Celine van der Hoek - de Vries (1920-2011)In Memoriam Celine van der Hoek - de Vries (1920-2011)

With great sadness the Board of AFVN / BVA informs about the news of the death of our antifascist comrade Celine van der Hoek, de Vries. She died on Friday the 30th September 2011. Celine endured in their respectable age their illness and perceived their role as anti-fascist to the last minute. We are very sad that she was suddenly torn from our midst.

Our sympathies are with the family, friends and comrades, and we wish them all strength.

Born: 13 February 1920 - died 30 September 2011

As in 1944 Celine arrived in Auschwitz, she was 24 years old. The end of the train from Westerbork to Auschwitz was also the end of an era of the so-called normal life. For many it meant the end of their lives. How could they get into this hell? Shortly before the occupation in May 1940, we knew from the stories of Jewish immigrants, which drama took place in Germany. But nobody believed that something would happen to the Jews in the Netherlands. Her mother was a busy woman with three major branches of electrical appliances. Celine received a good education in high school.

The measures against the Jews began insidiously. The only work she could find was to be a nanny in a Jewish family. In June 1942 she was stopped by police near her home, which she sent back. She just saw only that her mother and brother were loaded on a German car. They were murdered. Celine was in hiding, was twice arrested and taken to the Hollandsche Schouwburg. She came out again. The third time she was deported to Westerbork, after a few months to Auschwitz. Three terrible days in cattle cars, no food or drink, people died. The prisoners at Auschwitz were tattooed on her arm a number, to deprive them of all their identity. Celine got the number A - 25 236. The strongest worked, the others were gassed. In spite of all terror, she was forced to watch it, she was lucky because she has been selected three times as "strong" - and has survived. She was lucky. At least she was assigned to work in a munitions factory in Czechoslovakia.

"In Germany they learn more about war than we do." We remember how she talked about the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army of Soviet Union. Her weight was at this time only 24 kg. Terminally ill, she was taken to a military plane to the airport Eelde. She should recover. In Amsterdam, she was not really welcome. The stores and all the possessions of her mother were "taken over". She could not prove that these belonged to her. She was three months in arrears, and she was left alone, without family, because nobody else had returned from the family.

She met her husband and took back to life. As a singing teacher and choir director Celine began a new life. Over it she says:
"I'm glad - I can work for the Children's Memorial. The visit to schools keeps me young. I lost my hatred of German. German groups often come to the children's memorial. I like to talk with them, they are interested and impressed by my story. German schools give this story more attention than the Dutch. Anti-German, I am no longer, but I remain antifascist my whole life, because still terrible things happen."

As president of the International Committee Romberg Park in Dortmund and a member of the honorary presidency of the FIR, she was regularly invited to speak at meetings in Germany. In 2006, Celine was elected as President of AFVN / Association of Anti-Fascists. Wherever possible, she attended memorial services - such as the resistance fighter Hannie Schaft and Dockworkers strike against the deportations. Celine has tried with her use, explain to younger generations, what is fascism and what are the dangers by telling their own story. In schools and institutions, they reported it.
She tried to inspire the young people and their movement in the struggle for a better society in the future. Celine was very moved by the situation in the Netherlands and the world and dealt with the daily struggle against injustice, oppression and war. She said loud and clear to connect the struggle of the workers and the struggle against fascism.

As co-representative of children's memorial in Amsterdam, she wrote an appeal to all to ensure that the murder of Jewish children never allowed to repeat and that the now living children, anywhere in the world, whatever their race, regardless of their faith or policy may be never more victims. As president of the Association of Anti-fascists AFVN she supported the administration and adviced by phone or directly and she knew better than anyone else, to give courage to continue in the battle against fascism.

Even Celine inspired us - who now live in freedom - by many of her stories about the dark fascist period, to remain vigilant, and she handed over the torch of the anti-fascism to the younger generation. In order to keep the torch burning on the anti-fascism, we remember Celine, and we will continue to work - in the sense of the Oath of Buchenwald:

"We finish our struggle when the last culprit stands before the judges of the nations. The destruction of Nazism and its roots is our slogan. The creating of a new world of peace and freedom is our goal. That we are our murdered comrades and their families owe."

3rd October 2011


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