Theresienstadt plays an important role in a chapter in the book. I had family members who did spend time there and there is a story surrounding them that needed to be told.
Monthly Archives: March 2012
When the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940, 10% of Amsterdam’s population was Jewish. In those days, Amsterdam was not as it is today, a city with various minorities making it far more difficult to identify with certainty a person’s religion or ethnicity. In 1940, a person with a dark complexion and dark hair in Amsterdam was assumed to be Jewish. To the German’s, the ‘Joden Kop’ was a way of harshly identifying that they recognized the face of a Jew. Sipora Groen, my mother, was seen as having one of those identifiable faces. Hence the title of the book “Jew Face”, the story of my parent’s life, taking place primarily during the time of the occupation between 1940-45 and revolving around their journeys and experiences during those years not only of horror and sadness, but also courage and strength.
The Esnoga, the famous Portuguese Synagogue of Amsterdam, holding a service for survivors of the Holocaust on May 9, 1945.
The Hollandse Schouwburg was Amsterdam’s premier venue for concerts and shows before the Nazis occupied Holland in 1940. By 1942 it was turned into a detention and deportation center for Amsterdam’s Jews. Most who went through the Schouwburg would end being transported to Auschwitz and Sobibor.
(from left to right: Nardus Groen, Bertus te Kiefte, Geeske te Kiefte, Sipora Groen)
This photograph is taken at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem in 1984. It was taken on the day that a tree was planted to honor the heroic actions of Lubertus and Geeske te Kiefte. Their heroic actions are documented in the upcoming book Jew Face.
Many of the German Jews who fled to Holland when the Nazi persecution began to reach high levels found refuge in Westerbork. A refugee camp set up by the Dutch government and largely financed by the Jewish community to provide what was meant to be comfortable living conditions, Westerbork was to become a weapon of the Nazi terror machine after the occupation of Holland. After 1940 it was turned into a Concentration Camp and Transit Center. Most of the estimated 104,000 Dutch Jewish victims of the Holocaust would either pass through or perish in Westerbork.