Joseph Schrijver didn’t keep a diary. No museum bears his name, his life hasn’t been filmed, and he isn’t the subject of any musical. You could count on one hand the number of people alive who knew Joseph Schrijver.
Joseph Schrijver was an ordinary boy from the Transvaalbuurt district in Amsterdam. He liked to play football. I happen to know that. His father’s name was Machiel and his mother’s was Judic. I know little else about Joseph, except that he was a Jew and apparently had to die because of that, according to the Nazis. On 24 September 1943 Joseph was killed, along with his father Machiel and his mother Judic in Auschwitz. He was 15.
I therefore know Joseph Schrijver relatively superficially. I don’t even know what he looked like, even though he was actually the boy next door. For he lived on the first floor of Retiefstraat 57 in Amsterdam until the end. I lived right above Joseph from the age of five till I was twenty-one. His front door was my front door, his stairs was mine, but many years later of course. I was born on 24 September 1962, precisely nineteen years to the day after Joseph’s death. A coincidence, of course.
I have adopted Joseph’s name.