Oral History

Suse Gruenbaum Schwarz describes preparation for and hiding during a Nazi raid

Suse's family moved to the Netherlands in 1933. After invading the Netherlands in 1940, the Germans imposed anti-Jewish measures. From 1942, Suse could not attend school. The family went into hiding in 1943, Suse and her mother on one farm and her father on another. Later, her father and another couple came to hide with Suse. They were liberated in 1945. Suse arrived in the United States in 1947.


Finally, one day, they got word--again through the underground--that there was going to be a massive search that was being done, I guess, by the Dutch Nazi party and by the...uh...Germans. And the daughter came and said to us, "Now, be sure you don't move. You don't talk. You do nothing." My mother said, "Well, we still have to breathe." Uh...and they were prepared, and we were prepared, too. And the way we prepared ourselves is simply by...mother said to me, "Now, I will go and sit in front of where the opening is to this hiding place. You lie way in the back and cover yourself as much as you can." Because, after all, we did have bedclothes there. She said, Because if they do find us, there's no sense...and they don't see you and they find me, let me go. Because there is no sense," she said, "in your going too. We will never stay together." So we sat there; and we were plenty frightened. We were always frightened but we were very frightened. And...uh...they did come, and they searched. We could hear them--a lot of commotion. And they searched. And they did come into that room, and we could hear them walking around. Had they knocked against that wall, they would have found out that that wall was hollow, and that would have been it. But, mercifully, they didn't. Well, they trooped back downstairs and said to the daughter of the farmer, "Well, we know you have people here. So why don't you tell us?" "No," she said, "we don't." And they kept asking her and asking her; and finally, they hit her. And as she said later, "They really had a powerful hand, because I saw the stars." And they said, "We know. We have the facts that you have people." She said, "No." "Well," they said, "we'll get you to talk. We'll count to three, and if you don't admit it by then, we'll shoot you." She said, "Go right ahead. I guess my conscience is clear." And they counted till three, and they shot between her legs. I guess that hasn't convinced them yet, because then hey also went to see the lady--the owner, the farm woman. And they said...and they knew how very religious these people were. They said, "Well, here is the Bible. You put your hand on that Bible, and you swear that you don't have Jews living here." And the woman did swear that she didn't have Jews living there.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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