Marion Pritchard, rescuer of children during the Holocaust, dies at 96
We at USC Shoah Foundation are saddened to learn about the passing of Marion Pritchard, a Dutch woman of great courage who rescued many Jews during the Holocaust. She was 96.
Born Nov. 7, 1920, in Amsterdam, Pritchard was raised an Anglican but risked her life to save Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II. She was arrested for her efforts.
She gave her testimony to USC Shoah Foundation in 1998.
Pritchard was 19 when the Nazis invaded the Netherlands in 1940. Raised in a tolerant home, she brought relief to about 150 people – many of them children – bringing them food and other necessities. Only about a quarter of the Netherland’s Jews survived the war.
Pritchard put herself in great peril many times. And although she was an opponent of the death penalty, she did not hesitate to shoot a Dutch policeman who was about to discover a man and his three children she was protecting in a hidden room under the floor.
“I am opposed to killing in general, but when it was a choice between the kids and him, I chose him,” she said in her interview. “I didn’t wait to see what he was going to do or say. If he had gone into the other room, he would have seen the kids. My instinct was if I didn’t get him, those kids would be doomed.”
She also spent seven months in Nazi detention when she was discovered translating Allied broadcasts.
She credited her parents for teaching her tolerance and respect for others. In 1981, Yad Vashem recognized her as a Righteous Among the Nations for her efforts.
“Surrounded by unimaginable violence, Marion Pritchard put aside concerns for her own safety and helped those who needed it,” said USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith. “There are far too few people like her in the world, but her memory will live on and inspire others.”
After the war, Pritchard settled in Vermont, where she continued to serve others, this time helping refugee families.
Pritchard’s entire testimony is available to view at vhaonline.usc.edu. Registration is required, but access is free.
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