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URSULA'S STORY

I grew up in Köln. It was a very happy childhood amongst a great deal of love, friends, my grandmother's music room with two concert Grands, on the steps a sculpture by Minne - the other side one by Meuvier. The fabulously leather bound books and all the paintings. None survived. The Nazis stole the lot. I would recognize some of them if I happened to see them somewhere. For although I was very young they left a lasting impression. Every weekend my father and his mother made music together. Also musicians were accompanied by my grandmother. I distinctly remember the great cellist, Feuermann; I recall the way he smiled.

My first awareness of the Nazis came when, on a walk with my mother, she suddenly stopped in front of a big poster. It had a caricature of a Jew on it. She tore it off the wall, which was a very courageous and mad, impulsive act. Thank God, no one saw her doing this. Then came the carnival, a big yearly event in K61n which we would watch from my father's factory. At one point he pulled me hastily away from the balcony to protect me from seeing what I did however see: a wagon with large hideous figures, meant to be Jews. This of course was our last carnival. We children did not really know what it meant. We were not brought up in any religious way. I came home from my elementary school one day asking what "Yid" meant. Some kids had called me that and thrown stones at me. My parents tried to explain as best they could and I was taken out of school. They enrolled me in the one existing Jewish school where I spent one year immersed in Religion and Hebrew studies. After a rebellious beginning there, I became a little ardent Zionist and in love with Religion.

This ended with our departure for Holland. We left very late and by train. No belongings were allowed. But my little sister, who was very fond of money, smuggled her coin collection across the border. It scared my parents when they discovered it; for it could have been the end of our journey if the officials had seen it. We had a few lovely years in Holland before the Germans invaded the country and forced us to leave our house within 24 hours. I learned to speak and write Dutch in school. Dutch schools were much harder than German ones and I had a hard time following since I missed a lot before I understood the language and had mainly learnt Religion and Hebrew the previous year in Köln. A very kind neighbor offered to store our furniture in his name when we had to leave our house. We had to move inland, away from the coast. This was the order for all foreigners and Jews. Before this we actually spent six months in England, fearing the German invasion. But returned to Holland because friends phoned us to tell us not to be silly - nothing was going to happen ….. My father also had purchased passages to Chile in the "Simon Bolivar`. We did not go because one of us children had a bad throat ….. The ship sank on a mine and very few people survived. Mrs. Goeritz, a friend of my parents, lost her six children and husband. She was one of the few survivors.

We moved to Bussum - to a boarding house. One day during a walk my father rang the bell of a lovely cottage hidden on a quiet lane. The owner, on my father's question, said his cottage was not for rent. But he sensed we needed a shelter, called us the next day to offer us his house. He moved into a tiny garden shed. He, as well as our immediate neighbors risked their lives for us.

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