MARION PRITCHARDMarion Pritchard was born in Amsterdam, Holland in 1920. Her father was a judge who treated her with love, respect and caring. Her mother lived in Britain. Marion would visit her mother who resided there. Marion watched the German invasion on May 10, 1940, and as anti-Semitic laws were passed, she told her Jewish friends to escape or to hide. Her father was not Jewish; however, he was disappointed that the Dutch government did not do more to help Jewish refugees.
As Hitler rose to power she watched many children being thrown into trucks which encouraged her assist in the rescue effort. Marion remembered two soldiers joking about picking up small children by the arms, legs, and hair, and tossing them around. In 1942 she took in the Polak family and hid them in a tiny space under her living room. Her friends would give her milk and other healthy foods to feed the Jews. One night a Dutch police officer acting for the Nazi regime knocked on her door very early in the morning.
A neighbor had reported that she was hiding a Jewish family. She knew she would be sent to a concentration camp along with the Polak family if they were found. Marion believed that it was either the officer or the children, and so she shot the officer. Afterwards, a gay Jew ballet teacher took the dead body out of Marion’s house at night and took it in a cart to the undertaker.
The undertaker put the officer’s body in a coffin which was soon to be buried. Marion was lucky that the police officer was not missed. She hid over 150 people from the Nazis but some Jews were found and killed. The Nazi army murdered about 110,000 of the Netherlands’ 140,000 Jewish citizens.
After the war was over the Polaks came out of hiding. The mother who had been separated from the Polak family was reunited with them. Marion decided to work for the United Nations relief and Rehabilitation Administration’s Displaced Persons camps to find her Jewish friends. In one of the camps she met TonyPritchard, and they eventually married. They moved to a 125-acre farm in Vermont. She was featured in a book about rescuers in the Holocaust.
She also won the Wallenburg medal for saving Jews. However, to this day, Marion is still disturbed by her memories of the night she shot the police officer. She now lives in a farmhouse with her husband on 125 acres inside the woods of Vermont. She is sometimes still haunted by the night she shot the Nazi policeman.