- The collection consists of a letter written by "Margje and Rika Spronk," the false identities of Maud Dahme (née Peper) and her sister Rita Peper used while in hiding in the Netherlands, to their parents who were also in hiding in a different unknown location. Maud Dahme was able to dictate the letter to someone and then traced over it in pen. She wrote about her wishes to be free and mentioned her reading lessons with her Jewish kindergarten teacher, also in hiding.
- Collection Creator
- Maud Dahme
Maud Peper (now Dahme) was the oldest daughter of Hartog Jacob Henry Peper and Lilli Eschwege Peper. She was born on January 24, 1936 in Amersfoort, Netherlands where her father and grandfather ran a restaurant at the train station. Maud's sister Rita was born on February 23, 1938. The family resided in Amersfoort until 1942. Because Hartog Peper was active in the Dutch Red Cross, the family was unable to flee Holland. When the Germans took over and banned all Jewish children from attending public school, Maud transferred to the Jewish community kindergarten where her mother taught.
In July 1942, the Germans went to the Orthodox synagogue to which the Peper family belonged and recorded the names of all of the members. They then sent letters to each family ordering them to appear at a railroad station at a certain time with only one suitcase. The Pepers decided not to comply and instead contacted Christian friends who found hiding places for the girls. Hartog brought his daughters to the home of Jan and Nel Kanis (members of the Dutch underground). Mr. Kanis awoke Maud and Rita during the night and then took them through the woods to the next town to catch a train to Oldebroek to bring them to the house where they would spend the next several years. They had to travel at night, on foot, through the woods and under the cover of darkness so that they would not be recognized. The girls lived with Mr. and Mrs. Hendrik and Jacobje Flier Spronk from August 1942 until 1944 pretending to be their nieces whose own house had been destroyed during the bombing.
One day, however, when the couple had guests visiting, Maud proudly declared that she wore a yellow star and knew how to write her name. This was very dangerous because she had just given away her identity. After that, her caretakers explained to her that her name and religion had been changed. Maud became "Margje" and Rita became "Rika". One Sunday, the Spronks took the girls with them to visit Mrs. Spronk's sister, and they discovered that she was hiding one of the teachers from the Jewish kindergarten Maud had attended. After this discovery, the girls were taken to this house every Sunday and were taught how to read. While they were in hiding Mr. Spronk passed away and one day the Gestapo came looking for Mrs. Spronk. Because of her connections with the underground, Mrs. Spronk was prepared for them to come and had already arranged for Maud and her sister to be taken to a family in a nearby fishing village, where they would spend the remainder of the war. The girls then went into hiding with the Westerink family in Elburg until April 1945.
Lilli and Hartog Peper were hidden by Mr. and Mrs. Lippinghof in Amersfoort. While the Pepers were living in the attic, two German soldiers commandeered one of the rooms below them in the Lippinghof's home. Although the sisters did not know their parent's whereabouts, Maud was able to send her parents one letter, which she dictated to someone and then traced over in pen. She wrote about her wishes to be free and mentioned her reading lessons with the kindergarten teacher (who was eventually discovered and deported).
After liberation, the sisters returned to Oldebroek until June 1945, while awaiting the return of their parents. When the family was reunited, the girls had a difficult time because they did not remember their parents. The rest of the family, grandparents, as well aunts, uncles, and cousins all perished at Sobibor. Eventually, the family decided to leave The Netherlands. In April 1950 the family sailed for New York on the Holland America Line from Rotterdam. They arrived in Hoboken on April 24th, 1950.
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
- Conditions on Use
- Material(s) in this collection may be protected by copyright and/or related rights. You do not require further permission from the Museum to use this material. The user is solely responsible for making a determination as to if and how the material may be used.
Keywords & Subjects
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The letter was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum by Maud Peper Dahme in 2002.
- Record last modified:
- 2023-02-24 14:04:44
- This page:
Also in Maud Dahme collection
Contains materials documenting the experiencs of Maud Dahme and her family during the Holocaust. Some of these materials may be combined into a single collection in the future.
The Maud Dahme collection consists of a photograph of Maud Pepe and her sister, Rita Peper, standing together holding hands. The photograph was taken while the girls were in hiding in the Netherlands.
Photograph printed on postcard stock; rectangular form; black-and-white image of school room with boys, girls and teachers; inscription on back in graphite that reads "Spring 1942- Jewish Kindergarten created after we were banned from Public School;" stamp from photographer, "Foto 'Weers,' L. Bergstr. 15, Amersfoort." Photographic image is of a Jewish kindergarten created in Amersfoort, Netherlands, after the German occupation government banned Jewish children from public school. Of the children and teachers depicted in the photograph, only Maud Dahme, her sister, Rita Peper, her mother, Lilli Eschwege Peper, and 2 other children survived the Holocaust.