27 October 2006
A ceremony posthumously honoring Jan Schep from the Netherlands, as Righteous Among the Nations will take place at Yad Vashem on Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:30 p.m. The medal and certificate, which will be awarded by Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate Avner Shalev and former Supreme Court Justice Jacob, Chairman of the Commission of Designation of the Righteous Among the Nations, will be received on Jan’s behalf by his son Hank Schep. The ceremony will be conducted in English, and will take place in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. Survivors Zvia Caspi and Shulamit Navon will attend the ceremony.
Jan Schep was born in 1898 in the city of Lekkerkerk in the Netherlands, and worked from a young age in the department of population registration in the city of Zeist. In May 1940, the Germans occupied the Netherlands, and among the repressive measures taken by the Nazi regime, was the initiation of an identity card for all, with a J stamped in them for the Jews.
In 1943, the Germans ordered the issuance of new improved identity cards, in order to prevent falsifications. These had to include details such as address, profession, spouse’s name, religious affiliation, height and hair color, as well as the owner’s signature and fingerprint. An identical copy of this fingerprint was entered on the personal card in the municipal administration. Possession of such an identity card was the only way to ensure freedom of movement and acquisition of food stamps. The department of population registration was responsible for issuing the new cards.
As soon as the order was received, several clerks in the Zeist municipality conspired to set up a secret underground mechanism to issue forged identity cards for people in hiding in the city of Zeist, including Jews. The clerks involved also made sure to remove from the registry information liable to cause harm to the cardholders, such as persons being sought by the Nazis, thus concealing them from their pursuers.
Jan Schep was the head of this conspiracy, and personally authorized each and every forged card. His secretary, Mrs. Pool, witnessed a meeting that took place in her parents’ house, in which Schep gave out forged ID cards to several people, including a young Jewess by the name of Eva Denneboom, née Nathans.
Eva, in hiding, needed forged ID cards for herself and her 2 daughters- Hertha, today Zvia, and Selma, today Shulamit. Schep gave her the new cards with assumed names - Hertha became Willy, and Selma became Jannie, both of them with the new surname Van Remmerden and their fingerprints were added in the registry.
These forged cards gave them new “legal” identities, and contributed to save their lives.
On 15 August 1944, the Germans discovered this subversive forging operation. Jan Schep was arrested by the SD, interrogated and sent to the Amersfoort and Vught concentration camps on Dutch soil. In September 1944, he was sent to the Oranienburg camp in Germany. With the approach of the Allies, in April 1945, he was forced on a death march in the direction of the Bergen-Belsen camp.
According to a Red Cross document from 1950, Jan Schep died in Bergen-Belsen, between 4 April 1945 and 31 May 1945. In other words, he may have died while the camp was still under German hands, or after April 15, 1945, when the British liberated Bergen-Belsen.
After the war, numerous forged ID cards authorized with Schep’s signature came to light, and many documents were discovered, emphasizing his central role in this operation. There are also testimonies relating how Schep helped find hiding places for people on the run.
The event will take place on Sunday, October 29, 2006 at 12:30 in the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations, and is open to the Press.