobert Levy 13 years old”
(on the children’s monument in Vught)
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Jewish book of prayer, owned by Erwin Levy, recovered in 2010 due to the publishing of the book by Frits van Hoorne. It had been deposited by Erwin to a friend.
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Handing over of the Book of Prayer of Erwin Levy to Yoav Orion, great grandson of Richard Levy, older brother of Erwin in 2012 in Eygelshoven (Netherlands)
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In 2012 Stolpersteine were placed in front of the former home of Erwin Levy and his family
On Thursday, February 2nd, 2012 the German artist Gunter Demnig laid five 'Stolpersteine' at the Laura Street 89 in Eygelshoven. The so-called stumbling stones symbolize the five members of the family Levy Simon who were deported from this house.
Placing such stones is an idea of the German artist Gunter Demnig who was present Thursday in Eygelshoven. He placed the first Stolperstein illegally in Berlin in 1996. There are now 33,000 "stumbling stones" spread throughout Europe.
That day I went with my father Hans Hugenholtz (1932), my aunt Margreth Steenbeek-Hugenholtz (1934) and cousin Rosita Steenbeek to Eygelshoven.