- Brief Narrative
- Liberation ribbon given to 6 year old Miep van Engel in May 1945. It was distributed by Canadian troops after their liberation of the Netherlands. The country had occupied in May 1940 by Nazi Germany. In 1943, Miep’s father, Bernard, decided that the family needed to go into hiding because his employer, Phillips Electronics, could no longer keep Jewish employees exempt from deportation. With the assistance of the underground movement, Miep was sent to live with a Protestant family, Dirk and Sjoukje Hellinga, in Nij Beets in Friesland. They got her false identification documents and she was able to go to school. She remained with the Hellinga’s until the end of 1945, when Bernard was able to find a place to live with Miep and her older brother, Max, who had been hidden with different Dutch families.
Nij Beets (Netherlands)
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Miep Kaempfer-van Engel
- front, embroidered, orange thread : WE ZUN ER NOG NIET…… / MAAR:WE KOMEN ER WEL! [We are not yet there, but we are getting there!]
Miep Kaempfer-van Engel
Miep van Engel (later Miep Kaempfer) was born on March 23, 1939, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Her older brother, Max, was born on October 15, 1936. Her father, Bernard, worked for the Phillips Electronic Company. Following the German invasion in May of 1940, the factory created a special division called SOBU for Jewish workers. At first, these workers were exempt from deportation and later were told that they would be able to leave for Spain and work for Phillips there. However, the Germans prohibited this action. Her mother had Hodgkin's disease and died in 1941.
In 1943, Miep’s father decided the family needed to go into hiding. Miep was taken by Lipje Schuurman by bicycle to the Otten family; a week later, she returned and took Miep by train to the home of Dirk and Sjoukje van Houten Hellinga in Nij Beets in Friesland. Dirk and Sjoukje Hellinga were religious Dutch Reformed Protestants and angered by the German occupation of their country. A local schoolteacher, Miss Dikland, had asked them if they would take in a Jewish child and hey contacted the underground, using code, saying that they were ready to receive a rabbit. Max was sent to live with different families. Bernard went to work as a farm hand in Friesland.
The Hellingas also took in an undernourished 12 year old girl from Amsterdam named Janny Sluimer. They told Miep to pretend that she also was from a big city and that her mother was too ill to care for her. They often warned her never to reveal that she was Jewish. Dirk directed the post office and delivered mail and he manufactured fake letters from home to support this alibi. Food was plentiful as the Hellingas had a vegetable garden and Dirk, as a postman, was very involved in the movement of black market food and other supplies. Miep was given a false identity card in her own name, but without the identifying Jew stamp. Their home often served as temporary shelter for Jews begin moved to hiding places around the country.
One day, the Germans conducted a round-up; Dirk was away and they arrested Sjoukje for having an illegal radio. She had sensitive papers hidden in her bodice but was able to burn them in jail. She was jailed in Leeuwarden for two months, during which time Miss Dikland cared for Miep. Sjoukje had a history of tuberculosis so was able to see a doctor and communicate with Dirk. She was jailed for a time with a Jewish woman who was treated much more harshly by the authorities. The Germans wanted to exchange her for her husband but she convinced them that he was indispensible in his government position. They raided the house one night and took Dirk, but released Sjoukje and she was able to pay to have Dirk released. The Hellingas obtained a new radio and resumed their underground activity.
In April 1945, Miep was supposed to start at the local Protestant school, but the school director was afraid to admit her since he had heard that she was Jewish. Dirk feared that villagers would be suspicious if the six year old remained at home. The church minister, who worked with the resistance, helped convince the school to admit her.
When the war in Europe ended on May 7, 1945, Bernard began to look for his children. He found Miep by chance that June; he was travelling with a mailman and as was the custom, all the letters were opened. A letter from woman to her sister in Nij Beets mentioned Miep. Everyone agreed that Miep should remain with the Hellingas while Bernard searched for Max and found a place to live. By the end of the year, he had resettled in Eindhoven. Max had been rejected from his first home in hiding; the woman said that he was traumatized by his mother’s death. He was moved to several places during the war, but he never seemed to recover from the trauma. Max married and had children; he died in 2003, age 67 years. Miep married a man named Kaempfer. Bernard passed away in November 1987. In 1990, Yad Vashem recognized Dirk and Sjoukje Hellinga as Righteous Among the Nations.
- Object Type
- Physical Description
- Rectangular, offwhite ribbon with zigzag cut short edges and thin orange, white, and blue stripes finishing the long edges. The front is machine embroidered in orange thread with a horizontal image of a factory, a windmill, a ship, mountains, and Dutch text.
- overall: Height: 1.750 inches (4.445 cm) | Width: 9.875 inches (25.083 cm)
- overall : ribbon, thread
Rights & Restrictions
- Conditions on Access
- No restrictions on access
- Conditions on Use
- No restrictions on use
Keywords & Subjects
- Legal Status
- Permanent Collection
- The ribbon was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2006 by Miep Kaempfer-van Engel.
- Record last modified:
- 2022-08-15 09:43:34
- This page:
Also in Miep Kaempfer-van Engel collection
The collection consists of artifacts, documents, and photographs relating to the experience of Miep Kaempfer-van Engel as a hidden child in the Netherlands during and after the Holocaust.
Papers consist of material relating to the experiences of Miep van Engel as a hidden child in the Netherlands during the Holocaust. Included is an announcement, with an affixed photograph, written by Bernard van Engel (donor's father) looking for his daughter after World War II; photograph of van Engel with her rescuer; clipping and articles from Dutch newspapers; a ration card used by the Hellinga family who hid van Engel; and illegal announcements published by the Dutch underground with whom Dirk and Sjoukje Hellinga [donor's rescuers] were actively involved.