Born: Amsterdam, Netherlands
August 12, 1917
Coenraad was born to a Jewish family in Amsterdam that traced its roots in the Netherlands back to the 17th century. After graduating from public school, Coenraad went on to train as a pastry maker at a trade school. But after completing his training at the age of 13, he decided for health reasons to change professions, and he began to study tailoring.
1933-39: I finished apprenticing as a tailor in 1937 when I was 20. Then I spent a year working as a nurse in a Jewish home for the permanently disabled. It was there that I met Bep, a nurse. She wanted me to go back to tailoring so that we could build a secure future together. In 1939 I opened a tailor shop in Amsterdam, and in September that year I began to work as a tailor for the military, which fulfilled my Dutch military service.
1940-44: The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. In 1942 I was deported and spent the next three years in 11 different German labor camps, where I saw all of my Dutch friends meet painful deaths. In the Annaberg camp a 16-year-old boy came to me. He had ragged slippers on his feet. He offered me his soup for some shoes. Since I had two pairs, I gave him one and told him to keep the soup. "Idiot," said another man. "The boy will be dead in a week and then somebody else will take your shoes."
Of the 81 members of his extended family deported by the Nazis, Coenraad was one of seven survivors. His wife Bep survived in hiding, and they were reunited after the war.