Marion P. Pritchard
, died on December 11, 2016, at home in Washington,
D.C., after a brief illness.
Mrs. Pritchard was
born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, on November 7, 1920, the daughter of Judge
Jacob Van Binsbergen and Grace (Hyde) Van Binsbergen. She was educated at schools in Amsterdam and in England,
and at the Amsterdam
School of Social
Work. During the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands she
worked actively to protect many Jews and others who were subject to
persecution, at great risk to herself. Much of her activity involved
transporting young Jewish children from one hiding place to another. In one
instance she had to shoot a Dutch Nazi collaborator in order to protect a
father and his three young children, whom she was hiding.
WWII she became a social worker for UNRRA (United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration) at camps in Germany occupied by Jewish
displaced persons. While working for
UNRRA she met and married Anton A. Pritchard, a former U.S. Army officer who served as director of the
UNRRA camp at Windsheim, Bavaria.
She came to the United
States with her husband in 1947. After several early moves, she resided
primarily in Waccabuc, New
York, then in Vershire, Vermont, and finally in Washington, DC.
Pritchard’s career as a social worker took her to Four Winds Hospital in
Katonah, NY, the Yorktown (NY) public schools, and Orange County Mental Health
in Vermont. In 1983 she graduated from
the Boston Center for
Modern Psychoanalytic Studies (Now the Boston
of Psychoanalysis) and practiced in Vermont. She also served on the faculty for many years
and was involved in the planning and launching of its doctoral program in the
study of violence. She was a sought after supervisor and teacher and at
1981, a nomination by someone she had sheltered in the Netherlands led to Marion’s
recognition as “Righteous among the Nations” by the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem, Israel.
She subsequently became a very active speaker
and writer on Holocaust issues, and remained so into her eighties.
was honored by many organizations for her efforts during the Holocaust; these
included the Raoul Wallenberg Medal from the University
of Michigan, The Simon Wiesenthal
Medal of Valor, and honorary doctorates from Clark
University and the University of Vermont. She was also made an honorary citizen of Israel. She was one of the subjects of “The Courage
to Care”, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. She
worked extensively with Facing History and Ourselves, which develops
educational material on prejudices and injustice in American and European
society, with a focus on Nazi Germany
and The Holocaust. For many years she
also co-taught a seminar on the Holocaust at Clark University
with Professor Deborah Dwork.
Pritchard was loving and caring with family and friends, an involved and
conscientious citizen, and a person of great courage and compassion. On one occasion an adult niece and her
husband arrived at her home frazzled from a long trip with four restless
children; one of them asked “is there life after children?” Marion calmly replied, “Life is children”.
She is survived by
her three sons: Arnold (Gretchen) of New Haven, CT, Brian of Los Angeles, CA, and Ivor (Therese) of Washington DC,
eight grandchildren, and one great-grandson; and also by many nieces, nephews,
great-nieces and great-nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Anton
Pritchard, her brother, Jan Van Binsbergen, and a great-grandson.
A Memorial Service
will held at a later date. In lieu of
flowers, the family suggests donations in Marion’s
memory to Save the Children and the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum.