Dutch hero Marion Pritchard-Van Binsbergen died at the age of 96 in Washington on December 11th, 2016.
Marion Pritchard, (née van Binsbergen; was a Dutch-American social worker and psychoanalyst, who distinguished herself as a savior of Jews in the Netherlands during the Second World War. Pritchard helped save approximately 150 Dutch Jews, most of them children, throughout the German occupation of the Netherlands.In addition to protecting these people’s lives, she was imprisoned by Nazis, worked in collaboration with the Dutch resistance, and shot and killed a Dutch Nazi.
Marion Pritchard grew up in the Netherlands, the daughter of liberal judge Jacob van Binsbergen, who was on the board of regents for the prisons of Amsterdam. Her parents encouraged her to express her feelings and to expect honest answers from them. She recalled going to school with Jews in every class and reported that they were “considered Dutch like everyone else”. At age 19, she enrolled in a school for social work in Amsterdam
When the war started in May 1940, she was studying social sciences at the University of Amsterdam.
During her social work studies, Pritchard (then van Binsbergen) was arrested while staying overnight during curfew with friends, who—unbeknownst to her—had been distributing transcripts of Allied radio broadcasts, and was imprisoned for seven months.
A year later, when the Germans began with the mass deportation of Jews, Marion intervened again. Along with 10 friends, she started a resistance that helped Jews find places to hide, getting them food stamps and false identities.
She then took on more dangerous activities when she was tasked with delivering a package to a home in the northern part of the country. Along the journey, she was given a baby girl by a stranger. Upon reaching her destination, she found out that the people she was supposed to deliver the package to had been arrested. She then took shelter with a man and his wife, originally not part of the operation, who agreed to take care of her and the baby
Marion also managed to hide Fred Polak and his three children for over three years in a home outside Amsterdam. When Germans raided the home with a Dutch police officer, she hid the Jewish family under the floor. The Dutch officer returned and found the family. Marion shot him to protect them and hid his body, with the help of a local mortician, by burying it in a coffin that already contained someone else.
After the war she joined the United Nations and helped refugees who were displaced from their home. Here she met her husband Anton Pritchard, a US Army officer. They moved to the United States, where she continued to work with refugees.
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