Oral History

Barbara Ledermann Rodbell describes false papers and moving people to hiding places

In 1933 Barbara's family moved to Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. They became friends of Anne Frank and her family. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940. Barbara's boyfriend, Manfred, had underground contacts and she got false papers. Her mother, sister, and father were deported to the Westerbork camp and then to Auschwitz. Barbara survived using her false papers and worked for the resistance. She helped take Jews to hiding places and also hid Jews in an apartment rented under her false name.


I went into her ballet school and took classes, and I was then asked to join the company. And I asked if, the underground, was it all right? Oh yes, because you got fantastic papers when you went there, into this company, uh, because the company traveled, you got papers to be out after curfew. And that way I could help shift people from one hiding place to another, or, like American soldiers, shot, shot down people, other people who were underground. Uh, and let me tell you how this was done. Um, there were no more taxis, there were very few cars because there was no gasoline, uh, for them to use. So what they had was people on bicycles pulling--you know, like in Third World countries--they would pull little wagons behind them. Some of them were covered, so that when it rained, which it does a lot in Holland, you know, people wouldn't get wet, and others were open, all sorts of various ways of transportation. And the few people that I moved were moved in the middle of the night, you know, I mean, after curfew, with them being the bench, and me sitting, you know, sitting like this, bent over, and me sitting on top, on, sitting on their backs, with a rather short skirt, and, uh, my very good papers, with makeup on still from the ballet. And when the Germans stuck their, or when Dutch police stuck their head in there and saying, "What is this? Curfew is on." You could, I would have a smile and papers. And I shifted a lot of people that way.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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