Johan Benders

Johan Benders was born on July 1st., 1907. Coming from Dutch origins, he and his wife Gerritdina Letterboer lived in Amsterdam for most of their lives. Johan was a teacher at the Lyceum in Amsterdam. When the rallying of Jews began in Amsterdam, both Johan and Gerritdina were outraged. They saw how unfair this was, even though they were not Jewish themselves. Johan did not keep his objective feelings for this treatment silent. Johan encouraged older students to create false identification and ration cards in order to aid the Jewish people. The Benders then began sheltering Jews in their home in order to help them escape persecution.

On April 4th, 1943, Johan, his wife, and the rescued Jews living in their home, were betrayed by their neighbors to the Gestapo. Johan was sent to the Amstelveenseweg prison on suspicion of robbing the registrar’s office. The Gestapo found out about the creating of false papers and tried to obtain information from Johan about the estimated eighteen Jews he was assisting. After refusing to help the Gestapo, Johan was tortured, and still did not give up any information in attempts to keep others safe. He tried to kill himself two times and failed, until his third attempt, when he jumped from the third floor of the prison and fell to his death.

Johan Benders was not a selfish person; he decided to be a hero by sacrificing his own life instead of being a coward and giving up the lives of others. And there were many memorials to honor what he did. The day he died, his former students would whistle their school tune in memory of him. There is a street in Amstelveen, called the Benderslaan. And on March 27th, 1997 Yad Vashem recognized Johan and his wife “Righteous Among the Nations”.

Sources:

Wikipedia

Yad Vashem

Holocaust Memorial Center – Zekelman Family Campus