THE "ONDERDUIKERS"
(People in Hiding)

A nice, older lady was drinking tea in Mama's living room when I came home from school one day.  She did not wear a hat, so that meant she was not just visiting but staying. Drinking real tea, not the Sanka tablets that we used.


Mother said she was her Aunt Riek. Could very well have been, Mother was not close to her relatives and I know she had numerous aunts and uncles whom I had never met.  But I was now going on 12 and had a good idea what, not who,  this nice lady was. She was our first person in hiding (Onderduiker).  Apparently she had her ration card and was
waiting for new identity papers so she could go to the next place.

The Underground workers provided the ration card.  We never knew who they were  we had only one contact person, who had only one contact person etc. Many Jews choose to go "underground", leaving all their worldly possessions behind (but it was Aunt Riek who brought the tea), trying to survive with false papers.

She stayed a few days, and then came the next person and the next, even a family of four, a dentist with his wife and two teenage daughters. But they became dangerous to us, because they went out on the street and did go to the hairdresser, the movies ets., so they had to go.  My mother was really sticking her neck out here, because if she were deported, there wasn't anyone to take care of me.

Meanwhile the razzias went on and family after family was picked up, put on the train to Westerbork, a concentration camp in the North of our country and then transported to
the various camps in Germany and Poland.

Sometimes I went on my bike to the railroad station on the Maliebaan, it was a station that was no longer used and is now a railroad museum, to casually drive by to see who was picked up and reported that back home.

Our friends behind us, though advised by my Father in 1938 to move to Argentina, did not take that advise and now regretted it.  After curfew we dragged their furniture, piece by piece, to our house.  They came from a large villa, and their huge furniture barely fitted in our rooms.  We also had their china art collection.  Silverware and other items of value went to other friends.

They were picked up in the summer of 1942, father, mother and two sons.
Only the mother came back after the war - she had been in Auschwitz.  Her husband and sons were gassed upon arrival.  She was one of the few who came back.

Our men were in danger of being sent to Germany to work in war-essential factories, which were frequently the target of allied bombers. Students who had not signed the loyalty oath were banned from the University and threatened with deportation.
We saw many a 20-year old trying to look like a 14-year old in short pants, but the voice would give him away. It was these students who were among the leaders, and most active, in the Underground. Men, who were not students, 18 and up had to go underground too because they too, unless in an "essential" job, could be sent to Germany.  Some stayed hidden in their own homes, others went out to the farm country. Some made it to England and enlisted in the Dutch or British Army there.  Others made it to Free France, went over the Pyrenees into to Spain then to Portugal and from there to England.

Our people in hiding were never betrayed by the Nazi sympathizers living around us. They were merely card-holders to keep their business going, no matter what. On
one occasion we were informed by one of our Nazi neighbors that our house had attracted the attention the Gestapo.

I think that this was the last time mother had someone in hiding, except for our Theo, who had several addresses to stay and was quite the wanderer.  One night he decided to stay at our house and during the air-raid at night an Allied plane was shot down. He found the pilot's seat in his bed at his other abode.

We hear much about concentration camps in Germany and Poland  we had them in Holland too.  Amersfoort, just a few miles away, and Vught in Noord Brabant, quite notorious.  Mostly for Dutch underground workers, although some of them ended up in the German camps.



I have mentioned men in the underground, but women played a major role.  They were the ones that could go out in public and act as couriers for messages, distribute underground news-papers etc.

The Underground was instrumental and indispensable in communications between occupied Holland and the Dutch Government in exile, and many a downed flier has to thank his life to the actions of the underground workers. There is no accounting of how many Jews they saved, but there is an estimate of about one-third of the pre-war Jewish population.

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From "Fragments of My Life"
~ 1939 - 1945 ~  WW II
Holland
by Henny Carlisle
©Henny Carlisle - 2002
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