Hetty d'Ancona

Hetty d'Ancona

Born: May 1, 1930

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Hetty was the only child of a middle-class secular Jewish family. Hetty's parents were Sephardic, the descendants of Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. The family lived in an apartment above her father's clothing business. Hetty's grandparents and other relatives lived nearby.

1933-39: Hetty enjoyed growing up in the Netherlands. Her Jewish neighborhood was in the older part of Amsterdam, in the city center. When she was 6 years old, she began attending a public school. Everywhere in Amsterdam there were bicycles, canals and old buildings. Every summer Hetty's parents rented either a room or a house at the beach. They'd spend about a month there, and their friends and relatives would visit them.

1940-44: Just after Hetty's tenth birthday, the Germans attacked and occupied the Netherlands. One by one her relatives disappeared, picked up by the Germans. Even her closest friend, Judith, was sent away. Fearing they might be next, Hetty and her family left their home [and Hetty separated from her parents to hide]. The Dutch underground placed her with a Protestant family in the south, who fed and hid her. In September 1944 there was fighting nearby. German soldiers moved into their house. Then the Germans ordered the townspeople to leave. Rather than go, they all hid in the basement of a bombed-out house.

Several days later, Hetty and the family were discovered by American soldiers and freed. It was December 1944. She later married, and in 1962 she immigrated to the United States.

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