The Germans invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. After a year or so, Hetty and other Jewish children could no longer attend regular schools. The Germans took over her father's business in 1942. Hetty's father tried to prove that the family was Sephardic, and they were thus exempted from a roundup in 1943. Hetty's father decided that the family should leave Amsterdam, and Hetty was hidden with a family in the southern Netherlands. She and both her parents survived.
It's impossible for people to understand how hard it is to just leave your home, your parents, and know that you most likely never see your parents again. Leave everything that was everything to you, just behind, just close the door behind you. There's an...it's hard to explain how difficult that was, and being a parent myself now, I don't know how my parents could have done it. It's...it's...it's so painful. It's so painful to say goodbye to your one and only child, and don't know where she is going to. My parents didn't know where I was going. They had this connection with the man who I later found out saved 250 Jewish children, and who perished himself in Bergen-Belsen. He was caught at the end of the war and he perished himself--not being a Jew, but being treated as a Jew because he helped the Jews. And he found a place for me all the way on the other side of the country and...I will see...showed my parents the picture of a lady who's gonna come the next morning to take me away. And I had to take all the stars off my clothing, and this stuff was very yellow, and very poor quality--was no quality, you can't even call that quality, and it ran through all your clothes. So you had to be very, very careful that people couldn't see that a star had been on my coat and a star had been on my dress, and...uh...had to brush it off very, very carefully. So when I left the house early in the morning, I was scared to death, of course, that my neighbors were going to see me leave the house. I don't know how I made it to the...to the tram because we went on the tram to the railroad station. And there she handed me over to a young man in his very early twenties, and with this young man was a young boy, maybe eleven, ten, something like this, and the two of us went on the train. Uh...it was awesome. It was very, very scary because I had no name. I had no papers. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know who the man was that was taking me. I didn't know the child that was with me. I didn't know anything.
We would like to thank The Crown and Goodman Family and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.