Portrait of Indonesian-Dutch rescuer Tolé Madna.
Photograph | Photograph Number: 94485
- The Hague, [South Holland] The Netherlands
- Variant Locale
- Den Haag
- Photo Designation
RESCUERS & RESCUED -- Netherlands
- Photo Credit
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Alfred Munzer
Portrait of Indonesian-Dutch rescuer Tolé Madna.
- Alfred Münzer is the son of Simcha (or Siegfried) and Gitel (or Gisele) Münzer. He was born November 23, 1941 in The Hague, where his father owned a men's clothing store. Alfred had two older sisters, Eva (b. 1936) and Leana (b. 1938). Alfred's parents were cousins who knew one another from their youth in Poland, though they grew up in different towns. Simcha was from Kanczuga and Gitel, from Rymanow. They both left Poland when they were 18 years old, but whereas Simcha moved directly to The Hague, Gitel went first to Berlin to be with her older sister and brother. She left Berlin for The Hague at the beginning of December 1932 and on December 16 married Simcha. After the German occupation of The Netherlands, the Münzers remained in their home and endured the ever more repressive measures inflicted on the Jewish population. When Gitel realized she was pregnant in 1941, she deliberated a long time about the wisdom of bringing another Jewish child into the world at such a time before deciding to continue with her pregnancy. After Alfred's birth another difficult decision about whether or not to have him circumcised was resolved by his pediatrician, who advised it on medical grounds. On May 21, 1942 Simcha was instructed to report to a German labor camp, but he evaded the order by admitting himself into a hospital for a hernia operation. By September it became clear that the family would have to go into hiding. Simcha faked an attempted suicide in order to gain admission into the Remarkkliniek, a psychiatric hospital near The Hague. While Simcha hid in the hospital, Gitel sold the family's furniture and packed up the children. The girls were placed with a friend of a neighbor who was a devout Catholic and dreamed that the Virgin Mary had instructed her to take Jewish children into hiding. Alfred was given to a neighbor by the name of Annie Madna, who placed him in the home of her younger sister. With her children situated, Gitel left her house for the last time in October 1942 and joined her husband at the Remarkkliniek, where she assumed the role of a nurse's assistant. Two months later, on December 26, the hospital was raided by the SS and all of the staff and patients were taken away. Simcha and Gitel were sent to a temporary prison that had been established in the 17th century residence of the Dutch Jewish philosopher, Benedict Spinoza. On January 3, 1943 they were taken to Westerbork, where they remained for only a month before being transferred to Vught. There, they were put to work making radio tubes at a Phillips electronics factory. Simcha and Gitel remained in Vught until March 1944 when all the concentration camps in Holland were emptied. They were then taken back to Westerbork and placed on a convoy to Auschwitz. As the train departed, Gitel dropped a short message to her neighbor from the cattle car, which was picked up by a railroad worker and delivered to the addressee. After their arrival in Auschwitz, Simcha and Gitel were separated. Simcha remained in the camp until its evacuation in January 1945. He was then taken to Mauthausen, and from there, to Gusen, Steyr and finally Ebensee, where he was liberated. Two months after the war, Simcha died at a nearby convent where he was undergoing medical treatment. He was buried in a cemetery on the site of the Ebensee camp. Gitel spent a relatively short period in Auschwitz before being transferred to Reichenbach, where she was put to work at the Telefunken electronics factory. During the summer of 1944 the factory was bombed and the inmates were evacuated. Gitel was put on a forced march that took her to a series of concentration and factory camps, including Zittau, Adelsheim, Binau, Bergen-Belsen, Hanover, Stendhal, Luebeck, Hamburg and Ravensbrueck. In the spring of 1945 she was released from Ravensbrueck along with thousands of other prisoners, as a result of an agreement reached between Count Folke Bernadotte, representing the Swedish Red Cross, and Heinrich Himmler. Gitel was then evacuated to Sweden, where she was taken in by the Zohnmen family in Goteborg. In August 1945 she was repatriated to Holland, where she was reunited with Alfred. Her daughters did not survive. Sometime after she and her husband were deported, a dispute arose between the husband and wife of the family hiding the two Münzer girls that resulted in the husband denouncing his wife and the Jewish children to the SS. The three were immediately arrested and sent to Westerbork. On February 8, 1944 the girls were deported to Auschwitz, where they were killed three days later. One month after delivering Alfred to her sister, Annie Madna had to remove him because a Dutch Nazi lived next door. Annie then called upon her ex-husband, an Indonesian immigrant by the name of Tolé Madna, who also had been friendly with the Münzer family. He agreed to take in the Jewish child. Alfred remained in his home for the remainder of the war, where he was cared for by Tolé's Indonesian housekeeper, Mima Saïna, who loved him as a mother. Though Alfred stood out as a Caucasian child in an Indonesian family, he was never denounced to the Gestapo. When Gitel returned to her son, he had no recollection of her. In order to ease his transition to a "new" mother, the Madnas invited Gitel to move in with them for a time. A few months later, however, Mima died suddenly of a cerebral hemorrhage, and soon after, the Münzers moved to their own flat. For the next thirteen years Gitel and Alfred lived in Holland and Belgium. Gitel, who had become more religious after the war, sent her son to afternoon cheder and later to a yeshiva in Aix-les-Bains, France. After a short-lived marriage to an older Jewish man from Brussels, Gitel and Alfred immigrated to the U.S. in 1958. Alfred, who became a physician, maintained a close relationship with the Dutch-Indonesian family who hid him.
Tolé Madna (1898-1992), a Dutch-Indonesian rescuer who hid a Jewish child in his home for three years during the German occupation of Holland. Born in Maos, Java in the former Dutch colony of Indonesia, Madna immigrated to Holland with his adoptive parents (the Bosmans) in 1916. The family settled in The Hague, where Mr. Bosman opened an Indonesian restaurant. Eighteen-year-old Tolé helped his father in the business. When some years later the Bosmans decided to return to Java, Tolé elected to remain and continued his employment at the restaurant (now under new ownership), eventually becoming its manager. In 1926 Tolé married a Dutch woman by the name of Johanna Adrianna von der Roest (known as Annie), with whom he had three children: the girls, Wilhelmina (b.1927) and Dewi (b. 1929); and the boy, Tolé Johannes Hendricus (b. 1931). Shortly before Tolé's birth, the Madnas hired Mima Saïna, a new immigrant from Indonesia, to be their live-in nanny. By 1936, however, the Madna's marriage had soured and ended in divorce. The children were split up. The girls remained with their mother, while Tolé Johannes (with Mima) moved to another area of The Hague with his father. In September 1942, during the German occupation of the city, Annie Madna was asked by her Jewish neighbor, Gitel Münzer, to help find a Dutch family to hide her infant son, Alfred. Annie suggested her younger sister, who took him in, but soon afterwards it became clear that her home was not safe because of a Dutch Nazi neighbor. Annie Madna then turned to her ex-husband, Tolé, who also had been friendly with the Münzer family (Tolé Johannes remembers his father telling him that in the early 1930s he had been given a suit by Simcha Münzer, who was a tailor and owned a men's clothing store in The Hague.). Tolé agreed to take in the Münzer baby, to whom he gave the nickname Bobby. For the next three years Alfred/Bobby lived in the Madna home and was treated as a regular member of the family. Mima cared for him as if he were her own child, and Tolé Johannes was an affectionate and protective older brother. Once, early in 1945, German soldiers began a house-to house search of their street looking for hidden Jews. Tolé Johannes, who answered the door, feigned an inability to understand the soldiers, and they eventually left with out searching the house. Gitel Münzer was the only other survivor of her immediate family. When she returned to The Hague to reclaim Alfred, he had no recollection of her. To ease the child's transition to his "new" mother, the Madnas invited Gitel to move in with them for a time. Tragically, a few months after Gitel's return, Mima died suddenly, and soon after, the Münzers moved to their own flat. Tolé Madna remarried the following year and had three more children. He maintained contact with the Münzers until his death.
[Source: Interview with Tolé Johannes Madna at the USHMM, April 16, 2002]
- Photo Source
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumProvenance: Alfred Munzer
Record last modified: 2002-08-02 00:00:00
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