Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Maroko - February 19 & 26, 1986

Outbreak of War

Um, do you remember when the war began?

Yes. I remember the sounds of the bombs exploding at the airport of Amsterdam. Um, I remember four days uh, from our balcony, which was across from the zoo in Amsterdam where we lived. Uh, I remember next to us there was the main garage of a taxi company. And uh, I realized that there were acquaintances, perhaps even close acquaintances or friends of ours who were hiring taxi cabs to go to the port of ??? which was uh, the closest point on the coast of the north sea and they were trying to get from there to England. And I understand some succeeded. They--I know for sure that there was an organized transport by bus for children. Because one of my schoolmates that way survived the war. He was taken by bus to England and he was--he served in the uh, Allied Forces and uh, he came back after the war. His, his name was uh, Hershon, which means Gershon Miller. But when he came back his uh, name was uh, it was something like Mick uh, I, I mean, completely anglicized.

Hm. Um, you were seventeen then.

When the war broke out, in '4...1940, I was uh, almost seventeen.

Seventeen. So what were you thinking, feeling about all this? Were you frightened?

Uh, I definitely remember what I felt. Uh, outside of some of the events that happened during those four days uh, where we had the blackout as far as not letting any light shine to the outside for fear of being bombarded. Um, I remember the last of the four days when I looked outside and I saw the streetlights were on. I cried because I knew what it symbolized. It meant defeat. There is also another memory I have about that time. Um, it's funny. Looking out of the little window which we had in our john--our toilet uh, we could see or I could see a nest of uh, doves. After those four days the doves were gone and never returned. It was also--to me it had a symbolic meaning. I was in those days uh, on the one hand quite Orthodox, religious, on the other hand I would perhaps therefore uh, be more inclined to see meaning in events, such as the symbolic meaning of the doves, the symbol of peace uh, disappearing.

What was the talk in your household about the war? Was there any discussion?

Of course. I don't recall it that easily. Um, I can tell you something that may have something to do with it also that will reflect upon me. Uh, we had put strips on our outside windows as protection in case the--a bomb would come close and the glass might shatter, it would hold the glass together. I had placed on the upper part of the window in my room on the front of the house, I had put those black strips in the shape of a Magen David. I do remember, it must have been after the uh, Germans invaded that my father came in my room and saw it. He was in horror and he told me right away to take it off for fear that the Germans might uh, respond to it in a negative way.

Was there any talk about leaving?

Um, [pause] are you talking about leaving after the occupation or before?

Well, in those four days.

In those four days, no. But way later, when the deportations already had started uh, probably in 1942 I remember my mother telling my older brother and me why don't you leave and go somewhere in hiding. And I remember that I felt flabbergasted. I understood what she meant but I felt so hopeless. I had no idea what to do about it, I had never done it before, so to speak. I had no idea how to go about it and it took a lot more before I finally did it. They had to catch me twice before I finally considered it.

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