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MEMORIES  FROM  WORLD  WAR  II

 

by

 

Sarah  Simonson - Lampie 

Tel-Aviv  Israel(1989)

    

  

* Translated to English by Itamar Simonson (1044 Vernier Place, Stanford, CA 94305).


 My children:

 

            You asked me to tell everything that happened to me during World War II so you can tell your children and perhaps your grandchildren, and especially in order that you will not forget that such a period existed.  Here is my story.

 

            My family lived for generations in Holland.  The grandfather of my grandfather (from my mother's side) was a cantor in Amsterdam during the Napoleon era.  The family was religious, not Zionist; they lived several hundred years in Holland, and no one planned to change that.

            I was the only child of my parents, Simon (Shimeon) Lampie and Elizabeth (Ellisheva) Lampie (maiden name: Onderwyzer).  My father had eleven brothers and sisters, and my mother had six brothers and sisters.  A grandmother from my mother's side died a short time before I was born, and I received her name Sarah.  The grandfather from my father's side died when I was five, and I kind of remember him.   The grandmother from my mother's side died when I was seven, and the grandfather from my mother's side came to live with us, and I spent a lot of time with him.  He was a nice and modern man, despite being very religious; he liked to play cards, including Bridge, and he took me sometimes to see movies, etc.  He was the older brother of the Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam.  He died, lucky for him, in November 1940 when the Germans were already in Holland, but before there were any laws against Jews.

            As you know, there was World War I (1914-1918).  Holland did not participate in that war, and when Hitler started in 1938-1939 conquering different countries in Europe, we thought that this time again Holland would remain on the sideline, even after Denmark and Norway were conquered in April 1940.

            But on the night of May 10, 1940, Holland's turn also arrived.  The Germans started attacking at midnight and suddenly we had a war.  The Dutch soldiers fought like heroes, but they could not stop the German soldiers.  We heard on the radio everything that happened and were shocked when on the fourth day of the battle, Tuesday May 14, that Queen Wilhelmina, her daughter Juliana ("J" in Dutch pronounced like "Y"), and her daughters left Holland for England.  It felt as if a mother had left her children , and then we knew that there was no hope.  The same day, in the afternoon, the Germans bombed the city of Roterdam and destroyed more than two-thirds of the city (it is a big city); thousands died and the Germans announced that they would do the same to Amsterdam.  Then, the night of May 14, 1940, the Dutch surrendered.

            We, the Jews, had a strange feeling that morning, May 15; what will happen now? How should we behave?  I stood in the street with friends when the first German soldiers entered Amsterdam.  They sang loudly.  Even today I remember the songs the Germans soldiers sang - it was terrible!  But that day we were standing quietly, not knowing what the future would bring.  At the beginning everything was "as usual."  I had worked since 1937 as a secretary in the metal business of the Magnus family.  Most of my work involved correspondence in German, English, French, and Dutch.

            Both the Dutch and the Jews said: "You see, everything stays the same, they will not do anything special!."  However, towards the end of 1940 things already started to happen:  Jews were first forbidden from entering public parks, then theaters and movie theaters; Jews were not allowed to ride buses, trolleys, and taxi cabs, or to own a car.  One day, at the beginning of 1942, we were ordered to give away our bicycles.  I remember taking my bicycle to a certain school and then walking back home.  So, things were becoming more difficult.

            But before I continue with all these things, I must tell you about something that happened, still in 1941.  One day in February 1941, when everything was relatively calm and the Jews were quite relaxed, a number of German soldiers entered the Jewish area of Amsterdam and started yelling and breaking some windows.  The Jews were upset, and there was some kind of a struggle.  The Germans were angry and sent many soldiers with weapons to the Jewish area.  The Germans brought several trucks and started to gather Jewish men, about twenty years old, in front of some Synagogues in the Jewish area - a total of 400 young men.  The Germans took them from the street, put them on the trucks, and disappeared.  After two months the parents of all these young men ( except two, I believe)  received a notice saying that they had passed away because of pneumonia, appendicitis, etc.  These young men were all about my age, and I knew many of them.

            But, back to the "rebellion".  The Jews decided to "fight."  They did not have any weapons except wooden sticks, but they received help.  The workers of the port of Amsterdam, who were not Jewish, decided to help the Jews. Many of them came to the Jewish area, and when the Germans raised the bridges around the Jewish area, the gentile workers stayed with the Jews. This battle between the Jews and non-Jewish workers and the Germans lasted several days. During that time, the city's population demonstrated solidarity with the Jews. There was a strike by trolleys and other services.  But of course, after several days the Germans won. The mayor of Amsterdam was fired, and a pro-German mayor replaced him.  This, I believe, was the first "rebellion" against the Germans anywhere.

            Slowly, slowly, the Jews were not allowed to do almost anything.  We could not buy anything in stores because the Jews were forbidden from entering stores (not owned by Jews), and the Jewish stores ( which had a sign "A Jewish store" ) received almost no supplies: no vegetables, no fish, no meat, etc.  But despite all that, the Jews tried to remain optimistic; they started a Jewish opera, a Jewish theater, there were many lectures and courses in Jewish homes, and they tried somehow to live normally.

            All that came to an end around April or May 1942, with an announcement in the newspaper of the "Jodenraad" (the Jewish Council; pronounced "Yoodenrat") that every Jew from now on must wear a yellow patch.  The patches with the word "Jood" (Jew in Dutch) had to be purchased, and we had to sew them on all of our clothes - on the left side of each article of clothing, 15 centimeters from the top and 15 centimeters from the left; not only on the jacket, but also on each dress, sweater, shirt, etc.  We had to sew it very tightly, because it happened that a German soldier or SS in the street tried to put a pencil under the patch, and if that was possible, he immediately arrested the Jew.  It was a lot of work to sew a patch on all the clothes.  I remember that at the beginning I was very stupid, because I was proud to walk in the street with my patch.

        At the beginning of 1942 I still worked for Mr. Magnus, even though there was very little work since most of his business was international (and there was a war).  Since the office was in their home, I became a good friend of the family and that was very nice.  Around May or June 1942, I think, Mr. Magnus said that he had no more work, and he organized a job for me at the Joodenraad.  This was an organization that the Germans established, and they nominated two Jews ( a philosophy professor and a wealthy jeweler) to head the council.  This council had to do all the dirty work.  Although I stopped working for Magnus we remained close friends, and I visited them many times.

            Then, on July 1st 1942, the Germans sent orders to young couples and other young Jews to come on a certain date to a certain place in order "to go to work in Germany."  If someone did not show up they came to pick him up and he received a special punishment.  Many, many of my friends went, disappeared, and that was the end for them - no one came back.  They were sent first to the Westerbork camp, a kind of a concentration camp in north-east Holland, not far from the border with Germany.  Trains with Jews left Westerbork to an unknown destination every Tuesday morning.  Since that July 1st 1942, the Jews had to stay in their homes from eight in the evening till six in the morning.  This gave us a feeling of being in prison, unable to get out.

            Don't forget that all that time, in addition to the war against the Jews, there was the big war between England and Germany.  The British planes flew over us on their way to bombing German cities, and we were happy about it as much as we could.  Sometimes the British bombed German camps inside Holland and we were very happy about that.  I remember the "rounds" that British planes did on the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina.

            After many of the young Jews disappeared, the Germans moved to older people.  They selected a street randomly, soldiers or policemen searched homes on both sides of that street and took the Jews out.  At first it happened only after 8 PM, but later it could be at any time.  I will never forget the fear and heart beats when we heard steps in the street.  At the beginning the Germans let sick people stay at home, and consequently, every night at 8 o'clock the adults got into bed.  I still remember my parents in bed every night.  I'll never forget the fear in those days.

            Every day we heard about friends and relatives who "disappeared."  The Germans used to bring the Jews they captured to a certain theater in Amsterdam.  They were taken from there to the train station and from there to Westerbork.  (After the war that theater was destroyed, except for its front wall; they put a sign and a garden there in memory of all the Jews who passed there during the war.  It is open for visitors.)  My uncles, aunts, cousins, and many friends went through the theater to Westerbork, and from there east on the Tuesday trains.  No one has heard from them or about them since then.  The Jews were allowed to take a few personal things, a backpack, and a small suitcase.  The rest, including furniture, dishes, etc., were left in the house.  About two days after the Jews left their apartments, people from a certain company (its name was "Puls") took all the things left behind and loaded them on big trucks, which brought them to ships.  I lived not far from the Amstel river, and I could see these ships with the furniture of the Jews; I think it was taken for Germans whose houses were destroyed by the British.

            Although Jews did not have telephones, we heard about most of the friends and relatives who disappeared.  By that time, old and sick people, and not only young Jews, were taken.  Many people disappeared and we did not hear anything from them once they left Westerbork on Tuesday morning.  The Germans put on the trains all the patients of the Apeldoorn mental hospital, together with the doctors and nurses.  They also took all the patients in the three Jewish hospitals in Amsterdam with the doctors and nurses who happened to be there that day.  Two good friends of mine were saved.  One (Hannah Brilleman) happened to be out of the hospital when they arrived, and when she came back she found an empty hospital.  The other friend (Yafa who lives now in the Massuot Yitzchak kibbutz in Israel) was hiding for hours with another nurse in an elevator between two floors.  After several hours, they did not hear anything and left the empty hospital.  I had other friends there who were taken by the Germans.  That was the situation around the beginning of 1943.  Everyone was afraid.  No more optimism, just fear, fear, fear.

            One day, I was sitting in the Joodenraad office when a neighbor of ours called around two PM and said that "they have just taken your mother from your apartment."  My mother was alone in the house; she was almost blind.  I'll never know how the Germans took her out of the house and how they put her on the truck.  I was particularly concerned, because the night before a non-Jewish friend of my father brought us fish, and Jews were not allowed to have fish .  It turned out later that they did not find the fish.  I asked a number of people in my department at the Joodenraad to arrange that my mother would be released, but I did not succeed.  The only thing they promised was to try to keep my mother for some time at Westerbork.  I came home after work; the apartment was as usual except of course for my mother.  My father came home and we tried to maintain things as much as we could.  We sent packages to my mother at Westerbork.  This was Passover time.  The Germans did not allow the factories to make Matzos, and we (the homemakers) took a short course in the Jewish community in baking matzos.  These matzos did not look pretty, but it was possible to eat them.  I'll never forget that Passover of 1943.  Daddy and I had the Seder at an aunt and a cousin (my uncle was taken a few months earlier) in the afternoon, because we had to be back home by eight, and it was a long walk.  I took the Passover dishes out of storage and put them back in storage ("for the Germans") on the last day of Passover  (a matter of habit.)

            After a few weeks, they told me at the office that it was no longer possible to keep my mother at Westerbork; the Germans wanted to send her.  I told it to Dad in the evening, and he immediately decided not to let Mom go east alone.  I tried to convince him to stay at home as long as possible because she, being almost blind, is probably at a hospital and he would not be able to be with her anyway.  No one thought that time about gas chambers and murder; we could not even imagine something like that.  But Dad insisted: he would not leave Mom alone in the East.  The next day he went to the Gestapo offices, the German police, and volunteered to go to Westerbork.  Because he volunteered, the Germans gave him a special permit  with his papers to take the trolley home and then, at eight in the evening to the theater.  He came home and packed his backpack.  In the meantime, my aunt (the mother of my cousin Audrey, who lives in the United States) came when she heard that he volunteered to go.  They argued and yelled; the aunt said that everyone should try to save himself, and Dad said, "I won't leave her alone; whatever happens, we'll be together",  My aunt left because she had a long walk and had to be home by 8.  My Dad kissed me and went on his way.  I looked at him from my room's window till he got to the end of the street, and that was it.  Two years later I heard from someone who was at that time at Westerbork that Mom and Dad stayed another four days together in Westerbork; they were very happy - walked holding hands, and after four days they went east  on the train to the gas chambers - but they were together.

            I stayed alone; I worked at the Joodenrat during the day, then went  to the Magnus's house for supper, and at seven o'clock I walked home.  That was how I lived; around me, friends and relatives disappeared every day and night.  It was frightening to be alone in the big apartment, knowing that I could not go out.  When would they come to get me?  I had to sit and wait.

            From time to time, the Germans mailed orders for people to show up in a certain place to be sent for "work in the East."  One day I also received such an order to come to a certain square in Amsterdam with my things.  I was frightened.  I went to my work in the Joodenraad as usual - what else could I do?  After work I went as usual to the Magnus family.  When they opened the door for me, I yelled upstairs, "It's the last time I am coming here!"  Mrs. Magnus waited upstairs and when I came in she asked, "What did you say?"  I told her about the order that I received.  She did not say anything, called her husband, and they entered one of the rooms and closed the door.  I will not forget those moments.  I stood in the hall talking to the kids, knowing that this was the last time.

            Then, the door opened and Mr. and Mrs. Magnus came out.  She said: "No Sarah, you are not going there, we have a solution for you.  Through a friend we know a person who is willing to help Jews.  We can call him, invite him and ask that he transfer you and Dini (their cook) to a safe place."  And that is what happened.  The man (his name was Hank) arrived, I don't know how.  Mrs. Magnus explained the situation to him and asked if he could take her two friends to a safe place.  He agreed.  Dini and I planned to meet him at seven PM the next evening at a certain place in a certain train station, without any baggage, and of course without the yellow patch.  We were not supposed to know him or to give any sign, just enter the same car and get off where he would get off.  I told Mrs. Magnus and Dini that I would come to their house the next day, and I went home for the last time.

            I had a strange feeling at home.  I thought about all the years that I lived there with Mom and Dad and part of the time with my grandfather.  I looked at all the furniture that I liked realizing that I would not see it again, and I knew I was going to an unknown future - different life and dangerous life (assuming  I would  live till the end of the war).  This was a sad night at the apartment.  I grew up there, I was an only child and my parents always loved me and spoiled me; from now on I would be all alone.

            In the morning of that day, Monday, May 23, 1943, I did not go to the office (so that they would think that the Germans took me the previous night, which is what we assumed when someone disappeared).  I did not have to pack since I was not allowed to take anything.  I only put a pair of socks and underwear in my bag and went to Magnus.  There I took off the patch from the dress, underdress, and also the raincoat, but I put it back loosely on the coat; we could not leave the Magnus apartment without the patch since the neighbors could have seen us without the patch.  Mrs. Magnus took a postcard, tore it into two, gave us half and said: "If you ever need help, send someone to me, if I am still here, and give him your half so I'll know it really came from you."  When it was dark, Dini and I went to the train station.  Saying good-bye to Magnus was hard; the last sure thing that we had was gone.

            We walked through the city in the dark, and at some point in a quiet street I told Dini: "I am throwing the patch."  Dini and I pulled the patch, looked left and right, and threw away our last patch.  Strange feeling: for two years "we were Jews" and everyone recognized us as Jews, and suddenly we were no longer Jews and were just like anyone else in the street.  There was no way back!  We continued to the train station looking for Hank.  He passed by us without looking, but put something in Dini's hands - train tickets.  We saw which car he entered, waited a few minutes and entered the same car.  We selected a seat from which we could see Hank.  It was all frightening and strange.  For two years we had not been allowed to go on a train, and now we were going on a train to an unknown place and to an unknown situation.  We did not feel free; we felt that we were running away from the Germans - the fear continued.

            After going for about an hour, Hank got off and we followed him.  We recognized that we were in the town of Helmond  in southern Holland.  Without saying a word, Hank left the station and started walking; we followed him at some distance.  After 15 minutes he stopped in front of a house and waited for us.  He rang the bell, and the woman who opened the door took us straight up to a room with one bed, a table, and two chairs.  Hank told us not to contact anyone and wait for his second visit; he said good-bye.  Our last familiar contact left.

            It turned out that we were at the house of a (non-Jewish) widow with two daughters, 16 and 18 years old.  The woman told us immediately that we should not leave the room, because boyfriends of the daughters came to visit and they were not supposed to see us.  It later turned out that some of these boyfriends were German soldiers, something that even Hank did not know about, as he told us when he came for his second visit with some clothes and money that we had left with Magnus.  We stayed in that room day and night.  In the evening she locked the main door, so we were allowed to go down to the bathroom.  When they had guests downstairs, we had to sit on a chair without moving.  We were not allowed to get close to the window or open the curtains.  The woman brought us food three times a day, and sometimes she stayed to talk a little bit.  Dini and I stayed in the room doing nothing.  There were no books; sometimes the woman brought us the newspaper and in other times she forgot to bring it.  It was difficult.  We talked a little bit and then were quiet.  We were nervous.  I got mad at Dini if I thought she got too close to the curtains trying to look outside.  She got angry at me if I made one move while guests where downstairs, etc.  That was how we spent about two months.

            As indicated, Hank came once after about three weeks, with some money and clothes that I left with Mrs. Magnus.  He also brought us (and that was the most important thing) a fake identity card (certificate).  It was apparently prepared by the Dutch underground using my picture.  From then on, my name was "Nellie."  I don't remember my (fake) last name, but I remained Nellie till the end of the war.  I forgot Dini's name, so I'll continue to call her Dini.  Although the certificate was fake, I gained some confidence.  At least I was again someone.  That was how we spent two months, with fear, tension, excitement, and boredom.

            One day, while Dini was standing about half a meter from the window, she suddenly said that a German soldier was walking back and forth on the other side of the street, and every time that he passed by the house he looked up in the direction of our window.  I looked myself and saw the same thing.  We became very frightened.  Maybe it is one of the daughters' boyfriends; perhaps they talked, who knows?  Maybe they would come to take us tonight, tomorrow, or not al all?

            We talked and talked and did not tell the woman anything when she brought us supper.  Dini had a sister in a town in central Holland, and we decided to run away since we did not know how to contact Hank or Magnus.  And indeed, that night at two AM we went downstairs, with our shoes in our hands and nothing else.  We opened the door, and for the first time in two months we were standing outside.  We had no idea where to go, and after passing a few streets, we entered the stairway of one of the buildings and stayed there till the morning.

            When we saw some people in the street, we went out also.  We did not dare asking people where the train station was, so we just walked around.  It was all very strange and we were very afraid.  It so happened that we walked in the right direction and got to the train station.  We bought two tickets to the town of Zutphen, where Dini's sister, who was married to a gentile, lived.  We came to their house as a surprise, and they were not very happy to see us.  After a day, the brother-in-law told us that he was afraid for the lives of his wife and two children and that we should leave.  At some point he even proposed that he would take us to the forest outside the town and he would bring us food every night after dark.  Dini and I did not know how to get in touch with Hank, and we kept asking the brother-in-law if he knew someone who would take us even for a short period and we would find something else later.  At the end, he agreed, and when he came back he said that he had a new address for us.  That night at 11 he took us to our new address.

            We arrived at a very large house.  A very nice couple greeted us.  But when we heard their name, we got scared: Solomon and Anna Israels - he was Jewish and she was not.  They owned an apartment complex.  They were Trotzkysts - some kind of communists.  Till then I never heard about this type of people; they were more communist than communists.  They were of course anti-Nazis and were very happy that they were able to do something for Jews against the Germans.  Since Salo (that was his nickname)  was married to a non-Jew, he had a lower priority in terms of being sent to Germany.  He had heart problems.  They gave us beds in the basement; although we did not have anything it was comfortable.  We had to work.  Dini was a cook since that was her profession, and I worked in cleaning the big house.

            As noted, I was the only child of my parents, who were not wealthy but not poor either.  We always had a maid (until the Germans made it illegal to work at Jewish homes).  I went to high school; then I started working in an office and in the evenings studied trade correspondence and shorthand.  I was spoiled and never helped with the house work.  That was why the work in that big house, in the situation in which we were (especially in the beginning), was so hard for me.  I did not know, for example, that after doing the dishes you are supposed to clean the counter top, and after peeling potatoes (I peeled a pail of potatoes every day for everyone in the house) you should wash them in a pail with clean water.  I remember that once Anna, the land lady, sent me upstairs to clean the room of one of the tenants.  I worked a bit with a vacuum cleaner, dusting, etc.  Just when I finished Anna came in and said: "Let me help you; we'll take the chairs out and start cleaning the room."  I did not tell her that I had just finished.  It was hard, but after a while I got used to it and laughed at how I had complained in the first few weeks.

            All the people around us were very nice, including the tenants who were not aware that we were Jewish.  Many friends visited the house, including communists and anti-Nazis with whom we could talk freely; that was very nice.  We were free to wander around the big house, including the basement and a big attic.  However, we did not go out at all, because the apartment house was close to a big German army base.  But that did not bother us, and we felt good there.  Anna's brother (a communist who fought the Nazis in Spain a few years earlier) and his wife often visited the house.  In short, we had nice company.

            I mentioned that Salo had a heart disease, and his condition deteriorated.  Three months after we arrived, he was taken to hospital where he later died.  That night, at 10 o'clock, Anna took Dini and me to the hospital to see "how nice he is lying there."  That was the only time during that period that we were outside.  They cremated Salo's body, and Anna brought the box with the ashes home and put it on a book shelf; every night she put a new flower next to the box.  One day, when Anna was not in the house, I lifted the box because I wanted to see if it was heavy.  It was pretty heavy and there was a certain sound, perhaps stones or bones - I don't know.

            After Salo's death Anna became strange.  First she got a dog and named it Salo.  She then brought more and more Jews into the house, I don't know from where (perhaps through the communist friends).  Anyway, every few days more Jews arrived.  There was an old couple, an old lady, a young painter, and a young couple.  Each time that she brought new people Anna said: "Salo would have liked that, it would have made him so happy."  She was not concerned about the fact that the situation became more and more dangerous.  She was proud that she was following Salo's wish and saving more Jews.  Dini and I discussed the possibility that the Germans would one day capture all of the Jews in the house.  We talked about it with one of the communists who often visited the house.  They decided to move Dini to another address in Zutphen at the house of a shoemaker, and they moved me to a totally different place.  That was how Dini and I departed and I saw her again only after the war.  So I left the house, Anna, and the other tenants.  I was there for about six months, and it was pretty good, even though during that period I was outside only once.

            Someone came to pick me up, brought me to the train station and told me that someone with a specific newspaper would stand at a specific place.  "You should follow him, get into the same car, without "knowing" him, and that is how you should behave with all the people who will transfer you.  They know how you look."  I changed three trains with three different men, who did not say a word.  I felt like a package; it was a strange feeling.  It was dangerous because at any time German soldiers could come and ask for certificates.  I did have an identity card, but it was fake and was not done very well.  But I was lucky and there were no certificate checks.

            At the end we got off at a small town in southern Holland, and the man, who brought me to a small apartment, talked to me for the first time.  He said that he brought me to a "transition family," and after several hours someone would come to take me to another place.  Before he left I thanked him; like other people who helped me along the way I never saw him again.  I sat there for several hours in the apartment of these nice people, and then a young woman showed up with two bicycles and asked if I was Nellie.  That was how I came to know Berta, who was 22 years old and who became a good friend of mine for a long time.

            While riding our bicycles, Berta told me more about herself and her family.  It turned out that her parents, who were ordinary farmers, had a kind of a center for helping Jews in their home.  Berta, her married sister Tru, her brother Harry, and two other brothers were working secretly to help Jews.  I understood from her that young Jewish men and women were living and working in many of the farms that we passed on the way.  They always made sure that the people in neighboring farms would not know, for example, that the new maid of their neighbors was Jewish.

            After biking for about an hour, we arrived at the farm of the big sister and her husband.  Berta said good-bye.  That was how I got to know Tru, who later played an important role in my life during the war.  She was a young woman, a mother of three small daughters, the wife of a farmer, and she was very nice.  We quickly became friends; I helped her in the kitchen and the house, I fed one of her daughters; in short, I immediately felt at home.  Her husband was nice too.  They were not afraid to have a Jew in the house.  That was how I spent a few hours, and I wanted so much to stay there.

            However, Harry, the older brother, came around ten o'clock at night with two bicycles.  I had to say good-bye to Tru and her husband and we left.  Harry was a nice man, very practical, and he was the head of the family's (Jewish) operations.  He was married and had six or seven children; he also was a farmer.  He told me where he would take me and said that he would visit me every few weeks so that I would not feel as if I was all alone.  After riding the bicycles for a couple of hours we arrived at a village called Helenaveen and came to the farm of a family consisting of a father, a mother, and three children.  They greeted me, showed me my room, and I said good-bye to Harry.

            The next day I got to know everyone in the family and started working.  I worked partly in the house and the kitchen and partly in the farm -- feeding the cows and the pigs.  They were somewhat primitive but nice people; I felt OK there.  I am a person who adjusts quickly to new situations, so I did not have any problems until one day the farmer came to me and asked for my identity card.  I became scared and asked why he wanted it.  He explained that, because of the war, the authorities allowed  to slaughter a pig only to families with at least six members.  He was anti-German like most Dutch people.  Harry explained to him the risks involved, and he was actually proud for keeping a Jewish woman in his house; yet he also had this plan in his head regarding the pig.  I told him that, although I had an identity card, it was fake and certainly should not be presented to the authorities.  This was a big disappointment for the whole family.  I kept hearing from them day and night, especially during meals, about this fat pig that was lying there uselessly but could not be slaughtered.  I myself fed this pig everyday and felt terrible about this thing.  I waited for Harry who promised to visit every few weeks.  Generally, Dutch farmers slaughter a pig from their farm once or twice a year, and that is the meat they eat in different ways throughout the year.

            After being there in a not so pleasant environment for two and a half weeks, Harry showed up one evening.  He said: "I spoke today with your "boss" and he told me about the pig issue.  We never leave someone in a place where she is not wanted.  It is dangerous for everyone.  Although I do not yet have a new place for you, I came to take from here."  I said good-bye to the family, and Harry and I biked again in the dark, passing on the way many fields and farms.  The bicycles had no lights because we were afraid that the Germans would see us.  Harry brought me to his parents' house and I was warmly received.

            For three days I was spoiled by these nice and warm people.  I immediately called them Mom and Dad.  I met in the house their sons and the sons' friends, all of whom worked for Jews and were anti-Nazis.  I heard there about a problem they had with a Jewish woman that needed to have appendicitis surgery; How could they take her to hospital?  How would they present her?  I heard there about many things I was not aware of.  These people voluntarily risked their lives day and night.  This was a special period; they opened my eyes to all the things these people were doing for us.

            After three days Harry told me that he had a new place for me.  I knew ahead of time that I could not stay there, even though I wanted it very much.  Saying good-bye was painful.  They told me that my new place was not far, perhaps half an hour away, and I would be able to visit.  So, Harry and I went on our way again.  We passed by his house on the way (a small farm and house).  We passed by Tru's house, kissed, and she also invited me for a visit.  After additional 15 minutes we came to a village with pretty, well kept houses, and it all seemed very peaceful.  We entered one of these pretty houses, and it turned out that Harry brought me to the house of a teacher in a local school; his name was Teo.  His wife, Mien, was the daughter of a farmer who lived next to Harry's parents.  She was very proud that her husband was a teacher.  They were a young couple with three small daughters, two, three, and four years old.  The fourth daughter was born while I was there.  The atmosphere was pleasant and I felt good.

            The German authorities started in that period to move some of the non-Jewish Dutch people who lived close to the western sea-shore of Holland away from the ocean in preparation for attacking England, as the German soldiers used to sing loudly every day.  It was therefore easy to convince the village inhabitants that I was one of those who were moved from the sea-shore area.  I worked very hard in Teo and Mien's house.  Mien was one of the "cleanest" women that I have ever met.  It is very difficult to maintain a house with three little children clean all the time.  I had to wash the floor a few times a day.  Every stain on the wall or a door I had to clean immediately.  Every toy had to be put in place right away.  The girls wore aprons all the time, which I had to change often.  I did not work alone.  Mien worked like me from morning till the evening.  She was very nice.  I can still remember her saying: "Nellie, the girl has a dirty finger; go clean the finger and then the stain on the door."  Once a week we did a huge laundry, which was a full day's work despite having a washing machine; and then hanging the clothes - that was so much work.  Monday night we were always dead tired.  I also had interesting conversations with my "boss" - the teacher.

            Now I'll tell about a unique experience that I had while staying with Mien and Teo.  Every Sunday was a special day, especially for the religious Catholics of Southern Holland (90% of the population there are Catholics).  Every Sunday afternoon I went for a walk with the girls, one in a stroller and one on each side.  Since I was recognized as one who was transferred from the sea-shore area, I could walk freely, though I had to be careful to tell always the same story.  Sometimes I walked to the house of Tru, the older daughter of the Jansen (Harry's) family.  She lived about 20 minutes walk from our village.  I always had a wonderful time at their house.  One day Tru told me: "Nellie, try to come next Sunday alone, without the girls, and I'll have a surprise for you."  I said that I would try and left.

            The next Sunday, Mien allowed me to go alone to Tru's house.  When I arrived, she said: "I thought a lot about you.  You had to run away, hide, always afraid, and alone.  I know it would have been tough for me to be without the company of Catholics, and I am sure you are missing the company of other Jews.  So, despite the danger, I invited four Jewish women who are hiding in the area and prepared some things for you.  Eat, drink, spend a few hours together, and we'll be in the meantime in our parents' house."  In the kitchen I found three young women about my age and a lot of food.  We introduced ourselves using our real names, we ate, drank, and talked as if we had known each other for years.  That was a great day for all four of us.  After about two hours the family came back, and we each went to her own place.  I have never seen them again and don't know what happened to them; I hope they made it till the end of the war.  I stayed at Mien and Teo's house a few months, working hard, but that was a pleasant place and I was hoping to stay there till the end of the war.  We heard news on the radio and read the newspaper, so we knew that the situation of the Germans was getting worse, and we were happy about that of course.

            After being there for about four months, Berta came one evening unexpectedly with two bicycles.  She told us that the Germans arrested a young Jewish woman who was hiding in the area as well as the farmer at whose house she was staying.  The Gestapo, the German police, tortured them, and one of them apparently told the Germans about the local organization for helping Jews and about the Jews hiding in the area.  So Berta and her brothers came to take us.  We said good-bye to Mien and Theo (the kids were already asleep) and Berta and I left.  Both of us were scared and did not talk.  She brought me to some kind of an underground cave in the middle of a wheat field.  I found there about twenty young Jewish men and women; we were all frightened and did not talk in fear that we would be heard.  We were sitting there, sleeping, and waiting.  Once a day, usually at night, Berta or one of her brothers brought us food.  The Jansen family was trying in the meantime to find us new places in different areas.  It was difficult finding work and a hiding place, because in that period many non-Jews who did not want to work for the German army were looking for hiding places.

            Each night, Berta, Harry, or one of the other brothers came to take one of us to a new place.  We said good-bye hoping to see them alive at the end of the war.  On the fourth night that I was there, Franz, Berta's friend whom I knew, told me to come.  I asked where he was taking me, and he said he would tell me on the way.  We left riding bicycles.  Then he told me: "I'll take you to a temporary place; we still do not have a permanent place for you but we have to take you out of the cave, it is too dangerous there.  I am bringing you to an unpleasant place, but there is no other choice.  We were thinking who we could send there and decided that you were strong enough to hold up there.  The minute we have a better place, we will move you there.  In the meantime try to manage."

            We were riding for at least three hours, and at about 4 AM or so we arrived at a certain village.  Franz knocked on the door of one apartment.  When it opened I heard an old man's voice and a terrible smell came from the apartment.  It was dark, and Franz took the two bicycles and said: "Bye Nelly; remember what I told you -- we will not forget you."  He left.

            It is not hard to imagine how I felt standing in the dark at the entrance to an unfamiliar house, hearing the old man and smelling this terrible stink.  At the same time, Franz, the last person that was somewhat "mine," left me there alone.  The man asked me to come in.  Because it was war time, the house was completely dark.  He took me to a room and showed me my bed.  He said: "Let's go to sleep, and we'll do the introductions in the morning."  There was a chair next to the bed and that was where I sat for the remainder of the night; I did not know whether the smell was an indication that the blankets were dirty, so I preferred to sit on the chair.

            In the morning I got to know the voice from the night.  It turned out that he was a nice old man, who had been a widower for thirty years.  All that time he almost never cleaned the place.  Everything was dirty, including the kitchen dishes, but he was a very friendly person.   I proposed to clean the apartment, starting from the kitchen, but he kept saying: "You will not work here  -  you are my guest."  He gave me a plate for breakfast (which he washed with water).  I told him I was not used to eating breakfast ; I just could not eat with so much dirt everywhere.

            When he went to work in the field, I tried to clean a little bit and remove the dirt from the pots.  However, it was difficult to do it without soap.   I knew that he could not go to the store to buy soap, because that would create suspicions by the people at the store.  It was important that the village people would not know that there was someone else in the house.  I asked him to bring vegetables from the field so that I could cook them, but he said I should not cook because I was a guest.  He cooked and I hardly ate anything.  I used a broom that I found in the empty cattle-shed to clean the house a little bit (when he was working in the field).  There were no books or newspapers that I could read, and it was very boring in the house.  One time I found an old local newspaper from thirty years earlier with all the village news from that period.

            The old man came home from the field one day and said that he heard that the British landed in France.  The date was June 6, 1944 - D Day.  I was very interested of course because that could mean that freedom was close, but he was not very interested and did not know much (he never bought a newspaper and I could not ask him to start buying).  He also said that France was far away.  I was hopeful.

            I spent there two weeks.  Franz appeared one day with bicycles and said that they had found a place for me.  He told me that the German police did not find out about the Jansen family operation and did not catch any of the Jews hiding in the area.  He said that they would take me to a place far from the village three days later.  I spent these three days at the house of Tru (Berta's older sister).  I was so happy, and she wanted to spoil me after spending two weeks in "that unpleasant place."  She cooked all kinds of special dishes, and after not eating much for two weeks I got a bad diarrhea.  Despite that, these were three wonderful days, although this time I was not allowed to go out of the house.

            After three days there, Harry came to pick me up and after biking for many hours, we arrived at a village in a totally different region, Noord Limburg, with different accent and customs.  This was a fairly big farm.  The head of the household was a widower, about 70 years old.  There were two sons in the house, both in their thirties, who were engaged to village girls, as well as a daughter about my age.  They also had additional brothers and sisters, who were married and visited the house frequently.  They told me that I should behave like a Catholic girl and that I would have to go to church and participate in all prayers in the house.  This was not difficult, and I learned how to do it quickly.  They told people in the village that they got a maid because there was too much work for the one daughter who was still at home.  I worked there in the field - planting, collecting potatoes (which is a very hard job), feeding the chickens and the cows, cleaning the cattle-shed, and of course cleaning the house, etc.  They were nice and I developed close relationships with the daughter.  She told me all the secrets about her love affairs with boys in the village.

            We prayed three times a day, partly on our knees.  In that part of Holland everyone is Catholic, and there were sculptures of Jesus in many places on the street.  Like everyone else, I made the sign of the cross each time I passed by a sculpture of Jesus .  The two brothers were very nice; I saw them only during the day, because they were usually with their fiancées in the evenings.  The only one I had to worry about was the old man.  When he and I were alone in his room or in the kitchen he tried to kiss me.  It only happened a couple of times, and afterwards I tried to be in another part of the house (e.g., in the bedroom that I shared with the daughter) when we were alone.

            The only one in the village who knew that I was Jewish was the priest, and I had pleasant conversations with him.  Everyone in this small village knew me, but no one knew that I was Jewish.

            In the meantime, the war of the Germans against the British, Americans, and Russians continued.  The Allies pushed the Germans from France and they retreated to southern Holland.  They came closer to our area, and suddenly we were at the front-line.  There were tough battles in the area.  Then one day German soldiers and officers arrived in our village.  German soldiers entered every house in the village, demanded a few rooms and moved in.  A few officers and soldiers moved to our house and they put in the basement a big machine, which turned out to be the telephone exchange of the battle front.  The soldiers spent part of the days and evenings with us, sat with us in the kitchen, and talked with us.  I was very afraid in the beginning that they would find out that I was Jewish.  They thought that I was the maid, and it never crossed their mind that I might be hiding there since I was "Catholic" and prayed like everyone else.

            I never spoke German with them or let them know that I understood every word they said to us or among themselves.  I pretended to understand more or less what they said to me and answered in Dutch, just like other people in our house.  The British army was just a few miles from our village and their artillery shelled us often.  Near our house there were German cannons targeting the British army.  Thus, the war was very close, with constant noise and danger of being hit.  I shared this experience with other people in the house and the village, and I can say that it was not very pleasant.  We spent long hours and nights in the basement whenever the British attacks became more intense.

            In addition to all that, I had my private fear that one day they would find out that I understood what they said.  I had to think about every word I said and made sure to "play my role" in every thing I did without making mistakes.  We all knew that this was the end for the Germans and they would soon lose to the British and Americans at one front, and the Russians at the other front.  Now that the British were so close, just a few kilometers away, I knew one thing: I made it so far and I should hold on for a little longer.  I should not show fear or be more nervous than other people.  This was hard.  One day, at the end of September 1944 I think, the German army sent the V-1 to London; this was a small plane without a pilot sent to bomb London.  This was a special event for them, and that day the German soldiers received each a bottle of liqueur.  The German soldiers opened the bottles in our kitchen, the head of the household gave everyone small wine glasses, and all of us (including me of course) "celebrated the German victory."  You can imagine how I felt at that moment.

            The German soldiers also knew that the end of the war was near, as I could tell from their conversations.  A few weeks passed by that way.  One evening at the end of November 1944 we were all sitting in the kitchen.  A few officers were sitting around the table and playing cards.  Suddenly, a soldier came from the basement and said something.  I did not hear what he said, but they all left and started packing.  We were sitting in the kitchen and watching them pack.  This was the end for them and perhaps the beginning for me.  I was sitting there without moving.  I knew they were running away and thought about being free soon.  I sat there all night, and I felt like telling them I was Jewish and that I was winning -- but of course I did not do that.  We stayed up till they left.  I could not believe yet that I was free.

            The next day it was very quiet in the village.  All of the German soldiers had left, no more sound of artillery; it was strange.  There were no more Germans, and the English had not yet arrived.  There were rumors that the Germans left mines in the streets and fields against the British.  No one knew if that was true or not, so everyone stayed in their yards as safe islands.  After a day or two, people started visiting other people.

            On the following Sunday, I told the landlord that I was not going to church anymore because I was Jewish and not Catholic.  He understood that and did not pressure me.  I was very proud.  I met farmers who were neighbors of ours and proudly told them: "You did not know that I am Jewish!".   Everybody was surprised and I was happy.  Thus, for a few quiet days, we did not know what was happening and when the British soldiers would arrive.

            One morning I was working with the landlady in the kitchen - she was cleaning the windows and I was cleaning the big stove.  Suddenly she yelled: "Nelly, I see soldiers in the street; these are probably the British."  When I heard that, I forgot about everything and ran outside towards the soldiers.  There were three soldiers, who appeared a bit scared.  They were probably sent to check whether there were still German soldiers or mines in our village.   I ran towards them yelling: "Welcome."  I was very proud being the first one to greet them.  They were not very impressed and concentrated on their task.  They asked me if I knew whether there were German soldiers in the village and a few other questions that I did not know the answer to.   A few farmers saw that I was talking with the soldiers and came closer.  It turned out that I was the only one in the village who could speak English.  We heard that British soldiers used to bring chocolate, cigarettes, and other good things that we did not have, and the people asked me to ask the soldiers if they had any.  But they did not come to the village to give away sweets.  The three of them together had half a pack of cigarettes, which they gave away, but that was it.  They then continued searching the village.  That was how we saw victory arriving.

            The next day, many British soldiers arrived with tanks and all the equipment, and the village was full of soldiers again - this time British soldiers.  They also moved into the houses, staying in the same rooms where a few days earlier the Germans stayed.  This time, I could tell everyone that I was Jewish, how I was hiding in the village, and that I was not going to church anymore.

            It turned out that, although the Germans retreated, they were not that far away, so we remained close to the war zone, though on the other side this time.  Still, we were free while the war continued for another half a year (till May 1945) in the central and northern parts of Holland, including the capital, Amsterdam.  Every two weeks a new group of British soldiers arrived and the previous group got a rest.  Each time a new group arrived at the house I asked if there was a Jew among the soldiers.  I was lucky once when they told me there was a Jewish soldier at the house next door.  I went there and found him; he was a Jewish tailor from Glasgow, Scotland, so I was happy.

            I started thinking about my future - what to do now that I was free?  I had no money or clothes, but I did have a profession.  Before continuing, I want to tell something about my clothes.  You may remember that when I left Amsterdam with Dini two years earlier I was not allowed to take anything.  Hank promised to bring us later some clothes we left at the Magnus's house, which he did.  However, when we ran away from our first hiding place with the shoes in our hands, we left everything there.  And with that nothing I stayed throughout the war.  I had one dress that I will never forget - a light blue dress with many small buttons that I wore for two years: at work, in the cattle-shed, in the field, and at home - always the same dress.  Every Saturday night I washed it, let it dry over night next to the heater, then ironed it on Sunday morning, and I had a "new" dress.  When there were some holes, someone helped me patch them.  The same happened with my (light color) coat,   I also had one pair of shoes, etc.  All that was not so terrible while I was hiding, but what should I do now?  One of the Jewish soldiers that I met told me that in the city of Eindhoven (Eindhoven was the biggest city in the area of Holland which had already been liberated) there was a kind of a Jewish community.  After hearing that, I became impatient, wanting to go there.  But how?  We were still near the front-line and were not supposed to leave the place.  I often spoke with British soldiers who went to the city.  In the meantime I got to know other Jews who were hiding in villages in the area, and that was fun.  But my main desire was to leave and start earning money.  Of course, I could have waited till Amsterdam would be liberated and then go back home, but who could tell how long the war would last.  I felt I could not wait that long.

            And one day I got lucky.  A British officer who stayed in our house was willing to take me to Eindhoven.  Although I was happy, I was also scared.  I did not know how I would find Jews, where I could stay, and, in general, what would I do?  After driving for two hours, we arrived at the city.  He dropped me off some place, and I did not know what to do.  I found an employment bureau that happened to be close by and registered for work.  Then, while standing in the street, I suddenly saw someone I knew - he was my counselor in the Zichron Yaakov youth movement.  His name was Abraham De-Yong (his name today is Abraham Yinon, and he is an educational inspector for high schools in Jerusalem).  He recognized me and told me that he and his wife were also hiding in a village in the area and decided to move to the city to be with other Jews.  He invited me to his home, and I was glad to see his wife again.  He told me that he knew some other well-known Jews and they were all meeting at his home that evening to try to establish an organization to help Jews who were arriving in the city with nothing.  He asked me to stay.

            I will never forget that day, January 1, 1945, which was an important day.  Indeed, several people arrived in the afternoon, some of whom I knew from before (among them was Dr. Jacob Arnon, later the Secretary General of the Finance Ministry of Israel).  They talked about what was happening with the Jews and how to help them.  The Organization for Helping Jews was founded that day.  Then, someone who knew me said: "And we already have a secretary, we'll hire Sarah."  It was strange to hear the name Sarah after being Nelly for a few years, but I was very glad of course.  They explained to me that they did not have money, but I would be able to stay with one family, eat at the house of another family, and they would give me an allowance until the Joint organization in England would recognize them as a chapter and start sending money.  I was very, very happy and accepted the offer.

            I had another important meeting that day that I would like to tell about.  I asked Abraham where I could stay that night and he took me to a Jewish family that used to leave in Eindhoven before the war (he worked for the large Dutch company, Philips), returned to the same apartment after the war, and they always had a room for people like me.  They put a mattress in the attic and I slept there.  I talked to them (a father, a mother and their daughter) about the topic that we were all talking about: who of our families and friends were still alive.  I talked about my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.  Among others I said: "I wish I knew what happened to my good friend Hannah Berlinger."  Then the woman asked: "is she a hospital nurse?"  I said yes, and she told me that Hannah was working in a hospital in the area.  I was so excited and could not believe it.  I immediately left, and while walking I kept saying to myself: "You are going to Hannah, you are going to Hannah"; I really could not believe it.  Hannah had been a good friend of mine since I was about 15 years old.  She knew my parents, and she worked at a hospital in Amsterdam.  She was the only one I told in May 1943 when I saw her that I was planning to escape, and that was the last time I saw her.  I arrived at the hospital and with great excitement I asked about Hannah Berlinger.  They told me that she was on a break for an hour and she was in her room upstairs.  They asked if they could tell her who was looking for her.  But I said: "That will not be necessary; I will go up there on my own."  I arrived at her room, knocked at the door, and heard her say "come in."  I opened the door quickly and said: "Here I am, Hannah."  By now I was prepared for the meeting, whereas for her it was a complete surprise.  She started screaming and crying.  It was a great moment.  We talked and talked.  She had left Amsterdam a few weeks after I did and was hiding also.  I heard from her about the last days of my parents at Westerbork before they were sent to the gas chambers in Auschwitz.  She got that information from her relative who worked in those days at Westerbruk and was aware that she knew my parents.  Hannah stayed another six months in Eindhoven, just like me, so we had a wonderful time together.

            Now that I had a job and friends, I went back to the village to say good-bye to the family of farmers where I had stayed and moved to live permanently in Eindhoven.  Of course, later I visited these people who risked their lives to save me.  I also visited the Jansen family several times, including Tru, Harry, Berta, and the parents and stayed there over weekends.

            So I started working at the organization for helping returning Jews.  After a month I started receiving a salary, I rented a room, and I felt good.  There was plenty of work, and it was very interesting.  They rented an office, and I became the management secretary.  I participated in the meetings, taking shorthand, and managed the office.  Among our activities, we published a weekly newspaper called "Leézrat Haám" (Help the People), we made sure that there were matzos (imported from Belgium) for the first day of Passover, and we published a short Hagada after finding out there were no Hagadas in the liberated parts of Holland.  New people kept arriving, who needed clothes and spiritual support.  They all lost some of their family: parents who lost their children, children who lost their parents.  We worked day and night, and that was just the beginning.  The concentration camps were liberated in April 1945, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, etc.  Trains from all the camps arrived in Eindhoven, which was the only large liberated city in Holland,

            I will not forget one night when Jacob Arnon woke me up at three AM and told me to get up and come with him.  A British soldier, who a few days earlier was among those who liberated the Bergen-Belzen camp, waited at the office.  He was so shocked by what he had seen that he could not stop telling more and more about it.  I took notes of everything he said.  What he told us was horrible.  This was the first report we received about what happened in the camps.  The next day I distributed what he told us to everyone in the organization, and they were all shocked.

            As indicated, the trains arrived from the East with very sick people, many of whom were so weak that they could not talk or lift a hand.  The hospitals in Eindhoven were all full.  Philips allowed use of some of its warehouses and buildings as hospitals.  Many people died after returning home.  We, at the office, in addition to our other work, went to visit these sick people, sit next to them, and mainly listen to them.  They had a need to tell about the camps.  It is impossible to describe or tell you all the horrible stories I heard.  In some cases, we had to inform them about the death of a husband, wife, or a brother who was staying at one of the hospitals in the city.  I met a cousin of mine who returned from Bergen Belzen weighing 28 kilograms (62 pounds).  I met relatives and friends whom I could hardly recognize because they were so thin, bald, just skin and bones.  Among others, all of the Magnus family returned through Eindhoven.  I took them to my home.  They were at the Terisianstaad camp.

            On May 5t, 1945, the Germans finally surrendered and the Northern part of Holland was also liberated.  The war was over.  The last year in the North was terrible and people suffered and were very bitter.  There was no food, no soap, nothing to heat the apartments with - nothing.  There was no electricity, no radio, no public transportation because of lack of gasoline, and no telephone.  Because the Jews were taken out of their homes and other people died, there were many empty houses.  So people entered the empty houses and took everything made of wood that could be used for heating their apartments.  Houses were demolished or had big holes were windows and doors used to be.  Because of the many illnesses in the North, we in the South were initially not allowed to go there.

            In addition to our other work, we spent much time trying to help people find out who of their families survived and where they were.  We worked day and night, and often this job was very sad.  It turned out that 90% of the Jews in Holland perished in the gas chambers and concentration camps.  That included most of my family: uncles, aunts, cousins, and my parents.

            Once in July 1945 I got permission to go to Amsterdam; that was the first time I returned to my home city.  But what a disappointment.  It was a ghost city - no transportation, electricity, etc., and there were no Jews there.  The Jewish area was destroyed.  A bit scared, I went to the street where I used to live with my parents.  The building was still standing.  I rang the bell downstairs and someone opened the door.  I climbed upstairs to the apartment.  I told them that I lived in that apartment for ten years and I mentioned my name.  Then the woman said: "I know this name.  When we moved in here, the apartment was empty, except for many cards with the name Lampie.  I wanted to cry but I did not, and I thought about all the good years that I spent with my parents in the apartment.  That was the last time that I was inside the apartment.  However, whenever I am in Amsterdam on vacations, I go to that street and stand in front of the apartment for a few minutes.  This is where I spent my youth, and this is the street where I played with friends.

            I returned to Eindhoven and worked there for a few additional months.  As I said, many Jews came to the office to check the lists in order to find out if their parents, children, relatives, and friends survived.  There were parents who found out their children were killed, children who learned that their parents were killed, and there were a few who found each other - but only a few.  We received thousands of letters from all over the world from people inquiring if anyone in their families survived.  There was a lot of sadness, as well as happiness in cases in which people found other family members.

            It turned out that there were many parents who gave their children to others to take care of them during the war.  We received the names of many Jewish children who were hiding and now had no parents to come back to.  Some of these kids were infants who were given to others soon after they were born.  So after the war, they were three or so years old and did not remember their real parents.  These children stayed with families who took care of them and loved them very much.  All of these children had assumed names, and many of them did not know their real names.  There were children who went to school like other Christian kids, whereas others never left their homes during the war.  When the war ended, Jews came to these families to take the kids back.  If the parents were alive, in all cases the children were returned with no problems.

            However, there were many children whose parents did not return, and the families who were keeping them loved them very much and did not want to give them away, even if an uncle, aunt, or good friends of the parents wanted to take them back.  Some of these children came from religious, Zionist families where it was clear the parents would have wanted them to be brought up as Jews.  We decided to establish an organization especially for the purpose of returning these children to Judaism.  The name of the organization was "Leézrat Hayeled" (Help the Child).  The managers from this new organization asked me to come and work for them as a secretary.  I agreed and moved to Amsterdam in September 1945.  So I left Eindhoven after spending a difficult but rewarding period there.

            Our goal in the new organization was to make sure that the Jewish children would receive Jewish education and grow up as Jews.  We were successful with many children who were then put in Jewish children homes or were adopted by Jewish families.  But we had major legal fights over some kids.  In some cases we managed to get the brother back from one family, but could not get back his sister who stayed with another family.  Maybe I'll tell you more about some of these kids later.

            When I returned to Amsterdam in September 1945, I could not find a room or an apartment; parts of the city and many apartments were destroyed during the war.  Through a cousin of my mother (the one I found at a hospital in Eindhoven) I found a room at the apartment of his sisters.  Next to that building there were two destroyed buildings, and even in our apartment there were some holes.  In addition to the two sisters, there was another young woman in the apartment, so there were four of us there.  One of the sisters did the house work and the other three worked outside.  It was a small apartment, and I shared my room.  There was also a living room.  For me, this was the first time that I was really independent - no parents to worry about me, I had an interesting job, a good salary, and I felt free.  There was a good atmosphere in the apartment, we were good friends, there were many visitors, and it was fun.  I am still in touch with three of them: one in Bnei Brak, one in Ramat-Gan, and one who stayed in Amsterdam.  I have good memories from that period.

            I came from a religious family and was religious myself.  I used to go to the Mizrachi (religious) youth movement, and every Saturday I went to synagogue.  During the war I developed some doubts, but after the war ended I automatically joined the religious circles again, despite the doubts.  The other girlfriends in the apartment were also (and still are) religious.  In that period I started thinking about the possibility of leaving Holland and moving to Israel.  I had quite a lot of friends, but many of my old friends were no longer alive.  And despite the interesting job, the nice apartment, and the old and new friends, I had this desire to start again.  I wanted to be among people who did not know what happened and did not talk about what happened and about the people who died.  It is hard to explain, but I wanted something new.

            Now I have to tell what happened a few months after the war.  As indicated, the Magnus family returned from the Teresientadt camp and they stayed with me in Eindhoven.  After a few weeks they continued to Amsterdam.  At first they stayed in a room some place, and later they received a nice apartment in the southern part of Amsterdam.  After I returned to Amsterdam I often visited and ate at their place.  Mr. Magnus started his metals business again.  You may recall that I used to work for him as a secretary until the middle of 1942.  He was the one who arranged the job for me at the Yodenraad, and later they arranged my first hiding place and thus saved my life.  After the war, when he started his business again, he took it for granted that I would take my old job back.  I felt a moral obligation to do that, yet I did not feel like going back to my job from before the war as if nothing happened.  I felt very uncomfortable about this.  Beside, my work for Jewish children was much more interesting than buying and selling metals; but I could not say "no."  So I told him (which was the truth) that I was considering emigrating to Israel and it would make no sense to start working for him and quit after a year.  I said: "I'll find you the right secretary; I know exactly what her duties will be, and until we find a secretary I'll come in the evenings to take care of your correspondence."  Luckily, we found a good secretary after a few weeks; I taught her the job, and she worked there for about 20 years.  I have remained a close friend of the Magnus family since then.  Mr. Magnus is no longer alive; Mrs. Magnus, who is 90 years old today, is like a mother to me, and whenever I am in Holland I visit her and her married sons.

            I also spent much time with my friend, Jenny, from before the war and we became closer friends than we were prior to the war.  Hannah Berlinger, who had parents, brothers, and a sister in Israel, received the needed certificate and moved to Israel.  We remained in touch.  She had a fiancée, Jap, and she wanted very much that he would join her in Israel.  But that was not possible because they were not married and she could not get a certificate for him.  We looked for a solution and finally found one.  It was a genuine Dutch solution: he sent a letter to the Queen of Holland and asked that I (his wife's friend) would marry him for her (under her name).  We received the permission to do that, and one day we went to City Hall to get married.  This was a big joke for us.  The first thing we did afterwards was to go to the post office to send a telegram to Hannah in Haifa, telling her that she just became Mrs. Brieleman; Yap and I then went to the theater and that was a fun day.  Hannah immediately asked for a certificate for her husband, and indeed he emigrated to Israel a few months later.  I remember that the day we "got married" Yap took me to the theater and that was fun.

            These were some not so bad and actually pretty good years, but I knew I had to make a decision.  I left the office in the middle of 1947.  They arranged a wonderful party for me, and I received many gifts.  I started a new life as a "pioneer" in preparation for life in Israel.  They found a job for me in a children house in the village Hilversum not far from Amsterdam.  The principal of this house was Nathan Dasberg, who later became the principal of the religious children village Kfar Batya near Raanana (Israel).  He and his wife Liz managed this children's house, in which all of the kids (except the Dasberg kids) were war orphans.  I knew the history of many of these children from my previous work at Leézrat Hayeled.  I don't think I was very good at taking care of the children.  I am not good at taking care of too many kids together, although I had very close relationships with the children individually.  The kids there were between four and seventeen.  Most of them live today in Israel.  I remember from that period the evening of November 29, 1947.  We were listening to the radio, and when we heard that the State of Israel would be founded we sang.  In Hanukah of 1947 the kids performed a play that I wrote.

            At the end of 1947 they told me from the pioneers organization that my turn to emigrate to Israel would be coming soon.  The British were still in control of Israel, so I knew that I would have to enter illegally.  I left the house in December and spent a few days at the Magnus home.  I said good-bye to my friends.  At the beginning of 1948 I went with a small group through Paris, where we stayed two days, to Marseille in southern France.  They brought us to a camp of the Jewish Agency and we met there other people from Holland, Poland, and other countries.  The camp was in a large park around a palace.  We lived there in tents, and I shared a tent with my friend Mien.

            We stayed about a month in France.  The manager of the camp was Shula Arlozorov, the daughter of Chaim Arlozorov (a leader in the Jewish community in Palestine (Israel), who was murdered in 1920).  One day Shula announced in the dining room that any one who has a sewing machine, a radio, a typewriter, etc., should bring it to the office and it would be sent separately to Israel.  Before leaving Amsterdam, I received from my friend Jenny and her husband Max a Hermes Baby typewriter so that I would be able to start working and earning money as soon as possible.  I went to the office and said the machine was so small that I could put it in my suitcase.  But they thought that it would put other people in danger and I must give it to them.  So I packed the typewriter and put on it the address of Hannah Berlinger.  They promised that the machine would be waiting for me.  That was the last time I saw this typewriter - it never arrived.

            After four weeks in Marseille, we boarded the ship "Transilvania," and after a week we arrived in Haifa.  I was a bit upset to see people with radios, etc.,  on the ship.  It turned out I was among the few who actually gave their things.  After we arrived, they took us to a house for immigrants on the Carmel mountain in Haifa.  I went to look for my friend Hannah Berlinger who lived near by (in 7 Rachel Street on the Carmel).  My friend Mien went to look for a job; she did not have any relatives in the area.  She quickly found a job in a children house.  Her boss, a woman physician, wanted her to start learning Hebrew and told her that her neighbor was giving Hebrew lessons.  She took Mien to this teacher, and Mien told him that he would have two new students, because Mien and I had decided that we would learn Hebrew together.  So Mien and I started taking Hebrew lessons from this teacher, whose name was Dr. Adam Simonson.

            Adam and I fell in love rather quickly and decided to get married.  We went together to Tel-Aviv to get acquainted with his family.  His mother was a piano teacher, his sister Eva was a pre-school teacher, and his brother Achim and sister-in-law Evy were members of the Givaat Brenner kibbutz.

            We had a girl, Danya, and three years later a boy named Itamar.  We lived five years in the Borochov neighborhood in Givaataim (near Tel-Aviv) and then moved to Shikun Yisgav in a suburb of Tel-Aviv.  Zivit, Adam's daughter from a previous marriage, spent many weekends with us.  Later Zivit grew up and spent less time with us, but she always stayed part of the family.  The children grew up, left the house, studied at the university, and got married.  Adam and I had a good time together; we made wonderful trips in Europe, until Adam got sick and passed away and I stayed alone.  I have good children and good grandchildren, and I am trying to enjoy life with my friends, different activities, reading, crossword puzzles, and travel.  I am very happy with my life.

 

Sarah Simonson-Lampie                          March 15, 1989

  Edit Text

MEMORIES  FROM  WORLD  WAR  II

 

by

 

Sarah  Simonson - Lampie 

Tel-Aviv  Israel(1989)

    

  

* Translated to English by Itamar Simonson (1044 Vernier Place, Stanford, CA 94305).


 My children:

 

            You asked me to tell everything that happened to me during World War II so you can tell your children and perhaps your grandchildren, and especially in order that you will not forget that such a period existed.  Here is my story.

 

            My family lived for generations in Holland.  The grandfather of my grandfather (from my mother's side) was a cantor in Amsterdam during the Napoleon era.  The family was religious, not Zionist; they lived several hundred years in Holland, and no one planned to change that.

            I was the only child of my parents, Simon (Shimeon) Lampie and Elizabeth (Ellisheva) Lampie (maiden name: Onderwyzer).  My father had eleven brothers and sisters, and my mother had six brothers and sisters.  A grandmother from my mother's side died a short time before I was born, and I received her name Sarah.  The grandfather from my father's side died when I was five, and I kind of remember him.   The grandmother from my mother's side died when I was seven, and the grandfather from my mother's side came to live with us, and I spent a lot of time with him.  He was a nice and modern man, despite being very religious; he liked to play cards, including Bridge, and he took me sometimes to see movies, etc.  He was the older brother of the Chief Rabbi of Amsterdam.  He died, lucky for him, in November 1940 when the Germans were already in Holland, but before there were any laws against Jews.

            As you know, there was World War I (1914-1918).  Holland did not participate in that war, and when Hitler started in 1938-1939 conquering different countries in Europe, we thought that this time again Holland would remain on the sideline, even after Denmark and Norway were conquered in April 1940.

            But on the night of May 10, 1940, Holland's turn also arrived.  The Germans started attacking at midnight and suddenly we had a war.  The Dutch soldiers fought like heroes, but they could not stop the German soldiers.  We heard on the radio everything that happened and were shocked when on the fourth day of the battle, Tuesday May 14, that Queen Wilhelmina, her daughter Juliana ("J" in Dutch pronounced like "Y"), and her daughters left Holland for England.  It felt as if a mother had left her children , and then we knew that there was no hope.  The same day, in the afternoon, the Germans bombed the city of Roterdam and destroyed more than two-thirds of the city (it is a big city); thousands died and the Germans announced that they would do the same to Amsterdam.  Then, the night of May 14, 1940, the Dutch surrendered.

            We, the Jews, had a strange feeling that morning, May 15; what will happen now? How should we behave?  I stood in the street with friends when the first German soldiers entered Amsterdam.  They sang loudly.  Even today I remember the songs the Germans soldiers sang - it was terrible!  But that day we were standing quietly, not knowing what the future would bring.  At the beginning everything was "as usual."  I had worked since 1937 as a secretary in the metal business of the Magnus family.  Most of my work involved correspondence in German, English, French, and Dutch.

            Both the Dutch and the Jews said: "You see, everything stays the same, they will not do anything special!."  However, towards the end of 1940 things already started to happen:  Jews were first forbidden from entering public parks, then theaters and movie theaters; Jews were not allowed to ride buses, trolleys, and taxi cabs, or to own a car.  One day, at the beginning of 1942, we were ordered to give away our bicycles.  I remember taking my bicycle to a certain school and then walking back home.  So, things were becoming more difficult.

            But before I continue with all these things, I must tell you about something that happened, still in 1941.  One day in February 1941, when everything was relatively calm and the Jews were quite relaxed, a number of German soldiers entered the Jewish area of Amsterdam and started yelling and breaking some windows.  The Jews were upset, and there was some kind of a struggle.  The Germans were angry and sent many soldiers with weapons to the Jewish area.  The Germans brought several trucks and started to gather Jewish men, about twenty years old, in front of some Synagogues in the Jewish area - a total of 400 young men.  The Germans took them from the street, put them on the trucks, and disappeared.  After two months the parents of all these young men ( except two, I believe)  received a notice saying that they had passed away because of pneumonia, appendicitis, etc.  These young men were all about my age, and I knew many of them.

            But, back to the "rebellion".  The Jews decided to "fight."  They did not have any weapons except wooden sticks, but they received help.  The workers of the port of Amsterdam, who were not Jewish, decided to help the Jews. Many of them came to the Jewish area, and when the Germans raised the bridges around the Jewish area, the gentile workers stayed with the Jews. This battle between the Jews and non-Jewish workers and the Germans lasted several days. During that time, the city's population demonstrated solidarity with the Jews. There was a strike by trolleys and other services.  But of course, after several days the Germans won. The mayor of Amsterdam was fired, and a pro-German mayor replaced him.  This, I believe, was the first "rebellion" against the Germans anywhere.

            Slowly, slowly, the Jews were not allowed to do almost anything.  We could not buy anything in stores because the Jews were forbidden from entering stores (not owned by Jews), and the Jewish stores ( which had a sign "A Jewish store" ) received almost no supplies: no vegetables, no fish, no meat, etc.  But despite all that, the Jews tried to remain optimistic; they started a Jewish opera, a Jewish theater, there were many lectures and courses in Jewish homes, and they tried somehow to live normally.

            All that came to an end around April or May 1942, with an announcement in the newspaper of the "Jodenraad" (the Jewish Council; pronounced "Yoodenrat") that every Jew from now on must wear a yellow patch.  The patches with the word "Jood" (Jew in Dutch) had to be purchased, and we had to sew them on all of our clothes - on the left side of each article of clothing, 15 centimeters from the top and 15 centimeters from the left; not only on the jacket, but also on each dress, sweater, shirt, etc.  We had to sew it very tightly, because it happened that a German soldier or SS in the street tried to put a pencil under the patch, and if that was possible, he immediately arrested the Jew.  It was a lot of work to sew a patch on all the clothes.  I remember that at the beginning I was very stupid, because I was proud to walk in the street with my patch.

        At the beginning of 1942 I still worked for Mr. Magnus, even though there was very little work since most of his business was international (and there was a war).  Since the office was in their home, I became a good friend of the family and that was very nice.  Around May or June 1942, I think, Mr. Magnus said that he had no more work, and he organized a job for me at the Joodenraad.  This was an organization that the Germans established, and they nominated two Jews ( a philosophy professor and a wealthy jeweler) to head the council.  This council had to do all the dirty work.  Although I stopped working for Magnus we remained close friends, and I visited them many times.

            Then, on July 1st 1942, the Germans sent orders to young couples and other young Jews to come on a certain date to a certain place in order "to go to work in Germany."  If someone did not show up they came to pick him up and he received a special punishment.  Many, many of my friends went, disappeared, and that was the end for them - no one came back.  They were sent first to the Westerbork camp, a kind of a concentration camp in north-east Holland, not far from the border with Germany.  Trains with Jews left Westerbork to an unknown destination every Tuesday morning.  Since that July 1st 1942, the Jews had to stay in their homes from eight in the evening till six in the morning.  This gave us a feeling of being in prison, unable to get out.

            Don't forget that all that time, in addition to the war against the Jews, there was the big war between England and Germany.  The British planes flew over us on their way to bombing German cities, and we were happy about it as much as we could.  Sometimes the British bombed German camps inside Holland and we were very happy about that.  I remember the "rounds" that British planes did on the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina.

            After many of the young Jews disappeared, the Germans moved to older people.  They selected a street randomly, soldiers or policemen searched homes on both sides of that street and took the Jews out.  At first it happened only after 8 PM, but later it could be at any time.  I will never forget the fear and heart beats when we heard steps in the street.  At the beginning the Germans let sick people stay at home, and consequently, every night at 8 o'clock the adults got into bed.  I still remember my parents in bed every night.  I'll never forget the fear in those days.

            Every day we heard about friends and relatives who "disappeared."  The Germans used to bring the Jews they captured to a certain theater in Amsterdam.  They were taken from there to the train station and from there to Westerbork.  (After the war that theater was destroyed, except for its front wall; they put a sign and a garden there in memory of all the Jews who passed there during the war.  It is open for visitors.)  My uncles, aunts, cousins, and many friends went through the theater to Westerbork, and from there east on the Tuesday trains.  No one has heard from them or about them since then.  The Jews were allowed to take a few personal things, a backpack, and a small suitcase.  The rest, including furniture, dishes, etc., were left in the house.  About two days after the Jews left their apartments, people from a certain company (its name was "Puls") took all the things left behind and loaded them on big trucks, which brought them to ships.  I lived not far from the Amstel river, and I could see these ships with the furniture of the Jews; I think it was taken for Germans whose houses were destroyed by the British.

            Although Jews did not have telephones, we heard about most of the friends and relatives who disappeared.  By that time, old and sick people, and not only young Jews, were taken.  Many people disappeared and we did not hear anything from them once they left Westerbork on Tuesday morning.  The Germans put on the trains all the patients of the Apeldoorn mental hospital, together with the doctors and nurses.  They also took all the patients in the three Jewish hospitals in Amsterdam with the doctors and nurses who happened to be there that day.  Two good friends of mine were saved.  One (Hannah Brilleman) happened to be out of the hospital when they arrived, and when she came back she found an empty hospital.  The other friend (Yafa who lives now in the Massuot Yitzchak kibbutz in Israel) was hiding for hours with another nurse in an elevator between two floors.  After several hours, they did not hear anything and left the empty hospital.  I had other friends there who were taken by the Germans.  That was the situation around the beginning of 1943.  Everyone was afraid.  No more optimism, just fear, fear, fear.

            One day, I was sitting in the Joodenraad office when a neighbor of ours called around two PM and said that "they have just taken your mother from your apartment."  My mother was alone in the house; she was almost blind.  I'll never know how the Germans took her out of the house and how they put her on the truck.  I was particularly concerned, because the night before a non-Jewish friend of my father brought us fish, and Jews were not allowed to have fish .  It turned out later that they did not find the fish.  I asked a number of people in my department at the Joodenraad to arrange that my mother would be released, but I did not succeed.  The only thing they promised was to try to keep my mother for some time at Westerbork.  I came home after work; the apartment was as usual except of course for my mother.  My father came home and we tried to maintain things as much as we could.  We sent packages to my mother at Westerbork.  This was Passover time.  The Germans did not allow the factories to make Matzos, and we (the homemakers) took a short course in the Jewish community in baking matzos.  These matzos did not look pretty, but it was possible to eat them.  I'll never forget that Passover of 1943.  Daddy and I had the Seder at an aunt and a cousin (my uncle was taken a few months earlier) in the afternoon, because we had to be back home by eight, and it was a long walk.  I took the Passover dishes out of storage and put them back in storage ("for the Germans") on the last day of Passover  (a matter of habit.)

            After a few weeks, they told me at the office that it was no longer possible to keep my mother at Westerbork; the Germans wanted to send her.  I told it to Dad in the evening, and he immediately decided not to let Mom go east alone.  I tried to convince him to stay at home as long as possible because she, being almost blind, is probably at a hospital and he would not be able to be with her anyway.  No one thought that time about gas chambers and murder; we could not even imagine something like that.  But Dad insisted: he would not leave Mom alone in the East.  The next day he went to the Gestapo offices, the German police, and volunteered to go to Westerbork.  Because he volunteered, the Germans gave him a special permit  with his papers to take the trolley home and then, at eight in the evening to the theater.  He came home and packed his backpack.  In the meantime, my aunt (the mother of my cousin Audrey, who lives in the United States) came when she heard that he volunteered to go.  They argued and yelled; the aunt said that everyone should try to save himself, and Dad said, "I won't leave her alone; whatever happens, we'll be together",  My aunt left because she had a long walk and had to be home by 8.  My Dad kissed me and went on his way.  I looked at him from my room's window till he got to the end of the street, and that was it.  Two years later I heard from someone who was at that time at Westerbork that Mom and Dad stayed another four days together in Westerbork; they were very happy - walked holding hands, and after four days they went east  on the train to the gas chambers - but they were together.

            I stayed alone; I worked at the Joodenrat during the day, then went  to the Magnus's house for supper, and at seven o'clock I walked home.  That was how I lived; around me, friends and relatives disappeared every day and night.  It was frightening to be alone in the big apartment, knowing that I could not go out.  When would they come to get me?  I had to sit and wait.

            From time to time, the Germans mailed orders for people to show up in a certain place to be sent for "work in the East."  One day I also received such an order to come to a certain square in Amsterdam with my things.  I was frightened.  I went to my work in the Joodenraad as usual - what else could I do?  After work I went as usual to the Magnus family.  When they opened the door for me, I yelled upstairs, "It's the last time I am coming here!"  Mrs. Magnus waited upstairs and when I came in she asked, "What did you say?"  I told her about the order that I received.  She did not say anything, called her husband, and they entered one of the rooms and closed the door.  I will not forget those moments.  I stood in the hall talking to the kids, knowing that this was the last time.

            Then, the door opened and Mr. and Mrs. Magnus came out.  She said: "No Sarah, you are not going there, we have a solution for you.  Through a friend we know a person who is willing to help Jews.  We can call him, invite him and ask that he transfer you and Dini (their cook) to a safe place."  And that is what happened.  The man (his name was Hank) arrived, I don't know how.  Mrs. Magnus explained the situation to him and asked if he could take her two friends to a safe place.  He agreed.  Dini and I planned to meet him at seven PM the next evening at a certain place in a certain train station, without any baggage, and of course without the yellow patch.  We were not supposed to know him or to give any sign, just enter the same car and get off where he would get off.  I told Mrs. Magnus and Dini that I would come to their house the next day, and I went home for the last time.

            I had a strange feeling at home.  I thought about all the years that I lived there with Mom and Dad and part of the time with my grandfather.  I looked at all the furniture that I liked realizing that I would not see it again, and I knew I was going to an unknown future - different life and dangerous life (assuming  I would  live till the end of the war).  This was a sad night at the apartment.  I grew up there, I was an only child and my parents always loved me and spoiled me; from now on I would be all alone.

            In the morning of that day, Monday, May 23, 1943, I did not go to the office (so that they would think that the Germans took me the previous night, which is what we assumed when someone disappeared).  I did not have to pack since I was not allowed to take anything.  I only put a pair of socks and underwear in my bag and went to Magnus.  There I took off the patch from the dress, underdress, and also the raincoat, but I put it back loosely on the coat; we could not leave the Magnus apartment without the patch since the neighbors could have seen us without the patch.  Mrs. Magnus took a postcard, tore it into two, gave us half and said: "If you ever need help, send someone to me, if I am still here, and give him your half so I'll know it really came from you."  When it was dark, Dini and I went to the train station.  Saying good-bye to Magnus was hard; the last sure thing that we had was gone.

            We walked through the city in the dark, and at some point in a quiet street I told Dini: "I am throwing the patch."  Dini and I pulled the patch, looked left and right, and threw away our last patch.  Strange feeling: for two years "we were Jews" and everyone recognized us as Jews, and suddenly we were no longer Jews and were just like anyone else in the street.  There was no way back!  We continued to the train station looking for Hank.  He passed by us without looking, but put something in Dini's hands - train tickets.  We saw which car he entered, waited a few minutes and entered the same car.  We selected a seat from which we could see Hank.  It was all frightening and strange.  For two years we had not been allowed to go on a train, and now we were going on a train to an unknown place and to an unknown situation.  We did not feel free; we felt that we were running away from the Germans - the fear continued.

            After going for about an hour, Hank got off and we followed him.  We recognized that we were in the town of Helmond  in southern Holland.  Without saying a word, Hank left the station and started walking; we followed him at some distance.  After 15 minutes he stopped in front of a house and waited for us.  He rang the bell, and the woman who opened the door took us straight up to a room with one bed, a table, and two chairs.  Hank told us not to contact anyone and wait for his second visit; he said good-bye.  Our last familiar contact left.

            It turned out that we were at the house of a (non-Jewish) widow with two daughters, 16 and 18 years old.  The woman told us immediately that we should not leave the room, because boyfriends of the daughters came to visit and they were not supposed to see us.  It later turned out that some of these boyfriends were German soldiers, something that even Hank did not know about, as he told us when he came for his second visit with some clothes and money that we had left with Magnus.  We stayed in that room day and night.  In the evening she locked the main door, so we were allowed to go down to the bathroom.  When they had guests downstairs, we had to sit on a chair without moving.  We were not allowed to get close to the window or open the curtains.  The woman brought us food three times a day, and sometimes she stayed to talk a little bit.  Dini and I stayed in the room doing nothing.  There were no books; sometimes the woman brought us the newspaper and in other times she forgot to bring it.  It was difficult.  We talked a little bit and then were quiet.  We were nervous.  I got mad at Dini if I thought she got too close to the curtains trying to look outside.  She got angry at me if I made one move while guests where downstairs, etc.  That was how we spent about two months.

            As indicated, Hank came once after about three weeks, with some money and clothes that I left with Mrs. Magnus.  He also brought us (and that was the most important thing) a fake identity card (certificate).  It was apparently prepared by the Dutch underground using my picture.  From then on, my name was "Nellie."  I don't remember my (fake) last name, but I remained Nellie till the end of the war.  I forgot Dini's name, so I'll continue to call her Dini.  Although the certificate was fake, I gained some confidence.  At least I was again someone.  That was how we spent two months, with fear, tension, excitement, and boredom.

            One day, while Dini was standing about half a meter from the window, she suddenly said that a German soldier was walking back and forth on the other side of the street, and every time that he passed by the house he looked up in the direction of our window.  I looked myself and saw the same thing.  We became very frightened.  Maybe it is one of the daughters' boyfriends; perhaps they talked, who knows?  Maybe they would come to take us tonight, tomorrow, or not al all?

            We talked and talked and did not tell the woman anything when she brought us supper.  Dini had a sister in a town in central Holland, and we decided to run away since we did not know how to contact Hank or Magnus.  And indeed, that night at two AM we went downstairs, with our shoes in our hands and nothing else.  We opened the door, and for the first time in two months we were standing outside.  We had no idea where to go, and after passing a few streets, we entered the stairway of one of the buildings and stayed there till the morning.

            When we saw some people in the street, we went out also.  We did not dare asking people where the train station was, so we just walked around.  It was all very strange and we were very afraid.  It so happened that we walked in the right direction and got to the train station.  We bought two tickets to the town of Zutphen, where Dini's sister, who was married to a gentile, lived.  We came to their house as a surprise, and they were not very happy to see us.  After a day, the brother-in-law told us that he was afraid for the lives of his wife and two children and that we should leave.  At some point he even proposed that he would take us to the forest outside the town and he would bring us food every night after dark.  Dini and I did not know how to get in touch with Hank, and we kept asking the brother-in-law if he knew someone who would take us even for a short period and we would find something else later.  At the end, he agreed, and when he came back he said that he had a new address for us.  That night at 11 he took us to our new address.

            We arrived at a very large house.  A very nice couple greeted us.  But when we heard their name, we got scared: Solomon and Anna Israels - he was Jewish and she was not.  They owned an apartment complex.  They were Trotzkysts - some kind of communists.  Till then I never heard about this type of people; they were more communist than communists.  They were of course anti-Nazis and were very happy that they were able to do something for Jews against the Germans.  Since Salo (that was his nickname)  was married to a non-Jew, he had a lower priority in terms of being sent to Germany.  He had heart problems.  They gave us beds in the basement; although we did not have anything it was comfortable.  We had to work.  Dini was a cook since that was her profession, and I worked in cleaning the big house.

            As noted, I was the only child of my parents, who were not wealthy but not poor either.  We always had a maid (until the Germans made it illegal to work at Jewish homes).  I went to high school; then I started working in an office and in the evenings studied trade correspondence and shorthand.  I was spoiled and never helped with the house work.  That was why the work in that big house, in the situation in which we were (especially in the beginning), was so hard for me.  I did not know, for example, that after doing the dishes you are supposed to clean the counter top, and after peeling potatoes (I peeled a pail of potatoes every day for everyone in the house) you should wash them in a pail with clean water.  I remember that once Anna, the land lady, sent me upstairs to clean the room of one of the tenants.  I worked a bit with a vacuum cleaner, dusting, etc.  Just when I finished Anna came in and said: "Let me help you; we'll take the chairs out and start cleaning the room."  I did not tell her that I had just finished.  It was hard, but after a while I got used to it and laughed at how I had complained in the first few weeks.

            All the people around us were very nice, including the tenants who were not aware that we were Jewish.  Many friends visited the house, including communists and anti-Nazis with whom we could talk freely; that was very nice.  We were free to wander around the big house, including the basement and a big attic.  However, we did not go out at all, because the apartment house was close to a big German army base.  But that did not bother us, and we felt good there.  Anna's brother (a communist who fought the Nazis in Spain a few years earlier) and his wife often visited the house.  In short, we had nice company.

            I mentioned that Salo had a heart disease, and his condition deteriorated.  Three months after we arrived, he was taken to hospital where he later died.  That night, at 10 o'clock, Anna took Dini and me to the hospital to see "how nice he is lying there."  That was the only time during that period that we were outside.  They cremated Salo's body, and Anna brought the box with the ashes home and put it on a book shelf; every night she put a new flower next to the box.  One day, when Anna was not in the house, I lifted the box because I wanted to see if it was heavy.  It was pretty heavy and there was a certain sound, perhaps stones or bones - I don't know.

            After Salo's death Anna became strange.  First she got a dog and named it Salo.  She then brought more and more Jews into the house, I don't know from where (perhaps through the communist friends).  Anyway, every few days more Jews arrived.  There was an old couple, an old lady, a young painter, and a young couple.  Each time that she brought new people Anna said: "Salo would have liked that, it would have made him so happy."  She was not concerned about the fact that the situation became more and more dangerous.  She was proud that she was following Salo's wish and saving more Jews.  Dini and I discussed the possibility that the Germans would one day capture all of the Jews in the house.  We talked about it with one of the communists who often visited the house.  They decided to move Dini to another address in Zutphen at the house of a shoemaker, and they moved me to a totally different place.  That was how Dini and I departed and I saw her again only after the war.  So I left the house, Anna, and the other tenants.  I was there for about six months, and it was pretty good, even though during that period I was outside only once.

            Someone came to pick me up, brought me to the train station and told me that someone with a specific newspaper would stand at a specific place.  "You should follow him, get into the same car, without "knowing" him, and that is how you should behave with all the people who will transfer you.  They know how you look."  I changed three trains with three different men, who did not say a word.  I felt like a package; it was a strange feeling.  It was dangerous because at any time German soldiers could come and ask for certificates.  I did have an identity card, but it was fake and was not done very well.  But I was lucky and there were no certificate checks.

            At the end we got off at a small town in southern Holland, and the man, who brought me to a small apartment, talked to me for the first time.  He said that he brought me to a "transition family," and after several hours someone would come to take me to another place.  Before he left I thanked him; like other people who helped me along the way I never saw him again.  I sat there for several hours in the apartment of these nice people, and then a young woman showed up with two bicycles and asked if I was Nellie.  That was how I came to know Berta, who was 22 years old and who became a good friend of mine for a long time.

            While riding our bicycles, Berta told me more about herself and her family.  It turned out that her parents, who were ordinary farmers, had a kind of a center for helping Jews in their home.  Berta, her married sister Tru, her brother Harry, and two other brothers were working secretly to help Jews.  I understood from her that young Jewish men and women were living and working in many of the farms that we passed on the way.  They always made sure that the people in neighboring farms would not know, for example, that the new maid of their neighbors was Jewish.

            After biking for about an hour, we arrived at the farm of the big sister and her husband.  Berta said good-bye.  That was how I got to know Tru, who later played an important role in my life during the war.  She was a young woman, a mother of three small daughters, the wife of a farmer, and she was very nice.  We quickly became friends; I helped her in the kitchen and the house, I fed one of her daughters; in short, I immediately felt at home.  Her husband was nice too.  They were not afraid to have a Jew in the house.  That was how I spent a few hours, and I wanted so much to stay there.

            However, Harry, the older brother, came around ten o'clock at night with two bicycles.  I had to say good-bye to Tru and her husband and we left.  Harry was a nice man, very practical, and he was the head of the family's (Jewish) operations.  He was married and had six or seven children; he also was a farmer.  He told me where he would take me and said that he would visit me every few weeks so that I would not feel as if I was all alone.  After riding the bicycles for a couple of hours we arrived at a village called Helenaveen and came to the farm of a family consisting of a father, a mother, and three children.  They greeted me, showed me my room, and I said good-bye to Harry.

            The next day I got to know everyone in the family and started working.  I worked partly in the house and the kitchen and partly in the farm -- feeding the cows and the pigs.  They were somewhat primitive but nice people; I felt OK there.  I am a person who adjusts quickly to new situations, so I did not have any problems until one day the farmer came to me and asked for my identity card.  I became scared and asked why he wanted it.  He explained that, because of the war, the authorities allowed  to slaughter a pig only to families with at least six members.  He was anti-German like most Dutch people.  Harry explained to him the risks involved, and he was actually proud for keeping a Jewish woman in his house; yet he also had this plan in his head regarding the pig.  I told him that, although I had an identity card, it was fake and certainly should not be presented to the authorities.  This was a big disappointment for the whole family.  I kept hearing from them day and night, especially during meals, about this fat pig that was lying there uselessly but could not be slaughtered.  I myself fed this pig everyday and felt terrible about this thing.  I waited for Harry who promised to visit every few weeks.  Generally, Dutch farmers slaughter a pig from their farm once or twice a year, and that is the meat they eat in different ways throughout the year.

            After being there in a not so pleasant environment for two and a half weeks, Harry showed up one evening.  He said: "I spoke today with your "boss" and he told me about the pig issue.  We never leave someone in a place where she is not wanted.  It is dangerous for everyone.  Although I do not yet have a new place for you, I came to take from here."  I said good-bye to the family, and Harry and I biked again in the dark, passing on the way many fields and farms.  The bicycles had no lights because we were afraid that the Germans would see us.  Harry brought me to his parents' house and I was warmly received.

            For three days I was spoiled by these nice and warm people.  I immediately called them Mom and Dad.  I met in the house their sons and the sons' friends, all of whom worked for Jews and were anti-Nazis.  I heard there about a problem they had with a Jewish woman that needed to have appendicitis surgery; How could they take her to hospital?  How would they present her?  I heard there about many things I was not aware of.  These people voluntarily risked their lives day and night.  This was a special period; they opened my eyes to all the things these people were doing for us.

            After three days Harry told me that he had a new place for me.  I knew ahead of time that I could not stay there, even though I wanted it very much.  Saying good-bye was painful.  They told me that my new place was not far, perhaps half an hour away, and I would be able to visit.  So, Harry and I went on our way again.  We passed by his house on the way (a small farm and house).  We passed by Tru's house, kissed, and she also invited me for a visit.  After additional 15 minutes we came to a village with pretty, well kept houses, and it all seemed very peaceful.  We entered one of these pretty houses, and it turned out that Harry brought me to the house of a teacher in a local school; his name was Teo.  His wife, Mien, was the daughter of a farmer who lived next to Harry's parents.  She was very proud that her husband was a teacher.  They were a young couple with three small daughters, two, three, and four years old.  The fourth daughter was born while I was there.  The atmosphere was pleasant and I felt good.

            The German authorities started in that period to move some of the non-Jewish Dutch people who lived close to the western sea-shore of Holland away from the ocean in preparation for attacking England, as the German soldiers used to sing loudly every day.  It was therefore easy to convince the village inhabitants that I was one of those who were moved from the sea-shore area.  I worked very hard in Teo and Mien's house.  Mien was one of the "cleanest" women that I have ever met.  It is very difficult to maintain a house with three little children clean all the time.  I had to wash the floor a few times a day.  Every stain on the wall or a door I had to clean immediately.  Every toy had to be put in place right away.  The girls wore aprons all the time, which I had to change often.  I did not work alone.  Mien worked like me from morning till the evening.  She was very nice.  I can still remember her saying: "Nellie, the girl has a dirty finger; go clean the finger and then the stain on the door."  Once a week we did a huge laundry, which was a full day's work despite having a washing machine; and then hanging the clothes - that was so much work.  Monday night we were always dead tired.  I also had interesting conversations with my "boss" - the teacher.

            Now I'll tell about a unique experience that I had while staying with Mien and Teo.  Every Sunday was a special day, especially for the religious Catholics of Southern Holland (90% of the population there are Catholics).  Every Sunday afternoon I went for a walk with the girls, one in a stroller and one on each side.  Since I was recognized as one who was transferred from the sea-shore area, I could walk freely, though I had to be careful to tell always the same story.  Sometimes I walked to the house of Tru, the older daughter of the Jansen (Harry's) family.  She lived about 20 minutes walk from our village.  I always had a wonderful time at their house.  One day Tru told me: "Nellie, try to come next Sunday alone, without the girls, and I'll have a surprise for you."  I said that I would try and left.

            The next Sunday, Mien allowed me to go alone to Tru's house.  When I arrived, she said: "I thought a lot about you.  You had to run away, hide, always afraid, and alone.  I know it would have been tough for me to be without the company of Catholics, and I am sure you are missing the company of other Jews.  So, despite the danger, I invited four Jewish women who are hiding in the area and prepared some things for you.  Eat, drink, spend a few hours together, and we'll be in the meantime in our parents' house."  In the kitchen I found three young women about my age and a lot of food.  We introduced ourselves using our real names, we ate, drank, and talked as if we had known each other for years.  That was a great day for all four of us.  After about two hours the family came back, and we each went to her own place.  I have never seen them again and don't know what happened to them; I hope they made it till the end of the war.  I stayed at Mien and Teo's house a few months, working hard, but that was a pleasant place and I was hoping to stay there till the end of the war.  We heard news on the radio and read the newspaper, so we knew that the situation of the Germans was getting worse, and we were happy about that of course.

            After being there for about four months, Berta came one evening unexpectedly with two bicycles.  She told us that the Germans arrested a young Jewish woman who was hiding in the area as well as the farmer at whose house she was staying.  The Gestapo, the German police, tortured them, and one of them apparently told the Germans about the local organization for helping Jews and about the Jews hiding in the area.  So Berta and her brothers came to take us.  We said good-bye to Mien and Theo (the kids were already asleep) and Berta and I left.  Both of us were scared and did not talk.  She brought me to some kind of an underground cave in the middle of a wheat field.  I found there about twenty young Jewish men and women; we were all frightened and did not talk in fear that we would be heard.  We were sitting there, sleeping, and waiting.  Once a day, usually at night, Berta or one of her brothers brought us food.  The Jansen family was trying in the meantime to find us new places in different areas.  It was difficult finding work and a hiding place, because in that period many non-Jews who did not want to work for the German army were looking for hiding places.

            Each night, Berta, Harry, or one of the other brothers came to take one of us to a new place.  We said good-bye hoping to see them alive at the end of the war.  On the fourth night that I was there, Franz, Berta's friend whom I knew, told me to come.  I asked where he was taking me, and he said he would tell me on the way.  We left riding bicycles.  Then he told me: "I'll take you to a temporary place; we still do not have a permanent place for you but we have to take you out of the cave, it is too dangerous there.  I am bringing you to an unpleasant place, but there is no other choice.  We were thinking who we could send there and decided that you were strong enough to hold up there.  The minute we have a better place, we will move you there.  In the meantime try to manage."

            We were riding for at least three hours, and at about 4 AM or so we arrived at a certain village.  Franz knocked on the door of one apartment.  When it opened I heard an old man's voice and a terrible smell came from the apartment.  It was dark, and Franz took the two bicycles and said: "Bye Nelly; remember what I told you -- we will not forget you."  He left.

            It is not hard to imagine how I felt standing in the dark at the entrance to an unfamiliar house, hearing the old man and smelling this terrible stink.  At the same time, Franz, the last person that was somewhat "mine," left me there alone.  The man asked me to come in.  Because it was war time, the house was completely dark.  He took me to a room and showed me my bed.  He said: "Let's go to sleep, and we'll do the introductions in the morning."  There was a chair next to the bed and that was where I sat for the remainder of the night; I did not know whether the smell was an indication that the blankets were dirty, so I preferred to sit on the chair.

            In the morning I got to know the voice from the night.  It turned out that he was a nice old man, who had been a widower for thirty years.  All that time he almost never cleaned the place.  Everything was dirty, including the kitchen dishes, but he was a very friendly person.   I proposed to clean the apartment, starting from the kitchen, but he kept saying: "You will not work here  -  you are my guest."  He gave me a plate for breakfast (which he washed with water).  I told him I was not used to eating breakfast ; I just could not eat with so much dirt everywhere.

            When he went to work in the field, I tried to clean a little bit and remove the dirt from the pots.  However, it was difficult to do it without soap.   I knew that he could not go to the store to buy soap, because that would create suspicions by the people at the store.  It was important that the village people would not know that there was someone else in the house.  I asked him to bring vegetables from the field so that I could cook them, but he said I should not cook because I was a guest.  He cooked and I hardly ate anything.  I used a broom that I found in the empty cattle-shed to clean the house a little bit (when he was working in the field).  There were no books or newspapers that I could read, and it was very boring in the house.  One time I found an old local newspaper from thirty years earlier with all the village news from that period.

            The old man came home from the field one day and said that he heard that the British landed in France.  The date was June 6, 1944 - D Day.  I was very interested of course because that could mean that freedom was close, but he was not very interested and did not know much (he never bought a newspaper and I could not ask him to start buying).  He also said that France was far away.  I was hopeful.

            I spent there two weeks.  Franz appeared one day with bicycles and said that they had found a place for me.  He told me that the German police did not find out about the Jansen family operation and did not catch any of the Jews hiding in the area.  He said that they would take me to a place far from the village three days later.  I spent these three days at the house of Tru (Berta's older sister).  I was so happy, and she wanted to spoil me after spending two weeks in "that unpleasant place."  She cooked all kinds of special dishes, and after not eating much for two weeks I got a bad diarrhea.  Despite that, these were three wonderful days, although this time I was not allowed to go out of the house.

            After three days there, Harry came to pick me up and after biking for many hours, we arrived at a village in a totally different region, Noord Limburg, with different accent and customs.  This was a fairly big farm.  The head of the household was a widower, about 70 years old.  There were two sons in the house, both in their thirties, who were engaged to village girls, as well as a daughter about my age.  They also had additional brothers and sisters, who were married and visited the house frequently.  They told me that I should behave like a Catholic girl and that I would have to go to church and participate in all prayers in the house.  This was not difficult, and I learned how to do it quickly.  They told people in the village that they got a maid because there was too much work for the one daughter who was still at home.  I worked there in the field - planting, collecting potatoes (which is a very hard job), feeding the chickens and the cows, cleaning the cattle-shed, and of course cleaning the house, etc.  They were nice and I developed close relationships with the daughter.  She told me all the secrets about her love affairs with boys in the village.

            We prayed three times a day, partly on our knees.  In that part of Holland everyone is Catholic, and there were sculptures of Jesus in many places on the street.  Like everyone else, I made the sign of the cross each time I passed by a sculpture of Jesus .  The two brothers were very nice; I saw them only during the day, because they were usually with their fiancées in the evenings.  The only one I had to worry about was the old man.  When he and I were alone in his room or in the kitchen he tried to kiss me.  It only happened a couple of times, and afterwards I tried to be in another part of the house (e.g., in the bedroom that I shared with the daughter) when we were alone.

            The only one in the village who knew that I was Jewish was the priest, and I had pleasant conversations with him.  Everyone in this small village knew me, but no one knew that I was Jewish.

            In the meantime, the war of the Germans against the British, Americans, and Russians continued.  The Allies pushed the Germans from France and they retreated to southern Holland.  They came closer to our area, and suddenly we were at the front-line.  There were tough battles in the area.  Then one day German soldiers and officers arrived in our village.  German soldiers entered every house in the village, demanded a few rooms and moved in.  A few officers and soldiers moved to our house and they put in the basement a big machine, which turned out to be the telephone exchange of the battle front.  The soldiers spent part of the days and evenings with us, sat with us in the kitchen, and talked with us.  I was very afraid in the beginning that they would find out that I was Jewish.  They thought that I was the maid, and it never crossed their mind that I might be hiding there since I was "Catholic" and prayed like everyone else.

            I never spoke German with them or let them know that I understood every word they said to us or among themselves.  I pretended to understand more or less what they said to me and answered in Dutch, just like other people in our house.  The British army was just a few miles from our village and their artillery shelled us often.  Near our house there were German cannons targeting the British army.  Thus, the war was very close, with constant noise and danger of being hit.  I shared this experience with other people in the house and the village, and I can say that it was not very pleasant.  We spent long hours and nights in the basement whenever the British attacks became more intense.

            In addition to all that, I had my private fear that one day they would find out that I understood what they said.  I had to think about every word I said and made sure to "play my role" in every thing I did without making mistakes.  We all knew that this was the end for the Germans and they would soon lose to the British and Americans at one front, and the Russians at the other front.  Now that the British were so close, just a few kilometers away, I knew one thing: I made it so far and I should hold on for a little longer.  I should not show fear or be more nervous than other people.  This was hard.  One day, at the end of September 1944 I think, the German army sent the V-1 to London; this was a small plane without a pilot sent to bomb London.  This was a special event for them, and that day the German soldiers received each a bottle of liqueur.  The German soldiers opened the bottles in our kitchen, the head of the household gave everyone small wine glasses, and all of us (including me of course) "celebrated the German victory."  You can imagine how I felt at that moment.

            The German soldiers also knew that the end of the war was near, as I could tell from their conversations.  A few weeks passed by that way.  One evening at the end of November 1944 we were all sitting in the kitchen.  A few officers were sitting around the table and playing cards.  Suddenly, a soldier came from the basement and said something.  I did not hear what he said, but they all left and started packing.  We were sitting in the kitchen and watching them pack.  This was the end for them and perhaps the beginning for me.  I was sitting there without moving.  I knew they were running away and thought about being free soon.  I sat there all night, and I felt like telling them I was Jewish and that I was winning -- but of course I did not do that.  We stayed up till they left.  I could not believe yet that I was free.

            The next day it was very quiet in the village.  All of the German soldiers had left, no more sound of artillery; it was strange.  There were no more Germans, and the English had not yet arrived.  There were rumors that the Germans left mines in the streets and fields against the British.  No one knew if that was true or not, so everyone stayed in their yards as safe islands.  After a day or two, people started visiting other people.

            On the following Sunday, I told the landlord that I was not going to church anymore because I was Jewish and not Catholic.  He understood that and did not pressure me.  I was very proud.  I met farmers who were neighbors of ours and proudly told them: "You did not know that I am Jewish!".   Everybody was surprised and I was happy.  Thus, for a few quiet days, we did not know what was happening and when the British soldiers would arrive.

            One morning I was working with the landlady in the kitchen - she was cleaning the windows and I was cleaning the big stove.  Suddenly she yelled: "Nelly, I see soldiers in the street; these are probably the British."  When I heard that, I forgot about everything and ran outside towards the soldiers.  There were three soldiers, who appeared a bit scared.  They were probably sent to check whether there were still German soldiers or mines in our village.   I ran towards them yelling: "Welcome."  I was very proud being the first one to greet them.  They were not very impressed and concentrated on their task.  They asked me if I knew whether there were German soldiers in the village and a few other questions that I did not know the answer to.   A few farmers saw that I was talking with the soldiers and came closer.  It turned out that I was the only one in the village who could speak English.  We heard that British soldiers used to bring chocolate, cigarettes, and other good things that we did not have, and the people asked me to ask the soldiers if they had any.  But they did not come to the village to give away sweets.  The three of them together had half a pack of cigarettes, which they gave away, but that was it.  They then continued searching the village.  That was how we saw victory arriving.

            The next day, many British soldiers arrived with tanks and all the equipment, and the village was full of soldiers again - this time British soldiers.  They also moved into the houses, staying in the same rooms where a few days earlier the Germans stayed.  This time, I could tell everyone that I was Jewish, how I was hiding in the village, and that I was not going to church anymore.

            It turned out that, although the Germans retreated, they were not that far away, so we remained close to the war zone, though on the other side this time.  Still, we were free while the war continued for another half a year (till May 1945) in the central and northern parts of Holland, including the capital, Amsterdam.  Every two weeks a new group of British soldiers arrived and the previous group got a rest.  Each time a new group arrived at the house I asked if there was a Jew among the soldiers.  I was lucky once when they told me there was a Jewish soldier at the house next door.  I went there and found him; he was a Jewish tailor from Glasgow, Scotland, so I was happy.

            I started thinking about my future - what to do now that I was free?  I had no money or clothes, but I did have a profession.  Before continuing, I want to tell something about my clothes.  You may remember that when I left Amsterdam with Dini two years earlier I was not allowed to take anything.  Hank promised to bring us later some clothes we left at the Magnus's house, which he did.  However, when we ran away from our first hiding place with the shoes in our hands, we left everything there.  And with that nothing I stayed throughout the war.  I had one dress that I will never forget - a light blue dress with many small buttons that I wore for two years: at work, in the cattle-shed, in the field, and at home - always the same dress.  Every Saturday night I washed it, let it dry over night next to the heater, then ironed it on Sunday morning, and I had a "new" dress.  When there were some holes, someone helped me patch them.  The same happened with my (light color) coat,   I also had one pair of shoes, etc.  All that was not so terrible while I was hiding, but what should I do now?  One of the Jewish soldiers that I met told me that in the city of Eindhoven (Eindhoven was the biggest city in the area of Holland which had already been liberated) there was a kind of a Jewish community.  After hearing that, I became impatient, wanting to go there.  But how?  We were still near the front-line and were not supposed to leave the place.  I often spoke with British soldiers who went to the city.  In the meantime I got to know other Jews who were hiding in villages in the area, and that was fun.  But my main desire was to leave and start earning money.  Of course, I could have waited till Amsterdam would be liberated and then go back home, but who could tell how long the war would last.  I felt I could not wait that long.

            And one day I got lucky.  A British officer who stayed in our house was willing to take me to Eindhoven.  Although I was happy, I was also scared.  I did not know how I would find Jews, where I could stay, and, in general, what would I do?  After driving for two hours, we arrived at the city.  He dropped me off some place, and I did not know what to do.  I found an employment bureau that happened to be close by and registered for work.  Then, while standing in the street, I suddenly saw someone I knew - he was my counselor in the Zichron Yaakov youth movement.  His name was Abraham De-Yong (his name today is Abraham Yinon, and he is an educational inspector for high schools in Jerusalem).  He recognized me and told me that he and his wife were also hiding in a village in the area and decided to move to the city to be with other Jews.  He invited me to his home, and I was glad to see his wife again.  He told me that he knew some other well-known Jews and they were all meeting at his home that evening to try to establish an organization to help Jews who were arriving in the city with nothing.  He asked me to stay.

            I will never forget that day, January 1, 1945, which was an important day.  Indeed, several people arrived in the afternoon, some of whom I knew from before (among them was Dr. Jacob Arnon, later the Secretary General of the Finance Ministry of Israel).  They talked about what was happening with the Jews and how to help them.  The Organization for Helping Jews was founded that day.  Then, someone who knew me said: "And we already have a secretary, we'll hire Sarah."  It was strange to hear the name Sarah after being Nelly for a few years, but I was very glad of course.  They explained to me that they did not have money, but I would be able to stay with one family, eat at the house of another family, and they would give me an allowance until the Joint organization in England would recognize them as a chapter and start sending money.  I was very, very happy and accepted the offer.

            I had another important meeting that day that I would like to tell about.  I asked Abraham where I could stay that night and he took me to a Jewish family that used to leave in Eindhoven before the war (he worked for the large Dutch company, Philips), returned to the same apartment after the war, and they always had a room for people like me.  They put a mattress in the attic and I slept there.  I talked to them (a father, a mother and their daughter) about the topic that we were all talking about: who of our families and friends were still alive.  I talked about my parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.  Among others I said: "I wish I knew what happened to my good friend Hannah Berlinger."  Then the woman asked: "is she a hospital nurse?"  I said yes, and she told me that Hannah was working in a hospital in the area.  I was so excited and could not believe it.  I immediately left, and while walking I kept saying to myself: "You are going to Hannah, you are going to Hannah"; I really could not believe it.  Hannah had been a good friend of mine since I was about 15 years old.  She knew my parents, and she worked at a hospital in Amsterdam.  She was the only one I told in May 1943 when I saw her that I was planning to escape, and that was the last time I saw her.  I arrived at the hospital and with great excitement I asked about Hannah Berlinger.  They told me that she was on a break for an hour and she was in her room upstairs.  They asked if they could tell her who was looking for her.  But I said: "That will not be necessary; I will go up there on my own."  I arrived at her room, knocked at the door, and heard her say "come in."  I opened the door quickly and said: "Here I am, Hannah."  By now I was prepared for the meeting, whereas for her it was a complete surprise.  She started screaming and crying.  It was a great moment.  We talked and talked.  She had left Amsterdam a few weeks after I did and was hiding also.  I heard from her about the last days of my parents at Westerbork before they were sent to the gas chambers in Auschwitz.  She got that information from her relative who worked in those days at Westerbruk and was aware that she knew my parents.  Hannah stayed another six months in Eindhoven, just like me, so we had a wonderful time together.

            Now that I had a job and friends, I went back to the village to say good-bye to the family of farmers where I had stayed and moved to live permanently in Eindhoven.  Of course, later I visited these people who risked their lives to save me.  I also visited the Jansen family several times, including Tru, Harry, Berta, and the parents and stayed there over weekends.

            So I started working at the organization for helping returning Jews.  After a month I started receiving a salary, I rented a room, and I felt good.  There was plenty of work, and it was very interesting.  They rented an office, and I became the management secretary.  I participated in the meetings, taking shorthand, and managed the office.  Among our activities, we published a weekly newspaper called "Leézrat Haám" (Help the People), we made sure that there were matzos (imported from Belgium) for the first day of Passover, and we published a short Hagada after finding out there were no Hagadas in the liberated parts of Holland.  New people kept arriving, who needed clothes and spiritual support.  They all lost some of their family: parents who lost their children, children who lost their parents.  We worked day and night, and that was just the beginning.  The concentration camps were liberated in April 1945, including Auschwitz, Buchenwald, etc.  Trains from all the camps arrived in Eindhoven, which was the only large liberated city in Holland,

            I will not forget one night when Jacob Arnon woke me up at three AM and told me to get up and come with him.  A British soldier, who a few days earlier was among those who liberated the Bergen-Belzen camp, waited at the office.  He was so shocked by what he had seen that he could not stop telling more and more about it.  I took notes of everything he said.  What he told us was horrible.  This was the first report we received about what happened in the camps.  The next day I distributed what he told us to everyone in the organization, and they were all shocked.

            As indicated, the trains arrived from the East with very sick people, many of whom were so weak that they could not talk or lift a hand.  The hospitals in Eindhoven were all full.  Philips allowed use of some of its warehouses and buildings as hospitals.  Many people died after returning home.  We, at the office, in addition to our other work, went to visit these sick people, sit next to them, and mainly listen to them.  They had a need to tell about the camps.  It is impossible to describe or tell you all the horrible stories I heard.  In some cases, we had to inform them about the death of a husband, wife, or a brother who was staying at one of the hospitals in the city.  I met a cousin of mine who returned from Bergen Belzen weighing 28 kilograms (62 pounds).  I met relatives and friends whom I could hardly recognize because they were so thin, bald, just skin and bones.  Among others, all of the Magnus family returned through Eindhoven.  I took them to my home.  They were at the Terisianstaad camp.

            On May 5t, 1945, the Germans finally surrendered and the Northern part of Holland was also liberated.  The war was over.  The last year in the North was terrible and people suffered and were very bitter.  There was no food, no soap, nothing to heat the apartments with - nothing.  There was no electricity, no radio, no public transportation because of lack of gasoline, and no telephone.  Because the Jews were taken out of their homes and other people died, there were many empty houses.  So people entered the empty houses and took everything made of wood that could be used for heating their apartments.  Houses were demolished or had big holes were windows and doors used to be.  Because of the many illnesses in the North, we in the South were initially not allowed to go there.

            In addition to our other work, we spent much time trying to help people find out who of their families survived and where they were.  We worked day and night, and often this job was very sad.  It turned out that 90% of the Jews in Holland perished in the gas chambers and concentration camps.  That included most of my family: uncles, aunts, cousins, and my parents.

            Once in July 1945 I got permission to go to Amsterdam; that was the first time I returned to my home city.  But what a disappointment.  It was a ghost city - no transportation, electricity, etc., and there were no Jews there.  The Jewish area was destroyed.  A bit scared, I went to the street where I used to live with my parents.  The building was still standing.  I rang the bell downstairs and someone opened the door.  I climbed upstairs to the apartment.  I told them that I lived in that apartment for ten years and I mentioned my name.  Then the woman said: "I know this name.  When we moved in here, the apartment was empty, except for many cards with the name Lampie.  I wanted to cry but I did not, and I thought about all the good years that I spent with my parents in the apartment.  That was the last time that I was inside the apartment.  However, whenever I am in Amsterdam on vacations, I go to that street and stand in front of the apartment for a few minutes.  This is where I spent my youth, and this is the street where I played with friends.

            I returned to Eindhoven and worked there for a few additional months.  As I said, many Jews came to the office to check the lists in order to find out if their parents, children, relatives, and friends survived.  There were parents who found out their children were killed, children who learned that their parents were killed, and there were a few who found each other - but only a few.  We received thousands of letters from all over the world from people inquiring if anyone in their families survived.  There was a lot of sadness, as well as happiness in cases in which people found other family members.

            It turned out that there were many parents who gave their children to others to take care of them during the war.  We received the names of many Jewish children who were hiding and now had no parents to come back to.  Some of these kids were infants who were given to others soon after they were born.  So after the war, they were three or so years old and did not remember their real parents.  These children stayed with families who took care of them and loved them very much.  All of these children had assumed names, and many of them did not know their real names.  There were children who went to school like other Christian kids, whereas others never left their homes during the war.  When the war ended, Jews came to these families to take the kids back.  If the parents were alive, in all cases the children were returned with no problems.

            However, there were many children whose parents did not return, and the families who were keeping them loved them very much and did not want to give them away, even if an uncle, aunt, or good friends of the parents wanted to take them back.  Some of these children came from religious, Zionist families where it was clear the parents would have wanted them to be brought up as Jews.  We decided to establish an organization especially for the purpose of returning these children to Judaism.  The name of the organization was "Leézrat Hayeled" (Help the Child).  The managers from this new organization asked me to come and work for them as a secretary.  I agreed and moved to Amsterdam in September 1945.  So I left Eindhoven after spending a difficult but rewarding period there.

            Our goal in the new organization was to make sure that the Jewish children would receive Jewish education and grow up as Jews.  We were successful with many children who were then put in Jewish children homes or were adopted by Jewish families.  But we had major legal fights over some kids.  In some cases we managed to get the brother back from one family, but could not get back his sister who stayed with another family.  Maybe I'll tell you more about some of these kids later.

            When I returned to Amsterdam in September 1945, I could not find a room or an apartment; parts of the city and many apartments were destroyed during the war.  Through a cousin of my mother (the one I found at a hospital in Eindhoven) I found a room at the apartment of his sisters.  Next to that building there were two destroyed buildings, and even in our apartment there were some holes.  In addition to the two sisters, there was another young woman in the apartment, so there were four of us there.  One of the sisters did the house work and the other three worked outside.  It was a small apartment, and I shared my room.  There was also a living room.  For me, this was the first time that I was really independent - no parents to worry about me, I had an interesting job, a good salary, and I felt free.  There was a good atmosphere in the apartment, we were good friends, there were many visitors, and it was fun.  I am still in touch with three of them: one in Bnei Brak, one in Ramat-Gan, and one who stayed in Amsterdam.  I have good memories from that period.

            I came from a religious family and was religious myself.  I used to go to the Mizrachi (religious) youth movement, and every Saturday I went to synagogue.  During the war I developed some doubts, but after the war ended I automatically joined the religious circles again, despite the doubts.  The other girlfriends in the apartment were also (and still are) religious.  In that period I started thinking about the possibility of leaving Holland and moving to Israel.  I had quite a lot of friends, but many of my old friends were no longer alive.  And despite the interesting job, the nice apartment, and the old and new friends, I had this desire to start again.  I wanted to be among people who did not know what happened and did not talk about what happened and about the people who died.  It is hard to explain, but I wanted something new.

            Now I have to tell what happened a few months after the war.  As indicated, the Magnus family returned from the Teresientadt camp and they stayed with me in Eindhoven.  After a few weeks they continued to Amsterdam.  At first they stayed in a room some place, and later they received a nice apartment in the southern part of Amsterdam.  After I returned to Amsterdam I often visited and ate at their place.  Mr. Magnus started his metals business again.  You may recall that I used to work for him as a secretary until the middle of 1942.  He was the one who arranged the job for me at the Yodenraad, and later they arranged my first hiding place and thus saved my life.  After the war, when he started his business again, he took it for granted that I would take my old job back.  I felt a moral obligation to do that, yet I did not feel like going back to my job from before the war as if nothing happened.  I felt very uncomfortable about this.  Beside, my work for Jewish children was much more interesting than buying and selling metals; but I could not say "no."  So I told him (which was the truth) that I was considering emigrating to Israel and it would make no sense to start working for him and quit after a year.  I said: "I'll find you the right secretary; I know exactly what her duties will be, and until we find a secretary I'll come in the evenings to take care of your correspondence."  Luckily, we found a good secretary after a few weeks; I taught her the job, and she worked there for about 20 years.  I have remained a close friend of the Magnus family since then.  Mr. Magnus is no longer alive; Mrs. Magnus, who is 90 years old today, is like a mother to me, and whenever I am in Holland I visit her and her married sons.

            I also spent much time with my friend, Jenny, from before the war and we became closer friends than we were prior to the war.  Hannah Berlinger, who had parents, brothers, and a sister in Israel, received the needed certificate and moved to Israel.  We remained in touch.  She had a fiancée, Jap, and she wanted very much that he would join her in Israel.  But that was not possible because they were not married and she could not get a certificate for him.  We looked for a solution and finally found one.  It was a genuine Dutch solution: he sent a letter to the Queen of Holland and asked that I (his wife's friend) would marry him for her (under her name).  We received the permission to do that, and one day we went to City Hall to get married.  This was a big joke for us.  The first thing we did afterwards was to go to the post office to send a telegram to Hannah in Haifa, telling her that she just became Mrs. Brieleman; Yap and I then went to the theater and that was a fun day.  Hannah immediately asked for a certificate for her husband, and indeed he emigrated to Israel a few months later.  I remember that the day we "got married" Yap took me to the theater and that was fun.

            These were some not so bad and actually pretty good years, but I knew I had to make a decision.  I left the office in the middle of 1947.  They arranged a wonderful party for me, and I received many gifts.  I started a new life as a "pioneer" in preparation for life in Israel.  They found a job for me in a children house in the village Hilversum not far from Amsterdam.  The principal of this house was Nathan Dasberg, who later became the principal of the religious children village Kfar Batya near Raanana (Israel).  He and his wife Liz managed this children's house, in which all of the kids (except the Dasberg kids) were war orphans.  I knew the history of many of these children from my previous work at Leézrat Hayeled.  I don't think I was very good at taking care of the children.  I am not good at taking care of too many kids together, although I had very close relationships with the children individually.  The kids there were between four and seventeen.  Most of them live today in Israel.  I remember from that period the evening of November 29, 1947.  We were listening to the radio, and when we heard that the State of Israel would be founded we sang.  In Hanukah of 1947 the kids performed a play that I wrote.

            At the end of 1947 they told me from the pioneers organization that my turn to emigrate to Israel would be coming soon.  The British were still in control of Israel, so I knew that I would have to enter illegally.  I left the house in December and spent a few days at the Magnus home.  I said good-bye to my friends.  At the beginning of 1948 I went with a small group through Paris, where we stayed two days, to Marseille in southern France.  They brought us to a camp of the Jewish Agency and we met there other people from Holland, Poland, and other countries.  The camp was in a large park around a palace.  We lived there in tents, and I shared a tent with my friend Mien.

            We stayed about a month in France.  The manager of the camp was Shula Arlozorov, the daughter of Chaim Arlozorov (a leader in the Jewish community in Palestine (Israel), who was murdered in 1920).  One day Shula announced in the dining room that any one who has a sewing machine, a radio, a typewriter, etc., should bring it to the office and it would be sent separately to Israel.  Before leaving Amsterdam, I received from my friend Jenny and her husband Max a Hermes Baby typewriter so that I would be able to start working and earning money as soon as possible.  I went to the office and said the machine was so small that I could put it in my suitcase.  But they thought that it would put other people in danger and I must give it to them.  So I packed the typewriter and put on it the address of Hannah Berlinger.  They promised that the machine would be waiting for me.  That was the last time I saw this typewriter - it never arrived.

            After four weeks in Marseille, we boarded the ship "Transilvania," and after a week we arrived in Haifa.  I was a bit upset to see people with radios, etc.,  on the ship.  It turned out I was among the few who actually gave their things.  After we arrived, they took us to a house for immigrants on the Carmel mountain in Haifa.  I went to look for my friend Hannah Berlinger who lived near by (in 7 Rachel Street on the Carmel).  My friend Mien went to look for a job; she did not have any relatives in the area.  She quickly found a job in a children house.  Her boss, a woman physician, wanted her to start learning Hebrew and told her that her neighbor was giving Hebrew lessons.  She took Mien to this teacher, and Mien told him that he would have two new students, because Mien and I had decided that we would learn Hebrew together.  So Mien and I started taking Hebrew lessons from this teacher, whose name was Dr. Adam Simonson.

            Adam and I fell in love rather quickly and decided to get married.  We went together to Tel-Aviv to get acquainted with his family.  His mother was a piano teacher, his sister Eva was a pre-school teacher, and his brother Achim and sister-in-law Evy were members of the Givaat Brenner kibbutz.

            We had a girl, Danya, and three years later a boy named Itamar.  We lived five years in the Borochov neighborhood in Givaataim (near Tel-Aviv) and then moved to Shikun Yisgav in a suburb of Tel-Aviv.  Zivit, Adam's daughter from a previous marriage, spent many weekends with us.  Later Zivit grew up and spent less time with us, but she always stayed part of the family.  The children grew up, left the house, studied at the university, and got married.  Adam and I had a good time together; we made wonderful trips in Europe, until Adam got sick and passed away and I stayed alone.  I have good children and good grandchildren, and I am trying to enjoy life with my friends, different activities, reading, crossword puzzles, and travel.  I am very happy with my life.

 

Sarah Simonson-Lampie                          March 15, 1989

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