1 October 1943 – Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and Louis Boissevain

Janka Boissevain

Janka Boissevain

At a time when Europe was gripped by the irresistible rise of the Nazi machine, three young lads forfeited their lives on this day in 1943.

Janka Boissevain, Gideon Boissevain and cousin Louis Boissevain were three family members who were literally wiped out in one fell swoop for daring to resist Nazi control during World War II.

Far from right

Bizarrely some sources state that their parents had initially been seduced by the right-wing messages and had gone as far as to join the Dutch Fascist Party, which had been led by the likes of Anton Mussert, and that the couple had promptly quit the party after the full terrors of what that party’s politics entailed began to unfold…

But in actual fact, Janka and Gideon’s mum was the fabled Adrienne Minette Boissevain-van Lennep (aka Mies), who was a key insurgent within the resistance movement. She had always held strong opinions and had been an active member of the feminist movement earlier in life, but it was her whole family’s anti-Nazi work during the war that was to land them in hot water.

Dutch courage

After all, what was the family meant to do; sit back and watch while friends were swiped and annihilated just for being Jewish?

Naturally the family couldn’t stand idly by, and in a covert operation, the Boissevain brothers joined a group of Dutch resistance fighters, who’d do anything to subvert the Fascists’ activities during the Second World War.

Mies and her husband actually went on to harbour Jews in a bid to help them break for freedom from their oppressors.


But the Nazis were onto them and the brothers, cousin Louis and matriarch Mies herself were sharply apprehended for their resistance work in August 1942 in a Nazi haul that comprised 70 resistance members. Some were executed, others sent to concentration camps.

Indeed, her husband Jan was shipped off to various concentration camps and he ended his days in Buchenwald where he died. Mies, on the other hand, was carted off to other concentration camps where she was posted to work in hospitals. Luckily she lived through the dark years to see freedom.

However, her sons and her nephew met a more immediate and untimely end. Just two months after they’d been apprehended, the Nazis wiped the boys out: Janka aged 23, Gideon aged 22 and Louis aged 21, alongside 17 other members of the resistance were shot en masse.

Also on this day

1 October 1957 – Jacques Fesch
1 October 1912 – Sargent Philp

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