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Robert Coopman rests in his baby carriage.

Photograph | Not Digitized | Photograph Number: 08710

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    Robert Coopman rests in his baby carriage.
    Amsterdam, [North Holland] The Netherlands
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Robert Coopman

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Robert Coopman

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Robert Simon Coopman is the son of Maurits Coopman (b. January 8, 1913 in Amsterdam) and Anna Elizabeth Smit (b. July 29, 1917 in London). Robert's parents married on March 28, 1939 in Antwerp Belgium. Germany occupied The Netherlands the following May, and Robert was born four months later on September 8, 1940. The family lived in Amsterdam where Maurits worked as a salesman and bookkkeepter. Only July 12, 1942 when Robert was less than two years old, his parents decided to place him in hiding. Members of the resistance brought him to Naarden to the home of Cornelius (Kees) and Kitty Viejou who were French Huguenots. Cornelius had been married to a Jewish woman with whom he had one daughter, Hetty (age 20). He later married Kitty Schrevelius and had three more daughters, Olga (age 13), Maria (age 10) and Kitty (age 8). He was a high level civil servant in Amsterdam with contacts with the resistance. Their house was about a half an hour from the city. In those years Robert considered the Viejous to be his parents. Robert lived openly as a member of their household for two years until a neighbor betrayed them in August 1944. Cornelius was sent to Amesfoert where he remained for about six weeks. Robert was taken to the Jewish theater Schouwburg, the central location for the deportation of the Jews in Amsterdam. From there he was sent to Westerbork. After a few weeks, on September 13, 1944 he was deported first to Bergen-Belsen and then to Theresienstadt. His parents were deported to Sobibor. After the war, his stepmother learned from the Red Cross that some children had survived Theresienstadt. She put an ad in the newspaper and found Rob in a hospital in Eindhoven. He was very sick with diphtheria or typhus and was malnourished. After recuperating, he returned to live in Naarden with them and remained there until the age of 18. Robert then spent two years in the Dutch army and later studied electrical engineering at the University of Amsterdam. In the last year of his studies he became chairman of the YMCA and met Greet Troostwyk, another child survivor. She worked as a physician's assistant. They married and have two children. In 1995 after Robert retired, he and Greet moved to Israel.

    In 2001 Rob received a telephone call from Hans van den Broeke in Holland, Chairmen of the Unknown Children's Foundation of which Greet was a member. At that time, the Foundation had identified 42 people who had survived Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen as unaccompanied small children. Mr. van den Broeke had been asked by a female survivor by the name of Bep van der Berg how to find someone by the name of Robert Vinselveluis Fiju. She was a nurse and had helped children on the September 13, 1944 transport from Westerbork. She vividly recalled a four year old with dark blond hair who called himself by that name. Hans van den Broek searched the newspaper ads regarding missing children and found the ad the Viejou family had placed looking for Robert. Going through governmental archives they found an address in Naarden where the family had lived until 1956 and through that found Kitty Viejou. The last name she was searching for was a corruption of the name of Robert's foster mother, Schrevelius Viejou. Through this discovery Robert learned that he had been together with his wife Greet from throughout his incarceration from Westerbork through Theresienstadt.
    Record last modified:
    2013-07-08 00:00:00
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