Maud Dahme
Holocaust survivor, educator
Born: January 1936 in Amersfoort, the Netherlands
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2014:  Unsung Hero

Maud Dahme’s survival story is the stuff of a Hollywood film. Yet, it is all-too real.

Dahme was born Maud Peper in the Netherlands to a Dutch-Jewish father and French-Jewish mother. Her father and grandfather operated the family restaurant in the local tram station in her native Amersfoort. Maud was four when Germany invaded the Netherlands in 1940. By May 1940, the Nazis began imposing restrictions on the more than 700 Jews of Amersfoort. Deportations to so-called work camps began in 1942.

At the time of the deportations, Maud’s parents arranged for Maud and her younger sister Rita to be sheltered by a Christian family. Over the remainder of World War II, the sisters were hidden by several families. They assumed new names and Christian identities. It was a time of starvation and terror for everyone in the Netherlands. In the brutal winters, the sisters resorted to eating bugs and tulip bulbs. At one point, Maud witnessed the murder of six Jews and the farm family that had been hiding them. Finally, in May 1945, the Allies arrived to liberate the Netherlands.

After the war, the sisters were reunited with their parents, who had been hidden by the Dutch underground. However, most of their extended family—three grandparents and an aunt, uncle and cousins—were murdered at the Sobibor death camp. Readjustment was difficult for the girls. Shortly after liberation, Maud had what is described as “a nervous breakdown” requiring months of bed rest and rehabilitation.

In 1950, Maud’s family emigrated to America; she fondly remembers first setting foot on American soil in Hoboken. The family eventually settled in Palisades Park after Maud’s father bought into a food business. After completing high school, Maud got her first job at Pan American World Airways, where she met her future husband, Hans Dahme. Married in 1957, they had four children and nine grandchildren.

Maud Dahme dedicated much of her adult life to education and specifically Holocaust education for both teachers and students in New Jersey. She served for 24 years as a member of the state Board of Education, including five years as president. In 1995, she was president of the National Association of School Boards. She also served for seven years on her local North Hunterdon School Board; was chair of the Interstate Migrant Education Council; and was a long-time member of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. For many years, she led an annual tour of Holocaust sites in Europe.

Ever mindful of her own survival story, Dahme told attendees at the 2014 New Jersey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, “it’s so important to remember” the righteous Christians who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis. As a further reminder, she and her sister are among the subjects of a 2006 documentary, “The Hidden Child,” which was shown on PBS and at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Intro/Acceptance Video