German occupation forces removal of Jewish employees

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1941, first raid on Jewish citizens on the Jonas Daniel Meijer square, Amsterdam

During the Second World War, the Jewish population of The Netherlands fell victim to Nazi persecution. The management of the Netherlands Cancer Institute, together with radiologist Den Hoed, made efforts to protect some of the Jewish employees. The Board of the NKI found itself in a difficult position. The freedom of action of the board members Professor B. Brouwer and Professor H.T. Deelman (chairman) was limited through their position as Dean of the University of Amsterdam.They were forced to follow German regulations [38]. 

From stories passed down and from research into the archives and among relatives, some cases (Dr. Waterman and Dr. Levie) are known  where the management of the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) succeeded in delaying or hindering the deportation of Jewish employees. In the case of the physicist Dr. Kwieser, in the course of 1941 there comes an end to reports of his contributions to research and after the war it is established that he has been murdered in  a concentration camp in Poland, together with his entire family.  In official wartime reports very little can be found over what happened. It was obviously dangerous for all those involved to write any account. 

The position of Dr. Nathaniel Waterman, a prominent researcher in the NKI has been described before, in 2004, in the book "De Som van zorg en onderzoek, negentig jaar Nederlands Kanker Insituut - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek ziekenhuis" ("The sum of care and research, 90 years in The Netherlands Cancer Institute", Dutch language) by Bas van Lier [53].The fate of the two employees of the Radiotherapy Department, the radiologist Betje Levie and the physicist Mozes Kwieser has been researched by the task group Historad and is summarized below.  Their contributions to patient care and research are described elsewhere on this website on the basis of items in Annual Reports and bibliographies of the NKI in the period 1930-1941.


Dr. Nathaniel Waterman, physician, biologist, top researcher in the NKI laboratory from 1920 to 1958.

In 1940, Waterman was internationally renowned. He was, as all Jewish employees, forced to leave the institute in November 1941. Following this, high level negotiations with the occupying forces started, to get permission to let Waterman continue his research work. He was interned several times in the concentration camp Westerbork in the eastern part of The Netherlands and then released, finally receiving permission to continue research into carcinogenic dyes. At his home close to the NKI, a laboratory and experimental animal house are set up.  His wife and children remain in Westerbork as hostages.  His children are deported and their daughter and a son are both killed.   Waterman and his wife, as well as their second son and their granddaughter survive the war. After the war, Waterman becomes head of the Biochemistry Department in the laboratory of the NKI [53].

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Dr. Betje (Betty) Levie, assistant radiologist under Den Hoed in the NKI from 1931 to 1941.Receives her doctorate in 1937 and obtains the Wertheim Salomon prize in 1940

As of 1 January 1941, she was forbidden to treat patients in The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Initially she has permission to do research but she is removed definitely  in November 1941 following official measures against Jewish citizens. Head of Clinic Dr. Wassink arranges to have her taken on at the Jewish hospitals Nederlands Israelitisch Ziekenhuis (NIZ) and Centraal Israelitisch Ziekenhuis (CIZ) in Amsterdam, where she will treat the jewish patients of the NKI. When the entire Jewish population of Amsterdam is deported in 1943, Betty Levie goes into hiding in the area of Eindhoven through intermediation of Daniel den Hoed. She is taken in by engineers of the research laboratories of Philips, namely Hendrik Casimir and Hajo Bruining.  Bruining heads a resistance network and in 1944, Levie works as a courier in the resistance.  Under the disguise of a private nurse, she can maintain outside contacts without hindrance.  On 18 September 1944, Eindhoven is liberated and she joins the Red Cross as physician, where she treats civilian victims. After the liberation of the west of The Netherlands, she returns to Amsterdam but leaves the NKI.  She works for a short time at the Rotterdam Radiotherapy Institute which is led by Daniel den Hoed.  In 1946, she emigrates to Palestine and establishes herself as radiologist in Tel Aviv.  In 1968 she becomes professor in radiotherapy at the University of Tel Aviv.  The information above is taken from sources [36, 54, 55, 56, 57].

Dr. Mozes Kwieser, physicist and mathematician. From 1931 to 1941, co-worker to the radiology department  from the physics laboratory of the University of Amsterdam. No photograph of him has been found.

Mozes Kwieser was 2nd assistant to Professor Clay in the physics laboratory of the University of Amsterdam from 1921 to 1941.  He obtained his doctorate in 1940. On 1 March 1941, he is removed from his position because of his Jewish identity. Kwieser, as physics advisor to Daniel den Hoed and Betty Levie, was involved in radiological research at the NKI within the framework of university support to the institute. He made essential contributions to research and publications on dosimetry, equipment and beam characteristics emanating from the NKI. After his resignation from the university in 1941, Kwieser works under the protection of the Jewish Council as X-ray physicist in the Jewish hospitals CIZ and NIZ.  From press reports, it appears that next to this, he was active as a teacher of Jewish religion. At this time he is 42 years old and lives with his mother, two brothers and a sister.  From mid 1942, the family members are arrested and taken to the Westerbork camp in the east of The Netherlands. Kwieser arrives there on 29 September 1943.  All of them are deported to Poland and die in the camps of Auschwitz and Sobibor [58]. 

Bronnen & Publicaties

  • [36] Witness account for Yad Vashem Archives by Prof. Dr. Betty Levie, Januari 1975, record group 0.3, file nr 3968. Original Hebrew, English translation. ,
  • [38] Knechtmans P.J. “Een kwetsbaar centrum van de Geest”: The University of Amsterdam between 1935 and 1950. Amsterdam University Press, 19 November 1998, ISBN 90-5356-338-5 ,
  • [53] Van Lier B. “De som van zorg en onderzoek, negentig jaar Nederlands Kanker Instituut – Antoni van Leeuwenhoekziekenhuis”. 2004. ISBN 90-75575-06-8 ,
  • [54] Article which appeared in the magazine of the Irgun Olei Holland (Association of Dutch emigrants to Israel), interview by s. Hamburger in the 2nd number of 1969. ,
  • [55] Van Amerongen E. “Nederlanders en/in Israel, interview with Dr. Betty Levy”. Nieuw Israelitisch Weekblad, nr. 40-10 August, 1968 ,
  • [56] Personal communication from the niece of Dr. Betty Levie, Mrs. Betty Kazin-Rosenbaum ,
  • [57] Annual reports NKI 1940, 1941, and minutes of the executive board of the NKI 1940 – 1945. ,
  • [58] Card File of the Jewish Council (Red Cross Archives) ,