Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Anton de Kom: Holocaust Memorial Day 27 January 2010

Tomorrow it's the Holocaust Memorial Day. And tomorrow I will also light a candle for Surinamese/Dutch freedom fighter and human rights activist Anton de Kom, who died in the Neuengamme concentration camp in Germany.

Anton de Kom was born on February 22, 1898 in Paramaribo, Surinam. His grandparents had personally experienced slavery and his father was born a slave. The many stories he heard at home about the atrocities, fed his aversion against racism and colonialism. The Kom is the author of the book "Wij Slaven van Suriname" (We Slaves of Surinam).

Anton de Kom joined the Dutch resistance after the German invasion in Netherlands in 1940. On 7 August 1944 he was arrested by the Germans. De Kom died on 24 April 1945 of tuberculosis in Camp Sandbostel near Bremervörde (between Bremen and Hamburg), which was a satellite camp of concentration camp Neuengamme. He was buried in a mass grave. In 1960, his remains were found and brought to the Netherlands, were they buried in the Cemetery of Honour in Loenen. He became 47 years old.

A short documentary about De Kom's life.

The University of Suriname was renamed The Anton de Kom University of Suriname in honour of De Kom. Anton de Kom was listed in De Grootste Nederlander (The Greatest Dutchman/Dutchwoman) as #102 out of 202 people. And in Amsterdam Zuidoost a square is named after him, the Anton de Kom plein. It features a sculpture of Anton de Kom as a monument to his life and works.

In his book "We slaves of Surinam" he wrote:
"Though unrecorded in the history books of the whites, the ill-treatment of our fathers is engraved in our harts. Never has the misery of slavery been brought home to me more insistently then through the eyes of my grandmother when she told us children stories of the old days in front of the hut in Paramaribo."

De Kom was traumatised by being son of a slave. I can't even image how hard it must have been for the Kom to be in a concentration camp where he had to experience the opposite of everything he fought for.

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) commemorates the tragic loss of life in the genocides of World War II, in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. HMD is held on 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

On the website of the Holocaust Memorial Day you can light a virtual candle, you can light it here.

I was 18587th person to light a candle.


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