Catharina Soep

Catharina Soep

Born: January 3, 1923

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Catharina, called "Ina" by her family and friends, grew up in a religious Jewish household in Amsterdam. Ina's father, a successful diamond manufacturer, was president of the Amsterdam Jewish community. Ina had one brother, Benno, and a sister, Josette.

1933-39: On Sunday mornings and on Wednesdays after her classes at an Amsterdam Montessori school, Ina went to a private Jewish school where she studied Jewish history and Hebrew. Ina and her friends loved to meet in the evenings after they finished their homework to play records and chat. Then, when they went back home, they would call each other up as if they had been apart for months. Or they would write letters to give to each other at school the next morning.

1940-44: The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. A few weeks later, Ina graduated from high school. Her family was rounded up in 1943. They were taken to the Westerbork camp in the Netherlands, and eight months later to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. In 1944 the Nazis decided to build a diamond industry there, using the connections of Jews who knew the business. Since Ina's father manufactured diamonds, they weren't sent to death camps and they stayed together as a family. When German defeat was apparent, the diamond plan was abandoned.

As the Soviets advanced, Ina and other prisoners were loaded onto trains heading west. Liberated en route by U.S. troops on April 13, 1945, Ina immigrated to the United States in 1951.