Oral History

Jerry von Halle describes restrictions on Jews 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.


We were, of course, uh, Jews were not allowed to go on the streetcar. Jews were not allowed to have radios. You had to turn them in. Jews weren't allowed to have silver. You had to turn it in. Uh, then came the yellow star. Everybody had to wear the yellow star. And I'll tell you, quite frankly, wearing a yellow star, even though I was certainly very proud to be a Jew, but going out into the street with a star about the size...this big, with the word "Jew" or in Dutch "Jood," J-O-O-D, printed on it, is a very, very strange feeling. Very strange indeed. It's not the kind of a thing that...if you've never experienced it, it's like going out on the street today and saying "I have..." you know, "I...I'm a prisoner" or going out on the street with a prison uniform. That's almost the same comparison.


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