Oral History

Barbara Ledermann Rodbell describes her reaction to Nazi-mandated schools for Jewish children in Amsterdam

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 Westerbork 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 held in her false name.


There was an assembly and we were told that the Jewish kids now had to leave the school and go to a...a Jewish school, and... have... be separated from the others. And... I went to my parents and...and I said, "I don't want to go to a Jewish school. I'm not going to a Jewish school. I will not go to a Jewish school." And I can just see my children coming to me and saying, "I'm not going to go to this school." You know, I can just see the shock. I...it was...I was impossible. I was really impossible. I got to be very, very rebellious in every way, and I would not go to school. My sister did. She went to a Jewish school. And it was very frightening because what the Germans started to do is to isolate the Jews into various groups. I mean, they...at a later date, not right then in the beginning, but at a later date, they would go and pick up the kids in the school, and then make the parents come to get the kids and, of course, keep the parents and that was the end of that, you know. Some people were then sent home again if their parents had good papers, you know... some kind of exceptional papers. But I was...every time I heard that the school...the Germans... or the 'green police' or...or the Dutch cooperators...Nazis, the Dutch Nazis--NSBers [members of the Dutch Nazi movement, the Nationaal Socialistische Beweging; NSB], they were called NSBers -- marching toward the school, you know, I would run to that school and finally, after I had Manfred as a friend, he said to me, "The one thing you do when the Germans go somewhere is not go there." You know, I mean, I was so stupid, but we all...most of us were, because what did we know, you know, about how to save yourself, and that you had to save yourself, and that you had to be careful? You have to learn to be scared.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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