AMSTERDAM (JTA) — 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 in the town of Hattem, 60 miles east of Amsterdam. It was concealed behind a divide inside the chimney.
The couple and their two children, Dietrich and Marta Clara, all perished in the Holocaust: Siegfried in the Mauthausen death camp in Austria and the rest in Auschwitz. According to the certificate, Siegfried was 29 and Bertha 22 when they married in a religious ceremony that was officiated by a rabbi.
Harmens said he did not know how the certificate ended up where it was discovered. De Groot 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 noted that 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,” Harmens said.
Earlier this year, the Dutch media reported on the finding of unique footage of a Jewish wedding in the province of Friesland, where nearly all the Jews were murdered. It was filmed in 1939, less than a year before the German army invaded the Netherlands. The couple in the footage, Mimi Dwinger and Barend Boers, survived the war.
And last year, a Dutch thrift store near Amsterdam returned a ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, to the relatives of the murdered Dutch couple — Louis Barzelay and Flora Snatager — who signed the document in 1942.