Anne Frank's Amsterdam
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1941 Jews allowed to do and less
© Privécollectie Paula Bakker

Paula Bakker – Good, bad and in between

You didn’t go around with NSB members or those types. You just didn’t do it nor did you talk about it.

The family from the toy shop in the PC Hooftstraat, Stas, where I sheltered in the first days of the war turned out to be bad. Stas was either in the fire brigade or was an air raid warden. People sent him letters saying: ’a fascist lives there’. He ripped them all up. Afterwards I understood why.  He was a fascist himself. Before the war they bought everything in Nuremburg and caught the bug there. Stas later wore a uniform. My parents had nothing to do with him anymore.

Once we saw someone come down with a parachute. He was shot at by the Germans. Next to us our neighbour shouted: “Good!” He was bad. We never spoke to him again.

L. was a friend of mine at school in the Rombout Hogerbeetstraat. She told me her father was Polish, but really he was German. I discovered that she was a member of the Hitler Youth. Another girl said: “There goes L., she’s in the Hitler Youth with us.” I asked L. if it was true. “Yes, that’s right”, she said, “but don’t say anything at school please. We don’t agree with it all but because we’re German we can’t do anything about it and my brother didn’t have to join if I did.”

Wim Haagsma was a friend from the Burghtschool. All the boys in the class laughed at him because he was friends with a girl and didn’t play football with them, but he took no notice of them. He was all alone. A boy of 13 or 14 years old. He lived in the Herenstraat. A neighbour looked after him. I didn’t know his parents. They were already in a camp by then. He has a German mother and a Dutch father who was an artist. They were communist. All of a sudden Wim left for Germany to go and live with an aunt. He didn’t even say goodbye. I saw him again after the war.

Uncle Frans had a house boat on the other side of the River IJ. I used to visit as a child and I stayed there. During the war we used to visit too. A door was made and part of the boat was cut off from the rest. The door had no door knob. It was clear that Jews were hiding there. But you didn’t talk about it. You didn’t say: “Strange”, or “Isn’t that strange?” No you just ignored it. That’s what it was like during the war.

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Paula Bakker

Paula Bakker is 10 years old when war breaks out. Her unmarried mother runs a boarding house on the Singel with Paula’s stepfather. 10 people live in the house: people who rent rooms and those who are boarding house guests. Most of them are unmarried or divorced and with some of them she has a lot of contact with others none. Paula experiences the occupation in many different ways.

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1938 Many Jewish refugees after Kristallnacht

Many Jewish refugees flee to the Netherlands after Kristallnacht. Princess Juliana also feels connected to the Jewish community. But while more attention is drawn to the admittance of more Jews, NSB members threaten more intervention.

1940 Amsterdam occupied

Nothing changes too much for the Frank family in the beginning. Opekta moves to the Prinsengracht. During air raids bombs cause death and injury in Amsterdam.

1940  Amsterdam occupied

1941 Jews allowed to do and less

It starts with a cinema ban but rapidly Jews are banned from virtually all public places. Jewish children must attend separate schools. This also applies to Anne and Margot Frank.

1941  Jews allowed to do and less

1942 It becomes more dangerous for Jews

On her thirteenth birthday Anne Frank receives a diary. A few days later she writes about the situation in Amsterdam. The introduction of the Jewish star and the raids. In July the Frank family goes into hiding.

1942  It becomes more dangerous for Jews

1943 Deportations and attacks

While the Frank family is in hiding thousands of Jews are deported from Amsterdam. The resistance tries to hinder the deportations by attacks including one on the Public Registry. It doesn’t stop them.

1943  Deportations and attacks

1944 Discovered and arrested

On 4 August the people in hiding in the secret annex are discovered and arrested. From Westerbork they are taken to Auschwitz. When the Allies land in the south of the Netherlands there is hope that the country will be liberated. German soldiers and NSB members flee the country after Dolle Dinsdag (‘Mad Tuesday’).

1944  Discovered and arrested

1945 Joy and sadness

A celebration at the Dam on 7 May is ruined when people are killed after German soldiers shoot at the crowd. On 8 May Amsterdam is officially liberated. Otto Frank returns. He knows that Edith is dead. He only hears later that his two daughters have not survived.

1945  Joy and sadness

1946 Slowly the threads are picked up again

On 3 May 1946 the first official commemoration for those who died during the war is held. Anne Frank’s diary is published on 25 June 1947. Life in Amsterdam slowly gets back to normal. Of the 70,000 Jews who lived in the city in 1940 only 10,000 have survived the war.

1950 Lasting memory

Even five years after the liberation the reverberations from the war are still clearly noticeable. The Jewish community thanks Amsterdam for the help given to Jews with a monument.

1950  Lasting memory
  • 1950
  • To those who protected the Dutch Jews during the years of the occupation. Protected by your love. Encouraged by your resistance. Mourning with you.

    Part of the citation on the monument ‘Jewish Gratitude’
  • picture:Once a year, two minutes silence

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