Johan van Hulst, a school director, professor, author and politician, saved more than 600 Jewish children from being sent to Nazi concentration camps.  


In 1942, van Hulst was the director of the Reformed Teacher Training College, a Protestant religious seminary in Amsterdam. Across the street from the college was the Hollandse Schouwberg, a former theater that the Nazis used as a deportation center to send Jews to concentration camps. Children were separated from their families and brought to a nursery next door to van Hulst’s college to await being sent to concentration camps. A German-Jewish man was appointed by the Nazis to run the deportation center. He collaborated with van Hulst to help the children escape through the college and be placed with families where they could blend in without being detected. Later they partnered with resistance groups that also helped smuggle the children to safety.


Van Hulst used various methods to hide the children and secretly remove them right in front of the Nazis. Van Hulst tried to save as many as he could, but there came a day when the Nazis collected the rest of the children and took them to a concentration camp. Later van Hulst described his experience: "Now try to imagine 80, 90, perhaps 70 or 100 children standing there, and you have to decide which children to take with you... That was the most difficult day of my life… You know for a fact that the children you leave behind are going to die. I took 12 with me. Later on I asked myself: ‘Why not 13?'


Van Hulst, a devoted Christian, led Christian organizations such as the Christian Historical Union (CHU), and as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Christian Democratic Group. Van Hulst was also a dedicated Christian teacher who trained other Protestant teachers. 

Johan van Hulst

Johan van Hulst

Johan Van Hulst, 1969 Image: Joost Evers/ Anefo, CC0

Johan van Hulst

Johan van Hulst

Portrait of Johan Van Hulst Image:SPAARNESTAD PHOTO/NA/Anefo/Fotograaf onbekend, CC by SA 3.0 nl