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Oral history interview with Cornelia Knottnerus

Oral History | Accession Number: 1984.1.1.10 | RG Number: RG-50.157.0010

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.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Knottnerus, Cornelia
interview:  1984 September 16
2 sound cassettes (60 min.).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Council
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:20:55
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