Forgotten History-Major Bosshardt

Yes this is a story which took place during WWII and yes it does concern a Major, however she was a Major in a different kind of Army.

You see Alida Margaretha Bosshardt was a Major in the Salvation Army(Dutch-Leger Des Heils)

Alida Margaretha Bosshardt (8 June 1913 – 25 June 2007), better known as Major Bosshardt, was a well known officer in The Salvation Army, and more or less the public face of this Christian organization in the Netherlands.

Born in Utrecht, Bosshardt became a member of the Salvation Army after visiting one of their meetings when she was 18. Before that, she was not religious. Her father was a converted Roman Catholic, her mother was Dutch Reformed. From 1934 she worked in a children’s home in Amsterdam. During the German occupation in the Second World War, Bosshardt took care of the mostly Jewish children who had been brought by their parents to the home.

Alida Bosshardt was born into a Protestant middle class family in Utrecht. Already at a young age she showed independence and a strong will. During her teenage years, Alida came into contact with the Salvation Army, and decided to enter the Service. In 1932, barely 19 years old, she took the oath, “that with God’s help, I will be a true and faithful soldier of the Salvation Army.” She then studied at its Academy in order to become an officer, a rank she attained in 1934.

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As a beginning recruit in the Army, Alida started to work at the Zonnehoek, a home for children from broken homes that was located in the Jewish area of eastern Amsterdam.

Among her wards were the Jewish Terhorst sisters, Hendrina, b.1927, Helena, b.1934, and Dimphina, b.1938. In 1941, a new-born baby sister Roosje, was accepted into the home. That same year, on the orders of the German occupying authorities, the Salvation Army was outlawed, and its buildings and money were confiscated. The Zonnehoek continued to function for some time as a private home. In the summer of 1942, with the onset of the deportations of the Jews to “work in the East”, many desperate Jewish parents brought their infants to Alida, begging her to find hiding addresses for them. In a large number of cases she was able to do so, sometimes bringing them herself to the eastern parts of the country by bicycle.

Some of the Jewish children she kept in the home, among whom were Klaartje Lindeman, Floortje and Doortje de Slechter and two Samson children. When the Germans billeted the home, Alida took as many children as she could to a newly rented apartment in the northern part of Amsterdam. She insisted that the four Terhorst sisters as well as a number of other Jewish children stay under her care. During the move, she removed the yellow stars from the clothes of the older children, saying, “we don’t do this sort of thing”.

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After a bomb fell next to their new home, Alida again needed to move, making sure the Jewish children were included in the group. This scenario repeated itself a number of times, until Alida had to split up the children and was able to find homes for some of the Gentile children and hiding addresses for her various Jewish wards. In order to be able to buy food and other necessities, Alida went out to collect money. She was betrayed, and arrested by the German regular police, for collecting for the banned Salvation Army. Even though she was held at Police headquarters, she managed to escape, and went into hiding herself on the orders of her Army superiors. When it was considered that the immediate danger had passed, Alida resumed her resistance and rescuing activities. In the Hungerwinter of 1944-1945, she regularly went on food-treks to the eastern rural parts of the country, to find food needed in the various children’s homes in the west. After the war, the Jewish children all went back to their families.

Alida Bosshardt, in her nineties, stayed active with the Salvation Army as Majoor Bosshardt and kept in touch with her earlier wartime wards.
On January 25, 2004, Yad Vashem recognized Alida Margaretha Bosshardt as Righteous Among the Nations

The Major Bosshardt Prize, named after Bosshardt, was established in 2006. It consists of a certificate and a miniature bronze statue of Bosshardt and is intended for persons who have been of singular merit for society.

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Major Bosshardt has also a bridge called after her and in Terneuzen in the Province of Zeeland  a Bronze bust has been erected in her memory

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