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Helen and Sol Krawitz Holocaust Memorial Education Center

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

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Mirjam grew up on her family’s farm in Loosdrecht. Her parents, secular Jews, had moved from Amsterdam in 1914, two years before she was born. The Watermans were pacifists. Mirjam attended a progressive school in Hilversum. Her brother and youngest sister attended the Kees Boeke School, a progressive school located in Bilthoven that taught pacifist and humanistic ideals.

Mirjam Waterman Pinkhof
Credit: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Encyclopedia, “Mirjam Waterman Pinkhof” www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/idcard.php?ModuleId=10006430

1933-39: In 1938 Mirjam began teaching at the Kees Boeke school. A group of German-Jewish refugees came to the school in 1939. Mirjam lived in an isolated place and had not heard much about Hitler or the anti-Jewish laws in Germany until the refugees came. There was a Jewish Youth Immigration home near her parents’ farm where about 60 German-Jewish youngsters lived; some had been Mirjam’s students. One of their leaders was Menachem Pinkhof.

1940-45: When Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Jewish children were expelled from secular schools. Mirjam opened a Jewish school in her parents’ home. In 1941 she learned about the German plan to deport Jews. She and Menachem could have hidden with Christian friends, but they decided that the Jewish youths had to be hidden as well. With the help of Joop Westerweel, the principal of the Kees Boeke school, and other Jewish and non-Jewish friends, they organized a resistance group. In 1944 Mirjam was arrested and deported to Bergen-Belsen.

Mirjam’s resistance group saved over 300 Jewish youths. About 70 were smuggled through Spain to Palestine. Mirjam survived and emigrated to Palestine in 1946.

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