Selma also organised a safe house for herself, her sister and mother, but her father was sent to, and murdered at, Auschwitz. After the war, Selma found out that her mother and sister had also been murdered by the Nazis.
For the next two years, ‘Marga’ travelled across The Netherlands delivering newsletters and forged documents, but in 1944 she was arrested alongside her boss and another resistance fighter and sent to Ravensbrück concentration camp as a political prisoner. Even in Ravensbrück, a women’s camp, ‘Marga’ continued to resist the Nazis in her tasks in the camp.
She was ordered to make gas masks for Nazis and would intentionally assemble them to come loose by the time they were used. ‘Marga’ was liberated by the Swedish Red Cross on 23rd April 1945, and only then did she return to calling herself Selma Velleman.
She moved to the UK after the war and regularly travels to the Netherlands to give talks on her experiences, and has just published a book in Dutch, Mijn naam is Selma (My Name is Selma),
to be published in English in 2020. Selma received the Dutch Resistance Commemoration Cross in 1983 in recognition of her bravery. Her message to young people today is:
“I’d like to recommend tolerance. But not necessarily in the political sense. Try to be tolerant of people around you. People in your life. Avoid fights. Fights become conflicts and conflicts become wars. Try to be nice. Love is all that matters in the end.”
Liron Velleman, Political Organiser at HOPE not hate Ltd, was writing about his great-aunt Selma van de Perre (nee Velleman), a Jewish Dutch resistance fighter and Ravensbrück camp survivor.