Rudie (name used in hiding) Cortissos was born in January 1939. He is a direct descendant of a Portuguese-Jewish family that settled in Amsterdam at the end of the 16th century, like many Portuguese Jews at the time. As a little boy, he had to go into hiding at the end of 1941, as a consequence of the increasing persecution of the Jews by the occupying forces. For 3½ years, he stayed at four different addresses in Amsterdam, without his parents, using various false first names and surnames.
In the end, Rudie and his father survived the war. He never knew his mother, who was deported in 1943 to Sobibor, where she was murdered on the day she arrived. 63 members of his family were gassed in Auschwitz and Sobibor.
This evening, Rudie Cortissos tells his life story and discusses the persecution of the Jews during World War II.
Rudie Cortissos became a businessman after the war and raised a family. He was appointed Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau. He was a co-plaintiff in the trial of John Demjanjuk, a camp guard in Sobibor.
“I’m now on the train to Poland. I’m okay and I’ll get through it… There are about 65 people to a carriage. It’s rough of course, but it can’t be helped.”
-Farewell letter from mother Emmy, which she threw out of the train to Sobibor. It was her last sign of life.