Holocaust Survivor Testimony: Eline Hoekstra Dresden

Uploaded by PCCvideos on 16.09.2010


DEB MROWKA: My name's Deb Mrowka.
I'm here with my mom, [ NOISE ] Eline Hoekstra
who's really a survivor, Holocaust survivor,
and in general a survivor and an amazing woman.
for all of us in our family.
She's been the pillar of our family.
And, ah, I do these talks with my mom,
partly because she's had two strokes
of which left her blind in one eye and has caused her
to have some problems with her speech.
And so if she talks too long
the speech becomes more difficult for her.
So I do usually the front piece, frontend piece,
and I do the backend piece,
and let her talk what's most important
to most of the people
that usually most of the audiences that we talk to and
that's to tell her story about when she was
actually in the camps that she was in. Um.
And I do the emotional piece at the end usually
because Mom,that's blocked in her mind.
And so she talks like it's just almost
like it's somebody else's story and, ah,
I talk about the emotional piece
that she has gone through
and that in turn affected some of us in our family.
So with no further adieu, Mom is not feeling well today
so depending on how she feels I may talk a little more
or talk a little less, and if she does a wonderful job
like she did not long ago at OSU
you'll have her to yourself all this time. Um.
The war started in Holland. We're from Holland.
We immigrated in 1958 with, um, my father, my mother,
and I have four siblings, which was another huge undertaking.
But for them that was nothing compared to what
both my parents had gone through during the War.
My dad was in labor camps and survived, thank God,
and so did my mom.
Mom was 18 when the war broke out in 1940
May, 10th of 1940 Holland was invaded by the Germans.
Um. They had no knowledge that that was going to happen.
Holland had been a neutral country for many, many years
and had been neutral during the First World War
and had no idea that Germany was going to want to take Holland
as part of their, ah, empire.
Part of, ah, the Germansthe reason
why they wanted Holland is because the Dutch people
are very Germanic and Caucasian
and they thought that Dutch people were more like
any of the other European people in general,
so they wanted them as part of their arian race,
which was something that the Dutch people did not know.
At any rate, the war only lasted four days
due to the fact that the Dutch army had
really nothing to fight with nor did the Air Force.
So, basically, the Germans marched in by May 14th.
The Queen had left
due to the fact that they thought it was better to leave Holland
and go to England
and they could maybe do more from there
than in Holland. However,
that was pretty discouraging to the Dutch people.
They were disappointed that the Queen and the family left.
Mom was in college - - in high school.
It was her senior year of-of high school
and so was my dad.
So it was this time of year because now it's May 8th
what is it, the 17th today, right?
So it was about this time of year that this happened
in 1940.
And they were going to graduate in June,
just like kids do here, ah, from high school.
And so school went on as normal.
As soon as the country was taken over,
interestingly enough,
Mom lived in Utrecht which is a pretty decent size city
and part of the reason that they gave up so quickly is...
I'm gonna backtrack a second,
is that they bombed Rotterdam pretty much flat
and threatened to bomb all the other big cities
and Holland had nothing to fight with so they gave up.
Rotterdam also had the biggest harbor in the world
at that time and still does
or againand so they wanted that harbor
and they had bombed most of the ships in the harbor.
So they gave up. Anyway, after the four days they gave up
and the Germans basically marched in
with their tanks and marching.
Mom said they lived in Utrecht.
They actually went to see the Germans (Nazis) walk in,
marching choreographed.
She said they were beautifully dressed in their uniforms,
they were well shaven, they were a young looking,
good army and they stood there
and actually admired them for minutes, maybe, or seconds.
And then realized what are we doing?
We are admiring our enemy!
So they decided to go home which they did.
Soon after that, of course,
on the radio they were getting the news.
There was no television at the time
so news did not travel like it does today.
You had newspapers and you had the radio so things
weren't as easily accessible as things are today.
So on the radio it was announced
and in the newspapers,
that nothing much would change in the country.
Life would be pretty much as normal.
However, probably they would ration food
because the Germans needed food for the armies
and they would, ah, take over some of the factories
because they will have to make war materials
for their purposes in the war.
So those are the kind of things
that were going to happen to start with,
and theyso people would get ration stamps for food
and, ah, basically other things were gonna be as normal.
That was the first thing. So people weren't worried.
And so pretty soon comes another rule
that everybody in every city in every locality
has to go to the courthouse and register
and document where they live, how old they are.
And I have Mom's ID card
and I don't know if you can see that or not
you probably can't, and it's in plastic now
because she didn't want it to get ruined.
And so it had your fingerprints, where you were born,
it has the dates and it has some numbers.
The numbers were related to eventually the ration time
that you would be able to go to the store
and get your materials, either food or clothing
and eventually all the things that they rationed.
So everybody had to get one.
And on the back it also had your picture and it was tri-fold
and you had to carry that with you at all times.
People weren't too worried about that. That made sense.
You know you had to have a way of identifying.
In those days,
they didn't typically have Social Security Numbers
in those countries so it was a way to identify everybody.
And you had your nationality
and where you came from and your religion
and all of those things.
So it wasn't a big deal. Nobody felt...
I mean a part of it was it was a requirement so you did.
And with that came, before long, that um,
if you were Jewish you had to go back to the courthouse
and get a "J" stamped on your card.
Now Mom says that in many cases
some of her friends who were Jewish said,
I'm not doing it.
I'm not gonna go back and put the "J"on.
Mom says, I'm not.
They weren't a Jewish religious family at all.
They had some traditions
that the Jews had in Mom's family.
How did they know that they were a Jew?
The rules were, according to the Nazis,
you were a full Jew if you had four Jewish grandparents.
If you had three Jewish grandparents,
you were a full Jew.
If you had two Jewish grandparents,
you were half a Jew.
Half a Jew was very different
with regards to the way the Nazis treated them,
compared to the full Jews.
Now, how did they know?
And why did they choose the grandparents
as a way of identifying Jews?
The reason is, is because if you had Jewish grandparents
more than likely they were married in a synagogue
amd churches and synagogues keep records
of the weddings and the marriages that they perform.
So theoretically,
the Nazis could actually check in the synagogues
and see what your relatives were
and if indeed you were then full Jew,
according to their rules.
They didn't do that, of course,
but they created a situation
where you were scared that they could.
So not only that if your name was,
in Mom's case was Dresden,
which is a Jewish name,
what if, you know, other family members
had put the G'/'J' on theirs and you didn't,
and somebody knew, then they could come and
get you. So out of fear, which is the big
thing that the Nazis used was fear and they
exce/excellent at the fear tactic that
people had the J put on.
So she did graduate and nothing different
happened for a little while. Mom's plans
were to go to med school after the summer.
My father was gonna to an agricultural school,
he was going to be a forester, tropical forester.
All those things kind of went in place
and they started college.
Mom started in the city that she lived in.
My father had to go to a different city
to start his college
and he would come home on weekends. My grandfather
was a professor and he not only taught
but he belonged to many professional organizations
and he was a CEO of a turbine factory.
Happens to be that he was the only Jew
in the whole company.
After a while, the rules started changing more and more.
After Mom was in school for some time, the rule came:
the Jews could not go to college,
nor could they go to any other schooling.
So Mom at first, the professor let her still come at night
and study the skeleton
because that's what they were doing at the time,
and then he said that was too dangerous.
She couldn't go anymore, she had to stop.
My father because he was half Jewish,
could still go to a junior college.
He couldn't go to the the formal college
that he was going to,
but he could go to a junior college.
So now Mom couldn't go to school anymore
which was terrible but it's not the end of the world.
She was upset about it but,
you know, it's not the end of the world.
Pretty soon another rule comes that, um,
Jews couldn't have their bicycles anymore.
So this is horrible in Holland. Holland is a flat country.
Everybody has a bicycle, at least, if not two.
Because what would happen is,
people take their bike to the train station,
ride the train to wherever it is,
either within the same town or to the next town
where they worked or went to school
and they'd have a bike there and ride that.
So Mom had to turn in her bike.
Interestingly enough
(and I'm going to look for something a second)
my grandfather and everybody in the family, all Jews,
had to turn in their bicycles
and what they got was a receipt.
Now when you think that youwhen you get a receipt
you think that you're going to get it back.
Well, I'm going to look for it a second.
And, of course, the receipt and it's in, it's in Dutch
so you can't read it. But on the receipt it says
that the bike was basically in good shape,
the tires were good but the bell was missing.
It's this.
That's the actual receipt and
it's signed by a German officer.
So you think that you're gonna get it, get it back
if you get a receipt
and of course it's not. It's stolen.
So it's a terrible thing that you can't have your bike
but at that point they hadn't taken away
the right to ride the bus or the train or the trolleys.
[ COUGHS ] So you could do that.
Again, it was awful, awful.
However, it's not the end of the world.
So you get soothed again for about three more months
and you get used to it.
Then, comes the rules that, um,
Jews could not shop in the stores until after 4 or 5
after pretty much everybody else had done the shopping
and you would get the leftovers, if there were any.
So that was that.
Pretty soon comes another rule that, um,
Jews can't be on the street after 7 at night
and can't be on the street before 7 in the morning.
Another restriction:
They couldn't go to theaters anymore.
They couldn't go to public swimming pools
or public tennis courts.
You could go to a Jewish school,
that was the only thing you could do.
During that time my parents had taken in two little girls
that had come from East Germany or Poland,
not sure exactly where they came from
and they had come on the train by themselves
with a little suitcase and a teddy bear.
They were like four and six, something like that
and they had come into Holland with a note:
Please take care of my kids.
The people in Germany, Eastern Germany,
already knew that things were really bad.
However, again,
due to the fact that news didn't travel like it does today,
people in Holland really weren't aware
how awful things were.
Not only that Mom was 18
and I don't know at 18 a lotta people in those days
how much interest did you have
in everybody else in the world.
You're-you' re a teenager.
Do you really care what's going on everywhere else,
as long as life is still pretty normal at home?
You don't really pay much attention.
So they weren't aware how awful
things were in other countries.
So they took in, It happened to be they went to an orphanage.
The orphanage asked if people would take them.
My father and my grandparents took the two little ones in.
My mom, by the way, was the youngest of four children.
Her next sibling is six years older.
She had a sister that's older and two brothers.
One of her brothers was already in the United States
and he was going to college.
Her sister was, um, studying and was teaching already
and her other brother was already out of college
and also working but living at home.
In Holland typically people stay home
and live with their parents
until they get married because housing is an issue.
It's a small country, very populated
so people stay home. So she was the youngest.
Anyway, they had these little, these little ones
who were very scared,
didn't speak the language, didn't like the Dutch food,
and were scared without their parents.
It took about three months or something like that
for the little ones to kinda get accustomed to the situation.
But pretty soon after all of this had happened
and Holland was taken over the Germans,
they had to give the kids back to the orphanage
and my mom said she saw them a couple of times there.
But after that they ended up being shipped out
and ended up in Auschwitz.
and Mom later,many years later, has gone to Israel
and found the death books
where those kids' names showed up.
With regards to how things turned out for Mom,
my father was coming back and forth on weekends.
My mother was at home doing what she could do,
and seeing friends that she could.
But most of the friends,
pretty soon you couldn't see them either
because Jews couldn't visit non-Jews
and non-Jews could not visit the Jews anymore.
So, again, you were isolated.
And that became more and more scary.
But, it's still not the end of the world.
And these rules came over time.
It didn't happen all at once.
So, every time you were soothed by the fact that
it could be worse
it could be worse, it could be worse
and you weren't scared enough.
Mom always says we were not scared enough.
Well, one thing led to another and, ah,
they were doing puzzles at home.
They got so good at the puzzles
they were doing 'em upside down.
They got so good at that that they mixed 'em up.
They were reading all the books that they had
because they couldn't buy things anymore.
They didn't have any money anymore.
My grandfather was fired from his job
due to the fact that he was the Jew of/in that company.
So money became tight.
At one point they were told that they had to leave their home
because the Germans, the Nazis, wanted it
for some officers and they came.
And because it happened to be the first house
that my grandparents had bought.
Typically you rent in Holland.
It's very expensive to own a home but he'd had a good job
and he bought this house.
And, ah, apparently the Nazis liked that house
and it was a good size house. So they wanted it
and they came and said that they had to move out
in 24 hours. 24 hours they had to be out. It had to be empty.
So Mom and the family emptied that house in 24 hours.
Now, remember, they couldn't have movers,
they couldn't rent a truck, they couldn't have a car,
they couldn't supposedly talk to non-Jews.
So who's gonna help 'em empty this house in 24 hours?
They somehow managed 'cause there's always volunteers,
you know when there's stuff to be had
because where were they gonna put it?
Where were they gonna take it? So people came and said,
"Oh, I'll take this and keep it for you."
And, "I'll take this and keep it for you."
Pianos, furniture, silverware, linens you name it...art.
So the house was empty in 24 hours.
I didn' t tell you that by now, my mom,
due to the isolation situation and not having much to do,
she turned up pregnant
which of course wasn't a very smart thing to do
in those days, or any day, when you're not married.
However, she was.
And she was pregnant at the time
that my/that the house had to be emptied.
And Mom always talks about the fact that
the Nazis came with a dog, a dog,
either a Doberman Pinscher or a German Shepherd and
she's deathly afraid of both of those because she knew
that they were trained to go to your throat.
So she said that the Nazis were standing
on both sides of the door
when they'd emptied the house with their dogs.
So they'd worked all night, emptied the house, and she had,
she was already pregnant and had this big coat on.
Anyway, the Nazis officer came and said,
"This house is empty!"
"I can't have my officers live here with nothing!"
"There's no furniture. There's no... "
"I saw there was a piano here."
"I know there's, you know, the outline of pictures over here,"
"I want it back. In 24 hours I want it all back."
What are they gonna do?
They didn't even know where half the stuff was.
However, they somehow managed
to get the house livable. At one point Mom was helping.
My grandfather had bought this darling little soap dish.
It's a little tumbler. It has soap in it and when you turn it over
the soap dribbles out.
Well, that was something very new in those days 00:19:50:66,00:19:52.08 and he bought it for my grandmother in Sweden
or Denmark, I don't know exactly, but it was foreign
and he brought it back f/on a trip. And my mother knew
that my grandmother loved this little soap dish,
the soap tumbler. So it came back.
Somebody brought it back and she thought,
"They're not gonna get this. They're not gonna get it."
So she took the soap tumbler and put it under her coat,
like this, and walked back out past the Nazis.
They didn't catch her. And she says,
Of course it wasn't a smart thing to do
but somehow she felt powerful.
There was nothing she could do to actually fight.
So it was deceit and those kinds of things that she did
to pester or-or to feel strong.
So she walked out with it and to this day
that soap tumbler is still in the family.
And they did actually then, um,
turn the house back over to the Nazis,
with whatever was in there and they accepted it.
My grandfather, then, was able to, after staying
with some people that let them stay for the night
'cause it happened all so quick,
They rented another home.
After that my great-grandparents were told
that they had to leave the town that they lived in.
They lived in The Haig which is a little city
where they now hold the world court
and I think maybe already then. I don' t know.
At any rate, they were told, they were in their 70's,
that they had to go to Amsterdam
because most of the Jewish population was congregated
in Amsterdam because there was a diamond industry there
and they were diamond cutters, diamond business people.
The conglomeration of Jewish population was in Amsterdam
and there was about a hundred and forty-thousand Jews
in Holland that they've calculated.
So my parents got this, no, or my grandparents got the notice
that of course the grandparents had to move.
Well, these were the grandparents on my mother's side
my grandmother's side,
the other ones were already passed away
so she only had one set of living grandparents.
And my grandfather who had some clout
because he was a professor
and that's a designation by the Queen in Holland,
had some clout
and he asked if they could come and stay with them,
and they got permission
to have the grandparents move in with my grandparents,
the great grand, the great grandparents got to move in
with my grandparents, which they did.
All they got to bring was a suitcase
the suitcase and a bed; that's all they were able to take.
The suitcase is very important
in the Nazis terroristic behavior.
And I'll tell you a little bit about that, eh, in a minute.
(I thought I heard a phone.)
Anyway, um, so they did get to come and stay
and that was very nice.
However, um, that wasn't very long.
Luckily, it was long enough to see the fact that my brother,
my oldest brother was born April 28th of 1942,
and at that time
Mom couldn't of course take a taxi to the hospital,
couldn't ride a bike or any other way.
She had to walk to the hospital.
Strangely enough, they let 'em in the hospital
because you couldn't go anywhere else,
but you could have a child in the hospital.
So she walked to the hospital and had my brother,
and that was April 28th. She was there for ten days.
April/May 1st of 1942 is when the Jews in Holland
had to start wearing the star, and Mom still has one star.
They had more than one because, interesting enough,
you had to buy them with your ration stamps.
You did not just-
(Should I hold this up, ah, with something behind it
so that you can see it better? Would that help?)
That's the Jewish star.
Now, you had to buy it with your ration stamps
and it came on a-
It wasn't like this, like this, already made.
It came on/just flat.
And then my grandmother put a backing on it
and did a nice little cross-stitch on the back
so that it was a little firmer and it was very nice that way.
And they had, interestingly enough, to-
If you look at the lettering, it looks Hebrew. It isn't.
It is just lettering, some other font,
but to the non-populated, non-Jewish population
it looked Hebrew because it just looks that way.
And the-the word "J-o-o-d" is Jew in Dutch.
The Nazis were very good in the way
that they lured people
into some kind of feeling of comfort
and that is that they made the language, the Jewish star,
with the word in every language.
It was, in French it was the French word for Jew.
In German it was the Jewish word,
I mean the German word for Jew.
So they did that in every country.
And you had to wear this star.
Every time that you were outside of your home
you had to wear it.
And if you didn't have the star
and the Nazis thought you were a Jew
they would check your ID
and if you had the "J" that was a problem
and you didn't have your star on.
If you didn't have the "J" and you didn't have the star
and they thought you were Jewish, they'd still take you in
because they think that they know better than you,
and that you were trying to get away with something.
So Mom has talked to us about the fact that there were some
that didn't do/wear the-the, ah, star
nor had their "J" stamped on their card,
and she had a girlfriend who apparently was picked up
due to the fact that she looked Jewish.
And the Nazis were trained
with regards to what Hitler thought Jews looked like;
that is, they typically had dark hair, they have the hook nose.
They had dark eyes.
There was a certain space between their eyes.
And so if they thought you looked like that,
according to their image of Jews,
then they would harass you.
And if they were in a good mood,
they might harass you and let you go.
And if they weren't in a good mood that day,
they might take you in and you would not be seen again,
which is what happened to one of Mom' s friends.
So at any rate, back to the fact that, um,
Mom was in the hospital, had my brother, April 28th.
When she came home, she had to start wearing the star
and that was then of course starting in May of 1942.
My great-grandparents were at that time
living my grandparents and got to see their first grandson
which was wonderful for them.
They were there for a month or two
and the news came that down the street
they were starting to pick up the older people again.
And the way that they usually did that, of course,
they knew ev/where everybody was at that point.
You always had to register when you moved
or what happened.
So they would, um, what happened is
if they would pick up older people or/and little ones
'cause that's what they started to do
is to pick up the older people and the little kids.
They would put a-a truck on each end of the street
and then they would go from house to house
where they knew people were.
So somehow word got to my grandparents
that this was happening.
So they decided to put on a show which they did.
My grandfather had no teeth.
My-my great-grandfather had no teeth and was bald.
My great-grandmother did have false teeth
but they took those out
and she had long gray hair which typically was in a bun
but they let it down and they put Vaseline in it
and they put 'em both to bed on the second story and, um,
had 'em ooh and aah.
And so when the Nazis came to the door to ask and say,
"Gee, you know, you know,"
"you're Mr. and Mr. Dresden or Zolisski are here,"
"so we want them to come with us."
"They have to pack their suitcase and they have to come."
My grandparents said,
"No, you-you/they can't go. They're sick,"
"They're very sick."
"Sick or not they have to go."
They said, "Ah, what do they have?"
"They have dysentery."
Dysentery is not a disease that the Nazis like very much.
It's diarrhea and it's very contagious.
So they said, "Well, let me see, let me see."
So they stomped up the stairs.
Another thing that Mom has a major problem with
and that is the sound of black boots
or, in her opinion they were black boots
and they were black boots
but any boots that make that horrible sound when you walk
that is a terrifying post-traumatic stress type thing
for my mom.
So they stomped up the stairs and they came into the room.
My grandmother, who was a Red Cross helper,
had put on her uniform and she'd sprinkled ether in there
and the smell of ether is not very nice so,
and it happened to be a fairly warm day
'cause it was in the summertime.
And they were oohing and aahing
about how awful they were.
My grandmother was, Aah. My grandfather, Aah.
You know. So they looked awful and they smelled awful
and the Nazis ended up leaving.
So they went downstairs and they thought,
"Yeah, we fooled them."
That felt very good. And they had a little tea party.
But in about 45 minutes or so they were back;
knocked on the door again,
and they don't knock. They just go [ BANGS ].
It's always scary as hell. That's the way they used it
and so you're petrified just by the door knock itself.
So at any rate, they put on the same show
and it worked
and they were very happy
but they didn't have a tea party after that.
Now in about three weeks or so later, indeed,
my grandparents, my great-grandparents were picked up
and they ended up by train to Amsterdam.
And in Amsterdam there was a Jewish theater
which was for plays and operas and concerts
and those kinds of things.
It was built, you know like a theater like this
and it was probably two or three times as big as this.
However, they gathered all these Jews that they picked up
and they put them in this theater
and it was at least three times fuller than it should have been
and these people again had their suitcase.
Now the thing about the suitcase
is the fact that when you have a suitcase,
when you get to pack a suitcase
and especially in those days
you thought you were going on a trip and that, you know,
you got to bring some belongings with you.
It's not as scary as if I say, "Okay, come with me. Now!"
You know which is basically what they did.
But if you get to pack a suitcase
you think you're going somewhere
and it's not the end of the world.
But if you just go because they say, "Now!"
it's like, I can't take anything with me.
What am I gonna do, you know?
So it was very soothing in those days
for everybody to always have that suitcase.
And the other thing of course they-
if you took anything of value they stole it.
They stole it.
So Grandma and my great-grandparents were taken.
My grand- My father got to see them
in the theater just the one day that they were there
or they were there for maybe two days and, ah, again,
there was way more people than there should have been.
They were older.
They/half of them didn't have the medications
that they should have had in that time.
And so, um, it was a nasty time.
They were scared.
They didn't get to sleep in a normal bed
for a couple of days.
At that point, we know, historically now, that
they were taken on a train, in a boxcar train,
and that they had gone directly to Auschwitz.
And the reason we know that is,
my grandfather sent a little piece of paper
and he wrote on this piece of paper that
"Grandma and I are okay. We are on a train."
"We don't know where we're going but, um,"
Grandma can darn socks."
And I don't know if most of you know what darning socks is
but it used to be people didn't throw them away
as soon as they had holes in them.
They actually fixed the holes in their socks
and Grandma was very good at that.
"And I, Grandpa, can, ah, peel potatoes"
and the Nazis always need potatoes,"
and soldiers always need potatoes,"
"so I'm sure that we'll be useful."
So, um, he sent this piece of paper like in an envelope
through the slot of the cattle car and wrote on it,
"Please send this to this address, if you find it."
Well, it did get sent to my grand, to my grandparents
and so they knew and he had dated it
so that they knew when they actually left on that train.
And Mom, again, when she was in Israel
a number of years ago after she retired,
she looked in the death books and found out their names
and luckily they were gassed
basically the day that they got to Auschwitz
which we all feel lucky about
because they didn't have to suffer
knowing what was going on there.
They immediately went into the line. Dr. Mengele decided,
you know, you go left or you go right
and they went into the line that you weren't gonna make it
because they were older.
So nobody knew, of course, in that time and to this day
Mom says, "None of us knew during the whole time,"
"that we were in the camps what was going on."
"None of us knew."
"We knew trains were leaving all the time,"
"but we didn't know what was going on."
"None of us knew until after the war,"
"and then it wasn't immediate either."
At any rate, so my grandparents were taken.
Things were getting worse and worse around that time
which would have been like in August of 19 - -
in, ah, July or so of 1942.
My brother was then, of course, about 3 months old
and at that point Mom was already worried
because things were happening.
So during the day she kept him at home
and then in the evening, luckily,
my grandparents had had household help.
They were fairly well middle class to do.
But of course during the war they had to give them up
because the non-Jews couldn't work in their home.
But this lady offered to take my brother for the night.
So every day my mom in the evening
would walk him to the park in his carriage
and this lady would come and take him,
keep him for the night,
and then they reversed in the morning
and Mom would have him during the day.
That became pretty scary, too,
because rumors were
they were picking up the little ones, too.
So my grandparents had,my grandfather had
a lot of different acquaintances,
and he had an acquaintance
who had an acquaintance that said,
"We will, we know somebody,"
"that will take your little one, your grandson."
So my mom decided that indeed
that's what she wanted to do.
It was a very difficult thing for her to do
and very traumatizing but, you know,
when you love somebody that deeply
you do what you think is best
and at that point she thought it was best
to let someone else take care of him which she did.
So she wheeled him again to the park
and this lady took him that had been doing that
and then handed him over to the other people
who then indeed took care of him for the rest of the war.
And soon after that Mom was picked up
and so was her family-
her mother, her father, and her brother.
Her sister was not picked up
because her sister already did not think things
were looking very good and she ended up
hiding in a convent and only Mother Superior knew
that she was Jewish and in there in hiding.
Mom had tried hiding somewhere along the line
for a couple of weeks with a couple of teachers
that were very, very sweet to her
but they lived in a second story apartment
and, ah, during the day they taught
and she was supposed to just do nothing.
You know. You can't open a window.
You can't flush the toilet.
You can't answer the telephone. Ah.
You can't listen to the radio. You can't do the dishes.
You can't do anything. It made her crazy.
She sat on the couch and they said, Just read a book.
So she did. And then she got worried that
if she dropped the book that the people downstairs
would know there' s somebody home
that isn't supposed to be home.
So then they said, "Okay, why don't you do some knitting."
The knitting needles if they fall in knitting
that's not a big problem.
So she tried that. And she said, Okay.
She did that and then apparently one day
the phone rang at the same time that
there was a door/a knock on the door,
and she panicked.
She found herself under the couch.
And she says, I can't do this anymore. I'll go home.
I'll just deal with whatever's gonna happen.
I'm-I'm young. I can work hard. I'm strong.
I'm healthy. So she went home.
She didn't stay in hiding.
So, anyway, they were picked up.
And I will turn it over to Mom at this time
to start where she was picked up.
ELINE HOEKSTRA: - - Thank you for the introduction
and it really gets to me to the point
where I/it gets to be very personal.
And, um, since I haven't felt good
for the last couple of months,
I have a little bit of a harder time, ah,
getting this talk out. But, um, if you're patient
maybe I can tell you some of the important things
that happened, ah, in my life
and in the lives of millions and millions of other Jews
and not only other Jews but people all over the world
who for/suffered in the Second World War,
in other wars, in wars all over the place and still do.
I don't know if you ever will be able to end
that particular thing but at least I'm still here to,
ah, to tell you what happened in the Holocaust
and pretty soon even though there have been
lots and lots of books written
and they're all very, very good
and they have different experiences,
from different people, in different countries,
always the same thread through it because of
somehow, um, typecasting the Jews or typecasting whoever
is different than others. It gets people to focus their
hates of which they have quite a bit usually.
Somehow they have hate and they focus it
on these groups that they kind of construct
because they're easy to, um, to attack,
specially when they know or think they are persecuted
which of course the Jews were. Ah. As crazy enough,
Jews have been persecuted for years and years
all over the place.
They still don't know really why that was.
Partly because maybe it's the status
and then if they get used to be, um,
persecuting some kind of population maybe
that just perpetuates by itself. I don't know.
That as specific Jewish characteristics
that might have played a part.
For one thing, they have a strong sense of survival,
maybe because of the fact that they have been persecuted,
and they try their hardest in any way they can to survive,
whatever situation they're in ?____
and many times those situation are pretty darn scary
and they always had the feeling, I think,
if I had worked hard enough,
if I try everything that's to my disposal in any way at all,
physically and emotionally and maybe I can trick people,
whatever I can do, ah, I'll probably survive.
Maybe I won't survive but maybe my kids will survive.
So that's one of the things that,
maybe it's a typically Jewish thing, is that sense of survival
and the wish for a survival in any way you can.
And so that has, um, more or less, ah,
ruled the way I live my life and try to teach to, ah,
my family to be that way and it doesn't mean
you should do anything to survive.
But it does mean that you do lots of things
you think you will never do.
For one thing you, um, you obey rules that
really normally you should obey.
But since you know there are designed in order
to distract you, you don't, you don't obey them.
So, yeah, in general, not particularly somebody who's
very ruly and that was a problem in my life. Ah.
Then I grew up and went to school. Ah.
I wasn't supposed to be, um, very, um-um, unruly
but normally when you are in school and there are rules,
you don't obey you get in problems.
You get in-in some kind of a problem situation.
I did many times but since I was a very good student
usually I was forgiven
and spent some time with a principal maybe in the office
because they had to tell me that I should behave. Never. Ah.
In general, I was very, um what would you say?
I'm-I'm, ah, unruly in a way. I like to, um, to somehow fool people
who tried to impress on me those rules and regulations.
Sometimes that's a very dumb thing to do
because they might be more powerful than you are.
And if they are you have a big risk.
And sometimes later in the time that I-
after I was picked up from home,
and I'll go back a little bit when that happened-
I found every time that we had to be moved
and we were picked up in some place in a camp
or some other place where you are told what to do
and not to do,I got more gutsy to do all the things
that you shouldn't do because
somehow it made me feel powerful and because
I, in fact, I felt powerful I was powerful, to a point.
It doesn't mean that anything I did that was against the rules
was very right because I could have lost.
I could have just been killed, or more pestered than I was already.
But somehow I always had the feeling- I'd just go like this.
You don't get me. You won't,
which I did with the soap dish and it paid off at that time
and I was more or less dumb
to think that you could do that, period.
Anytime you get in a situation
where you outsmart them, outsmart the enemy
or somehow be ahead of them in what they were going to do
and make it impossible for them to pester you or to, um,
to kill you or to kill somebody else. It-it helps.
To know that you, you kind of, um, get stronger
along the way with the risk that one day you might not
make it and you might not be able to fool them
and then you've lost and then you're dead.
But you would have been dead anyway so
it didn't really make much difference.
The only difference was that you personally feel more powerful
and I still think that's very important
so I'm trying to feel very powerful but I haven't felt good.
My family's helping me to stay happy on my feet.
And, ah, I broke my back quite a while ago and from that time
I' m going downhill. Backs at this age don't heal very easily
and generally they don't and at 87 it takes time.
I was told it takes time. And it does take time.
But, ah, the time goes very fast at this age.
So, um, the back injury's healed and while I was healing
I lost my appetite and I didn't do any exercise
which I was used to do every day so I went downhill
physically, and emotionally.
It's not a very wonderful time either. Um.
But it's wonderful that I'm still able to do these kind of talks
and to tell you somehow what it takes,
as far as I'm concerned, as far as I know,
from what I went through and that's something
that may be similar to many other people because
even though we are not the same character everybody
we have some things in common that somehow
there are ways to survive. And it takes just about, ah
a lot of things and a lot of effort and a lot of, um,
sneakiness to do that. And I'm very good at that part and
that's something you learn while, um,
situations are really, really very bad and
you somehow get some feeling, Well, if I try this,
it's very dangerous, but maybe I can fool 'em. And if I do,
then I might survive today, maybe.
Maybe I'll survive tomorrow. Who knows?
And I've done that successfully too, ah, probably
because obviously I'm here.
One of the things I know that helped me fight
this particular situation in [ the ] concentration camps
the first one, by the way,
I went to another concentration camp.
It was a camp called Camp Barneveld. It was a castle,
an old miserable, deplored castle and they put in there
several of the Jews that were very well educated and they
were called kind of the, um, oh, the 'educated Jews.'
There were some people with, ah, doctor degrees
and so there was lots of doctors and engineers
and artists and, eh, the cream of the cream from the Jews,
they thought. And we were told, we were told to go
from our homes to, um, this particular place
which is called Barneveld and it's an old castle.
You have- We were told to go and we did go,
even though they tried many times to get out of this
kind of thing and it didn't work when the soldiers, The SS,
is right behind you with their guns.
And the bus is right there. There's not much you can do.
So we were told to go in this bus and go to Barneveld.
This was not a cattle car so this was for these particular
educated Jews. And, um, they were in the cattle car
and my brother, the one that's older than I was,
was in there and my father, mother, myself and my,
that was it, my brother and then my parents and myself.
My sister already was gone to the hiding place she picked out
and my other brother was not there, was in the States.
It was not a cattle car so there was a way to escape.
My brother had prepared himself with a-
He had an attache case, he had money,
he had made some preparations somehow,
and he took some little shaving thing that we had,
because he was very dark complected
and then his beard is growing and his beard fast growing.
He looked more Jewish somehow
so he was prepared maybe to say the - -
He escaped, which he did, jumped the train
and stayed overnight somewhere in the field
and he shaved himself, somehow, dry shaving
so to look less, ah, dark.
He arrived at the station, the last station,
that we stopped on the way to that castle and where the,
Germans, SS, who accompanied that train
where we were in the boxcars.
They're not boxcars, the compartments.
They were on their way back
after delivering that train to the castle
and it was early in the morning
and he was at that small little station. It was a nice morning
and he saw all these SS people walking in
and he thought,
What in the world do you do at 6 in the morning
out in nowhere? No, you just say, "How you doing?"
"It's a good day today. Nice weather." And he did.
So he talked to these people and he thought,
Well, maybe-maybe I can fool them. And he did.
So he made it so far.
Took the train back to Utrecht where we lived
and where he used to go to school.
And then tried to formalize somehow the best system
to get to a girlfriend he had in Utrecht.
It was a sister of his main girlfriend
who had left for Indonesia.
She had a room there, was a studentand he thinks,
Well, if I take the bus downtown
where she was living, then a lot of people see me very close up.
So he had studied there for five years
so he would be easy to recognize.
On the other hand, there were just a few people
on the bus who would see me. If I walk
a lot more people will see me
but they don't see me that close up.
So I don't know what I will do.
And he-he just gambled and he gambled right.
He then took the bus and was seen by people
who obviously did not recognized him.
Made it to his girlfriend's house and stayed there
for the rest of the war, which was a long time
because we're talking about '32 to '45.
So for years he was in hiding at her place
and it was just a single apartment,
just bedroom and a kitchen.
And the only time he came outside, where he outside air,
was when he opened the window at night
and then he could breathe some fresh air.
It was a problem for the future sister.
Well, he married that girl later after years been by
and the war was ended.
They became close in three years they lived together
and somehow he married her and he got, ah, 3 children.
So he made it and while he was there he of course
had to do the same thing I was told when I was hiding.
He was much better at it.
He shouldn't run the faucet.
He shouldn't go to the bathroom.
He should take his shoes off.
Because that also was an apartment on the second floor
so it could be noticed somebody was there.
But officially she only lived there and was a student
and is not home during the day.
But he managed to do that and they were liberated.
And so he survived the war
in hiding with this particular girlfriend.
In the meantime after he jumped the train
which made my mother cry and my father put his hand
on her mouth so she wouldn't draw attraction from the SS
hanging outside on the, on the compartment.
Because each one compartment had a door
so they could easily take us away.
So we made it and we came all the way to this castle,
which of course we had no idea
what the castle looked like.
They looked- it was actually a very pretty, beautiful castle.
Now, it now is; it's restored and it's very nice. Ah.
It was a miserable thing to begin with.
Beside that we didn't know what to expect at all
and that was part of the whole weapon that the Nazis used:
the insecurity, the matter of surprise,
getting you into a situation
you have no idea how to evaluate it.
You don't know because of that how to act.
You have no idea how to get out.
Most of the time you can't get out. [ THROAT ]
So we arrived there tired, scared, expecting misery
that you are very pleased to find out that was,
indeed, what we got to look forward to.
And they were there together all these other, many, many other,
um, intellectuals. We were called intellectuals.
It was a beautiful compliment. So we were together, indeed,
with people who were well educated.
The ages mainly ranging from, let's say, 28 all the way to 60.
So that was not a category, age-wise.
It was very homogenous in all. So there were young people
with little kids, young professors and they were all the, ah, lawyers
with their families. They were all scared.
They were all insecure about was going to happen.
They were scared to death.
They were out of their normal environment
and they totally had no, um, privacy, none.
There was maybe a couple of bathrooms to that place.
I don't even remember what they look like.
But I think they probably had a water closet-type thing.
You know it was where you pulled the chain
and the water comes. So it was not an outhouse-type thing.
It was a little bit better than that.
That's not very good, to begin with.
Besides that they had all these people together
for ?_totals of maybe a fifth of the amount they should have had.
And they were all scared. Most of them had diarrhea.
It was typical to have that.
You didn't get any decent food
but it wasn't a very important thing to us.
However, you do get hungry after a couple of days
and you don't know what you're going to eat.
We didn't have to cook ourselves. We did do some cooking--
Some people were demanded in the kitchen
and they had to do some cooking. Um.
But whatever you ate was all bad by whoever they were,
probably the German, ah, SS or whatever they are.
So that food was not a tremendous problem.
The privacy, lack of privacy was. It was awful.
Everybody was fighting but we connected because
we knew somehow intrinsically, something would come next
and it would be worse because that's how it was.
Things just always get worse.
That's all you're sure about: it will get definitely worse.
And so you tried to prepare yourself
but you don't know how much worse they will be
what way will it go. Not a matter of food,
or a matter of, was there going to be personal,
eh, mishandling from you or are you going to be hit?
You don't know.
Only-only know that you are there with, many times easily
your family that depends on you
for the younger people, the young kids,
or people that have some family members
and they don't know what to do to protect them
or themselves. No idea.
The one horrible thing was a lack of privacy,
which I told you about.
For one thing there were small kids, too.
They had diapers. You had no way to wash the diapers.
What are you going to do with a diaper?
You didn't even have anything like fake diapers, either,
so you had these cloth things that were dirty
and you didn't, eh, know where to wash them.
I don't even know how we did it or how these people did.
I didn't have a baby at the time with me.
My baby was somewhere safe, that I thought was safe
and it, ah, luckily turned out to be safe, not only safe
but very, very beautiful.
They were wonderful people that took care of him
all through the war all the time all these years.
I had no idea what they looked like. All I know where he was.
And I didn't know where that was. I only knew of a people
who would care and will take care of him.
The reason, by the way, that I didn't want to know
where he was, I told anybody,
"I don't want to know where he is."
All I was caring for is where he was somewhere
where he was safe. And I was told he was
and I believed the story because they
were people that knew my father well and they said,
"We'll take him. We'll take care of him." And they did.
And so when people said,
"Well, why didn't you want to know where he is?"
"You have to know where he is?"
I said, "Why do I have to know where he is?"
I don't want him by where I am so just let him be, wherever it is.
She said, You certainly want to know where your son is.
I said, "No, I don't want to know. I just do not want to know."
But why not? "Maybe I'll, maybe they'll pester me."
I've heard from some SS that were,
asking people some secrets that supposedly they had:
various so-and-so and who did that and-and what they do,
in order to make you tough.
And what I heard it isn't very nice.
They pull your fingernails off. They"ll tear out your teeth
without, ah, some kind of a narcotic.
So I said, I don't want to know where he is because
if I don't know where he is I can't, I can't tell them.
They can pester me and do anything they want
but I won't say anything because I don't know it.
And that's a very safe way. So I didn't know.
I was very happy not to know.
So all through the war I had no idea where he was.
I also had no idea where my brother was
who jumped the train.
When we came, that was when he escaped, by the way,
from the train where we went from this place
in what they called the Hofelitic Castle
where I was all that time. My brother was there.
I made a mistake with that.
My brother did go into there but he did not go from there
to the camp I finally stayed for many years,
namely Westerbork.
So on that train was a train that was not a cattle car.
It was a regular car and he escaped.
So, um, I didn't know where he was.
We didn't hear any shooting so
obviously he was not caught by anybody. So that was good.
So we, um, we came after we were in
Westerbork in the castle there, in Barneveld.
We stayed there for several months.
I was luckily there very sick. I was luckily sick there because
there were lots of good doctors, of course,
because they were all educated people.
They didn't have medications but there were doctors.
There were all kinds of capable people.
We didn't have to work hard at all.
So I was in the sick barrack for most of the time
I was there which was a couple of months at the time.
We came there later. Then many other people were there.
They already had been in this castle.
We came late in the, in the time.
So by the time we finally went and were transported
from the castle to Westerbork,
I spent almost three years of my life in the war.
Then they left this Hofelei, the castle, we were with
probably about between 4 and 500 people,
maybe close to 500. So all of us were indeed,
relying to the group of intellectuals.
They were all scared. They all were.
And, again, like my daughter mentioned,
we had to pack a suitcase like that
and none of the things that they tell you to do.
You are told that you are, you know,
remember in a couple of hours you have to do your suitcase
and all that. That's not how it goes. It goes, Right now.
Just right now. You have to do it.
So you get all these things whatever they tell you to do.
So you have to pack your suitcase and you have an hour
to do it or two hours, whatever.
There is always a-some kind of a, of
forcing methods that they make you scared.
So the part onf that being scared means that
you don't have the energy you normally have
if you're not scared. You don't know what to do,
your hands don't know what to do.
So they're very, very smart in handling you that way.
As again I had been very sick. I had the measles.
I had some scarlet fever.
I had all kinds of miserable diseases.
This was very, very nice because I worked them off
before I came into Westerbork which was a much worse camp
from what we know. It's a transportation labor camp
and it falls halfway under the concentration camps.
It's a prelude to wherever you get killed finally.
Whether it is a mud house in Auschwitz or Theresienstadt
and all the other camps. And by the way,
there must be about 40-50 camps - - all over.
But the well-known camps were
Auschwitz because of the-the select position
that they have to have to gas fumes which,
by the way, were not even ready in Theresienstadt.
Some of these groups of people that I belong to
to the intellectuals
somehow ended up by the end of the war in Theresienstadt.
So and that's all whatever this was
but made us a special group of intellectuals.
I never knew, never found out what the criteria were,
necessarily, to be in that group.
Somehow it had to do with education but
there were many educated ones
that were not in that group.
And there were many in that group, maybe ten or so
of educated ones that were maybe not so educated.
So I still don't know but there 4-500 people in that group.
In the separate barrack, always together.
And so all that time we were one particular group.
So it was a very good thing in a way to belong to that group,
obviously. They didn't know. They gamble.
It seemed like a good idea and, ah,
apparently it turned out to be a good idea. Not for this group.
Let's say the majority of the people, probably about, close to 500
ended up from Westerbork, where we were for years
in a special barrack, ended up in Theresienstadt.
Theresienstadt was a miserable, rotten camp.
It was a, ah-um, part of a city that was actually
already closed off to other people.
There were lots of Jews that had to live there
and it became Theresienstadt, camp Theresienstadt.
They were there. The living conditions were miserable.
Somehow you had to gather your food.
I don't really know much about the details.
Of course there is a lot written all over about all these camps
and there're lots of books about Theresienstadt.
People always somehow found a way
to somehow register where they went
so either it was done in a very primitive way,
either it was done in a very broad way,
or it was done in a very personal way
and we all, many of us survivors have written books
or notes or whatever it is that they do
to tell not only their own family
but all their somehow related, other Jews and other people
who of course are missing.
But they used to go sometimes like that,
but maybe you can have as a weapon or as something to, ah
not necessarily a weapon,
because weapons usually are used to attack,
but I'm talking about the weapon as a defense.
Somehow, as I told you,
the fact that you are not very willing
to do what you're told to do that you're somehow sneaky
find a way not to do what they tell you to do or do something
that they don't know but/that's right under their eyes
and they don't know it.
So you feel superior, which is a wonderful feeling.
It always is but particularly that, ah, over there as us.
So anyway we, in Westerbork we're together,
as all the other people of that intellectual group
in this particular barrack.
My father was, ah, picked as the leader of the barrack;
that was very nice.
That meant he had to almost, um, enforce the laws
but there were no laws.
There were rules and regulations
and he didn't enforce them but
he tried to maybe do the thing that the least harmful for
people to live within those regulations,
namely one of them:
whilst they could not use the indoor toilet
indoor toilet sounds very interesting- that was indeed a toilet
but it didn't work. It didn't work as a regular toilet.
It was always stopped up but, there was no privacy
except there was a curtain in front of that toilet,
one toilet, for hundreds of people.
And men and women are separated in the bunk side
and the other side of the barrack.
So there's one toilet for one area, one toilet for the other.
And many people have diarrhea in cases like that,
mostly diarrhea, I think, and other things.
And all kind of illnesses and people
who basically maybe were not so healthy to begin with,
they're middle-middle aged people, all the people and,
they didn't have the medications that they had to have,
they were out of their normal routine,
they were scared to death. I mean they were all
a bunch of messy, messy looking people.
They were lousy. They looked lousy. They felt lousy.
They-they had very, very little self-respect,
which is one of the things you lose very fast,
and that's a bad thing because if you do
you're already halfway gone. So that's one thing
you have to hang on to in some kind of a fashion,
whether you can find a way to do it. Ah. Hopefully
One thing they did, for example,
is telling jokes to each other, particularly tell jokes
about SS and SD people that were very stupid and
how very stupid Hitler was, particularly.
There was very good illustrations
of how dumb he was and he really thought he could,
he could mess up and murder the whole Jewish race.
I mean, he has something else coming. [ CHUCKLES ]
It just-just didn't happen. He, ah, murdered six million,
a lot of people, and many other, many, many others.
And many of these Jews that he got rid of didn't even know
what was going on, had no idea, had no defense, nothing.
And they really were unable to tell their family
what happened, what they should do
when they would get in that kind of situation,
how you would recognize
that you got into that kind of situation, how easy it is
to be drawn into a situation where you know
things are uncomfortable but they're not terrible,
like my daughter mentioned, it's not the end of the world.
Most things are not the end of the world.
The only end of the world is if you're in a gas chamber
and the gas comes and you can't get out.
That's the end of the world. But nothing else really is.
You know you can always find a way to do something else.
Even if they chopped your foot off, you had no foot.
I mean, there're lots of people without feet.
They might not even have two feet at all
but you can live without that.
So most people had no idea what to expect.
Ah. Luckily, they didn't.
And when the gas came in the, in the gas chamber,
I am almost convinced that 99%
had no idea what they got into. Some maybe knew because
some people got in the gas chamber while they had lived
in Auschwitz for, let's say, most in a week,
more than a week you probably figured it out.
The smell, for one thing, the crematorium. You can smell the crematorium.
Now that doesn't mean that you have been gassed.
It only means that they burned human flesh and
it was pretty obvious where that came from.
So you had no idea but you had heard there were rumors
and you can't always go on rumors
because usually that's what they are.
They're a combination of the truth or
something you'd like to believe
or something you have been scared to death to believe.
And-and-and the other facts [ CLEARS THROAT ]
that combine like, um, like a-a mixed dish of stuff and
you don't know what to believe and what not to believe.
But you can't live on rumors and you hope that
the positive rumors are right like, ah, Have you heard?
So-and-so is, ah, attacking the Germans in, ah, Belgium.
And you were liable to believe it because
it would be nice if that's the case. And
maybe sometimes it was and some other times it wasn't.
Most the time it wasn't
because there was very little news, as such,
that ever penetrated into the camps.
And vice-versa, the worst part of it I always feel
is the hurt from during those years, three full years
that you really didn't know the truth at any time.
You just didn't know. And there were always rumors.
Rumors were all over the place.
Some of the rumors are very optimistic and it's nice
and some rumors are terrible. They're terrifying.
You're scared to death to go to bed because
you don't know what-what-what may be happen the next day.
It would be worse.
Or maybe you will have a chance to escape.
But if you can you should be rested so you better
get some sleep. If you don't get sleep,
at least you know what's going on
because you're ready because you're not sleeping.
But then you're tired
and you might not be able to defend yourself
and maybe you can' t defend yourself, no matter what.
But all these thoughts go round and around and around.
While in the meantime, you should try to hang on
to some kind of physical ability to at least carry out
the job or the duty you have been given to do by the SS,
by your enemy,
because they are the ones that have the power all the time.
They have their weapons, they have their dogs,
and they have the train sitting on the, on the track and
that train goes several times a week with thousands,
several thousands of Jews loaded,
loaded with Jews of any age, of any education level,
of any health level. Some of them are already half dead,
some of them, ah-ah, not have that but are frightened
and they have, they had no idea where their family is.
They were, they were picked all by themselves, maybe,
and maybe their family was hiding like with Anne Frank.
Maybe one was picked up and the other one was not
but you don't know from each other where you are,
which brings me to another story.
Sometimes I do it this way,
little happenings that happened during the days that, um,
particularly, looking back at this age now,
um, maybe gaining more importance, as in perspective.
The fact that there're many, many things
you don't know what's going on.
In a way they are a blessing because
there are many things you don't know.
Some people that you knew, ah, would be pretty strong
and they were healthy and they probably would survive,
they're probably already killed but you didn't know
so that was very-very nice in a way.
Some other facts that you, ah, get to know that, um,
you don't believe in because you don't want to believe in.
Or you get to believe in
because it makes you feel better
because it sounds like it's nice.
For example, the weird thing that my brother did, ah,
in the, in the time that he jumped the train, ah,
he, um, he jumped the train and was safe.
Somehow he walked to that station where the SS was
and talked to the people in the morning and shaved, ah,
dry, and was able to, ah, have a little talk with them
and come back to the city where he was going to be saving,
ah/save his life for the next couple of years
living with the/with the girlfriend that was nice.
We didn't know what happened to him.
All we knew is that he jumped that compartment
where we were in,
swang the door open, he jumped out and
we knew there SS accompanying this train.
They're not stupid. These Germans are very, very smart.
So they had some of them hanging on
along the train on the outside.
My mother who wanted to scream, 'cause, couldn't scream
because my father put his hand over her mouth.
We never knew happened.Didn't.
No shots. No yelling. No nothing. No screaming.
We didn't know at all.
Years we didn't know because we came in Barneveld,
I mean in Westerbork without him
and we arrived, my mother and my father and myself
and, um, he was not there.
Nobody-nobody separated #4 from this group
so obviously it wasn't known where he was.
Nobody knew. And they of course didn't say anything.
Years later, after the war, years, over more than 3 years
they finally found out what happened in a very odd way.
By the way, then we arrived in Westerbork. There was a rule,
which was stopped I think in months or so after we came.
There supposedly, the camp, by the way,
was set up for the evacuated Jews from Germany and
Poland that came to Holland to try and find safety,
among other things,
those little-little girls that we used to have,
they all ended up in Auschwitz.
But they came to Westerbork
which was made available by the Dutch, ah-um, government;
the barracks that they actually that they put up for these people
that were fleeing Germany and Poland and all that.
So, um, we didn't know.
We just hoped and-and hoped that maybe he wasn't killed.
Who knows?
The rule was, when we arrived,
you could get a package from home wherever home is,
maybe there'll be some Jew left that's considered home.
Or maybe some-some friends you had
that wanted to mail you something
into the camp you were picked up to.
People knew there was a camp.
They didn't know what kind of misery camp it was.
They didn't know about [ CLEARS THROAT ] the trains
leaving twice a week for Jews to be executed.
Had no idea.
But we could get a package of, um, maybe around a pound.
Little bit of flour, a little bit of butter,
and a little bit of sugar,
these things that both were rationed.
We could get a little package once a month
or something like that, eh, only maybe half a pound
and then it was sent with a little tape thing on it
a tape, ah, that you glue on to the outside of the package
and you sign it off and then that tape has to be sent back
to these people who sent you the package
so they will then have a permit to send you another package;
that was going on in Westerborkwhen we came and
it only happened twice, I think,
and then that rule was stopped. We
couldn't have that anymore in there.
People that got things that they weren't supposed to have
and-and lots of those are stolen anyway
because if the SS open the packages maybe they eat it.
Who knows? But later after the war we found out
when the liberation came and my brother came
and my brother took us back to Utrecht years later--
that I will come back to.
We came back and his girlfriend said,
"Well, so good to see you guys. And how did you do?"
"And thank God you know that-that your brother was safe."
So we never knew what happened to him.
"Well, he was safe. You knew that."
I said, "No, we knew nothing."
"Well, we." She said, "Well, I sent you these pancakes
I made from the flour and the butter and the sugar.
And I sent you that package.
I said, "Well, we did, we ate them."
We didn't know. She put a message in it.
That's the weirdest thing that happened, the-the odd things.
She thought it was very smart to put a piece of paper in it.
"He made it."Or, "He-he arrived today."
Because we never, we never looked
for any piece in the pancake. So we ate it.
And so we could have been relaxing all these years
about him but we didn't.
And then we might have been scared that he was dead
and maybe then did something else. Who knows?
So anyway we were there and I was,
I was determined to make it, to begin with,
and sure that many of the 60 million that have been killed,
six million, were very determined to make it also
and some of them did and the majority of course did not.
But in what way it helps to be determined,
I really don't know.
I know what helped for me is the/my makeup of who I am,
ah, who I turned out to be
is basically not because I was so courageous.
I don't think that's-that's the thing.
Is that in the first place
it was the absolute desire to survive, for one thing.
Of course I had a son also and a husband.
But in general the survival gene, I think, got me
and maybe Jews have a lot of those things;
could be because they're used to being exterminated,
one way or the other somehow.
The son of one of my other daughters, ah,
uses that modern thing, that you probably all do,
this expression now, ah, the language is always changing,
as I know, like things like 'cool'.
But I don't think you use that anymore either.
But people, ah, like one of my daughters who,
with her family does a lot of running and Hood-to-Coast
and all these things and she is, ah, like in her 50s.
It's not easy to do all that.
She says, Well I said, How do you do it?
How do you run that many miles in this miserable weather
you can hardly breathe because it's stuffy?
She said, Oh, you have the you have to dig deep, really deep.
And that's probably what it is. You just have to dig deep
wherever you can dig you dig
and somehow there's got to be something there.
And how to keep that in, half a decent shape I don't know.
But somehow you have to refill somehow and-and the way
we refilled or I did, like I told you, is partly because
we fooled my enemy,that was a wonderful feeling.
Fooled them by stealing, all kinds of things I did,
and I got away with it. And, ah, they never knew
and I didn't get punished either.
So that's one way I won and that adds to your strength
so you can use it the next time so you kind of refill.
You're back with whatever-whatever you got to-to call on.
I stole bread, and it was risky
and it was a very wonderful bread.
Well, the task we had was work on the trains that came in,
not the ones that went out with the, with the Jews,
the trains that came in with supplies
and there were a lot of supplies ever needed,
particularly also for the, for the Germans.
And they had good stuff.
They didn't have all the good stuff in the world
but they had wonderful loaves of bread and they had butter
and that all kind of stuff.
So we were on a crew to unload these cars and I did.
And then used to know how it feels if you smell that bread.
It was wonderful.
So I thought, Gee, it's just too good for them.
So I'll-I'll steal someonly because we had been told,
No stealing. [ BANGS ]
Anybody being caught is going to be shot at the site.
I thought, Well, they might shoot you; they might not.
I mean you get almost immune in-in a way
rather they shoot you or not.
It-it matters but it doesn't matter enough, I guess.
So I, ah, I stole a loaf of bread.
It was behind the car of-of the car where the bread came in
and those things are low and they have short wheels
and I just put it behind a wheel just so you couldn't see it.
Unless you were looking for it, you couldn't find it but-
And we-we worked there for several hours.
I thought, Boy, this is a wonderful way.
So if it's, if I can do it with one, I can do it with more.
So I did it with four loaves. And of course at dark
you have to be in the barrack, in the barrack.
You couldn't be out on the campground
and campground sounds wonderful but that's what it is.
It's a campground and, so I had to get that bread somehow.
So I thought, Oh, there's not much else I can do.
Just go and get it.
I mean there was not much I could do than just doing it.
So I did and I got all the four loaves, okay, two at a time.
Came in the barrack and
everybody was really-really surprised. Very good bread
and we didn't eat it all right away because, you know,
you share some.
And the next morning we came to the ?_apeld field
where you have to be dealt some, um,
group of people that you go to work with.
Either you had to be sent to the canal,
we were close to the canal.
Everything in Holland is close to a canal.
It's always within a mile of one canal or another
and that's where the shipping goes
and they had to, ah, handle some ships that they
carry their, um, parts of the bomb towns,
a lot of marble and brick and all that. It's very heavy stuff.
Ah. All that rubble.
We had to unload out of that ship on the bottom
and put it, give it up to somebody else
and it's very, very killing work
and many people just collapse while they're doing it.
And I was so strong that I didn't collapse.
And they just throw it in a little cart like that shape,
goes on a wheel, on a wheel on the road
that they were going to build, which never was built.
But they tipped over the cart and then you/the other people
from the same crew they hammered so that
they make a road bed out of that marble
and all the other stuff.
So, um, that was about a mile away from the camp.
And we were, every morning we were told what group to be in,
what-what our crew should be doing.
And while we were standing then on the fields to be told
we were also told
that there was something terrible happened.
Somebody stole bread. That was awful.
And so immediately
the one that did had better come forward and confess it
because if they don't we will collectively punish you,
the whole troupe, everybody. So you will be on bread and water
and if you're lucky bread
otherwise you won't get anything
and we'll have extra heavy labor.
Nobody came forward then I thought,
Well, I don't know what to do.
So I thought, Well, I'll just go forward
and make a show somehow.
And I stepped forward and I don't know
because you can't really get to the feelings
of these SS guys or the SD. I mean they haven't got any.
I mean they kill; they kill without any question,
whatever it is, depends on their mood.
So I just gambled and I said,
Well, um, I-I stole bread. I-I did it.
And I stole two loaves of bread.
They said, Right away [ BANGS ] go to your barrack!
Get in your barrack!
And I was on some kind of a miserable duty,
not more miserable than most duties were,
and so we gained two loaves of bread which is wonderful.
It was worth it. It was worth it because it worked.
But they could have done something else
and they didn't.
For some reason, I got away with it.
This is really very, um, wonderful, in a way for me,
because I got more gutsy all the time.
Every time I did something that worked I thought,
Oh, I can get away with that.
I can get away with more, maybe.
You know. And I did, quite a bit. Ah.
There were-
The-the one thing, another way was as very much fun
but it wasn't as dangerous what I did
because it was really knowing/knowingly
going to the end of the war.
It was at the very end of the war,
the planes came over all day long and all night long
British planes and American planes. We knew it.
We saw them.
They came over on one side of the, of the sky
going east to Germany, heavy bombers,
loaded heavy with bombs,
with support fighter planes around them to protect them,
a lot of shooting and then, ah, at the same time,
24 hours in a row.
They came back from bombing towns
among things like Hamburg was bombed, pulverized.
How the Germans survived I don't know.
It was bombed every day, hour after hour, and
these people had to go and get milk once in a while.
These Germans, they need milk, too,
and bread. So they had to get out while all this was going on
and the fighter planes land on the low escapades
and the bombers could flow/fly a little bit higher
because they were not loaded so heavy.
So they didn' t need the fighters that much.
So this was going on day after day in '45.
So we knew it-it had to end somehow.
People cannot live this way anymore.
The war has to be end one of these days.
So it was more, it was less gutsy to do things
because it wouldn't be very long anymore, we thought,
which was the case. And in the meantime,
the trains were leaving twice a week every week
with fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, everybody.
Went on and on and on and you don't get immune
but somehow you get some calluses.
Ah. It's not the same thing but it helps a little bit.
So, anyway, we I saw this happening
and we were planting peas out in the fields
on the way to the canal.
There were farmers and so we had to plant peas at the time.
I never had planted peas in my life. I didn't know how to do it.
They said, All you do is you put three in a hole and you,
and you push with your heel with your wooden shoe.
Had to wear wooden shoes, by the way,
very cold and very miserable and
you get big calluses on your feet. It's terrible.
But that's all you had to do. That/that's all we had to wear.
So I thought,
Well, these peas they won't come up before the war is over.
I mean that will be over and we have peace.
So I thought, Well, why would you put three in a hole?
You know they always told three
because some who might not come up that's true.
I thought, By the time these come up
I mean the war will be over. So what?
So-so I put two in a hole or one and then
I skipped a couple of holes.
And indeed the war was over within a couple of months
and I went to the field later.
And we had to stay in the camp for several months
because we had to be identified.
We had to say who we are. Do we have a place to go?
How is your family? Do you have any family?
So I took a walk through that field.
It was really very triumphant.
I would have liked to have a [ CHUCKLES ] camera
because here and there there was a pea. It came up.
So the timing was pretty good. In/indeed there was
a row that was on the end but they did/still didn't know it.
And so while they were doing things like this I was put on a,
on a particular, um, duty thing and that's, ah
it sounds worse than it is, in a way,
because we did not have, um - - crematorium at all.
We had a place where people were burned
when they were dead already, ah, the single burning thing,
and it looks a little bit like a washing machine.
And there's a one hole, you can look inside,
and that was just for one,one-by-one you could burn people
and it's hygienically was better than burning them
or than, um, somehow load them on the train.
So either people that were maybe caught on the escape or
they were sick people that just died
and they had to burn them.
Oh, we had to do that, our group, so we did.
And it's not particularly fun work. Ah.
In the first place, you're already scared to death
and you're already, ah, on the, in a sense,
on the same plateau with your feelings.
But you had to do it. And I-I knew you were dead.
I mean, ah, you could see it, the way the-the body move
because they do move
because the tendons move a little bit by the heat.
You knew these people were dead.
So it wasn't a terrible thing to do. It was not very nice but
And-and the odd thing is, like the SS and the the SD
and some of these are definitely people
somehow they're people
and you don't know: How can they behave one way,
as people, regular people,
and-and the other time the same people,
the regular people, behave this other way
that are totally not conforming to how they behave here.
But somehow in both cases,
they-they behave a certain way that you don't,
you can't place it and that's typical for what I found,
at leastthe SS and SD, the Nazis, the typical Nazi has that.
So, ah, we did that and then you got extra rations
and that's nice to get extra rations
if you work hard in the fields
like we chopped trees for days and days in the snow
and your butt freezes over
because all I had is one pair of jean like type of things.
Ah. Then we got some extra rations,
maybe one extra piece of bread and that was a lot worth
become extra ration when you were burning/on burning duty
and we got a little shot glass of whiskey
or not whiskey but gin.
And so, ah, I kept that in my mouth
and then I came back from the work I gave it to my father
who was in the same barrack.
And, ah, I don't know how tasteful it was
but I thought it would be kind of fun
that he would enjoy that.
And it's interesting typical something from SD.
They knew that you probably were really sick to your stomach
doing that kind of stuff
so they'd do that to kind of quiet you down
or maybe they felt pity for you.
I have no idea but it was very, very odd
and that's the same oddity as how you explain their behavior
which is the ultimate of cruelty against others
that doesn't seem all that bad, maybe,
because maybe they're just mad or whatever.
For example, the thing I saw that always has convinced me
that somehow I, I hate to do it. But I do believe in evil.
Somehow there is some evil somewhere
and I don't know where it is or how to catch it
but there must be
because you see it on these people at times
and I don't know where it comes from.
It just comes through these people as a,
as a conduit for something evil
that makes its way through this body of
this guy that does it or that he always had that, I don't know.
One of the SS people and it was not uncommon
for more of them to do that kind of thing.
They were on the train, they were loading people in
and you depend on what duty you are on.
So sometimes I helped/had to help loading people
into the train which was going, obviously, later
we knew to Auschwitz. We knew not where they went.
There were signs on those trains:
Auschwitz, Westerbork. Westerbork Auschwitz.
We never ever knew what Auschwitz was. No idea.
So you had to help them getting their suitcases
or helping and that was luggage had to be and-
and only the SS was on there
and the people who were dealt this hand of having to work
on that crew of helping these people into the train.
Eighty people to a car.
You must have read those things.
It's a very known figures that we know. Um.
One bell for food and drink
and the other one for going to the bathroom.
You don't know which one's pulled first,
probably the one that's the bathroom.
So this woman entered/or tried to enter that train and to--
Why don't you tell this? I-I don't like to tell.
I never like to tell - -
DEB: So this is the scene.
Mom has the work detail of loading the train.
The trains went on Tuesdays and Fridays
or Tuesdays and Thursdays and
there was always pea soup the day that the trains left.
Nobody knew
until the night before who would be on that train.
You would be- There would be a list read
and then you would, again, pack your suitcase
so that you could leave on the train the next day.
And they were very smart,
again, the psychological part that they used was typically
because of in the barracks
the women and the men were separated.
The women and the children under 14
were on one side of a barrack
and the men and the boys over 14 or 14 and over
were on the other side of the barrack.
So during the day, families didn't get to see each other.
The boys and the men had to work somewhere else.
The women over here, they went on other work details.
So they didn't really get to communicate.
But, on the day that-that you would get to be on that list
typically they would put the family back together.
So, again, there was less panic
because you got to be with your husband
and the other children
and the husband would get to be with his wife.
So, again, there wasn't the panic.
They didn't create the panic.
It was soothing, in a sense,
and you got to pack the suitcase.
So you would know the next day you'd-you'd be leaving.
And, um, in the process, like Mom says,
she had duty that particular day.
Um. They would load these trains with about 2,000 people
and 80 to a boxcar.
So this is the scene
where the woman is trying to get into the boxcar.
She's got a little one in her hand or in her arm
and they had two other little girls
and the husband is behind the two little girls.
And so because she's having a hard time doing the in-step
into this boxcar, which is high, so she's having a hard time
this Nazi takes his gun butt and puts it in her rear-end
and pushes her and hits, says, Snell, snell.
And is being very rude and, um, nasty to her.
Due to the fact that the husband, of course,
is having a really hard time,
he doesn't get to see his wife very often in the first place.
Now somebody's being mean to his wife.
He just spurts out, Don't you do that to my wife!
So what happens next?
They don't shoot him
'cause that's usually what the kids'll say.
They shoot one of the kids.
You think any other man was gonna say anything?
And that's part of the philosophy they use.
People always ask us when we're talking is:
Why did they not fight back?
There were more of you in these camps than the Nazis.
Why didn't you fight back?
Because of the-
the psychology they used is part of that reasoning is
because if you did stand up and do something,
they didn't shoot you.
You don't mind dying for a cause, per se,
but if they, if you're standing up
for the cause of someone else
and they're the ones that get shot,
that's not what you're after.
So part of it is the religious thing that the Jews,
in general, in their religion say:
To stay alive is much better
because the longer you can stay alive
the more likely you'll be able to resolve the issues
'cause once you're dead you can't do a darn thing anymore
about whatever it is the cause is
that you're trying to stand up for.
So they did a lot of underground things, the Nazis,
the-the Jews did that people don't know about
or didn't recognize.
But as far as standing up in/inside of a camp
and doing something about it, very few.
There was a few uprisings with not much success,
with not much success.
So when you witness something like that,
Mom said,
Anytime that those trains were loaded there was no crying,
there was no scenes, and it was because of those kind of situations.
You quietly went on.
And so far the camp that they were in,
as Mom was saying, was originally built
by the Dutch people to accommodate the refugees,
the Jewish refugees, from Germany.
So this camp was huge.
It had like 20,000 people in it on a regular basis.
It was like a little city.
Mom's barrack was particularly kept in the certain group,
the intellectuals were kept in that particular barrack
and kept together.
So they went through this time all/the whole time together.
But most of them were not and the-
The-the German refugee Jews that were already in the camp
they used to manage the camp.
The Dutch Jews were transported
and there was like a hundred and forty thousand Jews,
Dutch Jews, and a hundred and five were-were murdered.
So the biggest percentage of all of European Jews
were killed in Holland, or the Dutch Jews were killed more.
And so by leaving that train on the time every two,
every/twice a week that was-
and you never knew if you gonna be on.
And until that train left the track you weren't sure
because of maybe that somebody that was on the list
didn't make it because they died or they were sick
and they couldn't make it on the train.
Mom said people so you didn't know if maybe
they would just pull you because you happened to be there
and there was space.
So you weren't sure until the train left the track
if you were gonna be safe or not for another few days. Um.
ELINE:- - There's another thing
that falls under the same category of those, ah,
those things like this guy that's shooting the baby.
Um. That I-I didn't see it and I didn't write it.
I read it in a book from a professor in Tel Aviv
who wrote very many, very good books about the Holocaust.
And she refers to a happening that one of the SS or SD
in-in, ah, apparently Eastern Germany
was, ah, on some kind of a duty, and he was observed
to have a little baby that they took home,
a little Jewish baby he took home the night before
and he said, Well, I'm going to just target shoot tonight.
And the next day when he came back
he told one of the other guys that were on duty
that they had so much fun because
he brought the baby back and he said,
We had a lot of fun.
We were target shooting and I threw it up and then I shot.
And, you know, ah, did several times
and then my little two year old
she said, Oh, Daddy, Daddy, do it again.
He didn't- how could he not have killed that baby?
I don't know whether he intended or not.
But that's what he did for entertainment.
And he came back the next day and told them how
his little one was so enthusiastic about it.
Well, he can't, he can't get it into that mindset.
It's just no way. Ah.
Obviously many of these people are not that way and I-
You don't know how to keep them from one for the other.
Anyway, so I was there for,
and I/of course I can speak for days,
I was there for many years and
not many significant things happened in a place like that.
You can say it's kind, it's rather dull in a way
because basically what it is it's, ah,
it's hard work and unpleasant things and not enough food
and-and you'd be frightened and you're halfway sick
but you try to be not sick. And then the time goes by
and the winters go by and the summers go by and-
and every day is another, ah, challenge in a way,
but a different type
either it is how you can still be on your feet or
how you can still maybe, um, make the jokes
that will make you feel better.
And beside that when the darn war will be over
and you just don't know.
So, no, we didn't get any- First of all, news you didn't get.
All you know is, somehow you know,
on the airplanes that come over
and the pattern that they have
in the night and the day flights, of all these flights
that you definitely could recognize as Allied flights.
You knew it had to come to an end.
You also knew that that train, that always is used
is setting on the track all the time, it never left.
It never left anymore after the last transport left
which is around the time Anne Frank was taken.
Anne Frank was one of the poor Jews ever caught
while they were in hiding, and the typical scene was:
anybody who caught, who was caught while they were hiding,
which they shouldn't supposedly do to begin with,
they are on a, on a punishment transport.
They arrive in Westerbork in a separate barrack ah,
separate from the others and
they don't have a chance to work or do anything else
so that maybe the Germans can use them for a while.
And that's one of the things I was apparently very good at and
at least we could work, and be productive
so they could use us.
But she was unusable, to begin with,
because of the rule that the rule is that if somebody's caught
while they were hiding they don't have that opportunity,
beside that she was a young girl,
was not very strong to begin with
and was on the transport to begin with right away.
So she arrived in Westerbork
and probably was on the transport three days later
something like that.
And so that train that always was sitting on the track
to load for the next train full was always there.
It never left.
There/it never had left anymore after the last transport.
They didn't know whether we'd go or not.
So it was sitting there, threatening. It was ready to go
but obviously the-the railroads were messed up in Germany
something terrible. They needed them,
probably to transport their soldiers
or whoever they had to transport.
So it was sitting there as a threat all the time.
You didn't know what was going to happen
but it sat to remind you.
And all this time we were at the, at the very last transport leaving
which is very odd and I never really found out
exactly what the problem was-or not the problem
but what caused this, I still don't know.
The Barneveld Group, as I mentioned,
was a group of so-called intellectuals
they were probably picked by some higher people in Germany,
in-in German, the German government it was governing,
supposedly, Holland at the time. Still don't know. Ah.
The transport that went, the last before the one-
that one with Anne Frank, was the transport for the Barnevelders.
That particular group from the castle went on the transport
and they went to Theresienstadt.
They did not go to Auschwitz.
So somehow that group of intellectuals,
and we were in that group, the group was 4 or 500 people
and there were 15 people of that group,
along with a group that they called the 'Baptized Jews'.
There were very few of those. They were baptized.
They were kept also more or less separate
under the same roof as the intellectuals
and the same castle.
15 people of the Barneveld Jews that were the baptized ones.
15 of the, um, Barneveld intellectuals were kept in Westerbork.
So at the time the train was going to leave and
they were told to pack
pack their suitcases and all that
I/we were called to the offices wherever it was
and we were told to stop packing and we, ah, we stayed
and we had no idea why
and never found out what exactly happened.
Somehow something must have happened.
After the train had left, we found that the other 15
from the baptized group were there,
15 people of the group that we belonged to were there.
So those 30 people of that particular group
that was in that castle never went to, um,
to Theresienstadt. Many of them were killed in Theresienstadt
by accident or actually they were killed because they were sick.
There were lots of bad diseases in Theresienstadt.
They were not particularly killed and-and, ah, and burned
because they didn't have gas chambers
and they didn't have the mass killings in Theresienstadt.
So somehow Theresienstadt was a camp
or actually it was a ghetto, to begin with from the city.
Theresienstadt had to get more walled in
and that's what became Camp Theresienstadt
because there was all these walls.
Kept them out of the rest of the city.
So that was not the most-- [ DEB explains the talk should end shortly ]
DEB: A couple things that-that Mom usually says,
and because she's not feeling well, she's not her normal.
So, I'm gonna just quickly get some of this in.
Typically we/kids want to know, and people should know,
what it was like in the camp, and she minimizes.
She minimizes it.
She had one pair of overalls that she got to wear.
She never got to take a shower or a bath the whole time.
They all had lice. They had fleas.
They had no feminine hygiene for all that time.
Now, some women due to the fact of the malnutrition
didn't have periods but many did.
But there was no feminine hygiene.
There was no showers. There was no change of clothes.
She had a pair of boots
and that's the only thing that she did have,
other than the wooden shoes that they made her wear.
The other thing is that she talks about is
that it was three-high bunks.
They were metal bunks in her case,
not all had- some had wood bunks and she metal bunks.
They had no mattresses. What they had was a bag,
a big long bag, and it was filled with straw.
But it was never refilled and
straw eventually pulverizes so it was hard.
They didn't really have blankets
so you slept in whatever clothes you had on.
So she minimizes all of that
and never really says anything about that,
and I think it's really important to know,
just like teenagers ask us when we talk in high schools,
Did you have any makeup? No.
You didn't even get to wash, let alone have anything like that.
I mean, the priorities completely change.
Everybody smelled.
Everybody had all of those things so there was no interaction.
You never made friends during that time
because you didn't know if they were going to be on the train
the next day or not. So you were very isolated.
She said she-- She would do a little prayer every night
for about a minute
and put her hand where her wedding ring should have been
and say a little prayer for my father and my brother.
She said if I did it any longer than that
I would lose it and cry. And I was afraid if I cried,
I'd lose it and I need to be strong.
So she would never think about it for very long at all,
just a split second so that she wouldn't lose her strength.
A quick thing about my brother, did survive
They did get my brother back.
That was a whole other traumatic thing.
It took years and years for my mom and my brother,
older brother, bless his heart
to have a really good relationship.
He always says, I have, I had and have two loving mothers.
I had a loving mother who loved me enough to give me up
for that time, and a loving mother who took care of me
and risked her own life for doing that
and ended up giving him back to my mother,
which was traumatizing for her.
She had hoped that my mother was not gonna make it,
not because she didn't care about my mom.
She didn't even know my mom.
But she loved my brother so much
she didn't want to give him back.
That relationship with his-his family that he had,
he had a war mom, he had war grandparents,
he had war cousins, and war aunts and uncles
because she had family.
That family has always stayed his family.
When we would go to our grandparents,
my mother's parents, who were the ones that survived,
he would go to his war family, because he was close to them.
He grew up with them until he was three, after three.
In the past few years, there's been more contact.
He used to go on vacations there. He still does.
He's been invited to that family union.
This year they're having one.
His now war grandmother has passed away.
His war mom has passed away.
He now has some relationship with her actual children
which he'd never had during the years she was alive.
She totally distanced herself immediately
from the fact that she gave him back.
And then she ended up marrying an American
and that's a whole other story.
- - This is the belt I want to quickly show
that my grandfather made out of American airplane wires,
out of a downed plane because they had to, um, recycle things
for the Germans at the time
and this was after they were liberated by the Canadians.
Mom's camp was liberated by the Canadians.
Now Mom was,she's tiny now and even now
she can't wear this belt
and she always said she didn't lose weight in the camp.
But I can tell you she can't fit it now and she fit it then,
so she did lose a lotta weight. She just wasn't even aware.
The star and then there was one other piece
that I wanted to show and that is-
This is a star made out of-
and has the liberation date that my grandfather did
and this is put on Plexiglass
that was new during the Second World War
out of an American airplane, too.
So these are a couple little- memorabilia that we have
that are priceless for-for our, for my sake, anyway.
And, um, and this is to me and she, see, a lot of people say,
Oh, you should have that behind glass or something.
She says, No. It's real. I want people to be able to touch it.
So that's why we don't have this star behind glass
which people tell us, too, we should do.
But at any rate, these are some special things
that have special memories,
and there's other little things that she has that we didn't bring.
Any last comments you want to say, Mom?
ELINE: Oh, just be happy as you are where you are.
DEB: And that's part of why we do what we do,
and I didn't bring that up. The reason
Mom and I do this and the others that do this for OHRC
we do it to enlighten kids and to make them think:
the more educated you are
the better decision hopefully you will make
and the more physically strong you are
the more capable you are to deal
with traumatic things that happen.
So if you're physically strong and emotionally strong
hopefully you will make good decisions
and you won't get caught up in gangs,
you won't get caught up in-in hatred groups.
You'll-you'll speak up when you see hatred or injustice done.
And that you are fortunate to live in a free country.
You have a set of parents. They may not be perfect
but a lot of them didn't have sets of parents
or any other family when they came out of that war.
So we want people to, kids particularly,
to realize how fortunate they are
that they're living in a country that they can speak up
and that you don't have- and that you have that education.
And that the more educated you are the more likely
you'd have a better chance of survival in the world.
ELINE: I also want to thank Loretta for asking me to get here.
I really appreciate it
because I know I wasn't in very good shape
but Debbie kind of kept me going.
AUDIENCE: You're strong.
ELINE: Thank you. You're a good audience.
DEB: Thank you.
And [ APPLAUSE ] if there's some questions