Dutch historians find hidden marriage document of Shoah victims

Marriage certificate of couple who perished in Holocaust found inside chimney in Dutch town.


Jewish wedding (illustration)
Jewish wedding (illustration)

Historians in the Netherlands are searching for relatives of a couple murdered in the Holocaust, whose marriage certificate was found concealed inside a chimney.

Paul Harmens, a curator for the Overijssel Historical Center, told the Algemeen Dagblad daily last week that his institution has been searching for relatives of Siegfried de Groot and Bertha Lippers for weeks following the discovery earlier this year.

Their marriage certificate, issued in 1931 in Germany, was found at a private home during renovations the town of Hattem 60 miles east of Amsterdam. It was concealed behind a divide inside the home’s chimney.

The couple and their two children, Dietrich and Marta Clara, all perished in the Holocaust: Siegfreid in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria and the rest in Auschwitz. He was 29 when he married 22-year-old Bertha in 1931, in what the official paper said was a religious ceremony where a rabbi officiated.

Harmens said he did not know how the certificate ended up where it was discovered. De Groot, the groom, was born in Zwolle, a Dutch city bordering the suburb of Hattem.

“We don’t know whether they hid in that house, and there are many open questions,” Harmens said. He added such discoveries are rare. “A marriage certificate from Germany, of a Jewish couple who wed before a rabbi – you don’t find things like that very often.”

Earlier this year, Dutch media reported about the finding of unique footage of a Jewish wedding in the province of Friesland, where nearly all Jews were murdered. It was filmed in 1939, less than a year before the German army invaded the Netherlands. The couple whose wedding was filmed, Mimi Dwinger and Barend Boers, survived the war.

And last year, a Dutch thrift store near Amsterdam returned a ketubah, a religious Jewish marriage contract, to the relatives of the murdered Dutch couple — Louis Barzelay and Flora Snatager — who singed the document from 1942.