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May 1, 1930 | Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hetty was the only child of a middle-class secular Jewish family. Hetty's parents were Sephardic, the descendants of Jews who had been expelled from Spain in 1492. The family lived in an apartment above her father's clothing business. Hetty's grandparents and other relatives lived nearby.
1933-39: I enjoyed growing up in the Netherlands. Our Jewish neighborhood was in the older part of Amsterdam, in the city center. When I was 6 years old, I began attending a public school. Everywhere in Amsterdam there were bicycles, canals and old buildings. Every summer my parents rented either a room or a house at the beach. We'd spend about a month there, and our friends and relatives would visit us.
1940-44: Just after my tenth birthday, the Germans attacked and occupied the Netherlands. One by one my relatives disappeared, picked up by the Germans. Even my closest friend, Judith, was sent away. Fearing we might be next, we left our home [and I separated from my parents to hide]. The Dutch underground placed me with a Protestant family in the south, who fed and hid me. In September 1944 there was fighting nearby. German soldiers moved into our house. Then the Germans ordered the townspeople to leave. Rather than go, we all hid in the basement of a bombed-out house.
Several days later, Hetty and the family were discovered by American soldiers and freed. It was December 1944. She later married, and in 1962 she emigrated to the United States.