Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Maroko - February 19 & 26, 1986

Life in Holland

What else stands out about the uh, sort of daily life in Holland as a youngster there?

Uh, I can remember the typical Jewish customs uh, in preparation for Pesach in front of the, uh, both the Great Synagogue and the New Synagogue, the Ashkenazi side of that square where now there is a statue of the dock worker. Uh, there was a whole row of uh, huge containers with water with a fire under them for the kashering of the utensils for Pesach. Um, going to shul was um, a high percentage of my time everyday before I went--let's say when I was a student in high school uh, I was starting sometimes pretty late after midnight. Uh, I had to get up in the morning and uh, I had to make up for lost time sometimes during my uh, school hours where uh, I developed a technique of uh, uh, pretending that I was reading a book and it was covering my eyes with my hand, on, on top of my eyebrows and uh, maybe those teachers knew, but uh, whenever they asked a question my ears were not sleeping. I, If they called on me I knew precisely where it was.

You, you would not consider yourself then, your family, an assimilated family.

We were definitely not assimilated.

Were most Dutch Jews assimilated, do you think?

I didn't know, but I have found out later on or it was reported to me or I read somewhere that in Amsterdam about 40 percent of the Jews were mixed married. And this was made possible, among other things, by the extreme equalitarian and liberal philosophy of a lot of the Dutch popu...Gentile population.

Um, at what point do you remember German and, and Polish émigrés coming and telling stories of anti-Semitic acts in uh, in Europe?

Um, in, I must have been let's say 1934, I was then eleven. After age eleven or so, I may have heard more about this. But you, these things didn't have any personal meaning for me. It was all for them. It did not pertain to my life because I didn't suffer myself from anyone in an anti-Semitic way.

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