Herman Gets A Job
Major Willy Lages Captain Aus der Funten (lower right) Adolph Eichman
Major Willy Lages was the Nazi top man responsible for the fate of the Jews in Holland. His captain was in charge of operations, i.e. getting the Jews packed and ready, and on the train for detention. The captain, Aus der Funten, was from Vienna, as was Herman’s boss. They knew each other from school. They’d met on opposing debate teams. They were never friends, but they respected each other. The captain appointed Herman’s boss as his point man for the day-to-day planning and supervision of the deportations. Herman’s boss brought Herman in as his assistant.
Lages reported directly to Adolph Eichman’s office in Berlin. Berlin had complained that getting rid of the Jews in Holland was taking too long. The major told his captain and the captain told Herman’s boss to speed it up! The major and his captain differed in their approach and a period of infighting and backbiting started between them. They discredited each other in Berlin, and it was no secret that the major didn’t care for anyone from the captain’s team, which included Herman and his boss.
Following the end of the war, Lages was sentenced to life in prison in the Netherlands. He was imprisoned along with Ferdinand aus der Fünten and two other officers. In 1966 he was released from prison for humanitarian reasons as he appeared to be seriously ill. The decision taken by the minister of justice, Ivo Samkalden, provoked a public outcry. Lages received medical treatment in Germany after which he lived for another five years.
Reflecting on History
In May, the Jewish Weekly announced that it was mandatory to sew a yellow Star of David onto three layers of clothing; overcoat, jacket and blouse. Instructions specified the exact location. If you didn’t and were found out, you were immediately deported. Individuals paid for their own stars. Some non-Jews pinned one on to show solidarity, but they were arrested.
The top Nazi brass in Berlin had decided that by December of 1942, 15,000 Dutch Jews must be deported from Holland for Poland. Now Lages had a quota to fill or he’d be trouble with Berlin. Fifteen thousand Jews by the end of the year had to be deported. He told Aus der Fünten that mailing those notices wasn’t fast enough. He wanted them hand delivered. The police was working overtime. At first, they rang the bell, handed over the notices, and wished the person at the door good night. That also took too long. Bell ringing turned into door banging. If they didn’t open fast enough, they kicked the door in and ordered the family to come along immediately. If elderly or sick people were in bed sleeping, they emptied a bucket of cold water over them and dragged them into the street in their pajamas. Neighbors had their curtains closed and didn’t see anything. The terror intensified. The Dutch police assisted the German police with arresting the Jews at their homes. Some Dutch officers though, let their “targets” get away by warning them in advance.