Ruth Gabriele Silten

Ruth Gabriele Silten

Born: May 30, 1933

Berlin, Germany

Gabriele was the only child of Jewish parents living in the German capital of Berlin. Her grandfather owned a pharmacy and a pharmaceuticals factory, where Gabriele's father also made his living.

1933-39: In 1938 the Nazis forced Ruth's grandfather to sell his factory and pharmacy for very little money to an "Aryan" German. After that, her father decided they should move to Amsterdam where it was safer for Jews. She was 5 years old and wanted to stay in Berlin. She didn't understand why she had to leave her toys and friends. In Amsterdam Ruth had to learn a whole new language when she began elementary school, but she soon began to make new friends there.

1940-44: In May 1940 Germany invaded the Netherlands. Ruth remembers being frightened seeing the German troops march into the city. When she went to school she had to wear a yellow Jewish star, and she couldn't play with her Christian friends anymore. When she was 9, her family was deported to a camp in the eastern Netherlands called Westerbork. There, during the day while her parents worked, Ruth learned to steal things to barter for food. A year later Ruth and her family were sent to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In the ghetto she was hungry all the time.

Twelve-year-old Gabriele and her parents were liberated from Theresienstadt in May 1945. That June, the Silten family returned to Amsterdam, where they resettled.

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