Karel Van Dam lived in Amsterdam with his family. He worked as a sales representative for a printing factory. His son, Jacques, described his father as having “respect for all people.” He was also involved in the Dutch underground resistance that helped Jews during WWII.
When the Netherlands feared of a possible German invasion, Karel was unable to leave. It was difficult for those who were not wealthy to escape to another country. Karel got a job as a night guard of a hospital, and was temporarily exempt from deportation. In Feburary of 1943, German soldiers raided the hospital. The doctors were told they were free to go, so Karel found a white coat and was able to walk out of the hospital. Because he did not have permission to be outside that night, he had to hide until dawn.
To protect his family, Karel sent his two children away into hiding while he and his wife his as well. One day, he visited his son, Jacques, who was impressed that his father was fighting in the Resistance. “He had a very large pistol hanging and he brought me chocolate,” he recalls, “and it was something very special.”
Karel reunited with his family in July of 1945. His son, Jacques, volunteers with the Holocaust Museum of Southwest Florida to share his family’s story.