Carla Peperzak 1940
Carla Peperzak 1940

“I was 18, 19, 20. I was not married. I did not have any responsibility–only for myself–and that made a big difference...I felt I could help. I had the opportunity.” - Carla Peperzak

Carla Peperzak was born to a Jewish father and Catholic-born mother in Amsterdam in 1923. Carla was a typical youth of the time. She played field hockey, skated on Amsterdam’s canals, and went to parties. She also attended synagogue and Hebrew school where one of her fellow students was Margot Frank, older sister of Anne Frank. In 1940, the year Carla graduated from high school, Germany invaded the Netherlands. By 1941 the Nazis forced Dutch Jews to register with the state and they were issued identification papers marked with a “J.” Due to her mother’s Catholic upbringing, her father was able to have Carla’s papers changed to remove the mark. By 1942, Dutch Jews were being forced to wear the Star of David and her father’s business had been seized. 

That year, at the age of 18, Carla joined the Dutch resistance. She helped save her aunt, uncle, and two cousins, hiding them at a farmhouse in the Dutch countryside. Later, disguised as a German nurse, Carla rescued her young cousin from a train bound for Westerbork, a transit camp for Dutch Jews who were then sent to killing centers in Nazi-occupied Poland. Throughout the war she continued to secure hiding places for Jews, published an underground newspaper, and created fake identification papers and ration cards. While Carla and her immediate family survived the Holocaust, 18 members of her family did not. In the aftermath of the war she met her husband Paul, a Dutch Catholic. In the ensuing decades Carla lived and traveled across the world with her husband who worked for the United Nations. In 2004 she moved to Spokane and has been actively engaged in sharing her story as part of the Holocaust Center for Humanity's Speakers Bureau.

More About This Survivor:

North Idaho College Video (57:39, 2013)

Impacting Generations - Carla (3:49)

Dutch underground risked their own safety to protect others (The Fig Tree, 2013)

Freedom fighter: Spokane’s Carla Peperzak protected fellow Jews through Dutch Resistance (Spokesman-Review, 2015)

Carla Peperzak - Biography