Tswi Joseef Herschel

Date of Birth: 29 December 1942

Place of Birth: Zwolle, the Netherlands

Languages: Dutch (mother tongue), English and German (both fluently), French and Hebrew.

Tswi Joseef Herschel

1942-1945: World War II

I was born in the middle of the Second World War during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. I was the only child of Dutch Jewish parents. Shortly after my birth my parents and I were forced to move from Zwolle (East Holland) to the ghetto of

Aug 1944 Tswi with his foster mother, Margje de Jongh
Tswi with his foster mother

Amsterdam. At the age of 4 months my parents decided to entrust me to Dutch non-Jewish friends.

In June 1943, my parents were put on transport from the ghetto of Amsterdam to the Dutch concentration Camp Westerbork. In July 1943, when I was 6 months old and in hiding with the non- Jewish family, they were transported to Sobibor. On their arrival  they were immediately gassed. My father was 27 and my mother was 24 at that time.

Almost my entire family perished in the Shoa.

After the Shoa

In May 1945 when the Second Word War ended, my paternal grandmother survived in hiding searched for me. When she found me she snatched me away from the Protestant family where I had lived for the first two and a half year of my life.

My grandmother and I lived in Rotterdam, where I went to school and studied optometry and mechanical engineering.

When I was 8 years old, I accidentally discovered some papers that belonged to my birth father. I found out that my biological parents had perished in the war and that I was an orphan. Up till that moment I thought that the non-Jewish parents were my real parents.

In 1964 I moved to Amsterdam.

I married in 1965 and have two daughters.

I founded a Company which employed 150 people with branches in Europe and. In 1983 the company was sold.

I came on Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) with my family in 1986. Sailed in 3 month from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv.

Click the images


  • In 1991 – Addressed on behalf of the survivors in Amsterdam at the Yad Vashem ceremony for the Medal of the Righteous Amongst Nations, granted to my rescuers Mr. and Mrs. Willem de Jongh and their 5 children and other rescuers to an audience of 1200 people under which several members of the Dutch Parliament.
  • In 1996 – Addressed on behalf of the survivors in Amsterdam at the Yad Vashem ceremony for the Medal of the Righteous Amongst Nations to my rescuers Mrs. Schwencke and other rescuers at the Amsterdam Gymnasium present were 600 students and the mayor of Amsterdam Ed van Thijn also a survivor.
  • In 2004 – In the framework of the ‘First Person’ program delivered addressed in combination with an interview of two hours at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. This on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Museum and in connection with the exhibition ‘Life in Shadows’ about Hidden Children who survived the Shoa.
  • Since 2006 – Lecturer in English, Dutch and German at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.
  • Since 2012 – Interviews by high school students related to their Holocaust projects.
  • Since April 2013 – Presentation of a “Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy” based on a calendar created in 1942 during the Holocaust by Nico Louis Herschel. Nico my late father predicted my future in a unique and unconventional way : The Calendar.
  • The presentation is based on his vision versus the reality.
  • April 2013 – Staff members of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.
  • May 2013 till today – University of Aachen Germany faculty Didactic and Political science.
  • August 2013 – Czech department of the Institute of International Seminars for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem.
  • April 2013 – Publication of my essay ‘Gathering Clouds’ in The Jerusalem Post Magazine (5/4/2013).

    “A gripping story that takes place in the Amsterdam ghetto, 1943 – experienced by the author’s father”. Israel Kasnnet, Jerusalem Post Magazine Editor.

  • April 2013 – Speech to the American International School in Even Yehuda on the occasion of Yom Hashoah.

    “Mr. Tswi Herschel came to the American International School to tell his story of survival to our high school student body. His descriptions of his experiences as a child were delivered with grace and power and contributed immensely to our students’ appreciation and understanding of this complex and difficult piece of history”. Neal Jacover, High School Principal.

  • July 2013 – Publication of my article ‘Hatikva – The Hope’ in the German News Letter of Yad Vashem.
  • August 2013 – Czech Desk Yad Vashem presentation ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’.
  • October 2013 – presentation ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’ to:
    • Joods Historisch Museum, Amsterdam. (Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam).
    • Stichting Stolpersteine Zwolle and Historisch Genootschap Zwolle. (Foundation Stolpersteine Zwolle and Historic Society Zwolle).
  • Airborne Museum Oosterbeek, 70 years after ‘Operation Market Garden’.
  • Yad Vashem lecture ‘Anti-Semitism today’,  in Germany.
  • Yad Vashem Czech desk presentation ‘Anti-Semitism today’.
  • January 2014 – presentation of the German version of ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’.
  • TV Broadcast WDR documentary 26th January 2014.
  • December 2014 Presentations seminars at the International School for Holocaust Studies in Jerusalem.
  • “Anne Frank House Amsterdam” and “CIDI” Netherlands.
  • 25-01-2015 – 30-01-2015 the area of Hamburg Germany.
  • 5 presentations and discussions senior high school students.
  • 26-01-2015   Presentation Town Hal of Lübeck Germany, 70th International Commemoration day liberation of the extermination camp Auschwitz and the end of World War II.
  • 27-01-2015 Life interview German Radio/TV NDR.
  • 16-04-2015 Jom Hashoa – Yad Vashem Jerusalem Presentation ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’ Auditorium Yad Vashem for a group of 400 Jewish students from USA, UK, S.Africa and other countries. Discussion about anti-Semitism.
  • 2016 – 2018 lectures in Germany, the Netherlands, USA, and Israel in 3 languages Subjects: ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’

Haifa University faculty Phycology: Hidden Children their traumas during and after the Shoa.

Haifa University faculty MA Studies Shoa.

Radio interviews: anti-Semitism today.

University RWTH Aachen Germany subject 2nd, 3rd generation.

International School for Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem Jerusalem

International seminars in German, Dutch and English.

USHMM Washington presentation and explanation of ‘Life Calendar of a Jewish Boy’ The original life calendar is in the USHMM.

  • 2018 – Introduction in 3 languages of the new Workshop Life Calendar issued by Yad Vashem.