To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue


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Tina Strobos, a medical student living at home with her mother and grandmother, provided life-saving assistance to numerous Jewish people throughout the Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Although their home was a frequent target of S.S. raids, Tina and her mother provided shelter for many Jews in hiding, sometimes for as long as a year. As an active member of the Dutch underground, Tina helped many Jews to survive by finding them places of refuge with other Dutch families, providing food ration coupons and false identity papers, and helping separated family members stay in contact with one another. When four of her Jewish friends in hiding were betrayed and arrested, it was Tina's cool wit and presence of mind that convinced a highly placed S.S. officer to release three of them, thereby saving their lives.

Tina Strobos Story
List of Synopses

Bram Pais was a brilliant physics student, the last Jewish person in Holland to receive a Ph.D. before the Nazi regime banned Jewish students from higher education. Tina Strobos helped Bram and his family to survive the war by finding them a succession of hiding places, arranging to supply Bram with books during his many months of enforced seclusion, and serving as a courier for messages between Bram and his family. When late in the war Bram was betrayed and arrested, Tina successfully convinced the S.S. that they should release him from prison.

Bram Pais Story
List of Synopses

Young, Jewish, Erika van Hesteren had been associated through her boyfriend with an underground resistance group that engaged in terrorist activities. Eighteen members of this group were caught and summarily executed by the Nazis. Erika was imprisoned. Escaping from prison, Erika found shelter in the home of Tina Strobos and Tina's mother, where she lived with other Jews in hiding for nearly a year. When Erika's back condition worsened to an intolerable degree, Tina arranged for her to have an illegal hospital operation.

Erika Van Hesteren Story
List of Synopses

Barbara Makuch paid dearly for her willingness to aid Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland. She helped two Jewish people find protection in the boy's boarding school where she was a teacher. One was a young Jewish boy who successfully passed himself off as a Christian Polish student. The second was a woman doctor who became the school cook. Although they lived on minimal means in a tiny apartment, Barbara and her mother accepted responsibility for a seven year old Jewish girl, left with them by the girl's desperate mother. Fearing detection in such a small community, Barbara took the girl on a dangerous journey to Lvov where she placed her in the safe shelter of a convent school.

In Lvov, Barbara joined her sister Halina in her work for the underground organization, Zegota, set up to aid Polish Jews in hiding. On a Zegota courier mission Barbara was caught and subsequently imprisoned, first in a notorious jail, later at Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany. During her years in prison and camp, Barbara faced the harshest tests of her courage and endurance. Remarkably, she not only survived but even managed to help save the lives of fellow inmates.

List of Synopses
Barbara Makuch Story

Barbara Makuch's sister Halina relates Barbara's story from a different perspective. Halina and her fiancée were deeply involved with the Polish underground organization Zégota. In this capacity Halina arranged for Jews to receive medicine, false identity papers, and money, and to be smuggled out of the Lvov ghetto.

List of Synopses
Halina Ogrodzinska Story

Coming from an assimilated Jewish family, Dr. Olga's self-deprecating sense of humor and strong spirit of independence were important factors helping her to survive the Nazi occupation of Poland. Barbara Makuch and her mother helped her substantially by providing shelter in their small apartment in Tarnobrzeg. Most importantly, Barbara helped Dr. Olga secure a position working in the kitchen of the agricultural boarding school where Barbara was a teacher. In this situation Dr. Olga successfully posed as a simple Polish woman, on one occasion serving an especially fine meal to a contingent of S.S. visitors.

List of Synopses
Olga Lilien Story

Bert Bochove and his wife Annie gave shelter to twenty-six Jews in hiding, living with them above their drugstore in the little town of Huizen, Holland. Bert's ingeniously disguised hiding place was put to the test when an S.S. raid forced five Jewish people to endure an hours long search of the premises while they were hidden on the other side of the wall.

Throughout the war Bert used his wits to help not only the Jews hiding in his house, but a great many others as well. Lacking gasoline, Bert and several friends refitted the town's garbage truck to run on a wood burning carburetor, using it on forays to surrounding farms to find food for 150 Jews in hiding.

List of Synopses
Bert Bochove Story

In 1942, Yettie Mendels' husband was rounded up and deported in a surprise raid, leaving her pregnant and alone. When her baby was only two and a half months old, mother and son were separated because no family could be found willing to risk hiding them together. Young and inexperienced, Yettie used a succession of subterfuges to conceal her Jewish origins. Although she stayed under his roof for only one night, Yettie credits Bert Bochove with lifesaving protection for her, over a period of several years. He put her in contact with Dr. van den Berg who provided Yettie with employment as a nurse at an obstetrics hospital.

List of Synopses
Yettie Mendels Story

Henny Juliard and her husband Pom lived under the protection of Bert and Annie Bochove for three years, first in their home, then after the birth of their first child, in a safe house Bert arranged for them. While in hiding, Pom published a small book critical of the Germans. Bert sold copies in his store, under the counter. A stash of the books was discovered by the Germans, leading to Pom's arrest. Interrogated by the S.S., Pom convinced the Germans that his book--written in Dutch--was harmless, and he was released, his Jewish origins undetected.

List of Synopses
Henny Juliard Story

Mia, Ab and Wim are the children of Israel and Gesina Ikkersheim, a Jewish family from The Hague. Bert Bochove helped the family to survive the war by providing shelter for various family members as the need arose, and a job in his drugstore for Israel, renamed "Peter" to conceal his Jewish identity. Wim and his mother spent several harrowing hours in Bert's secret hiding place during an S.S. raid of the Bochove premises.

List of Synopses
Ab, Mia and Wim Ikkersheim Story

In rural Czechoslovakia one day in the last year of the war, Jerry Chlup brought home to his wife's care the emaciated and wounded Herman Feder.

Unknown to Anna, Jerry had been a member of a resistance group for three years. When the group blew up a bridge, they inadvertantly forced a German train full of prisoners bound for a death camp, to make an unscheduled halt of several days. Some of the prisoners seized the opportunity to escape, Herman Feder among them. Unstintingly sharing their modest resources, Anna and Jerry devoted themselves over the next three years to nursing Herman back to physical health. They provided a safe haven which helped to heal the deep psychological wounds resulting from Herman's five years of harrowing concentration camp experiences.

List of Synopses
Anna and Jaruslav Chlup Story

Herman Feder was a Jewish businessman from Galicia, a region variously under Austrian, Polish and Russian rule. Defrauded of his money and possessions when he attempted emigration with his young family, Herman soon shared the fate of most European Jews: he and his family were separated and deported to Nazi concentration camps. But unlike most Jews in this situation, through a combination of sharp wits, strong spririt, and sheer luck, he managed to survive five years in six different camps. Late in the war Herman found himself on an Auschwitz bound transport.

The train stopped as it approached a destroyed bridge in Czechoslovakia, blown up by Jerry Chlup and his friends. Some of the prisoners escaped. A few days after coming to the Chlup's home, Herman became the object of an S.S. search, barely escaping detection as he hid in a nearby woods. For the next three years he lived under the protection of Anna and Jerry Chlup. Herman credits the Chlups with unselfish devotion toward his safety and recovery, directly saving his life on at least three occasions.

List of Synopses
Herman Feder Story

John Damski's awakening to the ruthless nature of the Nazi regime came when he barely escaped execution--the fate of most of his fellow inmates--at the prison for Polish political prisoners where he was held for many months. Upon his release, John found work as the chief electrician of construction projects for the German airforce in Zamosc. Despite the German threat of the death penalty for anyone caught helping Jews in Poland, John helped many. He found work for Jewish men on his construction projects, obtained lifesaving false identity papers for others, and at one point smuggled ten Jews out of the sealed Warsaw ghetto.

John had been helping his Jewish neighbors, The Rozen family, in small ways for months before the dramatic incident occurred that brought him together with the Rozen's beautiful young daughter, with whom he fell in love. From that point until the end of the war, John used all of his considerable talents to ensure the safety of Christine and her mother, obtaining false identity papers, a false marriage certificate making Christine his "wife," and moving with them from city to city whenever there were warnings of imminent betrayal and arrest.

List of Synopses
John Damski Story

Christine Damski, born Sara Rozen, was the daughter of an upper class assimilated Jewish family from Zamosc, Poland. She spent the long war years trying to protect herself, her mother and beloved brother, moving from place to place, always just one step ahead of the Nazi terror aimed at the destruction of the Jewish population of Poland. In 1943, she met John Damski in a most unexpected manner: fleeing an imminent S.S. raid, she literally landed in his lap as she jumped out of a bedroom window. For the remaining war years Christine was protected by John Damski. Together, they were caught in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, during which they underwent daily life and death dramas. After some days, with John posing as a German national, they managed to make their escape from the city that the Germans soon utterly destroyed.

List of Synopses
Christine Damski Story

Mirjam Pinkhof
Growing up in a family committed to working for social justice, Mirjam Waterman Pinkhof was instrumental in forming a group led by the charismatic resistance worker Joop Westerweel, which rescued hundreds of German Jewish children and teenagers from the Holocaust. Although Jewish herself, and in constant danger of detection and deportation, Mirjam passed up opportunities to rescue herself to save the German children who had been sent by their parents to Holland for safety after Kristallnacht. The group worked tirelessly to find refuge for the children in Holland. They eventually established underground routes to smuggle many of them to France, which was a safer place for them. Some of these children managed to reach Spain and Palestine before the war ended.

List of Synopses
Mirjam Pinkhof Story

Sophie Yaari
Sophie Nussbaum Yaari was one of the Zionist Young Pioneers saved by Mirjam Pinkhof's group in Holland. The shock of Kristallnacht galvanized Sophie's parents to send her and her sister alone to Holland just days after the official pogrom throughout Germany, on November 9, 1938. Soon after, Sophie found her way to the Youth Aliyah home in Loosdrecht, whose youthful idealistic leaders were organized by their friend, Mirjam Pinkhof, into a group that saved Sophie and most of the other teenagers at the home. Mirjam and her Westerweel group supported these children by finding them a series of underground refuges in Holland from 1942 until the end of the war.

List of Synopses
Sophie Yaari Story

Joseph Heinrich
Joseph Heinrich was also a German Jewish child sent for safety to a Youth Aliyah home in Holland after Kristallnacht. He first met Mirjam Waterman when the progressive school where Mirjam and Joop Westerweel were teaching invited the Youth Aliyah foreign refugee children to come to their school for lessons. Several years later, when the Jewish children were told to report to the German occupiers for deportation, Joseph was saved by the underground network established by Mirjam under the leadership of Westerweel. He was one of the group that was smuggled into France. Through a series of improbable adventures, Joseph was one of a group of Young Pioneers who illegally crossed the Pyrenees in the winter of 1944, and sailed for Palestine before the war ended.

List of Synopses
Joseph Heinrich Story