Epilogue to Kinder in The Netherlands
by Arlene Rodman
The summer issue of Kinderlink published my article about Jewish children having been saved and harbored during the Holocaust by the Dutch Government. After the article appeared, several people who had been sent to Holland with the Kindertransport came forward. Some were surprised to read about the background of their ordeal and to learn that there were 2,000 children in all who were sent to the Netherlands to escape the Nazi persecution in 1938 and 1939.
Two Kinder telephoned me and also contacted researcher Miriam Keesing by email, who is conducting a study on the refugee children in the Netherlands. They had seen her email address in my article. Fred Rosenbaum in Dayton, Ohio, was especially forthcoming when he saw a group photograph that Keesing had emailed him where he is pictured at age 7. When I noted this and mentioned to him that I was in the same picture, we were both incredulous. The photo was taken in front of the Norderhuis in Hoogeveen where we had been lodged. Rosenbaum remained in Holland for three months and then went to America where he was adopted by a couple who facilitated his immigration. He no longer speaks nor understands German and does not want to go back to Germany again after his one-time return as a member of the US Army in the occupation forces in 1954 – 1955.
This phone encounter with Rosenbaum was indeed awesome. Another conversation I had with Leslie Diamond, in Albany, New York, was insightful when she described her arrival in Holland at age 12, where she remained for 18 months. She then went to England on the last transport, with 60 children in total, the day before the Germans invaded the Netherlands in April, 1940. Diamond then went to live with relatives in New York who obtained her immigration visa. Her father perished in Auschwitz but her mother survived. “What I learned from researcher Miriam Keesing’s emails refreshed a lot of my memories,” she said. Diamond also does not ever want to go back to Germany.
It is truly astounding that after more than 70 years – with Keesing’s archival help in Amsterdam – many half-remembered facts begin to creep out from our distant mental crevices. Keesing is pursuing her research vigorously and is grateful to have found several more Kinder to interview for this purpose. Her forthcoming book next year on the children who were harbored by the Dutch will be a testament to those of us who survived, as well as to those children who were murdered in the extermination camps.
Many of us who survived are now asking the Kindertransport Association Board to send a letter of gratitude to Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for having made it possible to accept transports terminating in Holland, where 2,000 of us were harbored for many months.
Kind Harry Ebert in Madison, NJ, wrote in the 2004 summer issue of Kinderlink under Rembering and Appreciating the Dutch! “Let us not overlook that the Dutch opened their borders to Kinder …. By accepting several Kindertransports.” He is one of the “Holland Children” who would like for the KTA to send a letter of appreciation to the Netherlands to thank the Dutch for saving our lives. Both Rosenbaum and Diamond also told me they are in fervent agreement with this. “I think it is always good to acknowledge outstanding humanitarian deeds,” Rosenbaum emailed me.
It seems to me, we are the forgotten Kinder while many more English Kinder have been abundantly recognized. “There is a distinction between those children who passed through Holland on their way to England and those who stayed,” said Diamond who is writing an article for Kinderlink about her life as a teenager after leaving Germany.
And I firmly believe that it’s never too late to write this important letter of gratitude. After all, we are the living symbols of the Dutch Government’s generosity when we were children. We should not be the “Kinder not worth mentioning” by the KTA.
Boca Raton, FL