Her story is about a lot of things, but when I think of Willie de Kadt Juhlin ’61, I think of determination.
Her grandparents’ determination that she would survive what would become known as the Holocaust. Her grandmother’s determination to raise her granddaughter to have a future in America. Her own determination—partly learned, partly innate—not to let her extraordinary childhood experience color her life. And lastly, her determination to pass her story on to the next generations.
Juhlin was a “hidden child” in Nazi-occupied Holland, raised for four years by a Roman Catholic family to save her from being murdered along with her parents. I met her in New York City at the law offices of Moses Silverman ’69, who offered us a quiet place to talk. Juhlin brought papers and documents, including a letter that detailed the time and place of the concentration-camp deaths of her parents and other family members. She had her picture taken many times.
Juhlin is 74, confident, and articulate. After our interview we had lunch in a restaurant on Sixth Avenue, down the street from Central Park. She talked about her time at Colby, studying French and meeting her husband, Thor Juhlin ’59. She talked about their children and grandchildren. The children are successful. The grandchildren are doing well.
It seemed a different world from the sad and horror-filled story she’d told earlier, but a suitable end for a story of courage and triumph. In the grand scale of World War II, as described by Katz Professor of History Raffael Scheck, Willie Juhlin represents a not-so-small victory.
As she strode off to catch a show at the Museum of Modern Art, it seemed that the courage of her hiding parents had been rewarded. The spirit of her biological parents and grandparents could not be extinguished.
Gerry Boyle ’78, P’06