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1940 Amsterdam occupied
City centre
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Truus Wijsmuller helps 73 children escape to England

The children are all Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria and are housed in the Burgerweeshuis (an orphanage) in the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam.

Truus Wijsmuller-Meijer soon becomes involved in helping Jews. She works regularly for the committee set up in 1933 to help Jewish refugees. From 1938 when she manages to get Adolf Eichmann to allow her to organize the first transportation, she starts organizing the evacuation of Jewish children from Nazi Germany. She manages to get thousands out of the country. One of the places where she houses the children is the orphanage on the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam.

Children from the orphanage in their gardens, summer 1939.

Truus is in Paris when she hears about the German invasion of the Netherlands. She returns to Amsterdam as quickly as she can. She then hears from the Commander of the Amsterdam garrison that she must take the children from the orphanage to Ijmuiden from where they can be taken to England. They pick up a few more children on the way and 74 children are put on board the SS Bodegraven. It is the last ship to leave port. Truus doesn’t travel with the children; she wants to stay with her husband.

The ship sails for England, but because the children are German they are not allowed to dock in England. One child dies during the first night on board. The ship continues to sail towards Belfast, but eventually returns to Liverpool and docks on 19 May 1940. The children remain in England in orphanages or with families for the rest of the war.

During the occupation of the Netherlands Truus Wijsmuller continues to help Jews leave the country.

After the war, she becomes a member of the board of the Anne Frank House.

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People against the Nazis commit acts of resistance. These people are mostly organized into small groups which are often part of a larger organization. Acts of resistance include; helping people in hiding, stealing and forging ration coupons and identity papers, attacks on public records offices and distribution offices, sabotage, assassinating German military personnel and collaborators; printing and distributing illegal newspapers.

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1938 Many Jewish refugees after Kristallnacht

Many Jewish refugees flee to the Netherlands after Kristallnacht. Princess Juliana also feels connected to the Jewish community. But while more attention is drawn to the admittance of more Jews, NSB members threaten more intervention.

1940 Amsterdam occupied

Nothing changes too much for the Frank family in the beginning. Opekta moves to the Prinsengracht. During air raids bombs cause death and injury in Amsterdam.

1940  Amsterdam occupied

1941 Jews allowed to do and less

It starts with a cinema ban but rapidly Jews are banned from virtually all public places. Jewish children must attend separate schools. This also applies to Anne and Margot Frank.

1941  Jews allowed to do and less

1942 It becomes more dangerous for Jews

On her thirteenth birthday Anne Frank receives a diary. A few days later she writes about the situation in Amsterdam. The introduction of the Jewish star and the raids. In July the Frank family goes into hiding.

1942  It becomes more dangerous for Jews

1943 Deportations and attacks

While the Frank family is in hiding thousands of Jews are deported from Amsterdam. The resistance tries to hinder the deportations by attacks including one on the Public Registry. It doesn’t stop them.

1943  Deportations and attacks

1944 Discovered and arrested

On 4 August the people in hiding in the secret annex are discovered and arrested. From Westerbork they are taken to Auschwitz. When the Allies land in the south of the Netherlands there is hope that the country will be liberated. German soldiers and NSB members flee the country after Dolle Dinsdag (‘Mad Tuesday’).

1944  Discovered and arrested

1945 Joy and sadness

A celebration at the Dam on 7 May is ruined when people are killed after German soldiers shoot at the crowd. On 8 May Amsterdam is officially liberated. Otto Frank returns. He knows that Edith is dead. He only hears later that his two daughters have not survived.

1945  Joy and sadness

1946 Slowly the threads are picked up again

On 3 May 1946 the first official commemoration for those who died during the war is held. Anne Frank’s diary is published on 25 June 1947. Life in Amsterdam slowly gets back to normal. Of the 70,000 Jews who lived in the city in 1940 only 10,000 have survived the war.

1950 Lasting memory

Even five years after the liberation the reverberations from the war are still clearly noticeable. The Jewish community thanks Amsterdam for the help given to Jews with a monument.

1950  Lasting memory
  • 1950
  • To those who protected the Dutch Jews during the years of the occupation. Protected by your love. Encouraged by your resistance. Mourning with you.

    Part of the citation on the monument ‘Jewish Gratitude’
  • picture:Once a year, two minutes silence

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