I was born in Amsterdam in 1938, a child of the marriage between Izaak Sealtiel and Theodora Sealtiel-Leon.
My parents probably sensed that the Nazis would pick up Jews, so through the heroes of the underground resistance movement they managed to get me into hiding with 4 different families in Limburg, and even in Switzerland, but we weren’t allowed to stay there. The last family, with whom I spent the longest period, were the most caring people that could have loved a small boy. They were Aunty Sientje and Uncle Jan Gubbels from Heerlen.
After the war my grandparents on my mother’s side, grandmother and grandfather Leon, were able to adopt me through the Red Cross, along with my cousins Sally Kloots and Mimi Waterman, who had also lost their parents. They were the children of my mother’s sisters. Grandmother and grandfather Leon were like parents to us, and their love for us was boundless, partly because of the loss of their 7 children (our aunts and parents) who had been killed by the Nazis.
As the youngest of the three, I had a difficult time visiting the homes of friends where ‘mam and dad’ were about the place, something I couldn’t experience. At primary school I was often taunted with the remark ‘run to your ma’, which made me really angry. I’d try and get them to stop by fighting, but without success. When I was 12 I took up martial arts, and after that no schoolboy dared call me names!
Partly through my experience as the youngest of three, and now as an adult, I still carry the past with me, and it has shaped the way I’ve reared my own three daughters. I’ve always been ‘over-protective’! I possess one picture of my mother but none of my father. But now with the Memorial of Names in Amsterdam, I will certainly be present for the unveiling!!!
A final word to everybody who survived the war. Tell your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren about this Memorial and what it stands for!
Mazzeltof and broche.