Courage, Sacrifice, And Survival

During the Second World War, an unconscionable amount of men, women, and children were forced to go into hiding to escape humiliation, torture, and death at the hands of the Nazis. Elisabeth (Elly) Rodrigues Lopes de la Peña, a Holocaust survivor who had a similar upbringing in Amsterdam to Anne Frank, was one of the brave souls whose story is now further uncovered, thanks to the tireless research of Adjunct Professor Elliot Hearst and Angelica Roman ’19. 

Through helping preserve Elly’s story, as well as the stories of the two Dutch families who helped Elly survive her impossibly trying ordeal, the duo’s research paper Escape from the List: Courage, Sacrifice, Survival was able to bring to light an incredible tale of fearlessness and heroism during one of the darkest times in human history. 

“We took a trip to the Anne Frank Center, which is only a block away from the New York City Campus. There I made a contact with the education director who provided me with an introduction to the folks who run the Anne Frank House over in Amsterdam,” says Hearst. 

From there, they were able to establish contact with Carolyn Stewart, Elly’s daughter. The meeting with Stewart proved to be invaluable, as she helped Hearst and Roman further establish the layout of the story. 

The paper proceeds to explore some of the more heartbreaking nuances that Elly and other individuals in hiding were forced to endure, and highlights a number of ordinary civilians who displayed remarkable courage in the face of grave danger. 

Among these stories include that of Bert Bochove, a Dutch pharmacist who managed to hide 37 Jews in his own home over the course of the Nazi occupation. Bochove and his wife, Annie, initially hid Elly, her brother, and her parents as the conditions around Amsterdam grew dangerous. As Roman uncovered, Bochove hid the Rodrigues family in an attic above his store which they shared with another family—and as the paper notes, the family had to lie still for eight hours when Bert’s store was open during the day. 

This is just one of the many poignant anecdotes that make up Elly’s story. In the 40-page research paper, Hearst and Roman chart the progression of Elly’s time in hiding, and ultimately, her escape from unadulterated evil. As the paper’s title indicates, Elly’s story is truly one of courage, sacrifice, and survival.