My Brother John

Hamme, John
born 03-09-1922 in Amsterdam
died 16-09-1941 at Mauthausen

John Hamme John Hamme was the eldest of the three children of Manuel Hamme and Roosje Koekoek. In 1925 his brother Nico was born and soon after the family moved to Emmastraat in the south of Amsterdam. In 1933 the family was completed by the birth of the little sister Hanneke.
There in the south of Amsterdam John grew up. He went to the primary school and later to the secondary school in Nicolaas Maesstraat. He was brought up in a family that lived according to the Jewish traditions without being strictly religious. On Jewish holidays they attended service in the synagogue in Obrechtstraat and on his thirteenth birthday John was Bar Mitswa.
In 1937 his father started a business in the fur trade together with a partner, after he had been employed for many years as sales traveller in a similar trade. In spite of the bad economic situation in these years the business prospered and the family Hamme became well-to-do. In 1940 they moved from Valeriusstraat, where they lived from 1937 to the much more modern Stadionweg.
John wanted to work in his fatherís business and in order to learn the trade from the beginning he started to work after school as an apprentice furrier, first at fashion-house Hirsch and later at fur-shop Baaij.
John was a lively and cheerful youngman with many friends. He was sporting, played football with AFC for a while, and participated in walking tours in which he won a considerable amount of medals. He was very much interested in what happened globally and the articles in the newspaper which he collected were piled up in his cupboard.
Once John made the newspaper himself. He was about fifteen years old when the newsreel Cineac announced an attractive publicity. On Friday before Easter every hundredth visitor would receive a photo-book of the KLM and the thousandth visitor a return flight Amsterdam-Rotterdam. That Friday John got up early and went to the Cineac where he could see the visitors going in. As soon as the door opened he counted the visitors and he entered himself as number thousand. All the Amsterdam newspapers paid attention to this peculiarity.
In addition on his work John attended lessons at an evening-school and on June the eighth he wanted absolutely to go to school, although he knew that there would be a raid that day. As soon as he left the door he was arrested.
John was deported via Schoorl to Mauthausen where he was killed a few months later at the age of 19.

His parents, brother and sister escaped to Belgium and survived the war.

Text by Hansje E. Dominicus
Publication by "de Stichting Vriendenkring Mauthausen"
Amsterdam, june 1999

This is one of the many paper articles, published March 1938 by the “Graafschapbode” a paper in the South East of the Netherlands:

A 15-year-old boy counted to one thousand and got himself a free flight Amsterdam-Rotterdam

Last week Handelsblad-Cinéac in Reguliersbreestraat in Amsterdam awarded every thousandth visitor a free flight Amsterdam-Rotterdam on the occasion of their special aviation programme. But when you are 15 years of age and you have barely 15 cents on you, you ought to be very smart to have a chance on such a flight.

That’s what John Hamme was thinking too and that’s why he started to stand guard at the box office as early as a quarter to nine. He was earlier than the cashier , who, when she started working didn’t notice the boy at first, but who eventually drew her attention because the boy was watching her closely. The boy was counting, counting hour by hour memorizing firmly number after number to let it go for the next number now for just a second now for a minute.

The boy saw one visitor after another entering Cinéac. If many visitors came together at the same time, he could have embraced them, because he was in a hurry to count them. It turned one o’clock and John still stood quard at the box office, no visitor escaped his attention, counting. The hands moved forward to a quarter past one, to half past one. Then, suddenly, after someone had bought a ticket and the cashier was getting ready to push the button again to magically take out the next ticket , the boy hurried to the box office, asking shivering inside with nerves if he could have that next ticket, put down his money, watched with desire to the things which, besides the ticket, could come and would come.

The boy had counted to one thousand faultlessly, he had jumped right on time after the 999th visitor in front of the box office and he had become the owner of a ticket for a flight to Rotterdam and back. “I have already made a round trip by plane over Amsterdam once, but that was too short. That’s why I now wanted to make a flight to Rotterdam.” That explained simply everything.

John Hamme received his ticket, a well deserved reward for a boy who counted up to one thousand so well and so patiently. It’s fortunate that such a trick only works once, the first time, or else it had been necessary for the traffic-police to expel dozens of youthful counting geniuses who would block Reguliersbreestraat. John Hamme didn’t arrive for lunch in time yesterday, but he successfully risked scolding. And if he will do his homework in future as well as counting to one thousand…..