Writing after Hitler: The Work of Jakov Lind

By Andrea Hammel; Silke Hassler et al. | Go to book overview

11
Memories of Survival in the Netherlands
(‘Meine Erinnerungen’)1

CÄCILIE PEISER-LEVITUS

‘DON’T say a word’, Aunt Cok said to me in the train, and so we sat silently immersed in our own dreamy thoughts. Slowly we travelled out of Amsterdam and soon we saw the flat countryside. If you have to sit so quietly, events remain clearly before your eyes. I was not allowed to speak because otherwise people would realize that I was not Dutch, and that in itself would be suspicious. In the middle of the war in 1943.

Before the war, in 1938, I had come to Holland from Germany with a Czech passport together with one of the children’s transports. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands had invited twentyfour children to come to Holland. The Jewish Girls’ Orphanage of the Netherlands had opened its doors to many refugees, including myself, aged thirteen, and my sister Jutta, aged eleven. One of our group, Mo Frank, the cousin of Anne Frank, went to an orphanage in Utrecht.

I worked in the creche, a day-care centre for children in Amsterdam, where I was being trained. One day, just after I had left for work, the SS cleared out the children from the orphanage. So I was not there when this action took place. Some children managed to escape. It was the very worst day in Amsterdam, and even for the Germans it was an unusual day. All the orphanages were ‘cleared out’ on that day - that’s how they expressed it.2 Children, bedding and everything was loaded on to trucks and taken to the station. A few children also managed to escape from there.

Sam de Hond drove to the station with the car of the Jewish community, to bring the children something to eat. This enabled him to fetch my sister from the train. She had to lie flat on the floor in order to escape detection. The two of us found refuge with

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