Jannie Brilleslijper, wartime resister: born 24 October 1916; married Bob Brandes (deceased; one son, one daughter); died Amsterdam 15 August 2003.
Jannie Brandes-Brilleslijper, a Second World War resistance worker during the German occupation of the Netherlands, was a final link in the story of the Jewish diarist Anne Frank. As one of the last people to have seen Anne Frank alive, she was instrumental in filling in the final chapters of the young author's life.
It was Brandes-Brilleslijper who informed Anne's father, Otto Frank, the only surviving member of her family, of his daughter's death. Anne's legacy was The Diary of Anne Frank which since its publication in 1947 has sold over 12 million copies in more than 60 languages worldwide.
In the summer of 1944, Jannie Brandes-Brilleslijper, then aged 27, and her elder sister Lientje had befriended Anne, 15, and her sister Margot Frank while awaiting deportation to Westerbork Camp at Amsterdam Central Station. The four Jewish sisters' paths remained linked, as they shared further deportations to Auschwitz and finally to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where the two Frank sisters died only weeks before liberation.
Prior to the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, Jannie Brilleslijper had lived with her parents, who ran a fish shop in Amsterdam, before marrying a non-Jew, Bob Brandes, by whom she had two children. Always an active and staunch supporter of her beliefs, she assisted anti-Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jannie promptly joined the Jewish resistance, falsifying identification papers to help other Jews escape Nazi occupation and producing an illegal newspaper from her home. When she was arrested in 1944, her husband and children survived her fate by going into hiding.
During her horrific incarceration in the Nazi concentration camps, Brandes-Brilleslijper worked as a nurse, passing medicine, food and clothing to the young and most vulnerable, to aid their chance of survival. Living in separate barracks, Anne Frank came to Brandes-Brilleslijper for help shortly before her death in March 1945. Anne and her sister Margot had typhus and Brandes-Brilleslijper tried to look after them as best she could in the circumstances, providing new clothes and bread.
"Anne was sick and hallucinating and had thrown away her clothes because she was afraid of lice," Mariette Huisjes, of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, explained. "A few days later Jannie went to check on Margot and Anne and found them both dead." More than 107,000 Jews (over 70 per cent of the Dutch Jewish community) were deported from the Netherlands to concentration camps - only 5,000 survived.
After liberation, Jannie Brandes-Brilleslijper returned with her sister to Amsterdam where she was reunited with her family. She became an active Communist. She hated any romanticising of the war and was passionate about the truth being told about the Holocaust. Determined never to forget, every year she threw a big party on 5 May to commemorate the day Holland was finally liberated from Nazi occupation.
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