Sitting in my living room in Amsterdam reading this post from my old university and looking at the window where I guess Philip Mechanicus, the Jewish journalist, sat and typed his stories when he rented this room for a while early in the war. Philip was the foreign editor of the old Algemeen Handelsblad, the forerunner of today’s NRC Dutch newspaper, whose offices used to be on the Paleisstraat across the canal from the house. He traced the rise of Nazi Germany in his columns in the 1930s and after being sacked from his job was eventually arrested on a tram in Amsterdam for not wearing the yellow star of David. Philip ended up in Westerbork, the transit camp for Dutch jews, before they were transported to the Nazi death camps to the east. With his journalist’s eye for detail and stories he dutifully continued to record the dramas and banality of life in the camp in a diary on a daily basis. The chronicler of ‘hell’s holding pen’ was deported to Auschwitz on the 11:00 train that left punctually every Tuesday morning from Westerbork for the death camps. He was murdered on arrival in Auschwitz in October 1944. Like many evenings when I pass this room on the stairs I will salute the courage of a fellow journalist. RIP Philip.
Join in and #LightTheDarkness by lighting a candle and putting it in your window at 8pm this evening.