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Jaap Penraat
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Penraat, Jaap

Carroll Gantz
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Jaap Penraat

US architect and industrial designer born in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he trained as an architect and designer. During the 1940-1945 Nazi occupation of Holland in World War II, when Dutch Jews were persecuted, he, a non-Jew, joined the Dutch resistance, forged fake identity cards for Jews, was discovered by the Nazis and sent to prison for several months. He was tortured but told his captors nothing. After his release, he forged fake travel papers for Jews disguised as construction workers for Hitler's Atlantic Wall in France and personally escorted over 400 of them, in groups of 20, to safety in Spain. After 1944, the trips became too risky, and he hid in a village, subsisting on sugar beets. After the war, he became a noted designer in Amsterdam. In 1958, he came to the US and designed a Dutch Mill cafe for the 1964 New York World's Fair and settled in the Catskills. He also designed contemporary furniture around 1965, and attended a number of ASID/IDI/IDSA professional meetings as a speaker. In the early 1970s, he became involved in the film industry, and was co-producer/director with Jack Deveau of the 1972 film, "Left-Handed," with a cast that included Sal Mineo. Jaap also performed as an actor in "Drive" and "Adam and Yves," both directed in 1974 by Deveau. His daughter, Noëlle, became a noted filmographer, described as "the best negative cutter in the film business." Jaap refused for many years to talk about his wartime experience. But in 1974, he was awarded a Dutch war pension. In 1998 he was awarded the designation of "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust, and was put on its honor roll in Jerusalem. His daughters convinced him to tell his story, so that his grandchildren would know about him. So Hudson Talbott, a longtime friend and illustrator, published a children's book about Jaap, Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During the Holocaust, in 2000. In his last years, he spoke to school groups about his experience.

100 Years of Design consists of excerpts from a book by Carroll M. Gantz, FIDSA, entitled, Design Chronicles: Significant Mass-produced Designs of the 20th Century, published August 2005 by Schiffer Publications, Ltd.
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