Ilse Silten

Ilse Silten

Born: February 23, 1909

Berlin, Germany

Ilse, born Ilse Teppich, was the eldest of two daughters born to a Jewish family in the German capital of Berlin. Her father owned a dry cleaning business in the city. When Ilse finished secondary school, she was sent to a finishing school in Switzerland where she studied to be a photographer. In 1931 she married Fritz Silten.

1933-39: In 1933 Ilse gave birth to the couple's only child, a daughter named Gabriele. Five years later, when Fritz's father was forced by the Nazis to sell his business for a fraction of its value to an "Aryan" German [Aryanization], Fritz resolved to move his family out of Berlin. He went to Amsterdam, opened a pharmacy and then sent for Ilse and their daughter. Fritz's mother, Marta, joined them a year later.

1940-44: In May 1940 German troops occupied Amsterdam. Soon after, Ilse's husband was named to the German-appointed Jewish council. The majority of Amsterdam's Jews were herded into a ghetto in the city, but Ilse and her family were allowed to stay in their apartment. In June 1943 the Siltens were sent to the Westerbork transit camp. A month later, rather than be deported, Ilse's mother-in-law committed suicide. In early 1944 Ilse and her family were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia.

Ilse, Fritz and Gabriele were liberated when Soviet troops took Theresienstadt in May 1945. The Silten family returned to Amsterdam in June of that same year.

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