VHM Artifact Highlight: False IDs

July 10th, 2017–

As the government began isolating Jews in ghettos and camps, Jews in German-occupied territories could not escape Nazi persecution and eventual deportation, a reality that sent many Jews into hiding. The decision to go into hiding was incredibly dangerous not only for those hiding, but also for those who aided them. Jews in hiding often required extensive help from several people, and the fear and risk of discovery was constant for everyone involved.
Some Jews hid in plain sight, taking on false identities and attempting to pass as non-Jewish citizens. Other Jews were physically hidden, confining themselves to concealed spaces like attics and basements. To prevent discovery, those in hiding could not give any indication of their existence. They relied on those sheltering them to keep their location secret and to provide them with food and supplies.

The Scheniders were one of the many families who made the decision to go into hiding. Georg and Gisela Schneider had three daughters: Elizabeth, Gisela, and Doris. The family lived in the Netherlands where Georg worked in the import and export business, and Gisela worked as an archaeologist. In 1928 the family moved to Hamburg, Germany. But after Hitler rose to power in 1933, the Schneiders returned to the Netherlands, and settled in The Hague.

The family could not escape the reach of the Third Reich, however, and on May 10, 1940, the Nazis invaded the Netherlands. After the invasion, the Schneiders attempted to get out of the country. Georg applied for Canadian visas, but they did not arrive in time for the family to leave. In 1942, Elizabeth and her father received orders to report to a work camp. Without visas and unwilling to go to a work camp, the family decided to go into hiding.

The Schneiders were hidden by Jeanne Francisca Croes-van Delden, the sister of daughter Gisela’s piano teacher. They lived with Jeanne and her four children until liberation—after the family entered the home in July 1942, they did not leave until May 1945. The family inhabited two rooms upstairs in the Croes home, which also had a hidden compartment under the bathroom floor. They lived under strict rules to prevent discovery, staying away from all windows and not making any noise during the day. In addition to the Croes, the Schnieders were supported by Georg’s business associates, who provided the family with supplies and money.

Although the family remained in hiding, they also obtained false identities as an extra precaution. The family was able to get fake identity cards that gave them non-Jewish identities under the surname “Vos.” This artifact—Elizabeth’s fake identity card—shows Elizabeth under her alias, Cornelia Gresenida Vos.

After the war, the family moved back to their street in The Hague. Eventually, Elizabeth left the Netherlands and settled in Richmond. Elizabeth later nominated the Croes family for the Righteous Among Nations distinction, which honors those who sheltered and aided Jews during the Holocaust.

You can learn more about Elizabeth's family and view other artifacts in our collection online! Click here to view.