The van Cuyck family in Krefeld
Hans van Cuyck (1885-1943)
Hans Friedrich Carl van Cuyck was born in Krefeld on 12 May 1885. He was the son of Friedrich Heinrich van Cuyck and Johanna Maria Franzisca Kniffler.
Like his father, he studied medicine. We find his name among the medicine students at the Ludwig-Maximiliansuniversität in München in 1914. At that time he was living Geiselgasteig, Korsostraße 24. We find him also in 1914-1915. At that time he was “im Heere”. He is mentioned among the “Feldzugauszeichnungen, Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse”: “Leutnant im bayer. Res.-Kavall.-Regt. Nr. 5”. The same in 1915-1919. In 1919-1920 he is again living in Geiselgasteig, Korsostraße 27 (today: Robert-Koch-Str. 33).
He wrote his dissertation “Zur pathologischen Anatomie der syphilitischen Augenerkrankungen” in 1922. In 1922 Hans was already 37 years old. It is possible that he studied history before he studied medicine (according to the testimony of his grandson Horst van Cuyck).
On 5 January 1917 he married Carolina Magdalena Hayotte (° 20.11. 1880 Straßburg, + 29.08.1961 München), daughter of Oscar Hayotte and Anna Marie Veidt. Oscar Hayotte moved to the USA and died in New York on 4 May 1919.
They had one daughter: Leonie Elisabeth Beatrix.
After his graduation in 1922, he settled as a pediatrician in Krefeld (“Facharzt für Säuglings- und Kinder-Krankheit). He lived Westwall 101.
The bombing of Krefeld
Krefeld was bombed on several occasions during the Second World War (May, June and September 1940, July 1941), but the worst attack was on 22 June 1943. In 1943 the Allies decided that the quickest way to end the war was to make the German economy collapse and the German people lose faith in Hitler and the war. To do this the Allies heavily bombed factories and military production facilities (“moral bombing”). According to the US bombing survey, the target area was 1000 feet around the aiming point of the attack and throughout the war only about 20% of the bombs hit the target they were aiming for. To help, the German government made sure that each house had sandbags and water. Also the German government built communal bunkers, which could house hundreds of people if need be.
The bombing of Krefeld on 22 June 1943: 705 aircrafts participated (262 Lancasters, 209 Halifaxes, 117 Sterlings, 105 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitos). 44 aircrafts were lost. The raid was carried out before the moon period was over and the heavy casualties were mostly caused by night fighters. The raid took place in good visibility and the Pathfinders produced an almost perfect marking effort, ground markers dropped by the Oboe Mosquitos being well backed up by the Pathfinder heavies. 619 aircrafts bombed these markers more than three quarters of them achieving bombing photographs within 3 miles of the center of Krefeld. 2,306 tons of bombs were dropped. A large area of fire became established and this raged, out of control, for several hours. The whole center of the city (approximately 47% of the built-up area) was burnt out. A total of 5,517 houses were destroyed. 1,056 people were killed and 4,550 injured. 72,000 people lost their homes; 20,000 of these were billeted upon families in the suburbs, 30,000 moved in with relatives or friends and 20,000 were evacuated to other towns.
When the town of Krefeld was bombed, Hans van Cuyck rescued two children out of the cellar of a burning house. After the bombing, the family of Hans Friedrich Carl van Cuyck left Krefeld and went to Walchsee in Austria. Hans was poisoned by the terrible smoke and died a few months later, in München, on 28 September 1943.
Leonie van Cuyck (1901 – 1990)
Leonie Elisabeth Beatrix van Cuyck was born in Straßburg on 20 August 1901. She was the daughter of Hans Friedrich Carl van Cuyck and Carolina Magdalena Hayotte.
She married (3.10.1929) Ernst Merk (1903-1975), son of Albert Eduard August Wilhelm Merk (1873-1911) and Maria Sedlmayr (1880 -1961), from the famous Sedlmayr family (Spatenbräu). Ernst Merk was a highly decorated Generalmajor in the Wehrmacht during World War II. He was also a recipient of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.
We find Ernst Merk in the Kaukasische Aufzeichnungen, written by Ernst Jünger. The German author met “Oberstleutnant Merk, der sich durch die präzise, sachliche Einsicht auszeichnete” on 27 November 1942 in Woroschilowsk (Stawropol).
Ernst Merk belonged to the 17. (bayerischen) Reiter-Regiment. He was a close friend of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg and thus also aware of the 20 July plot, the most famous attempt to assassinate Hitler.
His memoirs were published in 2005: “Schwere Jahre auf der Höhe des Lebens”.
They had four children:
Sources and bibliography