A Schoolteacher and Righteous Gentile
Stand for Israel | June 21, 2022
Born in Haarlem in the Netherlands, Caecilia Loots trained to be a Montessori teacher and ran a school for disabled children in Utrecht, where the children called her “Tante Ciel” or Aunt Ciel.
In 1942, a friend asked Caecilia to take in two small Jewish children who would otherwise be sent to their deaths by the invading Nazis. Caecilia agreed, and soon many more Jewish children arrived.
Caecilia sheltered the children, and also gave them as normal a home as was possible. They attended school, helped around the house, played, and took music lessons. Because non-Jewish Dutch children came and went from the school, the Jewish children’s remained secret.
A Nazi internment camp located near Caecilia’s home and school heightened the risks she faced. Nazis always lurked nearby. She constructed a hiding place in her attic, but only had to use it a few times.
Tante Ciel saved more than Jewish children. Many adult Jews hid in her home, as well, including escapees from the nearby camp. In addition to all the lives she saved, Caecilia also aided the Resistance Movement, distributing illegal newspapers, delivering messages, and holding covert meetings in her home.
For the many lives she saved, Caecilia Loots earned the title of Righteous Among the Nations, and visited Yad Vashem in the Holy City of Jerusalem in her later years, a true hero and friend of the Jewish people.