Remembering Holocaust Hero Marion Pritchard
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
We take time now to remember Marion van Binsbergen Pritchard who died this month at the age of 96. During the second world war in her native Holland, she helped more than 150 Jews evade the Nazis. Her son Ivor Pritchard told us how she became a rescuer.
IVOR PRITCHARD: She was riding her bicycle down the street and came upon a scene where the Germans were collecting Jewish children, just picking them up by the arm and the leg and the hair and throwing them into a truck. And there were two women who saw this. And they went up to the Germans and protested, whereupon they took the two women and put them in the truck, too, and drove off. And my mother witnessed this.
CHANG: From that moment forward, she committed herself to protecting Jews. She shuttled young children from one hiding place to another. Little ones couldn't be moved in the dark after curfew because they might cry out, so she transported them in broad daylight.
PRITCHARD: She would put a child on her bicycle and pedal down the street. And the German soldiers would see the young woman with her child and wave at her, and she would wave at them. And she would go right by to wherever she needed to go.
CHANG: For almost three years, Marion helped hide a Jewish man and his three children in a home outside Amsterdam. One day, several Germans and a local Dutch collaborator came to the door looking for Jews. They left without finding the hidden family. But then...
PRITCHARD: The Dutch collaborator came back by himself. And she had a revolver that had been given to her by the friend in the resistance. And she didn't know what else to do, so she shot him. So now she's got a Dutch collaborator dead on the floor. What's she going to do?
CHANG: Marion had a friend who found a delivery man to pick up the body and a mortician to dispose of it. This is the lesson that Marion Pritchard took from that story.
PRITCHARD: The world, at that time, did not neatly divide up into perpetrators, victims, bystanders and rescuers. The delivery man wasn't actively involved in the resistance. The mortician wasn't actively involved in the resistance. And yet, when asked, they cooperated.
CHANG: Ivor Pritchard says the mother he knew at home was not the larger-than-life wartime hero many see her as. For him, she was a...
PRITCHARD: Very nice but ordinary person - I knew her as someone who was not fearless. I remember, as a teenager, a small bat got into the house, and it scared the daylights out of her. She was like you and me. She just - when she found herself in extraordinary circumstances, she did the right thing.
CHANG: That was Ivor Pritchard remembering his mother Marion Pritchard.
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