The Dutch Woman Who Helped to Rescue Thousands of Jews during the Holocaust

November 16, 2023 | Cari Shane
About the author:

Although recognized for her efforts by Yad Vashem in 1966, Geertruida Wijsmuller (who died in 1978 at the age of eighty-two) has received little attention elsewhere for her extraordinary efforts to save German and Dutch Jewish children from the Nazis. Cari Shane writes:

Geertruida Wijsmuller-Meijer, also known as Truus Wijsmuller (pronounced WEISS-muller) . . . saved as many as 10,000 children, mainly through the Kindertransport from Nazi-occupied Europe to Great Britain and the lesser-known Dutch Kindertransport. The first known Kindertransport arrived in England from Berlin on December 2, [1938]. Wijsmuller was instrumental in organizing a second transport from Vienna, negotiating directly with Adolf Eichmann . . . to ensure the safe passage of 600 children.

Though she was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo, Wijsmuller continued helping members of the Jewish community throughout the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She brought food, much-needed medicine, and forged documents to individuals held in camps and prisons across German-controlled territories, and she helped East European Jews flee to Palestine via Marseilles, France.

Read more on Smithsonian: