Stumbling Stone Willem de Zwijgerstraat 25

This small, brass memorial plaque (stolperstein or stumbling stone) commemorates a teenager in hiding at this address:

* Sientje Martha Elzas, born 1928, arrested 11 January 1944, murdered 28 January 1944, Auschwitz.

Sientje Martha Elzas was a student, the daughter of a policeman and a homemaker. She grew up with her brothers in Amsterdam. In February of 1941, the family was living at Leimuidenstraat 11 II. In the spring of 1942, her brother Adoph lost his work as a pastry chef, then was sent to a labor camp in Friesland. In August 1942, he was deported via Westerbork to Auschwitz and murdered there the next month. Brother Alexander, a merchant, was taken to Mauthausen and murdered there in December 1942.

At the end of 1942, Jews in the Netherlands started going into hiding. By April 1943, Sientje was hiding at this Willem de Zwijgerstraat 25 address with a childless couple, Gerrit Jan van der Klip and Aaltje van der Klip-Vinke. A neighbor remembered talking with her occasionally. But in December she was betrayed – probably by a man who had been arrested and was given the choice of either becoming an informant or being sent to Amersfoort concentration camp. When the police arrived, Sientje was away from the house. Mrs. van der Klip denied she was sheltering a Jewish girl, but the policemen found girl’s clothing in the house. One took Mrs. van der Klip to the station while another waited for Sientje to return home. Sientje ended up in a cell in the station that night, while Mrs. van der Klip was allowed to return home. The next day, Sientje was sent to Westerbork.

While she was there, her father and mother were murdered in Sobibor on 21 May 1943. Whether Sientje knew about their fate is not known.

On 25 January 1944, Sientje herself was deported by train from Westerbork with more than 900 others in cattle cars. When they arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau, 259 people were selected for labor. Sientje Martha Elzas and the others were then murdered in the gas chamber. She was 15.

"Stolpersteine" is an art project for Europe by Gunter Demnig to commemorate victims of National Socialism (Nazism). Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) are small, 10x10cm brass plaques placed in the pavement in front of the last voluntary residence of (mostly Jewish) victims who were murdered by the Nazis. Each plaque is engraved with the victim’s name, date of birth, and place (mostly a concentration camp) and date of death. By doing this, Gunter Demnig gives an individual memorial to each victim. One stone, one name, one person. He cites the Talmud: "A human being is forgotten only when his or her name is forgotten."

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