Born: March 2, 1919
Benjamin, called "Benno" by his family and friends, grew up in a religious Jewish household in Amsterdam. Benno's father, a successful diamond manufacturer, was president of the Amsterdam Jewish community. Benno had two younger sisters and enjoyed collecting stamps.
1933-39: After he obtained some work experience in a department store, Benno joined his father in the diamond business. Benno adhered strictly to Jewish law. He loved tennis and skiing, and in 1938, while skiing in Switzerland, he met a girl and fell in love. Sensing that conditions in Europe were worsening for Jews, his girlfriend's family left the Netherlands for the United States in 1939.
1940-41: Benno's girlfriend returned to the Netherlands, and they were married in October 1940. The newlyweds took in a Jewish refugee who was training for agricultural work in Palestine. On June 11, 1941, the Gestapo came to Benno's door, looking for the refugee boarder; in reprisal for the murder of a German, the Nazis were rounding up foreign Jews. When Benno answered the door, the Nazi asked him if he was Jewish, too. Benno said he was, and the Nazi said, "Then you will come, too."