Paying the Ultimate Price
Petrus (Pieter) and Adriane Kleibroek and their daughter Nelie
Pieter Kleibroek, a simple farmer from Warmenhuizen in the Netherlands, paid with his life for the decision to hide Abraham and Juliette Drukker and their 13-year-old daughter Marjan. Before the German occupation, Pieter’s daughter, Nelie, worked as a maid for the Drukker family. Once the persecution of the Jews began, Nelie remained in touch with her former employers and tried to help them as best she could. With the onset of the deportations of the Dutch Jews to the camps in the east, the Drukkers decided to go into hiding. After taking refuge for several months in Amsterdam, the situation became untenable, and they managed to contact their former maid, pleading with her to help them find a better sanctuary. Nelie Kleibroek turned to her parents, Adriana and Pieter Kleibroek, both in their sixties, and asked them to take the family in. Her parents' response was simple:
"If they want to come here, let them do so."
The farm was very small, with "four cows, a one-year-old calf, two goats and a cat. It consisted of a cowshed, a living room and a small room," Drukker described in his diary. Living conditions on the Kleibroek farm were also very basic, and the family income meager. However, despite the conditions and their different backgrounds, the two families got along very well. Nevertheless, the fear of detection and denunciation was consistently present.
Towards the beginning of 1944, it became clear to the German authorities that many Jews were in hiding in the area. On 17 May, some 700 German forces, assisted by notorious Dutch "Jew bounty hunters," raided the region, including the Kleibroek farm. The Drukkers were hiding in the haystack, but were detected. All three were arrested, along with Pieter Kleibroek. Abraham, Juliette and Marjan were sent to the Westerbork transit camp, from where they were deported to Theresienstadt. They were then taken to Auschwitz, where they were murdered in October 1944.
Pieter Kleibroek was taken to the Vught concentration camp, was and then transferred to the Sachsenhausen camp in Germany. On 21 April 1945, shortly before the end of the war, he was shot to death on a death march from Sachsenhausen to Luebeck. Adrianus Bruin, a fellow inmate, described how Kleibroek had stopped walking during the march due to extreme exhaustion:
"After he stopped and lay down at the side of the road, I saw that one of the guards approached him, charged his revolver and killed him with a shot in his neck."
Eyewitness death march
The undersigned, Bruin, Adrianus, born 17.5.1915 in Noord-Scharwoude, a market gardener by profession and living Noord-Scharwoude B 91, declares the following:
During the march from the Oranienburg camp (Germany) to Luebeck, which took place on 21 April 1945, I saw the following when I could no longer walk and stopped:
Kleibroek, Petrus, about 59 years old, a cattle farmer by profession, living in Warmenhuizen, well known to me personally so that a mistake in identity of this person should be excluded...
After he stopped and lay down at the side of the road, I saw that one of the guards approached him, charged his revolver and killed him with a shot in his neck.
What happened after that is unknown to me, since the march resumed again.
From the diary of Abraham Drukker:
We arrived in Warmenhuizen with the tram. We followed our friend under cover of total darkness. When we were half way down the dike, new people came towards us. We said goodbye to our friend and followed our new contact [Kleibroek] along the dike, then to the right through a pasture, until we finally reached the small farm.
They immediately gave us to food eat – much and good. We ate with great appetites after such an emotional journey, but also because we were no longer used to eating good food. We savored the sandwiches with fabulous ham, and our daughter [Marjan] in particular ate a lot. Then, very tired, we were taken to our sleeping quarters. We [the Drukker parents] slept in the attic in the hay, and our daughter went to sleep in the same bed as the daughter of the house (who had previously been our maid).
The next morning we scouted the place out. The little farm had four cows, a one-year-old calf, two goats and a cat. It consisted of a cowshed, a living room and a small room. From the living room we could go directly into the small room – the room we could stay in or where we had to go when friends came to visit. The farm could not be reached from the main road, only through the pasture or via ditches. Here we could at least move around – this was more than we had in our earlier [hiding] place – even though none of the three of us went outside. From the living room we could see the dike, and one of us had to be on watch to make sure no one came.
I was also allowed to do things, such as keeping the cowshed clean, which was quite an attraction for me. My daughter was allowed to take care of the goats, and my wife helped the woman of the house with her chores. Our host turned out to be a clandestine milk supplier for the underground, and so from time to time our friend came to pick up milk from him. It was always nice to see him…
Our life here on the farm was so much better than earlier in Amsterdam – with air! – even though we could not go outside – and a view. Moreover, we were not always nervous about each sound and we were resigned to our fate, which was bearable.
On November 8, 2011, Yad Vashem recognized Pieter Kleibroek and Adriane Kleibroek-Nannes as well as their daughter Nelie Hetem-Kleibroek as Righteous Among the Nations.