Abraham Wijnberg

Abraham Wijnberg

Born: May 14, 1916

Leek, Netherlands

Abraham, or "Braham" as he was nicknamed, was the oldest of four children. When Braham was 14, his Jewish parents moved to the town of Zwolle, where they built a kosher hotel. Braham attended Dutch public schools. Monday through Thursday afternoons he also went to religious school where he learned Hebrew, Jewish history and the Bible.

1933-39: It was a shame that I had to forfeit a scholarship to college in Groningen, but I had to stay in Zwolle to help my parents with the hotel. My brothers and sister and I enjoyed singing and dancing together. My dancing was so good that I was employed as a "dance master," a position that was sanctioned by the Dutch government for all public dancing functions. I gave lessons in all kinds of dance, including folk dance and the rhumba.

1940-45: On May 9, 1940, I married Judic de Vries from Utrecht. The very next day Germany invaded the Netherlands, and I went off to fight with the Dutch army. But only a few days later, on May 14, the Netherlands surrendered. I returned to my wife and we went into hiding at the home of a Christian family. During that time, Judic gave birth to our four children, all of whom survived the war. While we were hidden, my family in Zwolle was forced to leave the hotel when it was confiscated by the Germans in 1941.

Braham and his wife remained in the Netherlands after the war and were able to regain ownership of the Hotel Wijnberg. In 1956 the family immigrated to Canada.