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Trudy Katzer papers

Document | Digitized | Accession Number: 2005.175.1

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    Trudy Katzer papers

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    The Trudy Katzer papers contain documents relating to Trudy Katzer and her grandfather, Levi Katz. Included in the papers are memoirs and family histories written by Levi Katz, his refugee card, and his correspondence. Other material includes Trudy’s letters to the family that sheltered her through the war, some photographs of her, and news clippings.

    The Trudy Katzer papers contain material created by Trudy Katzer and her grandfather, Levi Katz. Most prominent in the collection are four memoirs written by Levi Katz, concerning the history of his life and family. His correspondence contains letters to relatives, from the mayor of his hometown of Borken, and from the Swiss Office of Palestine regarding his immigration. Trudy’s papers include correspondence written to the de Bruins, the family that took her in during the war. There are also photographs of both Trudy, and her mother Margareta, taken at a young age. Also included are news clippings and a prayer book which was given to Walther and Margareta on their wedding day.
    inclusive:  1914-1976
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Trudy Katzer
    Collection Creator
    Trudy Katzer
    Geertruida (Truusje) Simone Gittel Schoenfeld was born on July 14, 1939, in Amsterdam, Netherlands, the only child of Walther Isidor and Margareta (Grete) Katz. Walther was born on December 12, 1906, in Kesselbach, Germany, where his parents, Simon and Malchen Katzenstein Schoenfeld, had a farm. He had two brothers, Moritz and Artur. Grete was born on February 27, 1909, in Ottweiler, Germany, to Levi and Berta Wolf Katz. Her father was a cantor and schoolmaster. Grete was the fourth of eight children and the family lived above the school. Following Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in 1933, Jews were disenfranchised from German society. Walther was expelled from law school around 1935 because he was Jewish. Walther and Grete married in 1936/37 and left for Amsterdam. Grete’s parents and her brother, Werner, also emigrated there. Grete’s siblings, Nora, Siegfried, and Frieda left Germany for Palestine and Kathe, Robert, Ruth, and Lotte went to America. Walther’s brothers and their families emigrated to the United States.

    In Amsterdam, Walther sold handbags and worked for the Jewish Council. Grete worked as a milliner. Her mother passed away in 1940 of natural causes. In May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Jews were soon segregated from Dutch society; many were imprisoned and, after 1942, many were deported to concentration camps. Their neighbor, Mimi Grinberg de Silva Rosa, a German Protestant married to a Portuguese Jew, was active in the Dutch underground. While working at the Jewish Council, Walther was told by a German official that they would not bother Jewish families that stayed together. Grete did not believe this and, in 1943, asked Mimi to hide Truusje as round-ups of Jews increased. Mimi obtained false papers for the family, but Walther would not accept them because he feared he would betray Mimi if he was caught. Around this time, Grete’s father and her brother were sent to Westerbork transit camp, and then deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. Mimi placed Truusje with a Christian family in the countryside, but she had to be moved back to Amsterdam after she told the neighborhood children that she was Jewish. The night after Truusje returned, the Germans conducted a round-up of Jews and the family was ordered to go to a synagogue. They returned home after their names were not called but, later that night, the Germans raided their apartment and took Walther, Grete, and Truusje to a fenced schoolyard where they were held for deportation transport. Mimi found out where they were and got a marshall in the yard to tell her where the Schoenfeld’s were located. She then told the guards that she had left her wallet there, went over and put Truusje on her bicycle, and rode out of the field. Walther and Grete were sent to Westerbork on the next day, September 7, 1943, and then deported to Auschwitz. Four year old Truusje was placed with a Christian family for several weeks in Amsterdam, until they told Mimi that they would not hide her any longer. Truusje was sent to live with Pedro and Truus De Bruin in the city outskirts. The De Bruins were dark-haired like Truusje and told others that she was their niece from the country. They provided a loving home for Truusje and she stayed with them for the duration of the war. Truusje remembers how she stopped being afraid of airplanes as she and the de Bruin’s watched Canadian planes drop food packets in the yard.

    The Netherlands was liberated by the Canadian Army in May 1945. Mimi came to get Truusje who resisted. Mimi had to pry Truusje's arms from around Mrs. De Bruin’s waist. Truusje lived with Mimi, her husband, Theo, and their daughter, Franka. She entered school and began to learn English, but she cried all night in her sleep. Truusje’s grandfather returned in May 1945, but her parents had been killed at Auschwitz not long after arrival. Her grandfather gave her a silver Magen David (Star of David) on a chain and, when he tried to fasten it around her neck, she told him that she would not wear it; she was not a Jew. Soon after this, her maternal uncle, Werner, returned from Thersesienstadt with his wife, Kaatje (Kitty), whom he had married at the camp. Truusje went to live with them for about a year in Utrecht, then Arnhem. It was a difficult arrangement, but Truusje was able to visit Mrs. De Bruin during this time.
    In November 1946, she and her grandfather emigrated to the United States via Sweden aboard the SS Gripsholm. In New York, Truusje lived with her maternal uncle and his wife, Siegfried and Gertrude Katz. They adopted her and changed her name to Trudy Katz. Levi moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where one of his daughters lived, but after two years, he moved to Israel and settled in Kibbutz Na’an, where he died at the age of 86. Trudy became a college English professor, married, and had one son.

    Physical Details

    11 folders
    System of Arrangement
    The Trudy Katzer paper are arranged as a single series.

    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

    Administrative Notes

    The papers were donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2003 by Trudy Katzer.
    Funding Note
    The accessibility of this collection was made possible by the generous donors to our crowdfunded Save Their Stories campaign.
    Special Collection
    Save Their Stories
    Record last modified:
    2024-04-11 13:18:44
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