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Out of Chaos

Hidden Children Remember the Holocaust

Elaine S. Fox, with an Introduction by Phyllis Lassner

Publication Year: 2013

The stories in Out of Chaos represent brief or elongated moments, fragments of memory and experience, what the great Holocaust writer Ida Fink called “a scrap of time.”  In all, the anthology expresses these survivors’ memories and reactions to a wide range of experiences as they survived in so many European settings, from Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Greece, Yugoslavia, Poland, and France. The writers recall being on the run between different countries, escaping over mountains, hiding and even sometimes forgetting their Jewish identities in convents and rescuers’ homes and hovels, basements and attics.  Some were left on their own; others found themselves embroiled in rescuer family conflicts.  Some writers chose to write story clusters, each one capturing a moment or incident and often disconnected by memory or temporal and spatial divides. 

All together the anthology is a profound testament to lost and found lives that are translated into compelling reading.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. xv-xx

This book speaks in different voices because each of us has different experiences as a witness and a survivor. Yet even as we thank the contributors to this anthology for allowing each of us to speak for ourselves, we recognize that because we have given each other that freedom, we are actually speaking in one voice. ...

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pp. xxi-xxiv

Adam contributed a single story to this volume, but nine other authors wrote more than one story or poem. Their pieces appear in different chapters because the chapters are arranged thematically. Aaron Elster is one of these authors. ...

Child Survivors

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pp. 3-6

Part 1. In the Beginning

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pp. 7-8

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Earliest Memories: A Walk in the Park

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pp. 9-11

I am nearly three years old. It is a beautiful spring day in Berlin. My parents and I are taking a walk through the park close to our home, by Alexanderplatz. Many people are doing the same. It must be a Sunday, a day when people do not work and often look forward to that time for socializing, relaxing, and going visiting. ...

The Megillah: 1937

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pp. 12-13

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My Grandfather’s Watch

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pp. 14-15

It all started in 1938 or 1939. I cannot remember which. I was five or six years old—an only child—and we lived in Amsterdam, Holland. “We” consisted of my parents, my uncle Ludwig Falkenstein (I called him Dada), and my grandfather Moses Falkenstein. ...

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The School Lessons

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pp. 16-18

I am in class. My desk is wood; it has an inkwell, and I am holding a pen over my penmanship book. The teacher is showing us, again, how to write our letters. “Make the circle; don’t lift the pen; continue the circle and make it larger; it will turn into an oval; don’t leave any spaces between the circle outlines.” ...

Part 2. On the Run

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pp. 19-20

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The Marketplace

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pp. 21-22

My mother shakes me awake from a deep sleep and sternly orders me to dress in a hurry. I am confused and scared. Is this the day rumored about our death? The last few months neighbors sat around our kitchen table and talked about the gas chambers at Treblinka, our being deported there, and the certain death to follow. ...

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Shema Yisrael

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pp. 23-27

I was born in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania), in 1929. I had a wonderful childhood surrounded by my family, good friends, and excellent schools. It all changed abruptly when I was ten years old. Germany attacked Poland in September 1939. Within two weeks, Poland lost the war. ...

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A Holocaust Composite

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pp. 28-36

In the northern Bavarian village of Mainstockheim the signs of winter approaching were everywhere. On the hillside behind the village of 1,050 inhabitants the leaves in the vineyards had turned color and began to fall. The grapes had been harvested several weeks before. ...

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My Voyage on the SS St. Louis and After

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pp. 37-44

I was born on August 29, 1929, the youngest of three children in Fischhausen, East Prussia. My parents owned a dry-goods store that my paternal grandfather had established. Few Jews lived in this small town of about six thousand inhabitants. There was no synagogue. My parents, observant Jews, kept a kosher home. ...

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Zamboni’s List

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pp. 45-51

I was born in Salonika (Thessaloníki), Greece, in 1933, the second of four children of Mordochai Daniel and Bella Modiano Daniel. Before the war we moved to the town of Veria (Veroia), my father’s hometown, about seventy-two kilometers west of Salonika. Veria had an over two-thousand-year uninterrupted Jewish history. ...

The Rocky Shores of Marseille: 1942

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pp. 52-77

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The Train Station in Turin: March 1944

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pp. 53-78

In 1944, the German armies are growing dangerously desperate. Losing the war, they are chasing the enemy: Jews, rebels, partisans. The enclaves of Jews hiding in the mountains are reaching the point of panic. Our family decides to escape. Together we reach the Turin train station, with our guardian, Andreina. ...

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The Boot

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pp. 54-56

My mother, my sister Chaya, age five, and I, age nine, had been on the run the entire war, in hiding and trudging throughout Europe, beginning with being smuggled out of Germany after the Nazis murdered our father. In December 1939, we went to Holland and then Belgium, and after many difficulties we arrived in the south of France in the spring of 1942. ...

Part 3. Hidden with Parents: Belgium

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pp. 57-58

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Reminiscences of Being Hidden

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pp. 59-66

I was born in 1936 in Belgium; my parents and I lived in Brussels. There were approximately ninety thousand Jews in Belgium at that time, including many refugees who had come primarily from Eastern Europe in the 1930s and later from Germany to escape Nazi oppression. ...

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Boom 1943, and Blood

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pp. 67-68

My mother, father, sister, and I are living on the top floor of an old apartment building on the Schelde River in the industrial town of Boom in Belgium. Carl Defuchs owns the building, and in exchange for money, he provides shelter and a minimal amount of food. ...

Part 4. Hidden with Rescuers

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pp. 69-70

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pp. 71-96

My parents have left me in the care of a Christian family somewhere in Antwerp. To my distress, I have forgotten their names. I am maybe four, maybe five years old, and don’t understand why I can’t be with my mother. But I do know that there is an undefined danger all around me. ...

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The Declaration

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pp. 72-77

My sister, Clara, and I were orphaned during the last year of World War II. Both our parents had been taken to Auschwitz on the final transport from Malines (Mechelen, Belgium), No. 26, July 31, 1944. Their deaths have been officially declared by the Ministère de la Reconstruction de Belgique, in 1947, and by the Red Cross, in an acknowledgment sent to me in 1983. ...

Mother and Daughter—Parallel Thoughts

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pp. 78-80

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Who Am I This Time?

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pp. 81-88

As our train pulls out of the Antwerp station, children sitting all around me are crying—it seems as if everyone is sobbing out the windows of the train except my sister Annette and me. As I clutch my doll, I look out the windows and see the faces of grown-ups, crying too, and waving at the children next to us. ...

To Annette, the Center Point

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pp. 89-91

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A Child Remembers

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pp. 92-100

One day she tells me I have to go sleep at Lisa and Karl’s apartment and she bribes me, that day and every day aft er that, by letting me wear one of her hats out in the street as I leave with Lisa for the night. Lisa is my governess, and my parents trust Lisa and her husband, Karl. ...

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Born-Again Jew

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pp. 101-106

I was born in Paris, France, in 1937, and as a little girl at the beginning of World War II, I had no recollections of being Jewish. None. Years later, aft er the war, I learned that my father had been a captive in Auschwitz. I didn’t know that at the time. I only knew there was a war and that my father was a French soldier. ...

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Taste of Liberation

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pp. 107-108

It was late summer of 1944, when I was seven and my sister Josette was five, in France. The American troops were liberating France, one town after another. They came to our little village of Brou, about seventy-five miles west of Paris. It was a joyous day for everyone, and their happiness was contagious. ...

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Happiness and Sadness

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pp. 109-134

What a happy, perfect summer day it was. The townspeople were overwhelmed with joy. Today we were free from the Germans who were occupying our town, thanks to the American troops, who were liberating France one town after another. You could feel the happiness everywhere; everyone was smiling, crying from joy and sadness. ...

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The Borrowed Saint

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pp. 110-113

When the war began, on September 3, 1939, I had just turned five and my sister, Simone, was a two-and-a-half-month-old beautiful infant. We lived as a family with our father (Papa), mother (Maman), my sister, and me, Nicole, in Paris. ...

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Armand Can Do Anything

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pp. 114-118

Everybody knew that my father, Armand, could do anything. We knew that wherever we would be, my father would always be there for us, especially when my sister, Simone, and I were in hiding, separated from our parents for months. ...

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Long Live Liberated Alsace, a Child’s Vindication

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pp. 119-122

In southern France, during the bitter cold winter of 1942– 43, I was in second grade at the École de jeunes filles (school for girls). My parents, my little sister, Simone, and I were refugees from Paris, in the small town of Brive-la-Gaillarde, in the Vichy Free Zone. ...

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The Warsaw Ghetto: The Last Night with My Parents

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pp. 123-127

I was born in the beautiful city of Warsaw, Poland, in 1935. When I was five, my parents and I were sent to the Warsaw Ghetto under German soldiers’ guard. The Nazis allowed us to take only a knapsack on our shoulders and the clothing we were wearing. ...

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The Christmas Gift

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pp. 128-140

Ever since it happened, I continue to see this scene over and over. As I grew older, it has seemed like a nightmare. Within a few months of the outbreak of World War II in Poland, the Nazis had begun herding Jewish people from Sosnowiec to the nearby Środula Ghetto, later selecting them for either slave labor or extermination. ...

Part 5. Hiding in Plain Sight

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pp. 141-142

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From Radomsko to Chicago

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pp. 143-156

I was born Miriam Studniberg, but at home, they called me Marisha, as it was customary for Jews to have both a Hebrew and a Polish name. I was born on either October 1, 1926, or 1927. I am not sure, because the Łódź Hospital where I was born made a mistake on my birth certificate. ...

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Pretending to Be a Pole

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pp. 157-166

Before World War II, five thousand Jews and thirty thousand Poles lived in my hometown, Zawiercie, an industrial city in southwestern Poland. Jewish life centered on the synagogue; life cycle events; Hebrew, Yiddish, and Orthodox schools; and Zionist organizations. ...

Part 6. In Concentration Camps

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pp. 167-168

The First Night

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pp. 169-194

A Child’s Confusion

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pp. 170-195

The Transit Camp

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pp. 171-196

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Westerbork, 1943: Monday Night in the Big Barracks

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pp. 172-175

A single railroad track bisects Camp Westerbork in Holland. It was the main transit camp for Dutch Jews. From there they were sent to concentration and extermination camps, east. Regularly, every Monday I saw the arrival of a long train composed of cattle cars—their doors wide open—all empty. ...

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“One Out of One Hundred ”

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pp. 176-186

Thousands of children were incarcerated with their families between 1942 and 1945 in Theresienstadt, a Nazi concentration camp. According to a quote from I Never Saw Another Butterfly, written by Hana Volavkova, only an estimated one hundred children survived Theresienstadt, while Yad Vashem estimates 1,234 children survived. ...

Part 7. Aftermath

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pp. 187-188

Fall 1944 Rixensart

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pp. 189-214

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pp. 190-193

The Russian Army bombed our town before its liberation in August 1944. Certain smells, sounds, sights, tastes bring me back to a time and place of my early childhood—a childhood that I try to keep buried and leave hidden in my past. More often than not my past reemerges, and I am suddenly twelve years old. ...

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Fading Memories

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pp. 194-195

I recall intimate details of bygone years in vivid colors and sounds. Dreams and nightmares coexist, creating blissful or horrifying moments in my present life. Of particular significance is my memory, or lack of it, relating to my father. Scenes of the Sokołów, Podłaski’s marketplace in September 1942, are real and yet recede into a painful oblivion. ...

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The Haul in the Wall

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pp. 196-199

I knew that something big was up. Mrs. Kappendijk, the lady in whose house we were hiding, was in an agitated celebratory mood. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. The fear that was—until then—our constant companion had lifted, to be replaced by a kind of nervous, but not unhappy, expectation. ...

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pp. 200-201

It all happened during World War II, in Holland. The year was 1941. I was eight years old, and I became the owner of a beautiful doll. She had real blond hair, eyes that opened and closed, and a pretty smile on her face. Her dress was light blue, and she wore tiny socks and shoes. This doll was very special to me. ...

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Bond with Rain

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pp. 202-208

A rainy day is usually an incentive for me to leave my comfortable dwelling to welcome raindrops on my face. My lifelong joyful theme of water has many variations. From my early childhood in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia, Mother, with her engaging smile, would regularly rinse my hair in rainwater, which was collected in wooden buckets for that purpose. ...

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A Passion to Tell

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pp. 209-219

This is an autobiographical essay about recurring memories of events that took place during the Holocaust and World War II and my passion to speak about them: first to my children, then to friends, students, adults, and other children who wanted to hear the stories of the war’s witness.1 ...

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A Dog

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pp. 220-221

We lived in a town house in Hyde Park, on the South Side of Chicago. The house faces Hyde Park Boulevard, and beyond the street is a large park. The house had a separate basement entrance, also facing the street, and its small stairwell provided relative safety to stray dogs, cats, and sometimes birds that sought refuge from the cars and the wind coming off the lake. ...

Untitled Poem

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pp. 222-247

Part 8. Lost and Found

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pp. 223-224

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The Story of Adam Paluch

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pp. 225-232

My name is Adam Paluch, but it was not always so. There are those who say I was born in 1942; others say I was born in 1939. I am a strong, athletic male: a former part-time professional boxer and wrestler. But the paperwork says that I was a girl. I was taunted for being Jewish before I knew that I was Jewish. I was told that I am the child of a childless woman. ...

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pp. 233-239

It was the end of June 1967, when I was twenty-six years old. I had just finished another year of teaching. I was home on Chicago’s Northwest Side when the doorbell rang. Who could it be, I thought. It was my father. I was surprised to see him because he never came alone. My mother was always with him. ...

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An Imagined Conversation, or Perhaps

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pp. 240-246

Some years ago we two, Marguerite and Leonie, attended a hidden children’s gathering. As we began to know each other, we realized that we shared a kinship originating in a terrible happening. Leonie’s parents and Marguerite’s mother had been taken from the Belgian deportation camp Malines on the last transport to leave from there for Auschwitz on July 31, 1944. ...

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pp. 247-252

Why did I leave my career as a full-time labor and employment law attorney to help a group of Jewish child survivors of the Holocaust tell their stories? It was time. It was time to explore passions that had lain dormant during my child-rearing and career years. It was time to ensure that their stories became part of history. ...

Historical and Personal Timeline of the Holocaust

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pp. 253-266


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pp. 267-274

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Extermination and Concentration Camps

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pp. 275-282

During the Holocaust the Nazis established numerous concentration and death camps throughout Europe. Six of these camps were extermination camps in Poland, set up to efficiently murder large numbers of Jews. Some were slave labor camps, where prisoners were starved and worked to death. ...

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Hidden Children /Child Survivors Chicago Mission Statement

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pp. 283-284

The Hidden Children group consists of Jewish adults who were hidden during World War II’s Holocaust in order to survive it. Like other child survivors, we are the last living generation to have witnessed the Holocaust. ...

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pp. 285-293

Leonie Taffel Bergman was born in Berlin, Germany. Seeing the danger of remaining in Berlin, her family left for Belgium in 1938, hoping for security there. A new daughter, Clara, was born in 1940. Soon war broke out in Belgium, and in 1942 Leonie and her sister were hidden for safety. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780810166615
E-ISBN-10: 0810166615
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129115
Print-ISBN-10: 0810129116

Page Count: 317
Illustrations: 81 b&w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1
Volume Title: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Hidden children (Holocaust).
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Personal narratives.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Jews -- Rescue.
  • Righteous Gentiles in the Holocaust.
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