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Press Information published by the International Auschwitz Committee


Carry van Lakerveld, former Dutch vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee died.

Carry van Lakerveld, former Dutch vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee. Image: boomgeschiedenis.nl, IAC Berlin

Carry van Lakerveld, former Dutch vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee. Image: boomgeschiedenis.nl, IAC Berlin




Sadly and full of gratitude, the International Auschwitz Committee says goodbye to its former Dutch Vice-President Carry van Lakerveld, who has died in Amsterdam at the age of 83.

The IAC owes much to her creative incisiveness, her humanity and her constructive urging: Carry van Lakerveld, historian and long-time vice-director of the Historical Museum of the City of Amsterdam, was particularly concerned about the encounter between survivors of the Shoah and young people:

"Afterwards its just a part of you," an exhibition she developed and curated, brought together young people from all over Europe to talk about their impressions and experiences at the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial and their conversations with survivors of the camp. The exhibition -designed by Dutch bamboo artist Anton Versteegde- was presented between 2000 and 2005 with great success in the European Parliament in Brussels, in the Willy Brandt Haus in Berlin and in the United Nations building in New York, where it was opened by Secretary General Kofi Annan together with his wife Nane.

Carry van Lakerveld was closely connected to many Dutch survivors of the Shoah: This bond also gave rise to the impressive exhibition "Surviving in Life," dedicated to the artistic and literary work of Auschwitz survivor Ronnie Goldstein-von Cleef, which was shown at the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin in 2007. The exhibition catalog on Ronnie Goldstein-von Cleef presented by Carry van Lakerveld remains as an expression of her artistic and political commitments.

Together with Max Arian, Carry van Lakerveld represented the Dutch Auschwitz Committee in the International Auschwitz Committee for many years and developed the connections to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

Speech by Max Arian paying tribute to Carry van Lakerveld on 11 December in Amsterdam

Carry van Lakerveld 11 September 1938 - 7 December 2021

Perhaps our generation spoke too much about the future during their youth in the 1960s and 1970s. But in the 1980s the past caught up with us: Our own past, World War II. A petite elderly lady, Annetje Fels-Kupferschmidt, confronted us with this fact in a very friendly way. She gathered a number of people together, ones she liked, including Carry and myself. We would meet in different places: In the office of the mayor Ed. van Thijn, at my workplace in the editorial office of "De Groene Amsterdamer", and in the far more pleasant home surroundings of Bertje Leuw and Herbert Sarfatij.

Annetje was the highly esteemed and popular Chair of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, and she was one of the few, perhaps the only one to realize that these camp committees, which were founded by survivors straight after the war, were reaching a dead-end. The members, originally just former prisoners, were rapidly aging, and soon there would no longer be an Auschwitz Committee in the Netherlands. And that is why Annetje gathered a number of young people around her. "Young people", well, I think we must all have been around fifty years old at the time, but even so, we were still a whole generation younger than the committee members. Most of us were Jewish, but Carry was quite naturally one of the group. She said she felt like one of the family.

We modestly called ourselves "the support group" (De Steungroup), but we were decidedly militant and socially involved. This certainly applied to Carry, who together with Jeroen de Vries and others at the Amsterdam History Museum demonstrated that they could mount significant, politically interested exhibitions that were ahead of their time, for instance "Arm in de Gouden Eeuw" (Poor in the Dutch Golden Age), "Allemaal Amsterdammers" (They are all Amsterdammers) "De Februaristaking" (The February Strike) and "Nederland tegen Apartheid" (The Netherlands against Apartheid).

Apart from this, she and her husband Maurits Herben had founded an even more engaged gallery named De Tor (the beetle, or bug) in Czaar Peterstraat, where they presented exhibitions with innumerable artists on just as many themes. These included the controversial census of 1970, Sinti and Roma, De Groene Amsterdammer (the green Amsterdammer), Chile after the putsch, the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, the Spanish civil war ─ with many drawings by Opland and photographs by Pieter Boersma. The exhibitions were topical, militant, humorous and broadly accessible.

But at that point in time this was already becoming ‘the past of the future’. Most of Czaar Peterstraat was demolished, the gallery "De Tor" was closed, and Carry had moved to Wittenburg, another part of Amsterdam, together with Maurits, Richard and their daughter Mirjam.

With her great experience, Carry was of huge benefit to the Auschwitz Committee. And I felt this first-hand, because together we became the Dutch representation in the International Auschwitz Committee in one of the first tasks we had taken over from Annetje. We travelled throughout the whole of Europe together, in Carry‘s car of course. The only time that I actually drove, we got lost and almost arrived too late for a funeral.

But in Carry’s car we zoomed along from Berlin to Vienna, from Brussels to Auschwitz, from Rome to Frankfurt. It was fascinating, moving and inspiring, meeting these aging but very pleasant camp survivors. Carry was an impressive personality with her phenomenal command of languages. She became vice president of the International Auschwitz Committee, and she had many ideas, especially for exhibitions.

Carry was the right woman to renew the Dutch pavilion at the Auschwitz Memorial after the contents had become somewhat outdated and old. The new exhibition, produced together with the designer Victor Levie, was wonderful, but unfortunately she was unable to experience the final result herself. This pavilion also contained a wall with the names of the Dutch victims who were murdered in Auschwitz. Jacques Grishaver, the Chair of the Dutch Auschwitz Committee, recognised the emotional impact the wall of names was having on many people who, seeing the names at such close quarters, wanted not only to contemplate them, but also to photograph them and touch them. This gave him the idea for the new Dutch Holocaust Memorial of Names which was opened two months ago in Amsterdam’s Weesperstraat.

Bertje Leuw and I visited Carry in Muiden, in the care home where she now lived, to tell her all about it. She greeted us very warmly, but she hardly recognised us. She had become even thinner and more diminutive than she had always been, and she could hardly walk anymore. We were unable to tell her about the new Memorial of Names, let alone award her the recognition she deserved by acknowledging the contribution that her original idea had made. So now, I hope I have finally managed to make up for this, at least in some small way.

Max Arian


For further Information

Christoph Heubner

Executive Vice President
International Auschwitz Committee
Phone ++ 49 (0)30 26 39 26 81