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Berlijn family papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 1065-053

Collection Overview

The collection consists of a photograph album, memoir, and other papers relating to the Berlijn family, including Nico Berlijn and his parents, Johanna Spielmann and Abraham "Bram" Berlijn, Dutch Jews who survived World War II in hiding in the Netherlands. Also includes a Star of David badge issued to Johanna Spielmann Berlijn.

Dates

  • circa 1942-2005

Creator

Language of Material

Materials in English and Dutch

Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

The nature of the College of Charleston's archival holdings means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. Special Collections claims only physical ownership of most archival materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

Biographical Note

Johanna Spielmann was born in October 1913 in Doetinchem, the Netherlands. She married Abraham "Bram" Berlijn on March 22, 1942. In September 1942 all Jewish men in the Netherlands were required to go to a labor camp in Ruinen, but Bram Berlijn had an exemption because he worked as a rag-and-bone man. He used his job as a cover to deliver food where it was needed.

In October 1942 the Berlijns were deported to Westerbork, a transit camp, where they removed their Star of David badges and managed to escape. They made their way back to Doetinchem, visited their parents, then left to go into hiding with a sympathetic farmer. They lived in several different locations, including a chicken house in the woods, and eventually Johanna's mother and stepfather joined them. In February 1944 Johanna's stepfather passed away from stress and old age, and the rest all lived in secrecy until April 1945, when German soldiers began to search the farm looking for deserters. Though the Germans asked about the chicken house, they did not search it, and everyone hidden there survived, including a second Jewish family, the Grunenbergs. The area was liberated by the Allies on May 5, 1945.

After liberation, Johanna and Bram Berlijn returned to Doetinchem to find their home bombed and looted. Bram's parents, sister, and brother, along with their families, had been killed by the Nazis. The Berlijns were determined to make a fresh start and secured a new home with some second-hand furniture, where they lived until 1952. Their daughter, Loes, was born in 1947; their son, Nico, was born in 1948. In December 1967 Nico left the Netherlands for Israel and helped start Ein Zivan Kibbutz in the Golan Heights. While there, he met and married his first wife, Laurie Ash, with whom he had two children, Hagar and Raviv. Nico immigrated to the United States in 1990 after marrying his second wife, Susan Addlestone, in Amsterdam. They settled in Charleston, South Carolina, with her two children.

Extent

1.25 linear feet (5 folders, 1 flat box)

Abstract

The collection consists of a photograph album, memoir, and other papers relating to the Berlijn family, including Nico Berlijn and his parents, Johanna Spielmann and Abraham "Bram" Berlijn, Dutch Jews who survived World War II in hiding in the Netherlands. Also includes a Star of David badge issued to Johanna Spielmann Berlijn.

Collection Arrangement

Materials are described at the folder level.

Acquisitions Information

Materials donated in 2005 and 2013 by Susan Addlestone Berlijn, wife of Nico Berlijn.

Processing Information

Processed by Rebecca McClure, September 2013.

Creator

Source

Title
Inventory of the Berlijn Family Papers, circa 1942-2005
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by: Rebecca McClure; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rebecca McClure
Date
2013
Description rules
DACS
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Special Collections
College of Charleston Libraries
66 George Street
Charleston South Carolina 29424
(843) 953-8016
(843) 953-6319 (Fax)