In Hiding – Holland
The matron had one room where she hid Jewish children, about 4 or 5 of us. I was basically very unhappy there. She made us help in the house, taught us how to sew. When there were holes in the sheets, we had to put pieces in. She made us peel potatoes just to keep us occupied. We played together but that wasn’t really a very happy time. I stayed there till after the war. I had to accept it. I made friends with other [Jewish] children. I got quite close to them. We were just like a little group because the others [non-Jewish patients] were terribly disabled & mentally disabled. So we couldn’t communicate with those children at all.
The people where my parents were they weren’t really all that good. They gave us away. They knew that… because I think they thought my parents had financial… were in a good way. We got picked up one morning. [The SS] interviewed us. We kept saying that we were from Rotterdam, but still they took us on to the Schauburgh. And that Dutch Schauburgh was for the grownups to be sent to Westerboerk. There was across the road a school & they gathered children in the school.
When I got there, there was one of the helpers who used to look after us in the afternoon. So she recognised me & my brother & when it became evening she came to us and she said: ‘Get dressed and I’ll take you to the sandpit.’ And she put me there. She said: ‘Someone will come & take you away & bring you away into hiding again. But in the evening the Germans are coming & they count the children & I don’t want you to be counted. So sit here.’ So she put me in the sandpit outside & that’s where I sat till somebody came."
[My parents] tried to explain that after the war we’d be together again & that they’d try to see me occasionally. And I took it reasonably in my stride. I got up & was getting dressed & my case was packed for me & I was allowed to take my dolls – not too many toys but I was allowed to take some, & the same with my brother. And then my parents took me & we had to stay. They were very nice people & they made me feel at home."
No child likes to be separated. But I understood it was a necessity. My mother kept saying that I had to help to look after my brother who was 3 years younger & couldn’t really understand the situation at all. And we were very lucky we met a very nice family who were willing to take us. They had no children - couldn’t have any children and were longing to have children – and I think in the back of their mind they thought if something happens to my parents they’ll keep us.