She was only four years old that summer of 1942 when she came to live with her new family. Little Loesje Pinto, or Louise as we might have called her, had been placed in the hands of the underground in Amsterdam by loving parents trying to safeguard her life. Izek and Rozalia Pinto were in a desperate situation, hiding from wave after wave of Nazi deportations. How heartbreaking the decision must have been to let her go with strangers and how crushing the last hug, the last kiss!
But fortune had smiled on little Loesje, and she was welcomed into the home of Jacob and Wijntje de Vries in Nieuwe Niedorp, a village in northern Holland. The de Vries already had two children of their own and Loetje fit right in. She was loved and cherished by her surrogate parents, and it seemed for many months as though all might go well.
Sadly, the promise of 1942 turned to the darkness of 1943. That summer, Loesje’s parents, Izek and Rozalia were deported to Sobibor where they were killed. The heartbreak continued as the deVries family was denounced, and Jacob was arrested. When Wijntje was able to go visit him, she left the children in the care of their grandparents. While she was gone the Dutch police raided their home and took Loesje away. She was soon deported and was killed on arrival at Auschwitz – just a little five-year-old girl, all alone.
The miracle of this story is that Jacob was one of a handful of prisoners released for Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1944. He returned to Wijntje and their children, but the couple mourned the loss of their little Loesje all their lives. At their request, Loesje Pinto’s name is engraved on the family grave marker – lost to them, but never forgotten.
Jacob and Wijntje were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 2002.