The Murder of the Fisherman and his Wife
Johannes & Anna Syrier
In 1936 Jerry Goldschmidt and his parents fled from Germany and arrived in Holland as refugees. Four years later the Germans occupied the Netherlands and they were caught again by Nazi Germany. In summer 1942, the deportation of Jews to the extermination camps in the east began, and the family decided to go into hiding. Jerry's parents found a place for him in Utrecht, where they had been living; they themselves went into hiding with Johannes and Anna Syrier in Amsterdam. However it turned out that conditions at Jerry’s hiding place became impossible – his benefactors’ house was small with very thin walls, and the three Jews in hiding had to maintain complete silence so that the neighbours wouldn’t become suspicious. By Christmas 1942 he was brought to his parents’ hiding place. Thee Syriers’ daughter came to fetch him and brought him to her parents’ home, where he was re-united with his parents.
Johannes Syrier was a fisherman. He and his wife Anna were over fifty years old, but notwithstanding the difficulties, they welcomed the Goldschmidt family in their home and eventually took in another three Jews: Anna Pollack, Dr. Barend and Augusta Luza.
In addition to the great danger to themselves, the rescuers were challenged with feeding another six mouths at wartime, when food was in short supply and rationed. Jerry told Yad Vashem that at the beginning his parents still had some money and could contribute to their upkeep. However eventually all their money was gone. Nevertheless the Syrier family assured them that they would manage without it. All six Jews remained hidden in the Syrier home for two years. Jerry remembers them spending the evenings with their rescuers, talking or playing games.
In summer 1944, they were betrayed. The police came and arrested the Jews and their benefactors. The Syriers were sent to concentration camps, and the Jews were taken first to prison in Amsterdam, and then to Westerbork camp – the transit camp from which Jews from Holland were deported to the east. In the beginning of September 1944 the Goldschmidt family was deported to Theresienstadt, and the other three Jews that had been hiding with the Syriers were taken to Bergen-Belsen. Fortunately, they all survived the war.
The fate of their rescuers, however, was much more bitter, and they did not survive the war. Johannes Syrier died in the Stutthof camp, and his wife Anna in Ravensbrueck concentration camp for women.
On 3 May 2009 Yad Vashem recognized Johannes and Anna Syrier as Righteous Among the Nations.