World War II Figure. He was a German Jewish refugee who hid with diarist Anne Frank and six other people in the Secret Annex on the Prinsengracht, Amsterdam, during World War II. Born on Martinistrasse, Osnabrück, Germany, near the Dutch border in his parents' rented apartment, he was an only child. In June of 1937, his family moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands in order to escape the Nazi-introduced laws against Jews. They bought an apartment at 34 Zuider Amstellan, where their back-to-back neighbors were the Frank family. In 1938, Otto Frank hired Peter's father, Hermann, for his factory, Petcacon. Soon, the two families were socializing regularly. Peter attended a school called the Jewish Lyceum the same year as Margot Frank. Sources have said that Peter was remembered as being academically gifted and a master at joinery and carpentry. On July 13, 1943, he joined his parents and the Frank family at the Secret Annex at 263 Prinsengracht to escape Nazi persecution. For the next two years the families hid without ever going outside. Initially unhappy with the arraingment, he and Anne Frank soon developed a friendship that slowly evolved into a romantic relationship. On August 1, 1944, the two families were betrayed when the Gestapo raided the Secret Annex. For several days they were imprisoned in Amsterdam, then on August 8, 1944, they were moved to the Westerbork (Netherlands) Transit Camp and imprisoned in the Punishment Barracks, which was reserved for those arrested while in hiding. On September 3, 1944, the Germans deported both families on the last transport train to leave Westerbork before its liberation by the advancing Allies, to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. After a three-day journey, they arrived at Auschwitz, where they were separated by gender, with the men and women never to see each other again. Peter van Pels, Otto Frank, and Hermann van Pels were assigned to a forced labor group. In October 1944, Peter witnessed his father, Hermann, being selected for the gas chambers. After this date, details surrounding Peter van Pels are sketchy because of the liberations going on in Germany. Camp evacuations started between October 1944 and January 27, 1945. During this period, Peter van Pels was evacuated on a forced march when the Germans abandoned Auschwitz to the advancing Russian Army. Survivor Otto Frank recalled how he urged Peter to hide in the Hospital Sick Ward with him, but Peter felt he had a better chance of survival by going on the forced march (there was much fear that the Germans would kill all remaining Jews too sick to go on the forced march, rather than let them fall into the hands of the advancing Russian Army; fortunately for Otto Frank, the Germans ran away as the Russians approached, leaving them to survive when the Russians liberated the camp). Mauthausen Concentration Camp records indicate that Peter van Pels was registered upon his arrival there on January 25, 1945. Four days later, he was placed in an outdoor labor group. On April 11, 1945, Peter was sent to the sick barracks. His exact death date is currently unknown, and the International Red Cross designated it as May 5, 1945.
Bio by: GeneaProtector