Selma Meyer

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Selma Meyer
Sara Cato (Selma) Meyer 1890 1941.jpg
Sara Cato Meyer

6 July 1890
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died11 February 1941
  • Entrepreneur
  • feminist
  • pacifist

Sara Cato (Selma) Meyer (also Meijer) (Amsterdam, 6 July 1890 – Berlin, 11 February 1941) was a Dutch pacifist, feminist[1] and resistance fighter.

Early years and working life[edit]

She was born into a Jewish family in Amsterdam. Her father was Moritz Meyer (1865–1906); her mother, Sophie Meyer-Philips (1868–1955), was a cousin and a niece of the founders of the Philips lightbulb factory, later the Philips Company in Eindhoven. She started work at the age of 18 and for the first ten years was a shorthand typist. In 1923 she and Annette Monasch took over the Holland Typing Office (HTO),[2] a company that provided typing and copy services, as well as being one of the first employment agencies in the Netherlands, providing shorthand typists, and later selling typewriters.[3]

Social involvement[edit]

In 1923 Meyer became a member of the Pacifist Women's League; the Dutch section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom,[4] of which she became secretary. President at the time was Cornelia Ramondt-Hirschmann. In the 1930s, Meyer served on various committees, among which were ones for the assistance and relief of young German refugees and for victims of the Spanish Civil War. She participated in the Wuppertal Committee and helped support the resistance in Germany.

From 1930 to 1936 she was a member of the SDAP. She was one of the founders of the National Peace Centre (NVC) on 13 August 1936 and in January 1937 with CPN chairman Ko Beuzemaker and railway unionist Nathan Nathans, she attended an International Conference for Aid to Republican Spain, which was held in Paris. In 1937 she met Hans Ebeling, with whom she was to become a close friend. Selma Meyer and the HTO played an important part in the publication of Kameradschaft, a magazine by Ebeling and Theo Hespers, and helped both to create a safe haven. She also financially supported Kameradschaft and other publications by Ebeling and Hespers. In addition, she was in charge of the Holland Typing Office, which she also enlisted for her activism and which only employed women. The magazine Kameradschaft was printed at the HTO in Amsterdam. By the end of 1939 Selma Meyer was a key-person at the 'Sonderfahndungsliste' by the 'Abwehr Wilhelmshaven'. The people on the list were to be traced and questioned directly after the German invasion of the Netherlands.

In April 1940 Meyer became ill. By the time the German troops invaded the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, she had travelled to Zeeland to recover. From there she fled to France. Because of concerns for her mother and her employees at the HTO, she returned to Amsterdam and joined the Dutch resistance. On 26 October 1940 she was arrested. After interrogation in Amsterdam and The Hague, Meyer was transferred to Berlin in mid-November to be interrogated by the Gestapo in the prison of Berlin-Moabit. In January 1941 Meyer got peritonitis and was taken to the Jüdisches Krankenhaus der Gemeinde zu Berlin. There she died, aged 50, of complications that occurred after surgery. She was buried in an unmarked grave at the Jewish cemetery in Weißensee.


  • In January 2013, the book Van Vrouwen, Vrede en Verzet,[3] written by Bart de Cort, was published about Selma Meyer. (ISBN 9789079567034)
  • Els Kloek (October 2018). 1001 Vrouwen in de 20ste Eeuw, page 540-541. (ISBN 9789460043864)


Yella Rottländer's Grandfather is Selma's Brother Justus Meyer

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1957–, Cort, Bart de (2013). Van vrouwen, vrede en verzet : Selma Meyer (1890–1941) en haar Holland Typing Office. Amsterdam: Champlemy Pers Amsterdam. p. 28. ISBN 9789079567034. OCLC 828382318.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ djr (4 October 2018). "Digitaal Vrouwenlexicon van Nederland". (in Dutch). Retrieved 12 October 2018.
  3. ^ a b de Cort, Bart (2013). Van Vrouwen, Vrede en Verzet: Selma Meyer (1890–1941) en haar Holland Typing Office. Amsterdam: Champlemy Pers Amsterdam. ISBN 9789079567034. OCLC 828382318.
  4. ^ "WILPF | Women's International League for Peace and Freedom". Retrieved 12 October 2018.

External links[edit]