- Interview Summary
- Annelies Herzl describes living in Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1943 after getting out of a concentration camp and being hidden by a retired couple who were part of the underground resistors; being taken to Utrecht, Netherlands via train by Eric Braun [sic] to a home with five children and working as their maid; escaping just hours before the home was searched and staying with an elderly Catholic woman for several months until Eric Braun took her to a new house where she stayed until being liberated in May 1945 by the Canadians; and feeling that she would not be able to do what all of the rescuers did and be as courageous and generous.
- Annelies Herzl
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Council
1 sound cassette (60 min.).
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Topical Term
- Catholics--Netherlands. Hiding places--Netherlands. Jewish women in the Holocaust. Jews--Persecutions--Netherlands. Netherlands--History--German occupation, 1940-1945. Women concentration camp inmates. World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Netherlands. World War, 1939-1945--Underground movements--Personal narratives. World War, 1939-1945--Women--Netherlands. Women--Personal narratives.
- Geographic Name
- Amsterdam (Netherlands) Netherlands--History--German occupation, 1940-1945. Utrecht (Netherlands)
- Personal Name
- Herzl, Annelies, 1943-
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council interviewed Annelies Herzl as part of the international conference "Faith in Humankind: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust" held at the U. S. Department of State, Washington, DC.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- Special Collection
The Jeff and Toby Herr Oral History Archive
- Record last modified:
- 2023-11-16 08:18:40
- This page:
Also in United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Faith in Humankind oral history collection
Oral history interviews from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Faith in Humankind collection
Eve Bergstein (née Nisencwajg), born September 12, 1936 near Krakow, Poland, describes her to a large, close-knit family, only two of whom survived Auschwitz; her mother living in the forest with a partisan group and father being caught and killed in trying to escape a labor camp; living with a Catholic family, the Szumielewicz’s, and being disguised as their orphaned niece; being taken to a convent to be hidden; the bombing of the convent; living under a downtown building with her uncle and many other people for nine months; turning to Catholicism, eventually being put in an orphanage in Schirmeck, France until arrangements were made for her to go to Canada to live with her mother’s sister and her family; moving many times and wanting to live a normal life; suppressing memories to the extent that she forgot how to speak Polish; believing that people can survive almost anything; her Canadian husband and having three children; returning to Judaism; organizing a Holocaust teaching group; and feeling that she has an obligation to continue her Jewish legacy.
Annette Berman (née Kupfer), born on May 3, 1924 in France, describes extensive support given by Christian friends (the Bernaille family) after restrictions on Jews were put in place; the Bernailles managing to get her and her mother to a farmhouse, where they stayed for two and a half years; being supported by another farm family, while her father was caught while trying to leave and was jailed; becoming part of the underground, carrying out assignments (changing road signs, burying parachutes) even while German soldiers were staying at the same farmhouse; liberation in 1945 and returning to Paris to the Bernailles by hitchhiking; finding her father at the synagogue talking to soldiers, one of whom is now her husband; her feelings of guilt because she was not in a camp and survived; her family surviving as a unit; and the Bernailles' motivation for having done all that they did simply as a matter of principle.
Janny Blom, born October 16, 1915 in Almelo, Netherlands, describes living in 17 different foster homes starting when she was 10 years old; becoming aware of changes starting with the July 12, 1942 round-up of Jews; feeling closest to the foster parents with whom she lived for four years and learning from them about how to be thrifty, clean, honest, industrious, and good to all people; working as a dental assistant for Dr. Freidenburg (also spelled Vreedenburg) with whom she and her husband became good friends; hiding the Freidenburgs in their home; her husband carrying out assignments for the underground; moving to Michigan after the war; giving lectures about the war in schools, women’s clubs, and Methodist church circles; her children knowing about the rescue activities during the war; and how her message to children is never to have Nazism ever again and that totalitarianism is a bad state of affairs.
Sjouke Bouwme de Vries, born August 31, 1923 in a small friendly village in Holland to a very close working class family; how along with her family and fiancé, she helped in rescue activities during World War II; receiving support from members of the underground movement; having rescued 33 strangers altogether; the everyday pressures, risks, and the sense of it being unrecognized for their efforts; how after the war she and her family continued their commitment to helping others by feeding and providing clothes for survivors; not speaking publicly very much about her experiences but that she would do the same things again if needed; and how the most stressful time during the war was when they were hiding Jews in their house.
Knud Dyring Dyby (alternative name Knud Dyring-Olsen), born in Denmark on March 28, 1915, describes being raised in a non-political Lutheran family; being aware of what was happening to the Jews after 1940 but not seeing any persecution until 1943; getting involved in the underground movement; his activities collecting weapons and making photographic engravings for the underground papers; being a boatman in the Copenhagen police department and asked to take Jews in his boat to Sweden; taking them to Swedish fishermen who were his friends; the logistics of transporting Jews to Sweden, which involved meeting Swedish boats outside of Swedish ports rather than going right into Sweden; not remembering names but ferrying 30 to 40 people; having many close calls during those runs; not being paid money for the rescues; how the refugees were given money by a Danish-Swedish rescue group and by other Jewish refugees and, later, the Swedish government; receiving thank you notes from many of the people he helped; and liberation on May 5, 1945.
Herman Graebe, born June 19, 1900 in Solingen, Germany, discusses working for Organisation Todt as an engineer and being assigned to a project in Zdolbuniv, Ukraine in 1941; convincing officials that his secretary and interpreter, Rosalia Warchiwker, whose husband had been killed by the SS, was not a Jew and that she should not wear the yellow star; hearing reports of Jews being killed but being denied information by Organisation Todt; making ID cards for 500 of his Jewish employees that said they were contracted to work for him and could not be taken elsewhere; providing food for Jews who were, for their protection, listed as employees on a railroad project but were not actually employed; fearing he might be killed for helping Jews, but feeling it would be dishonorable to himself and his country to do nothing; hearing that there was to be a mass execution of Jews in Rivne, Ukraine and taking 130 of his workers to Zdolbuniv under the guise of having them treated for lice; being told by an official that there was to be no mass execution, but hearing of a conflicting report from another official; witnessing a mass killing in October 1942; and not being believed by other German citizens when he told them that Jews were being killed.
Harry Jaarsma, born June 3, 1914 in Balk, Netherlands, describes growing up in the Christian Reform Church and how his religion influenced his decisions during the Nazi occupation; losing his laundry business in Amsterdam when he was called to serve in the Dutch Army; being aware that patients and staff of the Jewish psychiatric hospital in Apeldoorn, Netherlands were taken away by the Nazis, but feeling he could not do anything to intervene; becoming an inspector of the Evacuation Service in 1943 and inspecting homes in the countryside to find places for people who had been evacuated by the Germans; encountering Jews hiding in homes and not registering them; obtaining a quarantine sign from a doctor to hang on the door of a home where Jews were hiding to deter the Germans from entering the house; working with the underground in various ways, including identifying hiding places for Jews and transporting Jews to safety, aiding those wanted for slave labor by the Nazis (including non-Jews), and hiding a Jewish woman in his home; hitting a car of SS officers while transporting two Jewish boys to a hiding place; stealing supplies from a German office, being investigated, and avoiding punishment because the detective was his friend; hiding his underground work from his family; not knowing the names of those he helped; being arrested by the German police but being let go on the recommendation of an officer whose bicycle he had helped fix earlier in the day; leaving the Netherlands in 1949 after failing to get financial help to restart his business; resettling in the United States; not keeping in touch with others with whom he worked in the underground; feeling that his experiences strengthened his religious beliefs; and sharing his story with his children.
Mary Schroder Moen Jacobs, born in 1930 in a suburb of Utrecht, Netherlands, describes spending most of her life in Amersfoort, Netherlands beginning in 1940; hiding four Jews (a young man, a young woman, and a couple) in their house from 1942 until liberation; remembering that time as dangerous, tense, and very difficult; the two times that the Germans came to their house, once to search and the other to house two German soldiers, all while the Jews where hiding in one room next to the Germans; the network of 40 to 50 people who were involved in the rescue activities; how her mother was her role model because she always wanted to help the underdog or less fortunate and do all she could to sustain life; immigrating to Canada in 1955 after having first lived in the United States for a short while; and writing a book (as Maria Jacobs) about her experiences, “Precautions Against Death” (published in 1984 by Mosaic Press) along with a few other publications.
Cornelia Knottnerus, born April 14, 1927 in Ermelo, Netherlands, discusses her experiences as a teenager during World War II in a family that worked with the Dutch underground; her family’s motivations for working with the underground, including their Christian beliefs and their community’s emphasis on helpfulness; the progression of their involvement from the beginning of the occupation through the end of the war; her older brother’s assignment to the police force, his refusal to follow orders to arrest Jews, and his sentence to a concentration camp for two years; her father, who worked for the railroad and helped people obtain coupons and papers; her family’s false closet in their home which was used to hide people; housing a Jewish girl, Netty van Maarsen; feeling like she was a sister and remaining in contact with her; housing a Dutch boy whose family had worked with the underground and had been betrayed; being aware of the risks of working with the underground; being taught by her parents to hide their activities; the search of her home by German soldiers, one of whom lingered at the false closet door and may have been aware of it, but moved on; the bombing of the house; her family going into hiding in a chicken coop along with a 16-year-old Jewish boy and others; using a bicycle light as an overhead lamp and taking turns using it to read; being liberated; feeling that her family did what they did “with God’s help” and that if everyone in her community had actively worked to protect the Jews many more people could have been saved; and talking with her children about her experiences and speaking at churches and schools.
Carl Heinz Kneuman, born in Bydgoszcs, Poland in 1922 (note that Mr. Kneuman dedicates his interview to Dr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Heubner), describes moving to Berlin, Germany in 1932; his sister getting married and moving to the United States; Dr. Wolfgang Heubner discovering that his institute was being used as a clearinghouse where humans were being used as guinea pigs for new medications; the country’s general strife at the time; hearing about the activities of Kristallnacht in 1938 from his sister, who arrived home completely upset by what she’d seen; how both his father and mother were active in helping Jews escape, as they could not tolerate injustice; the political terror at that time; his father being involved in the black market and how the highest-priced commodity at the time was saccharine since sugar was not available; becoming a journalist because of his experiences during the war; and helping French co-workers who were working with the Danish resistance groups.
Rose Koenigsberg, born in 1914 in Velichovky, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), describes her life teaching in Ralova until March 1939 when the Hungarians occupied the entire town; being arrested but then later being released to return to Velichovky where she lived fairly comfortably until 1944; going into hiding towards the middle of 1944 after they began to feel the pressures of being Jewish; being discovered and arrested by Hungarian guards and then going to Berehove, Ukraine before their transport to Auschwitz; staying with her sisters throughout her time at the camp; the terrible food and the poor clothing in Auschwitz; eventually moving with her sisters to Zittau (a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen), where she worked in an airplane factory; holding various positions at the factory until the camp was liberated by the Russians; returning home to Czechoslovakia and soon being reunited with the rest of her family; and moving to the United States in 1948.
Jane Laufer (née Rosenblum), born in Poland on July 25, 1922, describes growing up with a younger brother; being aware of the war because so many people were coming from Austria; her memory of September 1, 1939 as a big propaganda day and being told to leave; walking with their luggage; hiding in the woods; Germans making them move to the ghetto starting in in May 1941; remaining in the ghetto until September 1942; the deportations of people to work camps; being helped by some nuns; a priest preparing a passport for her so that she could work in a restaurant, where she worked until 1944 when the restaurant closed; being liberated by the Russians on January 21, 1945; going home and finding that the Russians had taken all the food so there was literally nothing to eat; living in the Black Forest to hide from the Russians and eventually moving to Munich, Germany for a few years; going to the United States in September 1956; the effects of the Holocaust on her; experiencing nightmares, sleeplessness, and stress; and her reasons for never returning to her home town.
Margot Edith Lawson, born April 3, 1909 in Mannheim, Germany, discusses her life in Germany leading up to World War II; growing up in a Catholic family with many Jewish friends; studying in England, Italy, and Spain; her family being aware of and concerned about the persecution of Jews; seeing Hitler Youth on her street; her family’s housekeeper’s husband being accused of speaking against Hitler by members of Hitler Youth; moving with her family to Amsterdam, Netherlands near the beginning of the war; witnessing the mistreatment of Jews in Amsterdam; being given American money by her father, a representative of General Motors, to use to buy her way out of conflicts with Nazis; working with an organization to forge papers for Jews and smuggle Jewish children out of Holland; delivering clandestine newspapers; being taken in for questioning by German authorities for criticizing the Nazi Party or for breaking curfew; being jailed after breaking curfew; witnessing poor conditions in the jail and the sexual abuse of prisoners; the ransacking of her house by Germans who were looking for papers she had hidden there; meeting with the head of the Dutch Nazis, criticizing Nazi policy, and telling him that the Germans would never win and that he would be a prisoner one day; encountering the same man after the war and testifying against him at his trial before he was hanged; her feeling that her faith made her willing to take risks because she was not afraid to die; and how she remembers her wartime experiences now that she lives in the United States.
Eva Lewin (née Lipschutz), born in 1925 in Swinemünde, Germany (now Swinoujscie, Poland), describes having one brother, Hans, who was four years older; having a nice childhood until 1933 when they had to move to Berlin, Germany; how her family tried unsuccessfully to emigrate; trying to get papers so that she and her brother could go to a kibbutz in Palestine in 1939, but her papers did not go through; being contacted by a Quaker woman, Mrs. Landmann, in England who arranged for her to go to a farm in August 1939; going on the children’s transport to London and being taken in by a woman who ran a youth hostel; staying with a couple who ran a school; going to the United States after the war to become a nurse; continuing her connection with Mrs. Landmann, who is now 95 years old and has a tree planted at the Avenue of the Righteous in Israel; how Mrs. Landmann worked every day to get affidavits for children without being paid; and Mrs. Landmann’s sacrifice to save about 70 children.
Barbara Makuch, born in Russia in 1917, describes growing up mostly in eastern Poland, in a Catholic family; being approached beginning in 1942 by several Jews seeking help; sheltering Malka Glass, a six year-old girl, for approximately six months, telling neighbors that Malka was her cousin; how, as it became more dangerous, she found a convent that agreed to accept Malka; helping another Jew, Sophia Price, by buying her a train ticket to a large city; aiding a pediatrician, Dr. Olga Lilion, by telling the director of the school at which she worked that she had a friend who needed a job; helping to save another young Jewish boy, Stefan Jacobchek, by getting him enrolled at the school; joining an underground organization that provided false documents, money, and food to Jews in hiding; acting as a courier and being caught by the Germans; being held in prison for a month, but being released after the Germans were bribed; being sent to Ravensbrück, where she remained until the end of the war; making her way back to Poland and later traveling to Canada, where she met her husband; settling in Montreal; staying in touch with several of the people she saved during the war; and being recognized for her heroism by Yad Vashem.
Alice Meilof (née Prviksma), born in the Netherlands 20 miles from the German border, describes being 14 to 19 years of age during the war; her brothers and sisters; her father, who took in three Jewish boys brought to him by the underground; having to move the boys from time to time; how the boys helped her father in his work as a butcher; the hiding place in their house, which was simply a hole in the floor with a carpet rolled over it; the Germans never coming to search the house; her father’s motivation to take in the Jewish boys because of his belief in the Christian Reformed concept of “to do something good is normal”; her mother providing farm food to people who had escaped the bigger cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam; how her father was in command of a region of the underground; her work as a messenger; how nothing could be spoken out loud since neighbors or others might overhear and report their activities; the lack of food in the big cities such that people were eating tulip bulbs and their pets; housing five policemen for two nights; her emotions when they were liberated by the Canadians; and still feeling sorry for the German soldiers in their defeat.
Halina Sophia Melnyczuk (née Zahaikiewicz), born February 21, 1921 in Przemysl, Poland, describes her two brothers and one sister; growing up in a vaguely religious Ukrainian Catholic family that was not political; living in an apartment building where they were the only non-Jews; how when the war started in 1939 they had as many as 30 Jews living with them and their housekeeper threatened to turn them in to the Nazis; moving to another apartment in 1942 because the old one had heavy damage from shelling; how the new apartment was across from the police station; the liquidation of the ghetto in 1943 and taking in a young couple, Edek and Eda Scheffler, whom they hid by camouflaging the pantry to look like bookshelves; sharing their rations and sometimes selling items from their apartment to buy meat; instances when it seemed they’d been found out; being on the list to be transported to a concentration camp in Siberia but deciding to emigrate instead; leaving everything behind, including the Schefflers, who now live in Israel; living in Kraków, Poland; fleeing to Vienna, Austria in 1944; how the war did not change her religious beliefs but left her more tolerant of other people; and her belief that the most important thing is to do good deeds.
Tjitske Mulder (née Hoogeveen), born June 23, 1909 in Westermeer, Netherlands, describes growing up in a very close family with five brothers and two sisters; her father, who was a dairy farmer and a member of an anti-revolutionary party and the underground; her father teaching her that the most important attribute was to be independent and to ignore social class structures; getting married in Bergum, Netherlands in 1930 to a barber; having two sons in the small city of Sneek, Netherlands during the war years; how in Sneek Jews were always well thought of; her and her husband’s first rescue activity moving a Jewish girl from one hiding place to another; hiding the parents of the Jewish girl, whom the Gestapo were chasing; an interesting subterfuge they used when the Gestapo came to their house; remaining friends with the girl, Lydia; speaking frequently publicly about their activities; their children and grandchildren, who are as strongly supportive of what they did during the war; their willingness to help anyone, whether they knew them or not, and doing so without regret; the friendship that grew between the two families when they lived together, praying, singing, and arguing together; her husband’s belief that Hitler was doing wrong by the Jews and how his own inner voice told him to help, as the Bible was his guide; and how they were given no money to keep the Jews in hiding.
Irene Opdyke, born in Kozienice, Poland, describes growing up in a close, Catholic family with four younger sisters, all of whom were taught always to keep an open heart, to be helpful; joining the Polish army then hiding in the forest after Poland was defeated; being very brutally treated by Russian troops and eventually being sent to an ammunitions factory in Poland, where she acted as a server; being sent to the front in Poland, close to the Russian border where she witnessed horrendous brutalities carried out on Jewish families; being moved again to work in the laundry room of about 300 Germans and the local head of the Gestapo in Ternopil', Ukraine; befriending 12 Jews working there and creating an information network; becoming the housekeeper to a German major and managing to hide Jews in the cellar in an underground area under the gazebo; the liquidation of the ghetto in early 1943 and taking the 12 Jews to the forest to join others in hiding; building a bunker where the Jews stayed until the Russian Army liberated them; joining the Polish partisans to help in the fight against the Russians and eventually being arrested and put in detention; escaping by jumping out a window; going to Krakow, Poland; going to the United States in 1949 and becoming a US citizen; working in the garment center in NYC; getting married to a man who worked for the United Nations; and the tree planted in her honor on the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem.
Jacob Simon Oversloot, born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, describe growing up in a family that was not religious and not political; his six siblings; living in The Hague, Netherlands when the war broke out and working at a department store in the furs section; people arriving from Poland and Germany starting in 1938; the German occupation and Germans shipping staple goods to Germany, leaving nothing for residents; taking in his close Jewish business acquaintance (Leo Krell) along with his wife and son when they were going to be transported to Auschwitz and hiding them from 1940 to 1944; making fur coats with this man; the persecution and deportation of the Jews; never witnessing acts of violence against Jews; his hatred for the occupying Germans and refusing to follow their laws or do what they told him to; no one in their family knowing that he and his wife were hiding Jews; how they kept the Jews safe; getting foods from the black market and from the underground movement; restarting his fur business after the war, until 1950 when he moved to Canada; how his rescue activities strengthened his inner faith and that he would do the same now; and his lifetime friendship with the family he hid.
Alice Paulus (née Rijskamp), born in 1915, describes being newly married with a five month old baby when she and her husband began their rescue activities; helping to rescue five people; one couple staying with them for two and a half years in hiding; how many of their friends would not help the Jews, thinking it much too dangerous; believing it was their Christian duty; the most stressful time during the war when her second child was born and there was no hospital, few medicines, and bombs dropping on the city; conducting rescue activities from October 1942 to the end of the war in May 1945, but continuing to host the couple because there was no place for them to live; how three of her husband’s brothers also hid Jews; speaking to church groups often when they first came to Ohio in 1957-1962; speaking in the pubic schools; the major influence religion now has on how she lives her life; and her admiration for Winston Churchill and the Holland leadership for being very honest.
Marion Pritchard, born November 7, 1920 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, describes her apolitical family; her brother; her family’s Jewish friends; how her father was upset with the Dutch government because they didn’t just open their borders to refugees; her work finding foster homes for Jewish children and also hiding Jews; how her family did not know all of what she was doing, which was for their safety; the widespread antisemitism in Holland; being imprisoned for six months in a jail in Amsterdam after being caught with friends who put out an anti-Nazi newssheet; being threatened and intimidated, but not physically abused; leaving Holland in 1945 to work with the United Nations in displaced persons camps in Germany; becoming active with Zionists trying get to Israel; going to the United States in 1947; her thoughts on Elie Wiesel; her husband, who was a liberator at Buchenwald; and her belief that you must do the right thing if you can find out what the right thing is.
Mary Szul (née Barys), born in 1928, describes being 15 years old and living in a little village in Poland with her mother, brother, and sister at the start of the war; rescuing a total of four people, the first being a widow with two small children, whom they hid in the attic in the summer and in a bunker built under straw in the barn in the winter; being caught by the Germans and being badly beaten then jailed for two weeks; being freed and finding her way home, a 70 mile trek; going to Austria to a displaced persons camp; going in 1948 to Canada, where she found the Jews she had rescued and ended up living with them as family; the reason she got involved in rescue activities; how her rescue activities started in May 1943 and continued for 18 months; her neighbors’ disapproving of her family’s rescue activities when they found out about them after the war; and her life now in London, Ontario.
Magda Trocme, born in 1901, describes her rescue activities during WWII in the French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon; Philip Hallie’s book, “Lest innocent blood be shed,” which describes the French village Le Chambon as a safe haven for Jewish escapees; working with the Quakers; one of their first rescued Jews, Hanna Hirsch, and the quasi-underground arrangement for refugees, so that she eventually ended up in Switzerland and then Queens, New York after the war; how the French people got involved with rescue activities and inspired others to help; the daily routine during the war and the large numbers of refugees who were sharing their house; the difficulty in explaining the rescue activities to their children so that the refugees wouldn’t be discovered and how it was a matter of constant problem-solving and resisting in small ways; being very aware of the danger they were in but never considering not helping; her husband’s arrest because he was the organizer of the rescue activities and most responsible; her husband’s release after the war was over; leaving Le Chambon in 1960 and moving first to Versailles and later to Geneva, where her husband was a minister; and visiting Yad Vashem in Israel, where a tree was planted in her husband’s honor.
Andrew van Schilfgaarde, born in 1933 in The Hague, Netherlands, describes growing up one of seven children; being members of the Christian Community Church but not being particularly religious or political, though they did vote; having many Jewish friends; being aware of the persecution against Jews as his friends dropped out of school and were deported; the vacated homes being looted or taken over by the Germans; his attempts to listen to the BBC and being caught with a radio, which was a forbidden item; stealing food to survive and selling the food back on the black market; hiding Jews for a few days in the attic before they went on to another house, then to France, and then to England; how his neighbors were a problem because they might report them; the role of resistance groups as the contact point for the rescue activities; how human values change due to starvation; leaving Holland in 1956 and going to the United States; having a landscape business then working in the food and drink business; not discussing his wartime experiences with his wife or friends; his life-philosophy to live day by day; and knowing that the past cannot be changed but something like the Holocaust should never happen again.
Johanna Vos, born December 29, 1909 in Amersfoort, Netherlands, discusses her upbringing and the influence her parents had on her life; her family’s religious background in the Christian Reformed Church; moving frequently as a result of her father’s job as a military officer but living in Leiden for most of her school years; dating a Jewish boy at age seventeen despite her parents’ disapproval; leaving home at age 20 to go to Paris, France; studying at the Sorbonne and working in Paris as a freelance journalist and as a delivery person for a Dutch grocer; marrying a German artist against her parents’ wishes and later divorcing; living in Laren, Holland during World War II; marrying her second husband and having children; becoming involved in activities to help Jews, first by helping her Jewish friends and then joining the Dutch underground; wearing the Star of David in solidarity with the Jewish population; falsifying papers and smuggling the belongings of German Jewish refugees into the Netherlands; serving as a messenger; hiding more than 36 people in her home, most of whom were Jews but some of whom were intellectuals or others targeted by the Nazis; her husband picking up weapons airdropped by Allied forces for the resistance; the killing of an author by the Gestapo and the capture of a fellow member of the underground; being confronted by the Gestapo at her home; facing the challenge of hiding small children who did not fully understand their situation; coping with the mental breakdown of a woman hiding in her home; her husband’s pension through the Stichting 1940-1945 and his suffering from “Twenty Year Syndrome;” and her thoughts about her actions during the war.
Theresa Weerstra, born August 6, 1907 in Wijckel, Netherlands, describes her father Hans Peopjes, who was a fisherman, and her mother Arendje Roskan; her eight younger siblings, who were all girls; growing up in a family that was not religious but taught her to be generous to everything that is living, from flowers to human beings and never to be prejudiced; living in IJlst in Freisland province when the war broke out; getting married to Martin in 1930 and moving to Chicago, IL that same year during the recession but returning home soon thereafter; living two miles from the Nazi headquarters for the Netherlands; living near a large antisemitic population; taking in an orphaned young Jewish girl, which opened the door to helping many, many more Jews, some of whom she remains in contact with; hiding places they created in their home; housing 18 Jews at one point; receiving help from friends, who got them extra ration cards; delivering a baby born to one of the Jewish couples; the large network of people working in the rescue effort and using codes to relay messages since as there was only one phone in town; and how she is still upset by the Holocaust and does not consider herself a hero.