News Release September 2023


September 2023


All author Patrick Wolfe knew was that Johnny Heijmans, the son of “Dr. Heijmans of Haarlem,” was in hiding with the family of Barend van Leeuwen of Hilversum in late 1942 and early 1943, during the period when the Nazis rounded-up many of the Jews in the Netherlands. What happened to Johnny? Did he survive the war? When Wolfe decided to do an internet search for “John Heijmans,” he did not expect to find much. But an article by “John Heymans” about his uncle, “The final story about Hugo Heijmans,” quickly came up. It turned out that John Heymans is the same Johnny Heijmans who, as a five- and six-year-old, was hidden by Van Leeuwen and his family. Heymans told Wolfe the remarkable story of how all four members of his family survived the war, despite lengthy stays at two concentration camps (Westerbork in the northeast of the Netherlands and Theresienstadt in former Czechoslovakia), until they were liberated by the Russian army.

For detailed BACKGROUNDER:  “Long-standing mystery of young boy’s Holocaust story has surprising outcome” 

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