Margalit Ben Ami papers
Document | Accession Number: 2005.364.1
The Margalit Ben Ami papers consist of a ration book issued to Margalit Ben Ami under a false name (Ingrid Maria Theresia Tulleners), two letters written by Ben Ami's rescuers, and a letter written by Ben Ami to Santa Claus. The letters were sent to Ben Ami's mother, Elisabeth Dotsch, who was also in hiding. Also included in the papers are three photographs of the Banens family who rescued and hid Ben Ami during the Holocaust.
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Margalit Ben Ami
- Document Creator
- Margalit Ben Ami
Margalit Ben Ami was born on October 9, 1937, as Gretha Dotsch in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is the middle daughter of Samuel Dotsch (b. October 11, 1911) and Elisabeth Viskoop Dotsch (b. June 25, 1910). Samuel owned a leather goods workshop in which he produced handbags and belts. Elisabeth helped in the business, but she mainly took care of the children. The oldest daughter, Sonja, was born on January 29, 1936, and the youngest, Carla, was born on March 9, 1941. The Dotsch family lived in Amsterdam on Transvaalkade 36 on the third floor. Samuel and Elisabeth, who both came from families with four children, met in a Jewish choir. In 1936 Samuel joined the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War.
The Dotsch family continued to live in their apartment until September 2, 1942. On that day two young people from the Communist Student Organization came at 9 AM to pick up Greatha and place her in hiding. Her mother told 5 year old Gretha that good friends were going to take her to another house where she needed to be a good girl and not cry and where people would be very nice to her. Gretha was very happy to go with the two students as they took her to Zeist, Netherlands by train. Gretha announced during the journey that her sister had a star and that when she turned six years old she would have one as well. Luckily, no one reacted.
Gretha was placed with the Banens family who had eight children of their own. Mrs. Banens took Gretha on condition that her parents not know where she was placed. Gretha was given a new name: Ingrid Maria Theresia Tulleners, born in June 1940, from Indonesia. The real Ingrid was killed in the German bombing of Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 1940. Gretha was unwilling to accept her new name. It took two weeks to convince her that in her heart she was still Gretha Dotsch but, if asked by strangers, she needed to say her new name. Joop and Jenneke Banens taught Gretha reading and arithmetic and never let her outside their household. Joop Banens was very active in the Dutch underground. In March 1944, the Germans organized a “Razzia” [deportation Aktion] in Zeist, and Gretha was moved to Heerlen, Netherlands to Mrs. Banens’ sister.
Sonja Dotsch was hidden in two different places and was not treated very well in either. Samuel and Elisabeth Dotsch arranged for monthly payments to be issued by the bank to the people who kept Sonja, but after Samuel’s arrest in early 1943 the Dutch underground paid for her upkeep. Sonja always felt that her parents should not have sent her away to be hidden, and the separation made her very unhappy.
The youngest Dotsch daughter, Carla, was only eighteen months old on September 2, 1942. She was brought to Zeist, three houses away from Mr. and Mrs. Banens’ house. Gretha, who was not allowed to leave the house, saw a baby carriage in the garden of the nearby house. She spotted her baby sister and did not hesitate to announce with joy that it was indeed her baby sister. Her foster parents denied this fact, but Gretha who already had to abandon her own name was not ready to renounce her own sister. Worried that others might hear Gretha claim the baby as her sister, the caretakers of Carla removed her and placed her with another woman at a different location.
In May 1944, Carla was denounced and arrested in Zuilen, Netherlands. She was three and a half years old. Carla was sent to the Westerbork concentration camp. Serafine Boas, a Jewish prisoner in Westerbork, noticed Carla and immediately started to take care of her. When the order came for Mr. and Mrs. Boas and their daughter, Esther, to be deported to Theresienstadt on September 3, 1944, they asked to take Carla with them but they were refused. On September 6, 1944, the group of fifty so-called “Unknown Children” (Unbekannte Kinder), Carla among them, were deported to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Carla was placed in a hospital. Serafine Boas located Carla in the hospital and was able to visit her a few times. Serafine Boas, her husband Sal, and their daughter Esther adopted Carla in Theresienstadt, and they were repatriated to the Netherlands in June 1945 as a family.
Samuel and Elisabeth Dotsch went into hiding in November 1942. Samuel was caught by the police in mid-November and imprisoned for three months. In early February 1943 he was transferred to Westerbork transit camp, and on February 9, 1943, he was deported to Auschwitz-Monowitz. The fate of Samue Dotsch is unclear.
Elisabeth managed to survive in hiding a different places and immediately after the liberation started to search for her children. She knew the location where Sonja was placed and recovered her first. She then went to Zeist to claim Gretha, but seeing how happy she was with the Banens family, she became hesitant. Elisabeth hand no place to live and no means of support. After another visit, she decided that whatever might happen, the children should be with their mother, and she reclaimed Gretha. A few months later, with a lot of effort and help from others, Elisabeth located Carla, who had returned to the Netherlands with the Boas family. Elisabeth struggled financially for many years. In the late 1950s, the three Dotsch girls immigrated to Israel and settled there. Sonja immigrated to Israel in 1952 and now has four children. Gretha, now Margalit Ben Ami, immigrated to Israel in December 1959, and has two children. Carla, now Tirza Levinsohn, immigrated to Israel in 1959. She and her husband Shalom have three children. Elisabeth Dotsch immigrated to Israel in 1961.
- System of Arrangement
- The Margalit Ben Ami papers is arranged in a single series.
- Topical Term
Hidden children (Holocaust)--Netherlands.
Jewish children in the Holocaust--Netherlands.
World War, 1939-1945--Jews--Rescue--Netherlands.
- Geographic Name
- Personal Name
Ben Ami, Margalit.
- Holder of Originals
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- Margalit Ben Ami donated the Margalit Ben Ami papers to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005.
- Funding Note
- The cataloging of this collection has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
- 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.
Record last modified: 2023-02-24 14:08:57
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