Oral History

Jerry von Halle describes hunger while in hiding in Amsterdam

In 1933 Jerry's family moved from Hamburg to Amsterdam. The Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940. In 1941, Jerry's brother perished in Mauthausen. Jerry and his parents went into hiding first in Amsterdam and then in a farmhouse in the south. The Gestapo (German Secret State Police) arrested Jerry's father in 1942, but Jerry and his mother managed to return to their first hiding place. They were liberated in Amsterdam by Canadian and Jewish Brigade troops.


I hope nobody has to go through hunger the way we did. Hunger is...it, it is so painful. I would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and jump up in bed. Why? Because I was dreaming I saw a potato. That was something that...that was like a nightmare. I saw a potato and I thought I could eat it. When I woke up it wasn't there. Just a potato. Not...not a meal. A potato. Uh...the hunger was unbelievable. We were...it, it, it was...we had nothing to eat. Absolutely nothing to eat. It was...it was...in fact, I remember our Mr. In't Hout one day, he was on a...he was coming home with one or two potatoes. He found them somewhere on the road. But let me tell you, he came home with these two potatoes. You thought he had found two diamonds in the street. They were just two plain, uh, potatoes. The whole...the whole family, we were all excited about those two potatoes. You can't...it, it, it...you cannot believe what it means to be real hungry.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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