"Don't Forget Me" - Children's Personal Albums From the Holocaust

How Erika's Personal Album Was Found

Jaap Spruyt, grandson of Maria Stolker, Corrie's sister-in-law who has been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, gave Yad Vashem two albums containing dedications to Erika written by friends and family members between the years 1938-1942.

In 2007, Maria Sofia Martina Spruyt and her family visited Yad Vashem.  Martina was the daughter of Sander and Maria Stolker, Righteous Among the Nations.  While inside the Children's Memorial, the monument commemorating the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust, they heard the name Erika Hoffmann being intoned in the background.  Incredibly moved, Martina told her family that she had known Erika, the Jewish girl who had been hidden in the home of her aunt, Corrie Stolker, and recalled Erika's albums, that had been left with Corrie, sent to Martina's parents, and reached her. On their return to Holland, they looked for the albums, but to no avail.  After Martina's death, her son Jaap found the albums amongst her belongings, and donated them to Yad Vashem "in the hope that at Yad Vashem, members of Erika's family will be located", as Jaap put it.

The first dedication in the album was written by Erika's teacher, Isabelle Wels Colloredo on 2 July 1938 in Purgstall, Austria.  The last dedication to Erika was written by her friend Ingrid Lesser on 1 July 1942 in Zeist, Holland.

Erika Hoffmann

Erika Hoffmann was born in Vienna in 1931.  Her parents, Kurt and Margit, were born in Purgstall, Austria.

In early 1939 the Hoffmanns left Austria with Margit's parents, Dr. Baruch and Mathilde Kohn and her unmarried sister Elizabeth, after obtaining entrance permits to Argentina.  En route, they stopped in Paris, where Kurt fell ill and was hospitalized.  The rest of the family continued on to Holland, where they waited for Kurt to recover and join them. They lived in Rotterdam, but in October 1940, several months after the Nazi occupation of Holland, they moved to the village of Doorn, together with dozens of Jewish refugees, and took up residence in a retirement home there.  The manageress took pity on the persecuted refugees and tried to alleviate their situation.  Dr. Kohn became friends with one of the residents at the home, Gerard Wisse, a Protestant priest.  In the memoir he wrote after the war, Wisse relates that Kohn continued to lead a religious life in Doorn, and that they would sometimes pray and read psalms together.  Erika, recalls Wisse, was very attached to his wife, and used to come to them early in the morning, still dressed in her nightgown, to listen to his wife's stories.  Wisse and his wife left, and when they returned to Doorn in early 1943, Erika and her family were no longer there.

It would seem that in the second half of 1942, Erika lived in hiding in Cornelia Stolker's home in Doorn, eventually returning to her family.

In April 1943, Erika, her mother, grandparents and aunt were caught and sent to the Westerbork camp.  On 4 May 1943 they were deported from Westerbork to the Sobibor death camp and murdered on arrival.  Erika's father, Kurt Hoffmann was not deported with them.  His fate is unknown.