Benjamin “Benno” Benninga was born in the Leeuwardern, Holland. Prior to the war the family was very well off due to Mr. Benninga’s shortening company. In 1940, they moved to Bussum and then Amsterdam two years later. In Amsterdam they moved in with friends and were exempt from razzias (the German pick-ups of Jews) due to Mr. Benninga and Benno’s respective employments. But they knew their exemptions were only temporary.
In August of 1942, the seamstress of Benno’s mother, Mrs. Helmig, visited the family and offered them shelter. They stayed with her until their safety was compromised. The family considered this house their “safe haven” and was very grateful for their time there.
The Benningas then moved in with a different family. This family received compensation. The family of four stayed in the attic of the house for two years. The conditions were very uncomfortable and the host family was moody and neurotic. Appallingly, the Benningas received physical and verbal abuse from their protector. The situation became so intolerable that they left to seek shelter with a minister. Not long after, Holland was liberated.
After the war, Benno married a fellow “hidden child,” Carla Meijer. They immigrated to the United States. Benno penned a book about his experiences in hiding.