Henriëtte Pimentel

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Henriëtte Pimentel

Henriëtte Henriquez Pimentel (17 April 1876 – 17 September 1943) was a Dutch teacher and trained nurse who during the Second World War headed a crèche in Amsterdam which cared for small children while their parents were otherwise occupied. Together with Walter Süskind and Johan van Hulst, from around October 1942 she helped to save the lives of hundreds of Jewish infants by smuggling them into the homes of sympathetic host families. After being arrested by the Nazis in April 1943, she died in the Auschwitz concentration camp the following September.[1][2]


Born in Amsterdam on 17 April 1876, Henriëtte Henriquez Pimentel was the youngest daughter of the diamond cutter Nathan Henriquez Pimentel (1837–1893) and Rachel Oppenheimer (1841–1929). Together with her seven siblings, she was brought up in a well-to-do Portuguese-Jewish family. After following a teachers training course, in the 1920s she worked as a governess and a kindergarten teacher in Bussum. As she had also trained as a nurse, in 1926 she was appointed director of the Vereeniging Zuigelingen-Inrichting en Kindertehuis (Crèche and Kindergarten Institute) in Amsterdam. Founded with support from a Jewish legacy, it was a large, well-fitted modern establishment on the Plantage Middenlaan which accommodated up to a hundred infants and toddlers who were cared for by a team of mainly Jewish staff.[2][3]

In 1941, as a result of the German occupation, Pimentel was forced to dismiss her non-Jewish colleagues. By autumn 1942, the crèche had become a hostel accommodating Jewish children whose parents were taken to the Hollandsche Schouwburg on the other side of the street. Once a theatre, it had been converted into a centre for Jews scheduled for deportation to the Westerbork transit camp.[2]

The children in the crèche were also to be sent to Westerbork. In collaboration with Walter Süskind at the Jewish Council and Johan van Hulst who ran the neighbouring teachers training college, Pimentel made arrangements for as many as possible to be smuggled out´to families willing to look after them, some as far away as Friesland or Limburg. For several months the scheme went undetected as the children's names were removed from the transport schedules. Some of them were temporarily housed in the teachers training college while others were cared for by student groups or other resistance cells. Some sources estimate that up to a thousand were saved in this way, others around 500, but the large majority continued to be deported.[4] The operation was code-named "N.V.", short for Naamloze Vennootschap meaning "limited company".[1][3]

The Germans arrived at the crèche on 23 July 1943, removing all the remaining children and all the staff. Pimentel was sent first to Westerbork, then to Auschwitz where she died around 17 September 1943.[2]


  1. ^ a b Paldiel, Mordecai (1993). The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust. KTAV Publishing House, Inc. pp. 116–. ISBN 978-0-88125-376-4.
  2. ^ a b c d Van Hintum, Marie-Cécile. "Pimentel, Henriëtte Henriquez (1876-1943)" (in Dutch). Huugens ING. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "henriëtte pimentel / wie één mens redt, redt een hele wereld (who saves one person saves a whole world)" (in Dutch). JoodsAmsterdam. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  4. ^ "'Nog 80 kinderen,wat moeten we doen?' (Another 80 children, what should we do)" (in Dutch). de Volkskrant. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 29 March 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

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