AMSTEDAM (JTA) — Henk van Gelderen, a Dutch-Jewish resistance fighter whose textile factory was used to produce yellow stars for the Nazis, died at 98.
The De Stentor newspaper reported Tuesday about van Gelderen’s death.
Van Gelderen’s factory in the eastern city of Enschede, NV Stoomweverij Nijverheid, was confiscated by the German occupation forces soon after they invaded the Netherlands in 1940 and was used to produce 569,355 of the stars that Nazis forced Jews to wear.
Van Gelderen himself went into hiding in Amsterdam, assumed a false identity and teamed up with a resistance cell that was well-known for its high-quality forgeries of identity and travel documents for those wanted by the Nazis.
His older brother, Matthieu, who was also in the resistance, was arrested and murdered shortly before the Netherlands was liberated by Allied forces.
In March, Van Gelderen was named honorary mayor of Enschede.
Henk van Gelderen (98)
ereburger Enschede https://t.co/YxW4o5tVvC
— Tubantia Enschede (@TCTEnschede) March 17, 2020
In an interview, Van Gelderen was asked how he felt about the workers who made yellow stars for the Germans with machines he had bought.
“What could they have done?” he said. “The factory had a German boss. They got the order. They had to eat. If they hadn’t done it, others would have.”