The Townhouse in Amsterdam

My niece Lauren and her two beautiful daughters Emma and Sophie once lived in a beautiful townhouse in Amsterdam. She told me that it was owned by Jews before the war and they even hid in a crawl space beneath the first floor. As part of a City of Amsterdam project to commemorate the loss of its citizens, residents can look up and see who resided in their homes. It was the family De Vries on Hemonystraat, De Pijp.

That’s all it took. Uncle Ian was on a mission to find any survivors, and within 48 hours I did. I found the children of one man in the picture below. This man, David De Vries, with black hair, is peeking into camera view between the two women on the upper right. He is the only one to survive the Holocaust in this picture. This was a family gathering on the eve of their deportation. April 1942. Shortly before Passover. They dressed. They set the table. They said their goodbyes. David and his wife and two twins survived the war because his wife begged her Christian governess to claim her as her own thus rendering her ‘Aryan’. Her Jewish husband and two “Mischling” children were afforded some privileges, and protections, and survived as a result.

David’s sons live in Herzliyah, Israel. They, and their mother, didn’t attend this dinner because they didn’t want to risk exposure. 

I told his children that a Jewish family once again inhabited the De Vries home and that we will celebrate and memorialize them on days such as this. 

Before the outbreak of World War II, 10 percent of the population in Amsterdam was Jewish. At the time, Amsterdam had around 800,000 residents, therefore around 80,000 of them were Jewish.

The Shoah, the persecution of the Jews in World War II decimated the Jewish community of Amsterdam; killing >65,000 with an even greater number killed throughout The Netherlands.

For Anne Frank, the De Vries Family and their neighbors, we remember.

Never again!

Source: Ian R Lobell

Following this post, Humans of Judaism received the following message:

In response to this post, I received the following message from @luzzpr57:

“I would like to react on the post of the family de Vries, living in Amsterdam during WWII. I found out that my family was living two stories above them. They gave my grandmother a gold plated mirror to keep safe. I still have that mirror, my dad asked me to keep it and return it to the family de Vries. I would like to do that.

Meanwhile I found out that the mirror belonged to Jonas de Vries, he is on the picture as well, far right, sitting with a boy on his lap.

We kept it as a treasure in the family.”