Awhile back I wrote a blog about a man named Johan van Hulst (see archive for blog). I have recently been introduced to someone who helped him save over 600 Jewish children. And she was just seventeen when she did it.
Betty was born in 1924 and lived in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. She worked caring for the children of Jewish parents that were getting ready to be deported. When the Nazi’s started rounding up the Jews of Amsterdam, they used a theater called Hollandsche Schouwberg as a containment facility run by Walter Suskin.
Next door to it was a kindergarten to care for the children of the Jewish deportees that had been separated from their parents because the guards didn’t want to deal with the children. Betty worked caring for the children. She would sing, dance and do stunts to entertain the children and keep their mind off of what was happening to their parents. The children were aged infant to twelve years of age.
Suskin would alter the deportation records to exclude the children, Henriette Pimentel would convince the child’s parent to let them go and the group would smuggle the child and place them into a family in which “they looked like they belonged”. Betty was aware of all of this and supported the group as they rescued child after child.
It was shut down by the Nazi’s in September of 1943. Pimentel and one hundred children were sent east to concentration camps.
Betty survived the war, however her mother and grandmother had been deported and murdered in early 1943, her father had died in 1941 of a cerebral hemorrhage, her brother Gerrit had been arrested in France and killed, and her brother Nol was sent through Hollandsche where he was deported to Auschwitz and killed.
After the war Betty helped orphaned Jewish children in The Netherlands where she met and married Bram Goudsmit, with whom she had five children.
Betty never talked about her time in the resistance, until almost seventy years later for a book that was published in 2016 called “Betty: A Jewish Children’s Caretaker in the Resistance”.
It is hard to imagine someone at such a young age putting their life on the line for children that they didn’t even know. And not once or twice did she do it, but she did it for over six hundred children. When we think about teenagers today, we need to give them role models like Betty to show them what one young person can do for the better of all mankind.
I hope that you enjoyed learning about Betty and will go back and read the Johan van Hulst blog as well. Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy.