The Holocaust - Lest we Forget - Benny Behr

Violinists perform in the Kovno ghetto orchestra.

       Benny Behr, who was born on the 27th of February, 1911, was married to a non-Jewish girl. Because of this, he and others like him, temporarily enjoyed limited freedom, until also all Jews of mixed marriage were arrested. Initially, Benny Behr was incarcerated in March 1944 in a fairly moderate camp near Havelte in the province of Drenthe. However, after his successful escape from Havelte, he was arrested by two Dutch SD agents and sent to Westerbork were he arrived on 1 August 1944. Upon arrival he was assigned to one of the penal barracks. Begin September, after the last transport had left Westerbork for Poland, the penal barracks were closed and Benny, with fifty eight others, joined the rest of the inmates in the camp. Benny survived Westerbork and was liberated by the Canadian army on 12 April 1945.

Benny Behr in Westerbork, 1944

Benny Behr in 1989

Pictures provided by Herinneringscentrum Westerbork and Willy Lindwer

       Benny Behr was a professional violinist who, before the war, for years had played together with his friend and colleague Sem Nijveen. At Westerbork, Benny continued to play his violin. Even in the penal barrack he entertained young and old.

       As can be seen in the picture on the top-left, for children there were outdoor concerts to enjoy. Music kept people happy offering them some sort of normality in an otherwise chaotic and oppressive environment. Benny passed away on 16 August 1995.

Violinists Benny Behr and Sem Nijveen, circa 1960 (photo: JHM, collection Jaap van Velzen)