Sam Schryver was born on May 7, 1922 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Sam describes pre-war Amsterdam as the “most beautiful Jewish area ... so warm ... [the] most beautiful place to live for a Jew ... this is gone and will never, never come back." Sam went to public school, but also attended religious school where he learned Hebrew. He had a traditional Jewish upbringing.His father was on a committee to help clothe the poor; and the entire family belonged to various synagogues and Jewish organizations. Most of the Jews in Amsterdam were concentrated in the centre of the city. Sam explains that he never experienced any antisemitism growing up and that many of his close friends were non-Jews.
The Germans entered Amsterdam in May 1940. The Dutch Nazis began to organize more openly. One night 150 Dutch Nazis approached the Jewish quarter of the city. They were met, however, by 1 500 Dutch gentiles who came to defend the Jews. One Dutch Nazi was killed in the skirmish. As a reprisal, the German Nazis rounded up 400 Jewish boys and took them to concentration camps, either Mauthausen or Buchenwald. The Jewish neighbourhood was demarcated and all Dutch, Jews and non-Jews, had to register with the Nazis. Sam was able to get a job at a hospital, allowing him to be exempted from work camp. In September/October 1942, his father was taken to a concentration camp. Sam joined the resistance - he obtained false I.D. and ration cards for fugitives. During the great raid of May 1943 the Germans emptied all the hospitals and senior's homes - all patients (including his mother) and hospital employees were thrown into trucks to be taken to concentration camps. Sam managed to survive the great raid by going into hiding in The Hague. He spent 18 months in an attic until he was discovered and taken to a gestapo jail, "The Orange Hotel," where he was held from January 22 to February 2, 1945. He was then taken to Westerbork concentration camp. At Westerbork he worked in a factory that recycled batteries. He escaped and was picked up by the Orange Brigade - the allies thought Westerbork was a German army camp and was going to bomb it. Due to Sam's intervention, they delayed the bombing and sent a reconnaissance mission which confirmed his report that this was actually a concentration camp. The Canadian forces liberated Westerbork. Sam immediately joined the armed forces and volunteered to guard the German soldiers. He was relieved of his duties on June 22, 1945. He returned to Amsterdam where he joined a Zionist organization. Sam found out his parents had both been killed in Sobibor. One sister survived. Then he travelled the country looking for "Hidden Children,” preparing them for Aliyah. He did this until the State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948. He went into the textile industry and got his B.A. in Holland. In 1954, Sam immigrated to Canada because he had been liberated by Canadian forces. He did not want to create a family after seeing what had happened to his parents. His girlfriend was persuasive, however, and they have been married for 42 years.