Bert as a little boy
                                                                                                                                                                    Little Bert with his whole family.Little Bert with his whole family
Bert as a schoolboy

Albert Postma, as was his full name, was the true Benjamin of the family, as he was born on febrary 2nd 1922. This means he was 21 years younger than his oldest brother Jacob and even differed 12 with his youngest Joop. The fact that his two oldest brothers Jacob and Hennie were sailing makes the picture to the right very special. It is made on the only occasion all the kids Postma were at home at the same time. This did not last more than half a day.

Though maybe not planned(familyplanning was not very common in these days :-)), I believe he was still welcome in the afterwar years, where economically things where going better as before.
He was a bright kid, kind of wild and restless. In 1933 he moved with his parents to the house de Kolhoop, right next to the hotel now run by his brother Jacob and his wife. After primary school he went to the same secondary school his brother Joop went to in Ter Apel, the H.B.S.

Here, he had a hard time. As his oldest brother Jacob clearly sympathised with national-socialist idea's, and schoolmates of course knew this, they took it out on him.
Kids can be hard for each other.
Finally, he couldn't or wouldn't bear it anymore, and  he left school.  Under the influence of his older brother, he signed up for the Waffen SS.

If he might have thougt this would be easier, he was quickly cured from this idea. The discipline, the training and the mentality were very hard. So hard, he ran off once, back to Emmen, because he could take it anymore. Alas, his own mother sent him back to the barracks. As we know now, back to hell on earth later on.

Bert in uniform with familyOn this picture to the left  you can see Bert home on leave.
From left to right: Joop, Jacob(in the uniform of the NSB, the dutch national-socialist movement), mother Janna, Bert in his uniform, Frouwkje and father Sjouke.
The signs on his uniform indicate, that at this time he had the rank of SS Sturmmann, which is about that of a corporal.

This picture was taken the 20th of march 1943. Sadly, Sjouke deceased just a few weeks later, on the fourth of may 1943. Sjouke looks sad to me on the picture, and he most likely is, as he did not approve of the political pro-german choices some of his sons made.
Looking at Bert all I can think is: "You look so self-confident and thought you were so right, and history has proven you so terribly, horribly wrong."

Bert went to fight at the Eastern Front with the Waffen-SS brigade "Wiking", in Russia and the Ukraine. Finding where he was or what he exactly did was an impossible task for me. I know for sure, that overthere nobody stayed innocent. To the best of my knowledge "Wiking" did not participate actively at the Holocaust e.g. as guards in concentration camps, but terrorised and murdered the local population in the East just as well.  He did active service for about 2 years, got severely wounded and came out of the war with a body full of grenade-splitters and a traumatised mind. Here's a link about the 'Wiking'-brigade: SS Division Wiking And one about Dutchmen in the Waffen SS.
He never distanced himself from the Waffen SS and what it stood for, and kept in touch with other former 'comrades' throughout the rest of his life.

After the Nazi's lost, he became a P.O.W. in Austria with the Americans. When he learned his mother was arrested back home, he fled from there and managed to get to Holland. He gave himself up to the Dutch autorities and came in the same camp his mother was, the former 'Durchgangslager'(=transitconcentrationcamp) Westerbork, now  used by the Dutch for collaborators an war-criminals. Practical people, the Dutch. Used the former concentrationcamp now for their own purpose.
Mother was released quite soon with the help of brother Hennie. Bert managed to escape again from there, never to return to the Netherlands again under the name Bert Postma. He crossed the border to Germany, a dismembered land in shatters.

With the help of  Mennonites and his brother Joop(who also lived under an assumend identity for several years) he came in possession of the identity of a poor devil who died at the eastern front, fighting for a useless cause. This is the name assumed throughout the rest of his life in Germany.
Posing as one of the millions "Heimatvertriebenen", "people driven away from their home", one would translate this, he ended up in refugeecamps. The story of  these people is a very sad one, as they were subjected to what we in today's terms would call etnic cleansing, like in Bosnia. As Germany, homeland of a dreadful unprecedented regime, lost WW II, the map of Europe was redivided, and in the East millions of etnic Germans were driven out of their homes and the places they grew up. Again, grave unjustice, or in good american english: "shit happens".

He stayed in a refugeecamps, where he tried to pick up life and did so quite well. He worked at a farm nearby, got a certificate of good conduct and met his future wife in the refugeecamp. She again was a refugee, already from before Hitler lost the war but divided the European cake with Stalin. She was on the wrong piece of the cake, near Lvov(in Polish), Lviv(in Ukrainian) or Lemberg(in German). The three names of this town show what happened with this part of the world within several centuries. It became Lvic, so she and her whole German family wer kicked out.

They married, he again under his assumed name.. He worked in transportation business.

A few years after the war, their first son was born, Klaus. The name was no coincidence.
Though he deeply disagreed with him in political views, he named him with the German version of  his own brother Klaas, who died as a hero in the resistance against the nazi-occupators.
Bert did well in his job.
It brought them to move to several places in Germany.

Summer holidays were mostly spent in Ost-Friesland, which makes sense if you consider that this part of Germany is the most similar to the North of the Netherlands, in landscape as well as in mentality of the people. On the way there, he usually met his sister Frouwkje and his mother Janna in Meppen, right across the Dutch - German border, near to Emmen where these two lived.

Bert at about 35 with his mother near the Dutch borderHere's a picture of Bert with mother Janna. It was taken somewhere near Meppen(D), close tho the Dutch border.

In fact he went to Holland several times, but never to Emmen, as he could be easily reckognised there by people who knew him from before.

I heard some - unconfirmed - rumours that his presence in Holland was not always unnoticed by - lower rank - authorities. But as he was a 'small fish', no action was taken to arrest him. It had no priority. The crimes he might or might not commited as member of the Waffen SS, had taken place outside their jurisdiction. Mind you, the Cold War was going on and the whole Sowjetunion was a complete 'no go area' for westerners.

What Bert told his children:

All of his family from Prussia was killed during war, but as a child he also had lived in Holland for a long time(Which wasn't a lie....).
So these two women, Janna and Frouwkje, were of a befriended family from Holland. Being kids, they of course bought the story(what else?), and called them tante Frouwkje(=aunt Frouwkje) and kleine Oma(=little grandma) anyhow. Without knowing this was in fact for real.
That was all they knew throughout their childhood, and also as young adults.

Bert did all his best to be a loving father and husband.
He 'forgot' his former identity. Of course his wife knew, but she loved him. His parents-in-law knew, probably. Former comrades from the Wiking-brigade visited  him, of course they knew.
But for the rest of the world, he was a Mennonite boy born in in East-Prussia.

In 1982, Bert already was on early pension, fate struck: His oldest son Klaus, seemingly in very good health, died very suddenly. He had a weak spot in his vains, he carried with him without knowing, an aneurysma. The vain breaks open and you bleed to death inside.
That night, Bert broke. Crying he told his remaining son the truth about his real identity. But even then, he was very brief about it.

The young man passed away, never knowing that, in fact, he was named after a brother of his father, Klaas Postma. Nor did he learn about  his dad's true identity

Bert did not grow old. Two years after his son died, he passed away, in hospital. Official age: 61 years. True age: 62.field
Cause of death: cancer, gone to his brain later on.

He had an outgoing personality, who liked the company of other persons, liked attention. He was dominant and a strict father. But as his one living son stressed, he hardly ever raised his hand to them when they were boys. He never in his heart dismissed the ideology he was taught in his youth. He stated that then everything they had fought for would have been for nothing. This implies of course his elder brother would have died for the wrong course. Yet, he named his oldest son after him.... How this all fits, beats me....
He drank and ate to much al his live. And thus became the typical fat German, the cliche the Dutch sometimes joke about. And maybe that's what he wanted, living the perfect cover.
His children had ideological discussions with him throughtout their youth, both disagreeing with him a 100%. Their mother kept the balance and peace between them.

Bert was buried. There was a grave with a tombstone, on which in fact the only genuine true thing was his date of decease.

After 20 years, the standard term on this graveyard, it was removed. Dust to dust.......


That was Bert, who made a dumb decision as a very young man, survived the war, but dealt with the consequenses for the rest of his life.

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