18 juni 2024

The Story of Ivo van Voorst van Beest: A Journey Through the Darkest Days of WWII

During the tumultuous years of World War II, many individuals found themselves caught in the crossfire of global conflict and political persecution. One such individual was Ivo van Voorst van Beest, a Free Mason and ardent supporter of the Dutch House of Orange. His story is a poignant reminder of the resilience and courage displayed by those who suffered under Nazi oppression.

Arrest and Imprisonment
Ivo van Voorst van Beest’s ordeal began on December 16, 1941, when he was arrested by order of the ‘German Justice.’ He was initially imprisoned in the Oranjehotel in Scheveningen. The reasons for his arrest, as stated by Ivo himself, included his membership as a secretary of the Committee for the Dissemination of the Ideas of Freemasonry, his role as District Head of the Dutch Union in The Hague, and his fervent support of the House of Orange—”the latter weighed the heaviest.

Following his arrest, Ivo was transferred to Kamp Amersfoort on March 12, 1942, where he was likely assigned prisoner number 42. According to fellow prisoner E.P. Wellestein (number 46), both were ‘Schutzhäftling’—detained on suspicion but without trial at the discretion of the SS. At that time, Kamp Amersfoort was only six months old and was a ‘Polizeiliches Durchgangslager,’ a collection point for political prisoners, Freemasons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other so-called severe cases. Ivo remained in Amersfoort until May 1942 before being moved through a series of prisons and camps.

Journey Through the Camps
Ivo’s journey through the Nazi concentration camp system was harrowing. He was held in the prisons of Scheveningen, Kleef, Düsseldorf, Hannover, and Halle. He and many other prisoners were transferred to Buchenwald (October 1942 – March 1944), Dachau (October 1942 – March 1944), Neckar-Els (March 1944 – April 1944), and Natzweiler (France) (April 1944 – September 1944).

On September 4, 1944, as the Allies advanced, Natzweiler was dismantled, and Ivo was transported back to Dachau. He was placed in the quarantine camp Allach (September 8, 1944 – October 12, 1944). Upon recovery, he was sent to the labor camp in Allach, where he remained until liberation on April 30, 1945. He returned to the Netherlands on May 30, 1945, via Zevenaar.

A Glimpse into the Hardships
Throughout his imprisonment, Ivo’s family and friends made attempts to support him. For concentration camp Dachau, the sending of packages was prohibited until 1941. From 1942 onwards, packages could be received due to the deteriorating conditions. Only items that prisoners could consume in one day were allowed to be sent.

On July 12, 1943, a package card indicated that a 4 kg food package was sent from Haarlem to Ivo in Dachau. This package, like others, bore the camp censorship stamp “Postzensurstelle K.L.D.” and included the recipient’s signature for receiving the package. The tariff for packages to Germany weighing 3-5 kg was 90 cents from May 1, 1941. This system provided a lifeline, however fragile, to the prisoners.

Liberation and Legacy
After enduring the horrors of the concentration camps, Ivo van Voorst van Beest survived the war. He participated in the opening of the war monument in the ‘Oranjehotel,’ the former prison in Scheveningen, and can still be seen in historical footage from the event. Ivo passed away in 1952, but his story remains a testament to the human spirit’s endurance under the most dire circumstances.

The narrative of Ivo van Voorst van Beest serves not only as a historical account but also as a beacon of resilience. His experiences reflect the broader struggles of many during World War II, offering insights into the personal battles fought within the larger conflict. His legacy, marked by courage and an unwavering spirit, continues to inspire and remind us of the past’s lessons.

The card shown here was part of a Corinphila auction, nr. 244 (11-13 June 2020), item nr. 2926. The original description was “Concentration camp Dachau, package card from Haarlem to the camp 2.VII.1943, KLD censor and franked with 40 and 50 cent Dove, cards to this camp are very rare“. The card was sold for 280 EUR. The details in the text come from a write-up that was part of the auction item.

Ivo Spanjersberg

Ivo Spanjersberg

Webmaster. Collecting Korean revenue stamps (see http://www.spanjersberg.net/). Also member of Korea Stamp Society (https://www.koreastampsociety.org/) & Nederlandse Vereniging voor Fiscale Filatelie (http://www.belastingzegels.nl/).

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