Marion Pritchard was studying to become a social worker when Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. At the beginning of 1942, the Germans started concentrating Jews in Amsterdam, and many were forced to relocate from the countryside. The growing Jewish population was then confined to certain areas of the city. July of that year marked the beginning of mass deportations to the killing centers in occupied Poland, mainly to Auschwitz. One day Marion Pritchard witnessed Germans throwing young Jewish children onto a truck for deportation. It was a shocking sight, and Marion was overwhelmed with rage. The twenty-two-year-old student decided then that she would do whatever she could to rescue Jewish children. On Sunday morning, November 5, 2017, 9 AM, Congregation Or Shalom, 205 Old Grassy Hill Road, Orange will celebrate the life-saving, selfless deeds of Marion Pritchard at the 11th Annual Kristallnacht Commemoration.
Marion Pritchard protected the lives of 150 Dutch Jews during World War II, mostly children, using whatever means were at hand. “By 1945 I had lied, stolen, cheated, deceived, and even killed,” she said. Although imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis for her resistance work, Marion luckily survived. In addition to participating in scores of short-term rescue operations, she sheltered an entire family – including a new born infant – Erica Polak—for three years. In the course of that undertaking, a Dutch Nazi collaborator discovered Marion’s hidden family and was on the verge of informing on them to the Nazi authorities. In that moment, Marion did something that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Throughout her life Marion Pritchard continued to be a formidable advocate for children, first as a social worker and then as a practicing psychoanalyst. Israel made Marion Pritchard an honorary citizen in 1991. At Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust, she is among those designated as Righteous Gentiles.
Guest Speakers will include Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Marion’s son Arnie Pritchard, Professor Deborah Dwork of Clark University and “baby” Erica Polak (pictured on Marion’s knee) and Aviva Slesin, an Academy Award documentarian.
All are welcome. Free and open to the public. This program is made possible by a generous donation from the Men’s Club Yellow Candle Fund. Please join us for this exciting community event!
Marion Pritchard & “baby” Erica Polak