Dora Turksma. Collection

Language of Description
1 Jan 1938 - 31 Dec 2018
Level of Description
  • Dutch
  • French
EHRI Partner

Extent and Medium

1 interview (58 minutes) and 85 digitised images (42 documents and 3 photos)


Biographical History

Theodora alias Dora Turksma was born on 30 June 1933 in Antwerp. Her parents, boxer Levy Turksma (born on 25 August 1906 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands) and seamstress Klara Schilt (born on 15 April 1913 in Berchem, Belgium), divorced when Dora was only two and a half years old. Levy returned to the Netherlands, remarried before the war and had two children. His second wife and both children were deported and murdered during the Holocaust. After the war Levy Turksma married a third time and had two more children: Dora’s half-brother and half-sister. Before the Second World War, Dora was raised by her single mother Klara Schilt who earned a living making corsets. The both of them lived at Morpheusstraat 15, Antwerp. Dora’s maternal grandparents Lucas Schilt and Rebecca Sousa as well as her aunt Sophia Schilt all lived in the same house. Dora played a lot with the children in the neighbourhood, and attended the municipal grammar school for girls at Lamorinièrestraat as of September 1939. On 10 May 1940, Nazi-Germany invaded Belgium. Klara Schilt obeyed all anti-Jewish decrees, registering herself and her daughter in the municipal Jewish register by the end of the year. In June 1941, the complete Schilt family moved into the apartment of Dora’s uncle at Van Leriusstraat 30. He was a diamond trader, who had been able to flee to the United States. In June 1942 Klara sewed a yellow star onto her daughter Dora’s clothes. In the Summer of 1942, life in Antwerp became more and more dangerous for the Jewish community. Dora only just escaped arrest during a raid at Terliststraat, and the son of their landlord was known to denounce Jewish families in the neighbourhood. Klara therefore sent Dora to live with the maid who did their housekeeping. Klara herself obtained a false ID and became Mrs. Janssens, moving around from place to place. Dora enjoyed a few months on the countryside living with the maid, playing with local children. In late 1942, Klara took Dora away in an attempt to flee to Pas-de-Calais, France, but mother and daughter were eventually forced to return to Antwerp. Klara then placed Dora in hiding above the boot shop owned by Henri Janssens at Mechelsesteenweg, Antwerp, for a few nights before finding a more permanent place at a convent in Kontich. However, when it became too dangerous to stay there due to the pro-German sympathies of certain nuns the priest at the convent placed Dora at a children’s colony where she lived the life of a catholic school girl. Klara, not knowing where her daughter was, learned about Dora’s whereabouts when the niece of her maid recognized the child during a group outing. Klara picked Dora up from the colony and sent her to a catholic school in Sint-Andries, Bruges, where she was christened under the false identity of Dora Van Looy. In the Summer of 1944, Klara and Dora were reunited and hid together in Heide at the house of Gustaaf Huvain. Upon Liberation, Klara returned to Antwerp. Dora was subsequently sent to several boarding schools and, after her mother remarried a non-Jewish man from Amsterdam, spent the weekends with her maternal grandparents Lucas and Rebecca Schilt. The elderly couple had survived the war hidden by a woman named “aunt Justine”. Dora’s aunt Sophia also survived the war. However, two siblings of Dora’s grandfather Lucas – Willem and Henriette Schilt – were deported from the Dossin barracks and were murdered in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After the war, Dora married, and had children and grandchildren. Dora Turksma passed away in early 2019, a few weeks after having been interviewed by Kazerne Dossin.

Archival History

On 19 December 2018 Dora Turksma was interviewed by Betty Swaab, volunteer at Kazerne Dossin, in an elderly home in Antwerp. Dora passed away a few weeks later. On 16 October 2022 Frank Van der Mussele, a former neighbour of Dora Turksma, donated the original documents in this collection to Kazerne Dossin. Dora had entrusted her bible and prayer cards to him years before, when learning that he was a teacher of religion at a local school in Antwerp. On 20 March 2023 Michel and Myriam Both, children of Dora Turksma, added two digitised photos to the collection.


Dora Turksma, 2018, Frank Van der Mussele, 2022, and Michel and Myriam Both, 2023

Scope and Content

This collection contains: two photos of Dora Turksma as a child, including a photo of her with her mother Klara Schilt at the beach; the ‘Volksmisboek en Vesperale’ (catholic prayer book) Dora Turksma received when being baptised as a hidden child in 1944; several dozen post-war prayer cards and devotional cards tucked away in the bible, signed by nuns and pupils at the boarding schools Dora attended; an interview with Dora Turksma in which she talks about her childhood in Antwerp, daily life at Morpheusstraat where she and her mother lived, moving around during the first years of the war, denunciations by their neighbours, going into hiding in a convent in Kontich and in a catholic school in Bruges and her life after the war.


No further accruals are to be expected

Conditions Governing Access

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Conditions Governing Reproduction

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This description is derived directly from structured data provided to EHRI by a partner institution. This collection holding institution considers this description as an accurate reflection of the archival holdings to which it refers at the moment of data transfer.