Curator Discusses Artifacts Used to Forge Identities


Susan Snyder: These represent a collection
that is actually very interesting, unusual. They were given to me by a woman who was in
hiding in the Netherlands. And the family that she was in hiding with, the parents had
a brother who was in the resistance. He was caught. He was killed. And it was the goal
of the parents to take over from where their brother and brother-in-law had left off. The
couple, the Van Heels, actually never talked about this with the children they were hiding.
They were hiding two sisters, Elise Kann and Judith Kann. The entire time they were in
hiding the sisters did not know outwardly what was going on, although Elise does feel
that she probably had a good grasp. And one night she walked in and she saw Mr. Van Heel
actually in a room where he had out his forging documents. He was forging false papers for
Jews, for people who were in threat of being arrested by the Nazis. He said, “Never mention
what you see. Never ever.” After the war she had maintained a close relationship with
the Van Heels and she went back to visit them a number of times. She asked Mr. Van Heel
about, about the falsifying of the documents, and he said to her, “Well, I have a box full
of the documents and the material that I used to falsify. Would you like it?” And she said,
“Yes.” And he went, he pulled this little box with ink pads, fake stamps or stamps that
they had stolen, identification cards that were blank. This to me is just this amazing
story of not only the children but really the Van Heels who really took their lives
in their hands to do this.

One Reply to “Curator Discusses Artifacts Used to Forge Identities”

  1. The bravery and empathy of the Van Heels and people like them during the war is staggering. They reflect the highest level of compassion humanity can reach.

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