Last modified on: 09-10-2013 13:20:42
Home Town: Friendswood
Chaja Verveer was born in the Netherlands in 1941. The Germans had already occupied the country in 1940. In 1942, the Nazis implemented the deportation of Jews to concentration camps.
When Chaja was only one year old, her family of six went into hiding, splitting up because they were too many to stay together in one place. When the non-Jewish family hiding her was betrayed to the Nazis in 1944, Chaja was sent to the Westerbork, a transit camp in northeastern Holland, from where trains regularly departed for the extermination camps elsewhere. In Westerbork, she was placed in a barrack used as an orphanage for children who had been sent to the camp without their parents.
On September 13, 1944, the last train left Westerbork. On it were the 51 children from the orphanage. Chaja was one of them. The children arrived in Bergen Belsen after three grueling days and nights on the train. After three months, the children were sent to Theresienstadt, a ghetto and transit camp in occupied Czechoslovakia. She and the other inmates were finally liberated in May 1945 by the Russians. She was subsequently reunited with her mother and three brothers. Her father had been executed in 1944 for his activities with the Resistance.
In 1961, Chaja emigrated to Israel. She lived and studied in Jerusalem. She also lived in Austria and Brazil before coming to the United States. Chaja worked as a consultant to both the for-profit and non-profit sector. She is married to Jim Getola and has lived in the Houston area for the past 35 years. She serves on the board of Holocaust Museum Houston and has been appointed to serve on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. She is also president of Child Survivors of the Holocaust, Houston.