The Curious Family History of Centennial Umar Denny Zabij

May 6, 11:15 a.m.

the society

Mayor Marianne Peslink congratulates the centenary

ZILHEIM/RIKEN – Denny Zabij Ciegenk, who lives in Zelheim, celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday, April 25. To mark this, Bronckhurst Mayor Marian Bislink paid a visit to the birthday boy. This visit was attended by the sons of Dini and the sons-in-law.

Denny was born exactly a century ago in Rekken, now Berkelland municipality, then Eibergen municipality. She was raised on her grandparents’ farm, the Stemerdink family, as the daughter of Helena Stemerdink and Willem Jegenick of Olden-Ebergen. In September 1944 Wim Zabig of Rotterdam came into her life when he appeared in hiding in Rijn. Willem Jegenick, who had taken possession of the farm in the meantime, did not object to the request to hide. But Denny initially saw nothing in Rotterdam, because he seemed too shabby due to the constant need to escape from the German occupier. However, after a few months, love begins to blossom between the prostitute Akhterhoek and the Dutchman in hiding and his engagement can be celebrated.

After the liberation of Achterhoek on April 1, 1945, Wim Zappeij was immediately able to serve as border officers. But in one of the places where he previously hid, a horse kicked him, causing damage to his eye. As a result, he was refused admission from customs, but he managed to work as a tax commissioner in their zilch. After their marriage in 1948, Denny moved to this village. Four children were born there: Jan, now known from Birkeland Politics, in 1949, Helen in 1950, Hans in 1952, and Jacqueline in 1963.

“My father is your father not…”
Sometime in 1959, when she was 37 years old, a relative told Denny Zabij that Willem Jegenek was not her real father: “Papa is Papa Nate…” This made her terrified of her life. But no one was the real father. This was kept a secret for a long time, but there were rumors about two possible candidates, the temporary Utrecht frontier and farmer Hermann Eunstein living on the farm. When the eldest son Jan Zabig first heard this story in the early 1990s, but now with the phrase “Grandfather is your grandfather,” he decided to investigate whether there was clarity.
He went to the big boy next door to Denny, Johann Riebergen of Rijken. He said the neighborhood knew from the start that Willem Jegenek was not Denny’s real father. It was not known who did it, but in the neighborhood they thought it would be Hermann Einstein. It turns out that he passed away in the meantime, but his brother Hendrik Einstein and his wife Geertjee still live in Ibergen. Jan Zappeij knew them from the past because they had a shop in Zuid-Rekkenseweg where he sometimes had to shop for some great-grandfather Gijgink. But unfortunately they never heard from Brother Hermann about a possible daughter. However, they gave Jan some pictures of Hermann Einstein.

My Heritage will come up with the solution in 2022. Jacqueline, the youngest of Dinie Zappeij’s children, decided in 2021 to use the possibilities offered by the American company My Heritage to gain more insight into the family tree. Then it took until March 2022 before sending an overview. Number 1 was a second cousin, so it wasn’t surprising. But in second place was Henk Jan Einstein one! He is the nephew of Hermann Einstein, lives in Ibergen, and works in Berkeland Town Hall in Borkolo.

Jacqueline Zabij called him right away. This led to the exchange of photos and all kinds of family information. This also ensured that Denny Zabij, a month before she turned 100, had finally heard about her real father. And on top of all that, she received a visit from her cousin Gerrit Onstein from Ricken a few days before her birthday. This was a fun and unforgettable afternoon. Not knowing who her father was from the age of 37 to her 99 birthday, clarity still emerges throughout her life.
Tragically, Hermann Einstein had no children from a subsequent marriage. So Denny is his only child. But his genes live on in the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Denny Zabij.

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