According to Yad Vashem, Karst Smit was responsible for bringing approximately 150 Jews from Amsterdam to the Dutch-Belgian border or Brussels. Only a few of the people are known. I would like to correspond with members of the families of any of these people. They are as follows:
- Citroen, C. – Later, under the pseudonym of John M.S. Lenck, he and Vigeveno wrote the book, Vlucht Over Vier Grenzen (Flight Across Four Borders), (1946?) about their experiences.
- Cohen, J. from Amsterdam.
- De Jong, David and his wife Ré De Jong-Koster of Amsterdam. Ré Koster was a well-known concert singer in the 1930s, having made her debut in 1927. She taught singing in Rome, Paris, and the US. She later wrote the book, The Commonsense of Singing (1990).
- De Leeuw, Mr. and Mrs. and three children from Deventer.
- Hoek, Dries – from Enschede
- Goudsmit, Alfred
- Keesing, Mr. and Mrs. and their three children. Mrs. Keesing and her children were guided across the border on Christmas Eve, 1942 but were later arrested in Brussels. (It appears certain that this was the family of Goedman Keesing, his wife Rebekka de Vos, and their three children, Roosje, Ingrid, and Kees, ages 8, 7, and 6, at the time of crossing the border. Mr. Goedman was a commercial advertising agent, auto mechanic, and cellist. The family had been living in Amsterdam. Previously, Mr. Keesing had escaped from the Westerbork transit camp but was later captured. The family died in Auschwitz. Mr. Keesing’s father died in Sobibor. See the comment below by Mr. Jack Keesing.)
- Krol, Mme. , Nassaukade 36, Rijswijk
- Mann, Gertrude. Karst Smit guided her across the border in late May 1943 and later brought her money and clothing supplied by one of her friends. Karst met Gertrude Mann through one of her friends, Marguerite Speyer (see below).
- Menko – A family from Enschede.
- Nieuwkerk, Hugo Benjamin – Frans van Mierisstraat 10, Amsterdam
- Nieuwkerk, Renee Carla
- Nijkerk, M.F.
- Olof, Theo – It appears almost certain that the famous violinist Theo Olof was among those helped. He was assisted by Alphonse Theissing who worked with the Smit-van der Heijden Line. For a video clip of Theo Olof performing, click here.
- Retel, Jacobus
- Speyer, Marguerite. She was a friend of Gertrude Mann. Karst Smit guided Speyer across the border in September 1943.
- Staal. Eugene van der Heijden listed a “Mr. Staal and his wife, a dentist from Dordrecht” as among the Jews they helped. It appears likely that they were Betsy Staal-Fresco, a dentist from Dordrecht and her husband, David Leonard Staal, a lawyer.
- Van Emden, first name unknown
- Vigeveno, M. – See Citroen.
- “An elderly tobacco dealer who had a tobacco shop with his younger wife and daughter in the Vijzelstraat near the Carlton Hotel in Amsterdam.”
Information on Cohen and Goudsmit appears in the book Over de Grens by F. Gerritsen and G.A. Gerritsen. The other names appear in a report written by Karst Smit in 1945 and correspondence by Karst Smit and Eugene van der Heijden with Yad Vashem. The reference to the tobacco dealer appeared in an article by Eugene van der Heijden, “Was Chance Their Compass, or Was it Love After All?” (“Was Toeval Hun Kompas, of Toch de Liefde?”) in the Escape Nieuwsbulletin, No. 87, December 1995.
For the text of the address by Sjef van der Heijden to Yad Vashem on his family’s help to people in need, click here.
Beginning july 1942, 8 or 9 july, my father, mother, little sister of 9 and I crossed the border to Belgium near Baerle-Hertog. Farmers accompaned us, they were tilling the ground with a rake and at the same time watching around if there were any German patrols. We arived safely in Belgium at about 8 pm. in a little village called “Weelde”. A car was waiting there to take us to Antwerp. Unfortunately, there was not enough room for all of us and one had to sleep in the farm. They asked my sister to stay but she wanted to stay with her parents, so I slept that night between the farmer and his wife. I was 16.
I maintain one of the most extensive Keesing databases in the world. It was passed down to me in 2006 from my now deceased mother with major contributions by Dr. Elizabeth Van Tricht Keesing, and historical research that I had done. We have “only” one family in our database that matches the description at present. The family may very had been Goedman Keesing, his wife Rebekka de Vos, their children Roosje, Ingrid, and Kees. If you would like the details I have, please reply back to me if I can be of help.
Dear Mr. Keesing,
Thank you for the results from the Keesing database. I have added some of what you provided me to the list above.
Bruce Bolinger, Webmaster
My grandparents and my mother and uncles lived in Deventer. After being bombed out of their house, they lived for a time with my Great Grandparents at Rijkmanstraat 13 which was then a bakery. During that time, my Grandfather Eling Visser was in the Dutch underground possibly also the Dutch Secret Service. Prior to and during WW2 he was helping people evade the Germans. As part of that, they hid Jewish people in the roof space of Rijkmanstraat 13. Very dangerous of course as the whole family would have been shot if caught. The building is still there and has been restored beautifully. I inherited a treasure from my Grandfather which is a beautiful carving given to him after the war by a Jewish man who carved it for him for saving his life. I wish I could find out the family name of that man but alas there is no information on that. I thought you might be interested in this little story.
Thank you for sharing this story. I wish I could be of help.