Johanna Van Schagen interview for the Faces of the Holocaust Series
MS-215: Emmanuel Ringelblum Collection
Johanna was a young Dutch housewife when the Germans invaded the Netherlands. The Dutch underground worked to find hiding places for Jews, and at different times during the war the Van Schagens took in four Jewish women. Once they narrowly escaped discovery by the Gestapo. Johanna is a self-effacing, gentle woman who tells a fascinating story of courage and danger. She has been designated by the State of Israel as one of the "Righteous among the Nations," an honor bestowed on non-Jews who saved Jewish lives during the Nazi era.
Johanna was born in Holland in 1915. She married Cornelis Van Schagen in 193 7 and gave birth to their first child, Johnny, in September of 1938. When the Netherlands was occupied in 1940, its Jews faced the same fate as those in Germany and other occupied countries. Because of Anna's conscience and through connections with the underground, the Van Schagens agreed to shelter Jewish refugees. The first, a woman named Susan, ultimately chose to leave in an attempt to join her husband in England. Though the Van Schagens successfully hid her and protected her even through a serious illness, they learned later that she did not survive. Immediately after Susan left, another woman named Meta arrived. It was during her time with the family that Johanna gave birth to her second child Nell. Meta later moved to another house to help out because the wife was ill. Meta survived the war.
Two more women, a niece and her aunt, came next. They were sheltered by the Van Schagens until the end of the war. They too, survived. In all, the Van Schagens sheltered four total strangers during the years of 1942 to 1944. Anna and Cornelis had three more children and emigrated to America, settling first in Dayton and then Vandalia. Anna owned and operated a day care center which still bears her name. Cornelis died in 1977. This interview was conducted circa 1985-1987 for the Faces of the Holocaust, a series created as a classroom resource and curriculum supplement.
Johanna Van Schagen
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