b. The Hague, Netherlands, 1919
My sister Rieke was the most beautiful of the four Blok girls. She had dark blonde hair, sparkling brown eyes, a delicate nose, full round lips and a smile that flashed as bright as her future should have been. Her personality also had that bright quality. She attracted loads of friends to our house and she was invited everywhere that a young Dutch-Jewish girl would want to go—gymnastic club, youth concerts, swimming parties and even movies. At seventeen she was married; at eighteen and a half she was sent to Auschwitz.
Ironically, tragically, it was her brightness, her joy and her beauty that led to her being transported. She drew unwanted attention that ultimately ensured her a place on one of the cattle cars leaving every Tuesday for Auschwitz, Poland, from Westerbork, Holland.
Westerbork, close to the German border, was the gathering place for the Jews of Holland after the Nazis forced us from our homes. Built on low, flat land, it contained rows and rows of long barracks and a large railroad siding. It was a damp, muddy, grayish brown place.
Every day Jews came to Westerbork from all over Holland to stay until their selection for the Tuesday train to Poland. Cattle car after cattle car would leave
filled with frightened, gray-haired grandparents, clinging middle-aged couples, disoriented young men and women and bewildered, crying children. They left on a strictly adhered-to schedule. The train was never early, never late, always
filled with people who carried with them a nagging fear of the unknown. No one knew, no one could know that the trip ended in slavery, sickness, death. We all thought we would be forced to work for the Germans; we had never heard of the Final Solution.
Every Monday the selection took place for the next morning's train. One of our own, a Dutch Jew named Samson, was in charge of making the selection for the train. He was fairly young, fairly good-looking. I suppose he had to deliver a full trainload of people in order to save his own skin, but he took advantage of the power of his position to satisfy himself. We were all afraid of Samson, for he had complete control over us.
When Rieke and her husband David came to Westerbork, I had been at the camp for three months, kept out of the selections because I was a nurse. I knew the ropes, so every Monday night for four weeks I gathered my courage and