Eddy Hamel, an Ajacied in Auschwitz

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This page is a place for you to offer comments and questions regarding Eddy Hamel, born in New York City, who played for Ajax from 1922 until 1930, and died in Auschwitz in 1943.

The Warm Back of Eddy Hamel: An Ajacied in Auschwitz

Again, Ajax USA is extremely grateful to author Simon Kuper for allowing us to bring this important story to English readers for the first time.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000


The following was originally posted to the John O'Brien discussion in April, but it has new relevance with the publication of the Hamel chapter on the site. So here it is again. This is the text of an email I received from Arthur De Boer. (This is how we learned of Hamel in the first place.):
Dear sir,

On your web site you say that John O'Brien is the first and only American soccer player ever to have signed a contract with Ajax. But did you know that O'Brien is not the only American and not the first American soccer player that has played for Ajax? In the years 1922 to 1930 a player named Edward Hamel played 125 matches for Ajax. He was a very popular player at that time. Although Edward (Eddy) Hamel had the American nationality, he was murdered by the nazi's in the gas chambers of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1943.

Nobody in the Netherlands knew about it, until a few years ago an Englishman wrote Ajax a letter, saying he was in the concentration camp with Hamel when Hamel was sent to the gas chambers. I know about all this because I wrote a story about it, that was published last week in the Amsterdam based Dutch daily newspaper Het Parool.

Sincerely yours,
Arthur de Boer 12 March 2000

Arthur de Boer's article in Het Parool

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I stumbled on your site while searching for info on a former player (Milko Djurovski) from my own favorite team FC Groningen, and was drawn to this incredible story.

What an invredible moving story and what a shame that nowadays it seems that people are just not interested any more in this kind of living history of mr Greenman about Eddy Hamel. Therefore I was given a little hope again by the reactions on this page.

To Simon Kuper: Keep on doing what you do, there are so many more stories to be told.


-- Anonymous, October 09, 2002

This is a very moving chapter. For me, however, this was all the more moving because the page was found for me by Leon Greenman himself, whom I met for the first time only today, and is a guest in my in my home.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

I spent two days in Westerbork, at age 6,I had no clue. My father bribed our way out. I played soccer in s'Hertogenbosh on a small gravel field. German army used grass field to park 'Wehrmacht' halftracks and trucks. Received many 'strawberries' running and falling during practice, followed by punishment from my father for coming home late and injured, I torched German motor pool with molotov cocktails at age 8, under uncle's supervision. Young germans went to the Russian front, Many german occupation troops in Holland were 'parents' and did not arrest children. So we were recruited by Dutch 'underground'. The front of our house, 11 Acheter Het Vergulde Harnass, was bombed while we were in the back eating dinner. Came to Amrica after the war found no soccer in upstate New York. Married a jewish girl whose mother survived Czarist 'Kiev' atrocities. 30 years later Coached son's travel team, and bacame instructor at 'parents' coaching clinic in NY. Came close to buying New York Arrows soccer club, but Club went into bancrupcy after winning 7 indoor soccer championships. Purchase would not have been profitble. Now, am retired and active NYMetroStars and US National Team fan. Love to watch Holland and Ajax when time permits. Life is short, take your punches and don't make enemies. Keep enjoying Dutch football, and keep supporting soccer in America no matter what happens. TK

-- Anonymous, December 20, 2001

I found the book to be excellent. The Eddy Hamel story was very moving. I have been to the death camps all across Poland in 1992 as part of the March of the Living trip. For those who have not been you can not imagine the horrors that are still in Auschwitz, Birkenau & Majdanek. This was a trully amazing story.

-- Anonymous, August 30, 2001


-- Anonymous, April 24, 2001

Simon Kuper knows about this page of the discussion forum and is taking a look every now and then. He let me know he's touched by the reactions.

Among the readers of the English version of Eddy Hamel's story on Ajax USA was a group of editors from an Israeli magazine. They contacted Simon Kuper and will translate Ajax USA's translation into Hebrew.

Which is great - I was stunned when I read this story for the first time, and it still strikes me, every time I read it or even think about it. It's so incredible. The Dutch original was translated into English; the English version will be translated into Hebrew. Eddy Hamel's story spreads out over the world. It deserves so.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2000

Tears in my eyes. While I'm writing this I hear the bells of the Westerkerk (Anna Frank's Tower).

-- Anonymous, August 09, 2000

Thank You Jim (and Simon) for bringing us this fascinating story. Very interesting and powerful....

-- Anonymous, August 09, 2000

This is one of the best-written stories I have ever read on the Internet, even if its facts are horrific. As the numbers of concentration-camp survivors dwindle in this new century, we owe it to mankind to truthfully disclose and remember this dark time in human history. Facts must remain facts, they must not be re-written, distorted, ignored or minimized. One person remains out of 700 to tell a story, and soon it will be none. It is up to us to remember.

-- Anonymous, August 08, 2000

I just happened onto your site searching for info on John O'Brien. This story is incredibly moving. I am Jewish and live in New York. Thanks.

-- Anonymous, August 07, 2000

I think it's great story, and I'm sorry but I don't think that AJAX is aware off this because they allways tell us that John O'brien is the first American player for AJAX. Anyway I don't care what they say, I think it's a great story!!!

-- Anonymous, August 05, 2000

I was touched by the story. I was amazed that almost nobody knew about it untill now. It is very good to tell the world such stories.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

As an American Ajacied, and as a Jew, I really appreciate the fact that you thought to post this story. It's tragic, but I hope that by reading it we all can honor Eddy and the others who were murdered. It also serves to help us keep our priorities straight when we start to think of sport as a life and death issue. Thanks.

-- Anonymous, July 26, 2000

I was really impressed by this story.

I also posted the link on the Ajaxmania chatzones and the reactions there were also very impressive. Everyone was touched.

-- Anonymous, July 25, 2000

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