Oral History

Helen (Helene Katz Wohlfarth) Waterford describes giving up her daughter to be sheltered

Although originally from Germany, Helen was living in the Netherlands with her husband and young daughter when the Germans invaded in May 1940. Helen and her husband sent their daughter to non-Jewish friends, and went into hiding themselves. They stayed in a variety of places arranged by a friend who was active in the underground. On August 25, 1944, Helen and her husband were arrested. They were sent first to Westerbork and then to Auschwitz, where they were separated. Helen worked in the I. G. Farben factory in Auschwitz. Helen survived; she and her daughter immigrated to the United States in 1947.


My daughter didn't know she was hiding. As I said, she was not five yet, and, um, we, my husband and I, had more than a year ago decided, since we knew of children transports from Germany to England, maybe that would be one day possible, so we would give away our child anyplace we knew where she would be welcome, and why should she maybe not, have to die when she could, can live a good life, we have a family in the United States who were only too happy to take her, so we decided that we, that to make it to her, for her, hard, not to kiss her anymore, not to have her too close physically, both of us did that, and, uh, and it has helped her because when, when we had the, the time that she had to leave, and we told her--she was an outgoing child--she would go and visit a, a couple, and they have no children and they would so much like to see her, and she was, and she always liked to visit people, so when those other people came, they took, took her, they too, when they came on a Sunday afternoon, and, uh, we didn't know their name, we didn't know where they lived, and she saw them, and we told her, "Yes, those are the friends who would like you to see where they are living. They, they have no children." And she went with, we too, we went with her to the, to the streetcar, and we said goodbye, like that, no kissing, nothing. That comes afterwards, and this is very personal, and, uh, it's ridiculous to say that it's difficult because it never changes. It never changes for all those years, because it was '45 before we, we saw her, before I saw her.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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