These are my grandparents on my mother’s side. Until I was 17 I never knew or suspected that there even was a Jewish side. Around the time of the commemoration of the dead in 1961, my mother suddenly said “I’m also Jewish”.
My brother and me looked at each other in amazement and asked why she’d never told us before. To which she answered, “I’m scared!” My forever cheerful and hardworking mother said that! So that was that. She had closed the family chapter after the war, and buried it deep in her heart. A long time after that, however, I started to ask some questions. Who were your parents, do you have any brothers or sisters, grandmothers and so on. Well, she did of course, and bit by bit she told me about them. Her family were hard-working people who ran a poultry shop on Helmerstraat in Rotterdam. She had three sisters and a brother and, as was usual at that time, lots of aunts, uncles, cousins, and even a grandmother, who was 83 years of age when she was deported. After the bombardment in May 1940 that destroyed the city centre, they lived on Mathernesserstaat. Then they moved to the ghetto in Amsterdam, and in 1941 to the ghetto in The Hague, where they were picked up during a raid in March 1943, sent to Camp Vught, and transported on 24 May to Westerbork; on 25 May they were put on the train to Sobibor, and on 28 May 1943 they were gassed. Her brother Izaac was captured in Amsterdam and died in or near Auschwitz in 1942.
Like many surviving relatives, my mother wanted to be cremated. But in the end she chose for the Jewish tradition to be buried with a stone on her grave for her surviving relatives. And that’s how it was. May the dead live on in the memory of the living.
Peace to everybody.
Judith Lamers, grandchild