My parents and brother left Germany in October 1933 for Denmark after my father received an eighteen month permit to work for a subsidiary of his company. In 1935 they moved to Belgium and finally settled in Amsterdam, Netherlands (Holland) in 1936. I was born there in 1938 and my father’s parents and other relatives from Germany joined us in 1939. Of our extended family of fifteen, only the four of us survived the war.
In May 1940 Holland was invaded. Starting in 1941 ever increasing restrictions were placed on us, including the Jewish star and exclusion from schools and public places. Then, in the fall of 1942, the first deportations to Westerbork, primarily a transit camp, then Auschwitz started. In June 1943 we were sent to Westerbork, but released after three months at the request of my father’s company. By then we had received El Salvador citizenship papers through contacts in Switzerland. These papers gave us more freedom and ultimately saved our lives.
In September 1944, there was a final roundup of all Jews in occupied Holland except those in mixed marriages. We went first to Westerbork, then to Theresienstadt, a 36 hour ride in a box car. There we lived in barracks and then in one room. Conditions were extremely difficult and my brother contracted tuberculosis. One quarter of the population died in Theresienstadt and most were eventually shipped out to Auschwitz.
In May 1945 Russians liberated the camp. We returned to Amsterdam in June and resumed our lives. At that time, conditions in Holland with very difficult and with no family left in Europe, we immigrated to the U.S. in 1948.