Milly Schelvis was born in Amsterdam 11th September 1919.
She had a normal, loving childhood although that is set in the background of Holland in the 1920’s and 30’s. They lived in the poor parts of the Jewish sector of Amsterdam and that meant poor housing, hunger and dreadful filth and sanitation and living on the poverty line. Her father, was a diamond worker and for a while did manage to make a better living and they were able to move into a better area for some time, but the great depression of the 1930’s saw them back in poverty.
In May 1944, Milly and her parents were deported from Westerbork (a German camp in Holland) to Bergen Belsen in Germany. Her father was sent to Sachsenhausen as a diamond worker in December 1944 where 4 weeks later he died. From Bergen Belsen, Milly and her mother were sent to the concentration camp Beendorf in mid-Germany. In April 1945 with countless other women they were sent in rail wagons to Hamburg to be handed over at the Danish border to the Red Cross. After 3 weeks in quarantine they found themselves in Goteborg and took 4 months to recover enough to be able to return home to Holland. (see documents below)
Her brother Jules Schelvis was knighted in the Netherlands for his work in telling his stories to the next generations. He authored several books. He is the only known person to survive 9 concentration camps.
The following is a translation of a booklet called “Post uit Sweden” which were letter Milly Schelvis wrote in 1945 while recovering in a Red Cross camp in Sweden.. the letter dated August 7 1945 tell her story.. She never again said a word about it till her passing age 97 in 2016. The booklet is also in Dutch. Her brother’s defining book was “Sobibor” which was translated into English by the New York Holocaust Centre.
Her father who was separated from the rest of the family by the Nazis – as so many others of their Jewish friends and family- didn’t return.
Milly’s Red Cross Documentation
Stichting Sobibor – Jules Schelvis and family
Here is the story of Jules and other members of Milly’s family as published by the Stichting Sobibor.
Milly’s postcard from Sweden – July 1945
Milly was able to write one postcard in July 1945 to her brother who she had just found out had survived.
The text underneath the original is retyped in Dutch and also translated into English.
Family history story with Milly
Milly’s life after WWII and her emigration to Australia
Soon after she came back from the camps she married in Amsterdam – on 19 September 1945 – Ruben (Ruud), Rubens. She had met him in 1938 and they were deeply in love with each other. They lived in Den Bosch where their three children were born.
However, Europe was still far from settled and Milly lived with the fear that the Russians and the cold war would again bring war to Europe and she could not live with that. So with three kids and no money and very few belongings they decided to immigrate to Australia, although they would have taken any faraway land had it been offered.
Over time Ruben who was a great salesman, set up their own business where Milly was the driving force behind the business A woman decades ahead of her time.
The Eulogy below also provides more detailed information about her life.