Sabine & Jacques Van Dam

Sabine“My parents, Nuchem Goldrosen and Rosa Bleich, married in Krakau, Poland and went to live in Berlin. Nuchem was a journalist and foreign correspondent. My only sibling, Hadassah, was born in Berlin in 1933. Soon afterwards, they left Germany for the Hague, Netherlands, where I was born in 1936. We led a comfortable life there.

The Germans invaded Holland in May 1940, but conditions did not deteriorate drastically until 1942, when all Dutch Jews were ordered to relocate to Amsterdam. My father decided it was time to leave, and we went to Antwerp, Belgium (on foot!) and went into hiding. We moved again to Brussels, again, going into hiding. There the Gestapo discovered our hiding place and took us to the Brussels prison. After six weeks, we were separated and taken to different camps. My father and mother were sent from Malines camp to Auschwitz. In December 1944, my father was sent to Mauthausen and my mother was sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they ultimately died.

I survived until liberation in September 1944 and was sent to an orphanage, where, to my great joy, I found my sister again. After 1 ½ years in the orphanage, an uncle who had survived in Switzerland found us and took us in, and we lived with them until adulthood. I will forever be grateful to him and his wife.”

JacquesSabine met and married a survivor named Jacques. She and her husband are part-time residents of Naples, and they regularly volunteer with the Holocaust Museum and Education Center of Southwest Florida to share their stories.

Jacques grew up in Amsterdam, Netherlands, with his family. “I grew up like every normal Dutch kid grew up… I did not experience, as far as I remember, any anti-Semitism in the Netherlands.”

German forces occupied the Netherlands in 1940, and by 1942, Jews were being deported. The Nazis prohibited Jews from official occupations and restricted them from participating in public life. “Jews were not allowed anymore to ride the street car… go in certain restaurants, cafes… sit on certain benches… there was a sign on the door, Jews not allowed in… we do not want Jews in here.”

Jacques And SabineJacques’ father was active in the Dutch Underground resistance and sent him to be hidden by Christian families. Mr. and Mrs. Bootsma were the third family he stayed with. They became his “wartime parents” who protected him and their own sons in hiding places. Yad Vashem recognizes the Bootsma family as “Righteous Among the Nations” for harboring a Jewish child. Other members of Jacques’ family also survived in hiding until their liberation in April, 1945.

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