I have adopted the name Sophia Abram. Why? I often bumped into Sophia on Generaal Cronjestraat in Haarlem. She lived there with her parents and brother. Her parents had a shop that sold toys that I sometimes frequented, fond as I was of fun things. I was born in 1932, so I was about 11 at the time. The persecution of Jews was often discussed in our home, so I knew what was happening.
My mother worked for a Jewish family until the police informed her that it was forbidden to do so. By then, contact with Jews was discouraged. I remember Sophia as a girl with fine dark curly hair and a star on her coat. When I met her I always greeted her with a very friendly hello. One terrible day I was walking down her street and saw an ‘enclosed truck’ outside her door, and four Nazis with their rifles at the ready. The family was led out of the house and taken away, and that was the last I saw of them. I was a girl of 12 and could do nothing.
That scene is engraved in memory to this very day and has had a profound influence on my life. When the Sar-El Foundation appealed for volunteers for Israel I responded straight away. Now I could do something, and so I was among the first group to travel to Israel. I filled in a Page of Testimony for her at Yad Vashem. Later I realized I could do so much more if I spoke the language well, and so, at the age of 59, I enrolled at the University of Amsterdam and graduated four years later in Hebrew language and literature. Then I received a one-year scholarship for Jewish Studies in Oxford. My thesis is dedicated to her.
As a volunteer, and now aged 84, I teach Modern Hebrew at the Orthodox Synagogues in Apeldoorn and Zutphen. This is an illustration of how this girl has influenced my life, and still does.
She died on 31 August 1943 in Auschwitz.