Henry O.


Henry O


I was born in Amsterdam in April, 1940, a month before the German invasion of  the Netherlands (10th May 1940). My father was born in Krakow, now Poland.   He had moved to Vienna , Austria, at the age of 14.  He moved to Amsterdam in 1925 where he joined some of his brothers.

My mother was born in Amsterdam in 1906. Her ancestors had lived in the Netherlands for several centuries. Having completed her secondary education, she worked as a secretary, amongst others for the Hoover Trading Company, the importers of Hoover vacuum cleaners.  My parents married in 1934 in Amsterdam.

In the Summer of 1942 the Nazi occupiers started to send letters to Jews under the so?called “Arbeidseinsatz”?scheme. They had to present themselves at a given location in Amsterdam from where they would be sent to “work”. I was not the only child who received such a call?up letter. Because my parents could not imagine that a child of just 2 years, would be send away to “work”, they took me to an uncle and aunt in another part of the city, and then started looking for a gentile family who would be willing to look after me. Eventually they learned about a such couple, namely Jacob Klerk and his wife Hendrika Klerk née Igesz, who lived in Arnhem and were prepared to risk their lives and look after me.

My mother who, unlike my father, did not look Jewish, took me to Arnhem by train, and left me with this couple. They lived in a large house with a large garden. The tram to the neighbouring town of Oosterbeek passed through this street.

During the Summer of 1944 the Allied Troops had advanced into the Netherlands, and close to Arnhem. Because it was clear to the authorities that the centre of Arnhem would become part of the battle zone, civilians were evacuated from the city centre. My “uncle and aunt” and I moved in with their married daughter, her husband and their baby daughter. They lived in a second or third floor flat. From the flat you had an uninterrupted view along a long road at the end of which was a wooded area.

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