Capital City Nurses–Real Life Profile
Marion van Binsbergen Pritchard was attending the school of social work in Amsterdam, Holland, when the Germans invaded the country. Like so many of her peers, WWII dramatically altered the course of her life. Her transition from college student to rescue worker was gradual, but seemingly inevitable.
Early in the occupation, Marion was asked by her supervisor to take home the young son of a Jewish couple before they were deported. However, her life as an insurgent really began when she saw the residents of a Jewish children’s home deported.
“That event really increased her resolve, and she decided that this [rescue work] was something she ought to do,” recalled her son, Ivor Pritchard.
Marion went on to dedicate much of her time to hiding, sheltering and moving Jewish children who were in danger of being sent to concentration camps. Ivor explained that Marion actually does not know how many of the children she helped ultimately survived the War. “She knows that she helped to hide hundreds of children, but with the exception of a few, she doesn’t know how many of them survived,” he said.
Marion’s connections with her charges were naturally limited by her sense of duty. “When you’re trying to keep people hidden, you don’t want to know any more than you have to, so you don’t have anything to tell if you get caught,” Ivor noted.
After the War, Marion became a social worker for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and helped to organize displaced person camps. It was at an UNRRA camp that she met Tony Pritchard, a former U.S. Army officer who became the camp director. “They had actually met while she was training for the job but parted ways and were reunited when he was brought in to run the camp,” recalled Ivor. “They reestablished their relationship there and were married at the camp.”
After several years working in the camps, the Pritchards returned to the United States and went on to have three boys. However, Marion never gave up her work on behalf of Jewish refugees, later taking a position with the Boston Jewish Family and Children’s Service.
After Tony passed away, Marion decided to move to the Washington, D.C., area to be closer to one of her children. Ivor lives in Cleveland Park, and Marion moved to The Georgetown Retirement Residence, an assisted living community that is only three miles away.
Marion had been living at The Georgetown for several years when a series of falls resulted in a trip to the emergency room. From the hospital, Marion went to a rehabilitation center to learn to walk with a walker. When she was released back to The Georgetown, they recommended that she receive additional nursing care and suggested Capital City Nurses, a full service home care agency.
“Capital City has been helping her since last November, and their services have been very good,” Ivor said. He explained that the degree of help provided has varied according to his mother’s needs.
The caregivers from Capital City have formed a strong bond with Marion. “The caregivers have come to understand how my mother sees things,” Ivor said. “They are very good at encouraging her to be active but also respect her independence, which is so important.”
The independent spirit that allowed Marion to risk everything to protect and save children during the War endures to this day. While she may not know all the victims she saved, her legendary efforts will certainly never be forgotten.