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Beyond Anne Frank

Hidden Children and Postwar Families in Holland

Diane L. Wolf

Publication Year: 2007

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 in Beyond Anne Frank demonstrate that we can understand the Holocaust more deeply by focusing on postwar lives.

Published by: University of California Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

My deepest debt is to the former hidden children I interviewed who welcomed me into their homes with warmth and hospitality and entrusted to me painful memories of their past. Each story is different and precious; I only hope that I have done them justice. ...

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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.) ...

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1. The History and Memory of Hidden Children

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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, ...

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2. Before and During the War: The Netherlands and the Jews

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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— ...

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3. After the War: The Jews and the Netherlands

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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, ...

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4. “My Mother Screamed and Screamed”: Memories of Occupation, War, and Hiding

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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. ...

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5. “I Came Home, but I Was Homesick”: When Both Parents Returned

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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. ...

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6. “They Were Out of Their Minds”: When One Parent Returned

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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— ...

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7. “Who Am I?”: Orphans Living with Families

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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, ...

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8. “There Was Never a Kind Word”: Life in Jewish Orphanages

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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. ...

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9. Creating Postwar Lives, Creating Collective Memory: From the Personal to the Political

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pp. 293-328

In this chapter I analyze the emotional patterns evident in hidden children’s adult lives. A small number of former hidden children in my sample have suffered from major emotional distress, such as serious depression or a mental breakdown, that has thwarted them either temporarily or permanently. ...

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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. ...


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pp. 362-373


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pp. 347-360


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pp. 361-364


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pp. 365-380


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pp. 381-391

Production Notes

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p. 419-419

E-ISBN-13: 9780520939707
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520226173

Page Count: 406
Publication Year: 2007