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October 8, 1928 | Berlin, Germany
Susanne was the younger of two daughters born to Jewish parents in the German capital of Berlin. Her father was a successful lawyer. Known affectionately as Sanne, Susanne liked to play with her sister on the veranda of her home and enjoyed visiting the Berlin Zoo and park with her family.
1933-39: After the Nazis came to power in January 1933, it became illegal for Jewish lawyers to have non-Jewish clients. When Susanne was 4, her father's law practice closed down and the Ledermanns moved to the Netherlands. Susanne began attending school in Amsterdam when she was 6. She was a good student, and she quickly made friends in the neighborhood. Some of her friends were also Jewish refugees from Germany.
1940-44: On May 14, 1940, Susanne heard the roar of German planes bombing Rotterdam 35 miles away. Amsterdam was soon occupied by the Germans. When Susanne was 13, the Germans forced the Jews out of public schools and Susanne enrolled in a Jewish school. By June 1942 the Germans were deporting Jews, ostensibly to work camps in the "East." Susanne's father, who worked as a translator for the Jewish council, believed that the family would not be harmed as long as they obeyed the law and followed German instructions.