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ACCESSION DETAIL
Audio/visual
Atlanta, Georgia
March 20, 2009
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Jaap Groen was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1925. His parents were Dutch and they moved to Amsterdam, Holland when Jaap was a child. His father was a well-known diamond cutter. Jaap was an only child. Jaap's family was not religious although they did observe the Sabbath and he was bar mitzvahed. Jaap first learned that the war had come to Holland when German airplanes arrived over the city at 4 a.m. in May 1940. In 1941, the Germans arrested Jaap and his parents and held them in a makeshift prison in a theater. When they were released, Jaap's parents went into hiding in Groot-Ammers, a small village in southern Holland. Jaap went to Utrecht where he got false identification papers and became Cornelius Rosenbaum. The papers were so good that Jaap thought he would be safe but one night he and the other 17 members of the underground cell were arrested. Jaap was imprisoned and at first nothing happened to him because his papers were so good. But then one morning in roll call he was identified as a Jew by an acquaintance from before the war. Jaap was sent to another prison and then on to Westerbork transit camp. From Westerbork he was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The journey took three days. On the ramp Jaap says he was selected by Dr. Josef Mengele. Jaap was registered and put in a barracks. His first job was tending the tomato plants in front of the SS barracks. But at some point he was assigned to digging ditches for sewer pipes. One day he hurt his ankle and was sent to the hospital. He was selected in the hospital by a Dr. Emil Kashub and transferred to a special barracks with nice beds and good food. Dr. Kashub did medical experiments on Jaap and the others. He injected substances under their skin that produced cancerous tumors and made them eat food infused with sulphuric acid. Jaap got very sick but did not die as many of the others did. Dr. Kashub never returned to finish his work due to the approach of the Russians. Jaap was marched out of Auschwitz-Birkenau in January 1945. They walked for days and then were put on a train to Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He was there a short time before he was transferred to Ebensee concentration camp, where he was put to work digging and blasting tunnels in which V-2 rockets were built. Jaap got tuberculosis and was left in a barracks to die. He was so sick that he didn't even know the camp had been liberated. When he recovered he returned to Amsterdam, where he found that his parents had survived. Jaap got a job with a friend of his fathers who manufactured cosmetics for Max Factor. He eventually became the head of promotions. When the tuberculosis returned, Jaap resigned and took a job with Die Bijenkopf (The Beehive), a well-known department store in Amsterdam. Eventually he was made advertising director for the store. Jaap married a woman from the underground cell in Holland, Maria, and they had one son. They moved to the United States where he got a job with Rich's department store as an award-winning display designed. Then he went to work for Ellman's [jewelry store] as head of advertising and promotion. Jaap was also active in the civil rights movement, picketing Leb's restaurant because they would not seat black people, and was active in the theater and smyphony. At some point, he divorced Maria and remarried a woman named Patricia. The Groens live in McCaysville, Georgia, a small town in the Blue Ridge mountains, where he speaks to children in local schools.

OHC-Jaap Groen

Jaap Groen (1925 - ) - Oral History

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New York City (N.Y.)
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Utrecht, Holland
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