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'We Don't Do This Sort of Thing'

Alida Bosshardt (Photo: Yad Vashem)

Alida Bosshardt

Life: June 8, 1913 - June 25, 2007

Why you should know her: A Dutch Christian and member of the Salvation Army, Alida Bosshardt sheltered and cared for many Jewish children during the Holocaust.

Born into a Christian family in Utrecht, Netherlands, Alida Bosshardt showed herself to be independent and strong-willed from a young age. While still a teenager, she joined the Salvation Army.

Alida began caring for children from broken homes in Amsterdam's Jewish area. By 1941, four of the children Alida cared for were the Jewish Terhorst sisters - Hendrina, Helena, Dimphina, and Roosje. Around the same time, the Nazis had occupied the country. The Germans not only began to persecute Dutch Jews, but also outlawed the Salvation Army, seizing the group's property and funds. The house Alida ran, though, continued to house children, but as a private residence.

Many Jewish families began bringing their babies to Alida, sure that she could find hiding places for the children. Alida did so, even carrying the young ones around Amsterdam on her bicycle.

Soon, however, the Nazis closed down Alida's home. Taking as many children as she could with her, Alida found a new apartment and continued caring for her wards. During the move, she pulled the Nazi-required yellow Stars of David from the children's clothing, explaining, "We don't do this sort of thing."

After their new home was nearly destroyed by an errant bomb, Alida and the children moved. When such moves became more common, she found hiding places for the children.

Like so many during this dark chapter of history, Alida was betrayed and arrested by the Germans. But while she was being held at Gestapo headquarters, she escaped. Aware of the danger Alida faced, her superiors ordered that Alida, herself, go into hiding. She complied, but as soon as the immediate threat passed, Alida once again began rescuing and caring for Jewish children. She did so until the war's end, and kept in touch with the children she had saved for decades afterwards, well into her 90s. In 2004, Yad Vashem recognized Alida Bosshardt as Righteous Among the Nations.

Tags: Advocates and Allies

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