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February 28: He Saved Hundreds of Infants and Children

February 28, 2015

Walter Suskind & daughterWalter Suskind, a German Jew of Dutch parentage who managed to rescue hundreds of Dutch Jewish infants and children from Nazi clutches, died in Auschwitz on this date in 1945. For eighteen months, Suskind managed the Hollandsche Schouwburg (Dutch Theater), a run-down place where the Jews of Amsterdam had to present themselves for deportation. The theater was adjacent to a nursery and a teacher training college. In his position, Suskind was able to manipulate personal data and smuggle out children through those institutions, with the help of four separate groups of Resistance activists. Part of this work involved his fraternizing with Nazis, which led to the perception that Suskind was a collaborator. Only his comrades knew the truth about his courage. In 1944, Suskind and his wife and daughter were deported to the transit camp at Westerbork, en route to Auschwitz. Suskind had sufficient SS connections to return to Amsterdam, but declined the chance. The women were murdered in Auschwitz, and Suskind is thought to have died on a death march. To view a two-minute video about him, look below.

“[S]ome confusion as to how he met his death is unknown. One version is that he died on the death march from the camp in January 1945; another version is that he was killed by Dutch inmates of Auschwitz, who thought he was a collaborator.” —Holocaust Education and Archive Research Team