The Archiepiscopal Palace of Utrecht, which played an important role in supporting the Utrechts Kindercomité (Utrecht Children’s Committee) during the Second World War — If you look around, you will see many beautiful buildings on the Maliebaan. Surrounded by trees, offices and mansions, you will find this extraordinary building: the Archiepiscopal Palace.
The Utrechts Kindercomité (Utrecht Children’s Committee) was a student resistance group that helped Jewish children go into hiding. They provided the children with clothing, ration cards and, if required, money for board and lodging. The Kindercomité helped approximately 360 Jewish children and several adults find a safe haven. If there was no safe house available, children would occasionally be admitted to children’s shelter Kindjeshaven (Children’s Harbour) on the Prins Hendriklaan 4 in Utrecht.
Here, in the Archiepiscopal Palace, the codebook containing the names of all the Jewish children was kept safely from 1943 up until liberation in 1945 in Archbishop Johannes De Jong’s safe.
A student and member of the resistance, Hetty Voûte, designed a card index containing the names of 270 children who were issued ration cards each month. Hetty was arrested in June 1943. Fortunately, the codebook was hidden in the safe in the Archiepiscopal Palace. Annie de Waard of the Kindercomité would regularly drop by to update the codebook.
After the liberation, she collected the codebook and gave it to fellow-student Jan Meulenbelt who worked for the Bureau of Foster War Children in Amsterdam. He used the codebook to re-unite children with their parents. A copy of the codebook is kept in Het Utrechts Archief (The Utrecht Archives).
Archbishop Johannes De Jong did not just offer his safe to the Utrechts Kindercomité, but also contributed to their starting capital. These actions were typical of the heroic role Johannes De Jong played as the leader of the ecclesiastical resistance against the Germans. On February 21, 1943 he had an episcopal letter read out loud in all the churches in which he strongly condemned German atrocities.