The number 12 is significant in religious, mythological and magical symbolism, generally representing perfection, entirety, or cosmic order in traditions since antiquity. It is also the number of full lunations in a solar year, thus the number of months in a solar calendar, as well as the number of signs in the Western and the Chinese zodiac.
It is also significant in both Judaism and Christianity. The significance is especially pronounced in the Tanakh. Ishmael, the first-born son of Abraham, has 12 sons/princes (Genesis 25:16), and Jacob also has 12 sons, who are the progenitors of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. This is reflected in the Christian tradition, notably in the twelve Apostles. When Judas Iscariot is disgraced, a meeting is held (Acts) to add Saint Matthias to complete the number twelve once more. The Book of Revelation contains much numerical symbolism, and many of the numbers mentioned have 12 as a divisor. 12:1 mentions a woman—interpreted as the people of Israel, the Church and the Virgin Mary—wearing a crown of twelve stars (representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel). Furthermore, there are 12,000 people sealed from each of the twelve tribes of Israel (the Tribe of Dan is omitted while Manasseh is mentioned), making a total of 144,000 (which is the square of 12 multiplied by a thousand).
According to the New Testament, Jesus had twelve Apostles. The “Twelve Days of Christmas” count the interval between Christmas and Epiphany.
There are 12 units on a clock. Twelve was also the number of years that Keetje van Zanten lived. She was born in Rotterdam on 16 May 1930. Twelve years after she was born on 16 May 1942, the Sobibór extermination camp became operational.
Keetje’s Mother was Esther van Zanten-Bekkers born in Rotterdam on 10 December 1898, murdered at Sobibor, 11 June 1943. Her father was Marcus van Zanten born in Rotterdam on 7 February 1899 and murdered in Auschwitz on 28 February 1943.
Keetje also had 2 older brothers, Aron van Zanten born on 17 Augusts 1923 and Benjamin van Zanten on 24 February 1927. Both were murdered in the aforementioned, Sobibor Camp on 9 July 1943.
In her 12 years, she witnessed the invasion of the Netherlands on 10 May 1940.
She also witnessed societal changes. On 7 January 1941, the Dutch Cinema Association decided that Jews would no longer be allowed access to cinemas. On 12 January 1941, this measure was published in the newspapers.
From 1 September 1941, Jewish children had to go to separate schools and were no longer allowed in public schools. In Amsterdam, this became law on 1 October 1941.
The Compulsory Star of David was introduced on 3 May 1942 and required to be worn by all Jews over the age of six. It had to be visibly at chest height. The star was distributed by the Jewish Council and cost 4 cents each.
In July 1940, the freedom of Jews in the Netherlands was curtailed by the introduction of anti-Jewish measures, the first of which was the ban on working for the air defence service. From 1942, the measures followed each other in rapid succession, with the most visible on 3 May 1942: the introduction of the Star of David.
About 104,000 Jews from the Netherlands were murdered during the Holocaust. Keetje was one of them. She was murdered in Auschwitz on 28 January 1943. She had reached 12 years of age.
A 12-year-old girl was murdered only because she was Jewish.