/ The Amsterdam Guide
Amsterdam — By Marianne on November 23, 2009 at 9:33 am

The War Diary of Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch

Alles ging aan flarden, Everything is in Tatters, is the title of the war diary written by Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch between March and July 1943.

She wrote about her days in transit camp Vught. She told about fathers crying when children were picked out for deportation, about ill-treatment of elderly people. She also brought new details to light. How Chopin’s Funeral March was played when women returned from dragging around stones and bricks for no reason at all. An exercise only meant to bait and provoke.

In May 1943, 32-year-old Klaartje writes:

Ik hoop vurig dat alles wat ik hierin heb geschreven nog eens de buitenwereld zal bereiken.

I sincerely hope that everything I have written in this diary will reach the outside world.

Kamp Vught Memorial

Kamp Vught Memorial

  It would take 65 years before her diary was discovered. The diary begins on 22 March 1943, the day Klaartje and her husband were arrested. They were brought to De Hollandsche Schouwburg in Amsterdam. The Nazis used this theatre as an assembly point for Dutch Jews to be deported to transit camps, such as Kamp Vught. The diary starts where Anne Frank’s stops.

Klaartje’s diary ends 4 July 1943 when she is sent to another Dutch transit camp, Kamp Westerbork. Later on she was transported to Sobibor. Anne Frank also passed through Kamp Westerbork, before she died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen.

Solomon de Zwarte, Klaartjes brother-in-law, survived the war. He safeguarded the diary, but never talked about it. His daughter, Miep, found the diary after his death, but did not know who had written it. Her father never spoke about the war. In 2003, Miep bequeathed the diary to the Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam’s Jewish Historical Museum.

Television makers doing research for a television series on the Second World War rediscovered the diary. Klaartje mentioned in her diary her sister’s name and the day of her deportation from Kamp Vught. The programme makers found out who had written the diary through deduction and elimination.

On 16 July 1943, Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch was murdered in the gas chamber of Sobibor. Her husband’s life ends somewhere in Poland.

This is what she wrote about deportations:

Zoals men weleens onwillekeurig een stukje papier versnippert, zo werden harten en zielen verscheurd en uit elkaar gerukt. Alles ging aan flarden.

It is like shredding a piece of paper inadvertently, in the same way hearts and souls were shredded and torn apart. Everything is in tatters.

On 22 November 2009, Jet Bussemaker, Dutch Deputy Health Minister received the first copy of Alles ging aan flarden, the war diary of Klaartje de Zwarte-Walvisch from the publishers during a short ceremony in the Hollandsche Schouwburg. From today the book is available from Dutch bookshops at €17,95

Alles Ging aan Flarden
published by Balans
ISBN: 978 94 600 3218 9

Nationaal Monument Kamp Vught
Lunettenlaan 600
Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm
Admission is free but donations are welcome.

How to get to Vught
Train to ’s-Hertogenbosch (via Utrecht), where you change trains. Take the train direction Eindhoven and get off at the first station; Vught.  Bus 203 stops in front of the station (no service on Sundays)

Hollandsche Schouwburg
War memorial, in remembrance of the Jews who perished under the Nazi regime
Plantage Middenlaan 24
Open every day from 11am – 4pm
Admission: free
Tram 19 and 14 

related articles:
The Diaries of Anne Frank Returned Home
Anne Frank’s Birthday

photo credit: Leslie Veen @flickr

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