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Map of the Eastern front in Europe owned by a Dutch Jewish boy while living in hiding

Object | Accession Number: 1991.226.53

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    Map of the Eastern front in Europe owned by a Dutch Jewish boy while living in hiding

    Overview

    Brief Narrative
    Map owned by 10 year old Max Heppner when he was living in hiding with his family on a farm in Holland from 1942-1944. Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. Max and his family lived in Amsterdam and in 1942, after house raids and the confiscation of his father's art business, they attempted to flee to France. The Dutch underground placed the family with another Jewish family on a farm. They lived mostly in chicken houses where the farmer built special hiding places and gave them a radio. The area was liberated in September 1944. Max and his mother emigrated to the United States on November 4, 1946.
    Date
    publication/distribution:  1942-1943
    Geography
    use: in hiding; Netherlands
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Max Amichai Heppner
    Contributor
    Subject: Max Amichai Heppner
    Biography
    Max Bernard Heppner (b. 1933) was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Albert (1900-1945) and Irene (nee Krämer, 1904-1997) Heppner. Earlier in the year, Albert and Irene fled from their native Berlin, Germany, to Amsterdam after Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor. In Berlin, Albert was an art historian and dealer. He continued this work in Amsterdam, and Irene often worked with him, serving as hostess to a variety of international clients. Albert insisted on assimilating as much as they could into Dutch culture, and attempted to disassociate himself from Germany. A few months after Albert and Irene immigrated, her father, Jakob Kramer (1868-1943), joined them in Amsterdam and took a central role in raising Max. Max accompanied his grandfather to social events with other German refugees, enabling him to become bilingual. Max’s parents were not religious, but ensured that Max learned Hebrew.

    The family was on vacation in Switzerland when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. They rushed back to the Netherlands, and made it just before the border closed. Max began kindergarten that year at a small, neighborhood school, and did not experience much antisemitism until May 1940, when Germany invaded the Netherlands. The occupying Germans established a civilian administration run largely by the SS, which gradually tightened control on the residents. While Max could still attend school, a wall was built down the center of the building to separate the Jewish and non-Jewish children. Albert’s work permit was rescinded in 1940, but he continued his work illegally with the help of non-Jewish friends. In early 1941, all Jews were required to register themselves with the authorities, and a Jewish council was established. On April 29, 1942, Max’s family was required to wear yellow Star of David badges that identified them as Jews.

    The authorities raided their home for valuables on multiple occasions, and that summer, Jewish deportation round ups began. In early August, the SS staged a night raid on the Heppner’s block. Albert went to the roof to escape, and when the SS could not find him, they took Irene instead. Max was taken in by non-Jewish family friends for a few days, until he could reunite with his parents. Irene was taken to a collection center, but was released after a neighbor helped her get a letter certifying that Albert had done work for the Jewish Council. After this ordeal, Albert began looking into options to flee the Netherlands.

    Albert and his friend, Heinz Graumann, were connected to a group who promised to smuggle their families in the back of an empty gasoline truck to unoccupied southern France. On August 9, Albert, Irene, and Max left Amsterdam, with only the clothes they were wearing, for a meeting point in Utrecht, about 25 miles south. They were joined by Heinz, his wife, Elli, and their sixteen-year-old son, Michael. The Heppners feared that Irene’s father, Jakob, would not survive the perilous journey, and were forced to leave him in an elder care facility in Amsterdam.

    For the next month, the smugglers moved the refugees through a series of hiding places. On September 10, the smugglers announced they were going to split the group up and take them to different locations. They took Michael first, and then the Heppners were placed on a farm owned by Johann (Harry) and Hubertina (Dina) Janssen in Zeilberg-Deurne. Later that night, the smugglers brought Heinz and Elli Graumann, and the refugees were all placed in an empty chicken house. The following day, Harry and his underground connections formed a search party for Michael, and discovered he had been killed by the smugglers and buried in a shallow grave. The families realized the smugglers had intended to kill the rest of them as well, but were handed over to the Dutch underground instead.

    The Janssens took in the Heppners and Graumanns as part of their family. When it was safe, Max was able to play with the Janssen children, and continued his education with his father. A double wall was built in the stable, so when danger was imminent, the refugees were hoisted into the rafters and lowered down between the walls. With the help of their underground connections, both Albert and Heinz were able to continue with their academic research and writing.

    In September 1944, the Allies were fighting in the southern Netherlands. Liberation forces got pinned down by the Germans and occupied the farm next to the Janssen’s. The British soldiers befriended the refugees and helped the Heppners exchange letters with relatives that had immigrated to the United States. Max got very sick, and had to be hospitalized in the spring of 1945. After the northern part of the Netherlands was liberated in early May, Albert set out to check on his friends and business in Amsterdam. He stopped in the small town of Barneveld to await the necessary paperwork so he could enter the city. While there, he was taken in by the only Jewish family in that town. On June 5, Albert suddenly became very ill and died of liver failure. His hosts found Irene and brought her to the funeral, however Max was in the hospital at the time, and he did not find out about his father’s death for months. After the funeral, Irene went back to Amsterdam, where she was taken in by friends and was joined by Max after his release from the hospital.

    After returning to Amsterdam, Max and Irene were able to reconnect with members of their extended family. By 1939, Albert’s mother, sisters, and their families had fled Germany to England. Irene’s sister and her children immigrated to the United States in August 1939. Max’s grandfather, Jakob, had been interned in Westerbork transit camp, and was then deported to Sobibor killing center in German-occupied Poland, where he was killed on March 13, 1943. Although Max wanted to stay in Amsterdam, Irene decided they would join her family in the US. Max and Irene arrived in New York City on November 17, 1946. For the next two years, they stayed with their family in Cleveland, Ohio. Irene got a job in a library at an art museum, where she drew on the work she had done with Albert. Max returned to school, and later attended college and graduate school. He became a naturalized citizen in 1953, and was drafted into the Army in 1957. Max married the following year and went on to have two children. He was discharged from active duty in January 1959, and discharged from the reserves in February 1963. In 1976, Max began talking about his wartime experiences. Since then, he has published multiple books, written articles, created a documentary, and given lectures about the Holocaust. In the 1980s, Max became more religious and began going by the Hebrew name of Amichai.

    Physical Details

    Language
    Dutch
    Classification
    Information Forms
    Category
    Maps
    Physical Description
    Polychrome map entitled, "Kompas van het Oostelijk Front" (Compass of the Eastern Front) Map of east Europe, as of September 1939. Printed in The Hague. ca. 1942-1943. In Dutch. Yellowed.
    Dimensions
    overall: Height: 29.760 inches (75.59 cm) | Width: 12.990 inches (32.995 cm)
    Materials
    overall : paper, ink

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Provenance
    The map was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1991 by Amichai Heppner.
    Record last modified:
    2022-07-28 18:33:54
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/irn5163

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