Jacques grew up in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with his family. “I grew up like every normal Dutch kid grew up… I did not experience, as far as I remember, any anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.”
German forces occupied the Netherlands in 1940, and by 1942, Jews were being deported. The Nazis prohibited Jews from official occupations and restricted them from participating in public life. “Jews were not allowed anymore to ride the street car… go in certain restaurants, cafes… sit on certain benches… there was a sign on the door, Jews not allowed in… we do not want Jews in here.”
Jacques’ father was active in the Dutch Underground resistance and sent him to be hidden by Christian families. Mr. and Mrs. Bootsma were the third family he stayed with. They became his “wartime parents” who protected him and their own sons in hiding places. Yad Vashem recognizes the Bootsma family as “Righteous Among the Nations” for harboring a Jewish child. Other members of Jacques’ family also survived in hiding until their liberation in April, 1945.
Jacques met and married a survivor named Sabine. When they moved to Naples, they began to volunteer with the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida to share their stories.