Hello my dear grandmother and grandfather!
Quite a normal sentence that grandchildren say to their grandparents. But it’s also a sentence I was never able to utter, since all my grandparents were dead before I was born. We didn’t grow old in our family, they always used to say...
That’s why I want to say something here about my grandmother and grandfather on my mother’s side, even though I know very little about them. For we rarely spoke about them in our house, because there was so much suffering to deal with and stay silent about.
The little I do know about them I discovered much later: my grandfather Herman was born in 1898 and my grandmother Sara (also known as Celine) in 1903. After the birth of my mother in 1926, they had another daughter, Juliëtte, born on 18 August 1930.
My grandparents were what you would now call well-to-do middle class people. They owned a ladies hairdressers salon, perfectly located at Kalverstraat 103 in Amsterdam, and they lived with the family above the business. Apart from that, I know nothing about their character. I never heard their voices. I don’t know what their dreams of the future were.
What I do know is that in 1943 they were transported from Westerbork transit camp to Sobibor, arrived there on 21 May 1943 and were murdered. My grandfather was 45 years old, and my grandmother 40, and my aunt Juliëtte was just 12.
I am only able to write this because their other daughter, my mother Mina, was the only one of her family to be transported from Westerbork to the camps at Theresiënstadt and Auschwitz and somehow managed to survive. Now I belong to the older generation, and it sounds wonderful when I hear our grandchildren call out: Hello my dear grandmother and grandfather!