Johanna-Ruth Douglas, known to everyone as Hansie, who wrote a moving memoir of her experience as the only member of her family to survive the Holocaust, has died at the age

of 76.

Selected To Live tells of her remarkable series of escapes as a teenager in her native Holland when she kept one step ahead of her Nazi pursuers to survive the war with the help of a series of sympathetic and brave Dutch families.

Born to Jewish parents in Berlin, Hansie's earliest memory, with which she begins the book, was of attending celebrations for Adolf Hitler's birthday with other members of her class as a seven year old.

Joanna-Ruth Dobschiner, as she was born, quit Germany with her family two years later to return to her father's native Amsterdam in the face of increasing anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin. The city was to prove no safe haven as the Germans invaded and the Gestapo began rounding up Jewish boys. Hansie's two brothers were the first of the family to be taken, dragged away while walking the streets. The family were later notified that one of the boys had been killed.

In April 1943 soldiers forced their way into their home and took Hansie's parents and the orphans they had been sheltering. She would have been taken too but the soldiers failed to look behind a partition that separated her room off from that of the orphans'. Terrified she lay still in her bed as the house was searched. Her mother managed a hurried farewell on the excuse that she wanted to ensure that the gas and electricity had been turned off. It was the last time either parent spoke to her. Both were killed in the concentration camps.

The Nazis caught up with Hansie, who was working as a nurse, three months later. Even as she was being led away she offered to look after the children on their journey, caring for others despite the fate that was befalling her.

She was loaded on to a cattle truck which was heading for the camps having attached herself to a family with a baby. Spotting the baby had red heat spots under its bonnet, she began shouting that the baby had an infectious disease, claiming it was scarlet fever. The moment of inspiration worked. Persuading the soldiers that they were all infectious, she and the family were able to escape.

Another time she was already on board a train bound for the camps when those around her discovered she had worked in the hospital's isolation unit and demanded she leave in case she spread disease.

She stepped back onto the platform, explained the problem to the guards in German and asked for a lift back to the hospital.

Remarkably resourceful and resilient, Hansie only once felt like giving up. But a nurse who worked beside her stopped her. She was persuaded to return to the hospital and be taken into hiding by the Dutch resistance.

It was a risk. Hansie, then 18, had no way of knowing if the man who came for her whom she knew only as Domie was someone she could trust.

He cut from her coat the yellow star that the Nazis insisted that Jews wore, and led her to a safe house. She would spend the rest of the war hiding in attics in Holland sheltered by the Resistance. 'Domie' was Bastiaan Ader, a Christian pastor who helped save the lives of over 200 Jews.

Eventually he was arrested and tortured. He refused to give the Gestapo a single name and was shot.

It was while Hansie was in hiding in his manse that she read the New Testament for the first time. Through that she came to a Christian faith while remaining wedded to her Jewish identity.

Despite losing all her close family, Hansie Douglas devoted her life to reconciliation, never giving in to the bitterness and recrimination that would have been so understandable.

She had what can only be described as a genius for friendship, combined with an infectious sense of fun and invincible good humour. Her voluminous address books of friends around the world included many


After the war, Hansie moved to Scotland where she trained as a nurse. She met and married Donnie ''a real Scottish Highlander'' and had twin daughters.

She worked tirelessly to foster relations between the Christian and Jewish communities and was a regular speaker at meetings and conferences worldwide.

She was the moving spirit behind Via Sucot, an organisation that donated an ambulance to the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross in 1982 and continues its work to this day.

The ITV and BBC made documentaries about her experiences, the latter in 1989. Selected To Live was published in nine languages in addition to English. The latest edition was published in 2000 by Hodder & Stoughton.

Despite battling cancer for 18 months, Hansie Douglas was full of life until the end.

She had planned a holiday with her daughter, Anne, in which she intended to take up painting water-colours.

She is survived by her husband, Donald, daughters, Anne and Dorothy, and her grandchildren Andrew and Laura.

Johanna-Ruth Douglas (Hansie Dobschiner), writer and Holocaust survivor; born 1925, died August 13 2002.