Henri Suyderhoud was born in 1930 on the island of Borneo in the Dutch colony of Indonesia. Both his parents were Dutch citizens. His mother was a Protestant and his father was a Freemason. Henri’s childhood in a diverse community shaped Henri into a racially tolerant and accepting person.
The family moved to The Hague in 1935. Henri’s school had students from many religions and he did not recall that Jewish children were treated differently.
In 1940, everything changed. The Dutch quickly capitulated to Germany. After a few days, life resumed with new restrictions. Henri remembered the Jewish children wearing yellow stars and the children of pro-Nazi collaborators beginning to treat them differently.
In 1942, Henri and his family were moved to the village of Holten due to the Nazis using their neighborhood as a militarized zone. Henri’s oldest brother remained in The Hague for university and was arrested in 1943 and sent to a concentration camp. He was eventually released and went to live with his family. Two of Henri’s brothers and his cousin hid in a closet until the end of the war to avoid being sent to Germany to work in factories. Henri helped provide food for a Jewish woman and her daughter and Henri recalled the entire village protecting the women.
The Canadians eventually liberated Holten. The family returned to The Hague. Henri married and they relocated to New Jersey years later. They had two children together.