Van Eeden historical marker in Pender County. (Source: North Carolina Highway Historical Markers)
Walter Loeb, right, and another student are pictured on a school bus bound for Penderlea School. (Source: Pender County Library)
Jewish-American children study at Penderlea School. (Source: Pender County Library)
Helen Loeb sews in her kitchen in the Van Eeden community. (Source: Pender County Library)
The Van Eeden community near Burgaw was a safe haven for Jewish refugees who fled Nazi Germany. (Source: Pender County Library)
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) -
A state highway historical marker commemorating Jewish refugee families rescued from the Holocaust was dedicated in Pender County.
Nine Jewish families settled into a community near Burgaw in 1939 after escaping Germany. They were honored with the historical marker dedication April 18 at the Pender County Library.
The free program honored the organizer of the rescue, Dr. Alvin Johnson, and feature stories of the families who were saved.
Dr. Alvin Johnson created the safe space in Van Eeden for Jewish families to come and work as farmers. This was they only way they were allowed to come into the United States at the time.
Speakers at the event included:
Jerry Klinger, president of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation
Susan Taylor Block, author of the book Van Eeden, which is the name of the Burgaw community where the families settled
Michael Hill, NC Division of Archives and History research branch supervisor
Special guest Ann Wolf Loeb also attended. She arrived at Van Eeden from Germany with her family in 1940. She is the only person from the nine families who came to Van Eeden who is still alive that they know of.
Festivities began with a meet and greet at 1:30 followed by the 2 p.m. program. Afterward, they traveled about five miles north of Burgaw to attend the unveiling of the marker.