Cato Bontjes van Beek
Born in Bremen in 1920, Cato Bontjes van Beek was the daughter of the artist and painter Olga Bontjes van Beek and the sculptor and ceramic Jan Bontjes van Beek. After her parents’ divorce she went to England to learn the language at the age of 17. She had strong literary, philosophical and religious interests. On her return from England she trained as an office clerk and worked in an office in Bremen. She then moved to Berlin in the fall of 1939 and trained as a ceramicist in her father’s workshop. From the fall of 1940 she and her sister Mietje arranged help for French prisoners-of-war and persecuted Jews. She was friends with Heinz Strelow from 1941 and had contact to Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen and other members of the “Red Orchestra” resistance group. Along with Strelow, she was involved in distributing the “AGIS” leaflet. On September 20, 1942, Cato Bontjes van Beek was arrested, followed by Heinz Strelow on October 1, 1942. The two of them were sentenced to death on January 26, 1943. Heinz Strelow was murdered on May 13, 1943 and Cato Bontjes van Beek on August 5, 1943, both in Berlin-Plötzensee.