Thursday, November 11, 2021

I remember

Today I am remembering my Grandfather Taeke van Popta who died of dysentery on January 21, 1945, in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He had been imprisoned by the Nazis for championing the rights of all citizens, including Jews, to work in their chosen profession, regardless of their ethnicity or faith.

Below is a copy of the last letter he wrote to his wife and children, in the Netherlands. He wrote it in German so that it would the more likely be approved by the censors. Here is the English translation:

My dearest Regina and all of you,

Trying to reach you by this letter; should it arrive, please write me. Still in good health and cheerful. The one who trusts will never be dismayed. Work is not heavy; sufficient clothing. But less food. Until now God has helped me. Pray that I may be permitted to return my love to you. You’ll be suffering hunger and cold. Hope and pray that you’ll get through it all. Winter has started, but it’s not too cold. Still sleeping well. Prayer and consolation: Ps 25 - “Forgive my transgressions for thy goodness sake.” Ps 73 - “Though in grievous suffering my heart and flesh may fail.” As in Romans, in all these we are more than conquerors. Longing for you and news. That is a strengthening bond. Greetings to family, friends, and dear grandchildren. I can see Jaapje [oldest grandson] before me. Am always praying for you. Our prayers join one another. May God protect you. I am in His school. All earthly things pass away. Life and love are everlasting.

Greetings to all.

Your loving T.

Someone (presumably family upon receipt of the letter) wrote in the right bottom corner that the letter had been postmarked in Keulen (Cologne), Feb. 17, 1945. Thus it left German some 2-3 weeks after Taeke's death. Unfortunately, it seems that he did not note on the letter the date he wrote it.

Here is a link to the entire story of my Grandfather's arrest and death.