Westerweel Group

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The Westerweel Group (Dutch: Westerweel Groep) was a resistance group that operated during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.[1] Led by a Dutch Christian Joop Westerweel and Jewish German refugee Joachim Simon, the group was initiated in August 1942 and its first objective was to hide a Jewish youth group whose members were ordered deported to the Nazi Westerbork transit camp.[2]


Around 450 Jewish teenage boys and girls were living in the Netherlands as refugees from Austria and Germany. They planned on making aliyah to the Land of Israel and called themselves the "Palestine Pioneers" or Hechalutz.[3] The teenagers were split into groups throughout the Netherlands, including one in Amsterdam and one in Loosdrecht, a village in North Holland.[4] The group in Loosdrecht, which consisted of around 50 teenagers, worked on farms or with other agricultural related work in preparation for kibbutz-life in Palestine.[5]

The initiative to form the group arose in August 1942 when the Nazis began ordering the deportation of Jews in the Netherlands.[6] The Loosdrecht group, living together in an Aliyah center, chose to go into hiding instead of reporting for deportation.[7] The leaders of the youth group met with Joop Westerweel, a local Dutch Christian opposed to the Nazis, who agreed to undertake the mission of finding hiding places for the entire group.[8] They had to find and organize different addresses, forge identification cards and travel documents, raise money, and arrange ration cards.[9]

Westerweel Group then began assisting Palestine Pioneers members located in Amsterdam.[10]

The group then decided that it would be less dangerous for the escapees if they were smuggled outside of the Netherlands' borders.[11] This was because their housing, which was temporary, required that they move frequently from one place to another, thus increasing the chances of being betrayed by locals or caught by the civilian police.[12]

They first attempted to move twelve teenagers to the neutral Switzerland, but they were caught by the Nazis.[13] The group assumed they were betrayed by one of the people they asked for help, and they resolved to avoid using unknown outsiders.[14]

Their second escape route, planned by Joachim Simon, was through Belgium to France and then to Spain over the Pyrenees mountain range.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 97
  2. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 96-97
  3. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 89-90
  4. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 90
  5. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 90, 95
  6. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 98-99
  7. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 98-99
  8. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 97
  9. ^ Lindeman 2004, pp. 96-97, 99
  10. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 99
  11. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 100
  12. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 100
  13. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 100
  14. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 100
  15. ^ Lindeman 2004, p. 100


  • Land-Weber, Ellen Land-Weber (2000). To Save a Life: Stories of Holocaust Rescue. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-02515-0.
  • Lindeman, Yehudi (2004). Peter Hayes & Jeffry M. Diefendorf, ed. Lessons and Legacies: New Currents in Holocaust Research. Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-2001-3.