Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Beyond Anne Frank

Beyond Anne Frank: Hidden Children and Postwar Families in Holland

Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 406
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Beyond Anne Frank
    Book Description:

    The image of the Jewish child hiding from the Nazis was shaped by Anne Frank, whose house-the most visited site in the Netherlands- has become a shrine to the Holocaust. Yet while Anne Frank's story continues to be discussed and analyzed, her experience as a hidden child in wartime Holland is anomalous-as this book brilliantly demonstrates. Drawing on interviews with seventy Jewish men and women who, as children, were placed in non-Jewish families during the Nazi occupation of Holland, Diane L. Wolf paints a compelling portrait of Holocaust survivors whose experiences were often diametrically opposed to the experiences of those who suffered in concentration camps. Although the war years were tolerable for most of these children, it was the end of the war that marked the beginning of a traumatic time, leading many of those interviewed here to remark, "My war began after the war." This first in-depth examination of hidden children vividly brings to life their experiences before, during, and after hiding and analyzes the shifting identities, memories, and family dynamics that marked their lives from childhood through advanced age. Wolf also uncovers anti-Semitism in the policies and practices of the Dutch state and the general population, which historically have been portrayed as relatively benevolent toward Jewish residents. The poignant family histories inBeyond Anne Frankdemonstrate that we can understand the Holocaust more deeply by focusing on postwar lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93970-7
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Thus began my first interview for this project, with Max L., in Amsterdam. The only child born to a middle-class nonobservant Jewish family in 1936, he has no recollection of his mother, who was deported to a concentration camp when he was 6 years old. (See figure 1.) After that, he was shuffled between various households—his uncle’s, his grandparents’, some family friends’—and even placed in an orphanage, a setting that frightened him. He remembers all these settings but not his mother; he has clearly repressed all memory of her. Sometime in 1942, when it was no longer safe...

  5. 1 The History and Memory of Hidden Children
    (pp. 11-53)

    The history and memory of hidden children create a very different legacy of the Shoah, one that has remained relatively unearthed. It is, in great part, a hidden history and part of a recently created collective memory of Jewish life. The purpose of this book is to use a sociological lens in the study of hidden children, in relation to their multiple families before, during, and after hiding, and in doing so, to analyze their shifting identities and family dynamics. Because of the particular nature of their survival and their postwar experiences, the sociology of hidden children reveals a vastly...

  6. 2 Before and During the War: THE NETHERLANDS AND THE JEWS
    (pp. 54-94)

    The Jews have had a long historical presence in the Netherlands. Individual Ashkenazic Jews lived in several cities in the Netherlands during the Middle Ages, but the last ones left in the mid-sixteenth century. Portuguese Marranos—Sephardic Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity but who practiced Judaism in secret—and their descendants began living in the Netherlands in the late sixteenth century and practiced their Judaism openly without penalty, renewing Jewish life in this area. Eventually, the Dutch Jewish community received official recognition. Indeed, the famous Jewish philosopher and ethicist Spinoza was born in Amsterdam in 1632 to...

    (pp. 95-125)

    Out of 105,000 Jews deported from the Netherlands, 4.8 percent, or 5,200, survived.¹ In sociologist Helen Fein’s index ranking the proportion of Jews who survived by nation on a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being that no Jews were killed, 10 being that almost all Jews were killed), Poland rated a 10; Austria and Germany rated a 9, as did Slovakia; and the Netherlands rated an 8, along with Serbia, Croatia, Greece, and Hungary. Belgium and Norway each rated a 5. France rated a 3, Italy was one of the few countries with a 2, and only Denmark, with...

  8. 4 “My Mother Screamed and Screamed”: MEMORIES OF OCCUPATION, WAR, AND HIDING
    (pp. 126-162)

    We begin with the changing lives of Jewish children and their families during the Occupation, when they faced the possibility of separation, deportation, and death. This chapter will deal with the perceptions of these children as danger enveloped their lives and as they began the “descent” into hiding. (The term for hiding in Dutch—onderduiken—literally means “to dive under.”)¹ We will also examine the vast range of their experiences while in hiding, setting the stage for the next several chapters on postwar family reconstruction.

    Documentation of children’s lives during the Occupation and war is fragmentary at best. Diaries such...

  9. Photographs
    (pp. None)
  10. 5 “I Came Home, but I Was Homesick”: WHEN BOTH PARENTS RETURNED
    (pp. 163-202)

    In this chapter I will examine and analyze the beginnings of the postwar family experience for hidden children who had both parents return. We will look at the postwar reunion of parents and children, paying attention to the age of the children and their relationships with their foster family. We will then explore the dynamics and relationships of postwar family life. Among my respondents, twenty-three hidden children (32 percent) found their natal family intact after the Shoah. These children were and still are considered lucky by many of their peers, although their postwar family lives do not reflect such good...

  11. 6 “They Were Out of Their Minds”: WHEN ONE PARENT RETURNED
    (pp. 203-227)

    The focus of this chapter will be on hidden children who lost one parent during the war and who were reunited with their remaining parent afterward. Although the families of children with one surviving parent fall into the same category as the families described in the previous chapter—that is, they are defined as a nuclear family—there are sufficient differences between the two groups to merit separate chapters. The hidden children featured in this chapter had to confront not only the death of a parent, but also, for many, the addition of a new stepparent and sometimes a blended...

    (pp. 228-272)

    This chapter and the next will focus on the distinct experiences of Jewish orphans in the Netherlands after the war. In my sample, twenty-six people—more than one-third—were orphaned after surviving the war in hiding. For these orphaned children, there were four options: (1) staying with their (non-Jewish) foster family, (2) moving in with kin, (3) being adopted by a Jewish family that was not related, or (4) living in an orphanage in the Netherlands. A fifth option was available to those in orphanages only after 1949—going to Israel. Children younger than 18 who went to Israel usually...

  13. 8 “There Was Never a Kind Word”: LIFE IN JEWISH ORPHANAGES
    (pp. 273-292)

    If an orphan did not end up living with a family, the only other option for him or her was to stay in an orphanage. Several Jewish orphanages existed in the Netherlands after the war, and they seem to have been of greatly varying quality. These orphanages provoked strong feelings in those who lived there, everything from love to hatred, and sometimes both. While this chapter illuminates the various twists and turns of postwar life for certain Jewish orphans, it also points to the uneven and in some cases heinous conditions of some Jewish orphanages. However, even in the better-run...

  14. 9 Creating Postwar Lives, Creating Collective Memory: FROM THE PERSONAL TO THE POLITICAL
    (pp. 293-328)

    Salo, introduced in the last chapter, admitted that he has a difficult time concentrating; however, that is the least of his problems. Simply put, his life is tragic:

    I’m anxious. I cannot concentrate. I can never sit in a place other than in my room. Let’s say I go to a restaurant, I have to get out. I never go to the movies. I cannot sit in a movie theater. I’m too restless. Very restless. This is for me very tough what you are doing . . . to sit here. But this is the same as what the Dutch...

  15. Conclusion
    (pp. 329-346)

    This book has uncovered the hidden history of hidden children in World War II by revealing their experiences before, during, and especially after hiding. The trajectory of hidden children differs considerably from our image of typical survivors—those who were in concentration camps—in multiple ways. Hidden children were given up by their parents, usually as young children, some as young as a few hours old, often to strangers who delivered them to non-Jewish Dutch families. They were openly or clandestinely hidden anywhere from one night to several years. Most children hid in more than one place, yet quite a...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 347-360)
  17. Glossary
    (pp. 361-364)
  18. References
    (pp. 365-380)
  19. Index
    (pp. 381-391)
  20. Back Matter
    (pp. 392-392)