Commemoration Days

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp

Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
*November 7, 1918

On November 7, 2018 Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp will celebrate her 100th birthday. She was born in The Hague as one of fifteen children in a family belonging to the strict Reformed Protestant Church. She was working as a secretary when German troops invaded the Netherlands. She joined resistance groups, delivered food ration cards, forged identification papers and once even smuggled dynamite to the national aid organization for hidden persons.

She was arrested in June 1944. By way of the prison in Scheveningen, as well as Herzogenbusch and Ravensbrück concentration camps, she came to the Dachau subcamp AGFA-Kamerawerke in the Giesing district of Munich with a transport consisting of 250 women on November 13, 1944. The strike undertaken by the Dutch women to protest their working and living conditions is unique in the history of Nazi concentration camps.

In 2013, two Dutch schoolchildren crafted a page for Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp in a Book of Remembrance as part of the “Names Instead of Numbers” project. She has a glass showcase dedicated to her in the eponymous special exhibition, “Names Instead of Numbers – Dutch prisoners at Dachau concentration camp”, which is currently on exhibit in the special exhibition room at the Memorial Site. Today, she lives in Baarn, The Netherlands.


Willemijn Petroff-van Gurp
Ferdinand Hackl in 2000 while visiting Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site

Ferdinand Hackl
October 2, 1918– May 10, 2010

Everyone who knew him remembers Vienna native Ferdinand Hackl as a friendly, easygoing person who could tell very detailed stories of the past. He kept a red triangle on metal with the prisoner number 26196 above it as what he called a “souvenir” of Dachau concentration camp.

Hackl joined the Communist movement at a young age and left Vienna when he turned eighteen to take part in the Spanish Civil War. The defeat of the International Brigades forced him to go to France, where the Gestapo arrested him after the German Wehrmacht invaded and sent him to Dachau concentration camp in June 1941. Thanks to his good contacts to others who had fought in Spain, he managed to have himself placed in work details that enabled him to survive. He worked for more than a year at the Präzifix screw factory. Later he came to subcamps in the Allgäu and had to do forced labor for the Messerschmidt company. He was liberated in Fischen.

After returning to Vienna, Hackl soon resumed his work for the Communist Party of Austria and in addition labored to keep alive the memory of former Austrian International Brigade fighters and concentration camp prisoners. He was a member of the “Association of Austrian Volunteers in the Spanish Republic”, which met regularly starting in 1965. As Secretary of the Austrian Lagergemeinschaft Dachau camp community, he also had an important position with the CID, the Dachau international prisoners’ committee. He worked at the Documentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) until the end of 2006 and provided Hans Landauer, one of the staff members, with a great deal of biographical information for his “Lexikon der österreichischen Spanienkämpfer 1936–1939” (encyclopedia of Austrian fighters in Spain 1936–1939).

Hackl remained in close contact with the Memorial Site throughout all these years. He died in Vienna at the age of 91 on May 10, 2010.

Photos: © Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site