Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival

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Jaap Sitters was only eight years old when his mother cut the yellow stars off his clothes and sent him, alone, on a fifteen-mile walk to hide with relatives. It was a terrifying night, one he would never forget. Before the end of the war, he would hide in secret rooms and behind walls. He would suffer from hunger, sickness, and the looming threat of Nazi raids. But he would live.

This is just one of the true stories told in Hidden Like Anne Frank, a collection of eye-opening first-person accounts that share the experience of going into hiding to escape the Holocaust. Some were just toddlers when they were hidden; some were teenagers. Some hid with neighbors or family, while many were with complete strangers. But all know the pain of losing their homes, their families, even their own names. They describe the secret network that kept them safe. And they share the coincidences and close calls that made all the difference.

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About the Author:

Marcel Prins was inspired to create this project by his own mother, who went into hiding in 1942 to escape Nazi persecution. She was just six years old. Marcel Prins is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and cameraman. He lives in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Peter Henk Steenhuis is a journalist and the philosophy editor for the TROUW daily newspaper in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From HIDDEN LIKE ANNE FRANK, "Number 17"When Friesland was liberated at the end of April, they said, You can tell us your name now. I didn't say anything. Go on. Tell us what you're really called. The war's over now. But I'd promised my aunt in Haarlem that I would never say my name. They begged me, they hit me, they tried everything to make me tell them my name. I don't know, I kept on saying. I can't remember what my name is. But I thought to myself, My name's Jacky Eljon. I know that perfectly well. After liberation, the people in Westerbork, where my mother had been taken in February 1945, were given lists of children who had survived the war. But my name was never on those lists, of course, because no one knew what I was really called. The Red Cross knew by then that there was a little boy in Hommerts who couldn't remember his name. So they organized a meeting with women from Westerbork whose children had disappeared. Most of them had been murdered in concentration camps. Two days before my eighth birthday, a Red Cross nurse came to fetch me. She took me to Sneek. It was a really long way. I rode on the back of her bike for about ten miles. She took me to a school gym, where lots of stern-looking men and women were sitting around a table. There was also a line of twenty chairs in the gym, with bald-headed women seated on them. I spotted my mother immediately, but I wasn't allowed to go to her. I had to start at number 1. I walked past all of those women with their bristly scalps. The Germans had shaved their heads and now their hair was starting to grow back. Near the end of the line sat number seventeen: my mother. I jumped onto her lap. Finally, after four years, I was back with her again.

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