William "Bill" Meyer was born Anne-Willem Meijer on July 4, 1931 to Bruin Meijer and Jantje Westerhof Meijer. He was born in Beverwyk, a small town located near Haarlem, The Netherlands. William grew up one of 19 children and his family attended the Dutch Reform Church. He was only 9 years old when the Nazis invaded in 1940. At first things were as they had been, every group kept to themselves, but soon Jews and Gypsies started disappearing. It was at this point that William was asked by his neighbor Corrie ten Boom if he would take food rations to families who were hiding Jews. William asked his father if he could and his father said no, do not get involved, but William decided to do it anyway. He would bike back and forth from his home over the dyke on a regular basis.
As the situation continued to deterierate, William's father, Bruin, became a member of the Dutch Resistance (Socialist Political Party) and started hiding Jews in the attic of the family's house. Not long after, William was questioned and beaten about his participation in getting ration cards to families hiding Jews. He was taken to Fught concentration camp as a political prisoner, Winter 1943, and was held for six to eight months. William worked in the kitchen and it was through his job that he got to know the German camp cook who helped him escape, in return for sexual favors.
William walked all the way from Fucht back to his family home only to find another family living there. He did not know at the time that his entire family had been killed by the Nazis. William then lived on the streets for a period of time, until his 13th or 14th birthday. He was in Rotterdam when the Canadian and British forces liberated Holland on May 5, 1945.
William married his wife, Josephina Maria Van Winsen, on September 23, 1952 in Rotterdam, Holland. They had six children, the two oldest were born in Rotterdam and the younger four were born in the U.S.. They have twelve grandchilden.
William was caught in the Hungarian Uprising and received a visa to come to the U.S. from the American Embassy in Budapest. He came to the U.S. in 1957.
More information about Corrie ten Boom and her story can be found on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's website.
More information about the Fught concentration camp can be found here.