Stories of Courage

Stories of Courage

Jan Karel Wijnbergen - Amsterdam

Photo Credit: Sonia Folkmann

I was fourteen when I was approached and asked to join the resistance, helping find shelter for Jewish children. They asked me whether I would be interested in and capable of going into the country. I would pick up Jewish children in and outside of Amsterdam and would go with these children by train to certain places of which I had notes and addresses, which I had to remember carefully, because I wasn’t allowed to carry anything on me in a written form.

They told me to wear shorts because we were supposed to be children. We wore a piece of string and a sign that said, “evacuation service,” that way we got by the Nazis in the train station.

Well, I got onto the train with the children. Once in Groningen, I was to walk into the main hall, and chat to the children for a bit. Then someone will approach me who will ask, “Do you have some fire?” Then your answer will be – you’ll have a matchbox with three matches in your pocket – “You want some fire? Here it is.” You give him the matchbox and you immediately add, “Oh, there are only three left. You can keep it.” That man knew exactly what I would say. I handed over the children, gave them a hand, a kiss, a peck, and he took the three children with him. To this day, I don’t know what happened to the children.