Source: Louise Stein
Fifty years ago, on the 4th of August 1944, the nazi police
raided the Amsterdam hiding place of Anne Frank and her family. All
the occupants were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Anne
died the following March, only weeks before the allied troops reached
the camp Bergen-Belsen. Only Anne’s father survived the war.
After the hidden Jews had been taken away, their helpers
returned to the hiding place and found Anne’s writings, which were
published as the “Diary of Anne Frank” in 1947. Her work, covering
the period from June 1942 to August 1944, has since appeared in
millions of editions all over the world.
That spring of 1942, just shortly before the Frank family went
into hiding, our family and others living within commuting distance
from Amsterdam were loaded onto buses and transported to inner city
neighbourhoods where the Jewish population was concentrated. This way
it would be easier to round up the victims destined for deportation.
Our businesses, homes and most of our possessions had already been
taken away. Because my father had managed to have us registered on a
worker’s exemption list, we continued to reside in our Amsterdam
tenement until January 1943 .
A letter reached us by secret courier to announce the
devastating news that nearly all members of our extended family had
been deported from their homes in Rotterdam. My 96-year-old
great-grandfather was roused from his bed at midnight. My
six-year-old cousin, my 75-year-old grandfather, aunts, uncles and
other cousins were taken away. Our fears about their fate was
confirmed after the war when we received a letter from the
International Red Cross listing their names and confirming the date of
their death by gassing at the extermination camp Sobibor.
While constantly under threat of arrest and deportation, we
witnessed the beginning of the mass raids and mass deportations of
most of Jewish working people and their families. Amsterdam had been
their home for centuries. All were dragged out of their houses,
whether they were newly born or elderly, sick or healthy. Armed ,
helmeted thugs, called the “green police” ( germans) and the “black
police” (dutch nazis) according to the colour of their uniforms,
pushed them into waiting trucks.
Gradually we were surrounded by empty apartments. The last
meagre furnishings had been looted. In the dark of winter it was an
eery sight. It became evident our situation was becoming untenable.
Several people on the exemption list were being arrested. In January
1943 we removed the yellow stars from our clothing and managed to
escape Amsterdam during the night, each of us ending up in separate
hiding places. For almost 28 months my parents, my sister and I
remained one step ahead of the nazis. Thanks to the help of some very
courageous people we were able to welcome our Canadian liberators in
The story of the holocaust illustrates the ultimate
consequences of racism perpetrated by seemingly ordinary people. Our
vigilance to guard human rights must never cease.
This fall the Holocaust Education Centre officially opens its doors
Designed as an education tool to combat discrimination, the
centre’s program will start with a five-week showing of the “Anne
Frank in the World Exhibit”. We invite you to attend this important
( Louise Stein is a Vancouver area resident since 1959. She is a
holocaust survivor, born in the Netherlands in the same year as Anne