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Portrait of Erica Polak.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 89825

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    Portrait of Erica Polak.
    Portrait of Erica Polak.

She is made to look as "Aryan" as possible.


    Portrait of Erica Polak.

    She is made to look as "Aryan" as possible.
    Amsterdam, [North Holland] The Netherlands
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Marion Pritchard

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Marion Pritchard
    Published Source
    Rescuers: Portraits in Moral Courage in the Holocaust - Block, Gay and Malka Drucker - Holmes & Meier

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Marion Pritchard (born Marion van Binsbergen) was born in 1920. She was a Dutch social worker who rescued over 150 Jews during the German occupation of Holland. The daughter of a liberal judge in Amsterdam, Marion attended a private school where there were many Jewish students. After graduating high school she enrolled at the school of social work in Amsterdam, where she was studying when the German invasion took place. In 1941 she was arrested and imprisoned for seven months after German police raided a student gathering at a friend's apartment where they were listening to Allied broadcasts and making copies for distribution. In 1942 Marion was working in a rehabilitation center when the director asked her to take home a two-year-old boy named Jantje Herben, who was the son of a Jewish couple who was about to be deported. She kept him for several months until she was able to find a safer shelter outside Amsterdam. Later that year Marion witnessed a brutal deportation action at a Jewish children's home in Amsterdam. This experience shocked her into making rescue work her priority during the war. Among the many Jews she found shelter for, were Freddie Polak and his three small children, Tom, Lex and Erica. She moved them into a house in the country owned by an older woman. At first Marion joined them only on weekends, but in 1943 she moved in full-time to take care of the children while Freddie worked on his thesis. One night the house was raided by German and Dutch police. They initially didn't find anyone because the Pollaks were hiding in the basement, but when the Dutch policeman returned alone unexpectedly a short time later, the children were upstairs. To protect them Marion shot and killed the policeman with a revolver her friend had given her. Other town folks helped her dispose of the body by smuggling it out in a bakery delivery truck and bringing it to a funeral home where it was buried in the same coffin of another man.

    After the liberation Marion went to work for UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) to help reunite children and their parents. She first worked in the social services unit of Foehrenwald and then in Windsheim. To best communicate the survivors and perform her work, Marion became a fluent Yiddish speaker. During her service in the DP camps in Germany she met Tony Pritchard, a former officer in the American army. Having seen the horrors of the war, he too volunteered for UNRRA and became the director of the Windsheim DP camp. The two were married by married by a German mayor. Afterwards, residents of Windsheim hosted and organized a wedding celebration for them in the camp. They moved to the United States in 1947. Marion later went to work for the Boston Jewish Family and Children's Service, where she helped Jewish refugees put their lives back together. Marion was recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations in 1983.

    [Source: Block, Gay and Malka Drucker. Rescuers, Holmes & Meier, New York, 1992]
    Record last modified:
    2007-02-15 00:00:00
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