Edinburgh pensioner who 'misled' the Nazis to save her relatives is to celebrate 100th birthday

A woman who ‘saved’ her brother and father from the clutches of Nazi Germany during World War Two will be celebrating her 100th birthday this week thanks to her Edinburgh carers.

Mrs Nicolasina Matley-Vissers grew up in Veldhoven, The Netherlands, where she and her family were exposed to the terrors of Nazi razzias – roundups where Adolf Hitler’s army seized men aged 18 and over for 'Arbeitseinsatz' (involuntary work in Germany).

According to her family and carers, the soon-to-be 100-year-old, who now lives in Liberton, Edinburgh, often tells the tale of when she cried her eyes out in front of Nazi officials when they raided her home and told them her male relatives had already been taken.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Little did the troops know, her brother and father were hiding in a cornfield at the back of the family’s house.

Mrs M in her home with carer Karen Dalrymple after receiving cards and flowers for her 100th birthday picture: supplied
Mrs M in her home with carer Karen Dalrymple after receiving cards and flowers for her 100th birthday picture: supplied

Mrs Matley-Vissers, known more often as Mrs M, will be celebrating her 100th birthday tomorrow, January 7, at her Edinburgh home.

Owner of Carrick Home Services Andrea Ramsey, who has been providing domiciliary care for the veteran over the last six years since she was diagnosed with dementia, said Mrs M never fails to astonish people with her stories.

"This woman is fabulous to look after and the stories she tells are are even more so,” Andrea said.

"It’s not often you hear about someone misleading the Nazis like a professional actress to save their family.

An old photo of Mrs M supplied by her family picture: supplied

"Given what this marvellous woman has been through, her humour and her very nature, we want to make her 100th birthday as special as possible in these difficult times.

"We have tough times ahead, but to celebrate such an amazing milestone birthday for an incredible woman makes it all worthwhile, it really does."

Mrs M will receive a cake, cards and a note from the Queen on her birthday.

Her nephew Ian van Deijck is taking the special occasion to share a story that often entertains those who spend time with his elderly aunt.

Mrs M in her younger days and with husband Ian Matley (middle) picture: supplied

“A story Mrs M told me several times is how she got a job at Harrod's when she was living in London,” he said.

"The company was looking for a sales person who could speak as many languages as possible.

"My aunt got the job by claiming she spoke six languages, of which three were really one and the same: Dutch (The Netherlands), Flemmish (Belgium) and Afrikaans (South Africa).

"This is typical for my aunt; she always managed to make the best out of every situation by a combination of creativity and boldness.”

After World War Two Mrs M moved from The Netherlands to Edinburgh, where she attended nursing training in Leith.

During this period she met her life-long husband Ian Murray Matley, with whom she moved to London and the USA; first New York City followed by Ann Arbor and East Lansing in Michigan.

Mr Matley was a professor and received a State of Michigan Teaching Excellence Award in 1991.

He died in the early 90s shortly after he and Mrs M had returned to Edinburgh. She has lived in the city ever since.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.