The Ladies Jolink
The sisters Minnie and Gerrie Jolink from Varsseveld provided many hiding places in Varsseveld and the surrounding area during WW II. Hundreds of Jewish people were in hiding at around 125 locations in Varsseveld and the neighborhoods of Binnenheurne, Sinderen, Westendorp and Heelweg, including around 80 Jewish children and young people.
It is remarkable that the Jewish community living in the village survived the war in its entirety. That was possible because they were all able to hide in the immediate vicinity. However, the sisters themselves were betrayed and eventually died of the hardships in Ravensbrück concentration camp.
To date, hardly any research has been done on the subject and only little is written about it. As a ‘story catcher’ at the Nationaal Onderduikmuseum in Aalten, John Breukelaar has been researching Jewish people in hiding in his hometown of Varsseveld during WW II for years. This year the activities and meaning of the Ladies Jolink are highlighted and with that the Jewish people in hiding and their host families are given a name and a face through a book, exhibition and lecture.
Varsseveld and the Jewish people in hiding
In addition to their own Jewish community, there was a group of Jews in hiding who had already crossed the nearby German-Dutch border before the war, on the run from the Nazi regime, and had settled in surrounding places in the Achterhoek.
Another group of Jews was no longer safe in the cities where they lived, such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Amersfoort, Zwolle, Enschede, Zutphen, from where they had fled because of raids. From the neighboring municipalities of Halle/Zelhem, Doetinchem, Terborg, Gendringen, Dinxperlo, Winterswijk and Aalten, many Jewish residents went into hiding in Varsseveld. The village thus became a refuge for Jewish refugees.