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Miep and Dot - the rescue of a Jewish girl in Holland

Warmond, Holland, a photograph of the girl Dot near a fish pool, 1942

Warmond, Holland, a photograph of the girl Dot with the woman who hid her (Miep Groenendijk) during the war, 1942

Warmond, Holland, a photograph of the girl Dot with the daughter of the woman who hid her during the war near a rabbit, 1942

Warmond, Holland, a photograph of the girl Dot (second from right) with friends, 1943

Recently, the Photo Archives received a unique and moving document from Ms. Judith Semga of Haifa.  It was the diary of Miep Groenendijk, a Dutch woman who hid Dot (family name unknown), a Jewish girl, during the war.

Miep wrote the first part of the diary in the war years, from 1941 onwards. She describes her everyday life, and Dot’s development. The second part is a kind of album, photographs being interspersed amongst the handwritten text.

The text was written after the war, but the photographs were taken while Dot was hiding in Miep’s home.

When the deportations to the East began in Holland in 1942, Dot’s parents searched for a refuge for her.  Through acquaintances, they contacted Ms. Groenendijk, who lived in the city of Warmond, and the four-year-old child was brought there to be hidden in her house.  During the second half of 1942 and through 1943, Dot led a normal life. In these photographs we see her playing with the neighbors’ children, wearing traditional festive clothes and having fun at the rabbit hutches.

The relative tranquility was shattered when an anonymous letter arrived on May 20, 1944. The letter said that Miep was known to be sheltering a Jewish child, and that she was being watched. It is unclear from Miep’s diary if the sender of the letter wished to help her or not. She felt that danger was imminent, and decided to leave her home immediately and look for a new hiding place for herself and the child. During the next few months until the end of the war, the two of them wandered the streets of Holland, hungry and in danger of being found out.

Miep describes their sojourn in Laren, where they lived opposite a schoolhouse, which had apparently been converted into a German army post.  Dot endeared herself to the German soldiers, who would call her “Der kleine Schwartze Kopf” (little black-haired one).

In July 1944, Dot contracted chicken-pox, and the problem arose of finding a doctor, and possibly having to reveal her identity. In the end, they found a doctor who agreed to treat Dot for free, and keep her Jewish identity a secret.

The photographs in the album highlight Miep’s desire to provide Dot with a safe haven, but also to give the little girl’s life a semblance of normality wherever possible. On looking at the photographs, one is frequently struck by the dual reality - on the one hand, the uncertain life of a child cut off from her family with no assured home or constant friends, and on the other, the little pleasures in life like a pony ride and a sixth birthday party.

Dot and Miep’s story has a happy ending - Miep succeeded in concealing Dot’s true identity until the end of the war, and thus saved her life. Dot’s parents also survived, and came to reclaim her after the war. The last photograph in the album was taken in 1952 and shows the families of Miep and Dot on a joint holiday.