You had the choice: to hide yourself or leaving to Germany to work in factories. At that moment, I was lucky because I was just too young. They started selecting older people first. This was around 1942-1943. I did my final exams in 1942. But I was not able to study further, because then you had to sign a statement in which you promised not to take any action against Germany (10 April 1943). Almost everyone refused to sign.
The only possibility to study was to go to a private school, and that is what I did. I went to Amsterdam, to study for a job in the sugar industry. I did an internship, for which I received an exemption from the Germans. Otherwise, I had to work in Germany. During my internship, I worked in a sugerfactory in Zevenbergen and later in a similar factory in Halfweg (between Haarlem and Amsterdam).
After a week of night-shifts, we were free at daytime. Together with a friend, I went to the “Theater van de lach” (Theatre of laugh) at the Nieuwendijk. This was the only place where you could actually have a laugh at that time. There were shows form Dutch comedians like John Kraaijkamp sr. While we were enjoying a show, the lights suddenly went on. A few German soldiers showed up on stage with their guns pointing at the public. Everyone was being checked for their ID papers. Stupid enough, I forgot to bring my own ID papers. So I was taken apart, together with some other people, and put on a truck.
“To the Euterpestraat”
We were taken to the former Euterpestraat (now called “Gerrit van der Veenstraat”, after a Dutch resistance), were the headquarters of the Dutch department of the “Sicherheitsdienst” were established. It used to be a girls school. But now, Dutch prisoners were brutally interrogated there. “To the Euterpestraat” predicted nothing good! When we (around 25 men) arrived, we had to stand up for hours in front of a bust of Hitler. People who talked to each other were beaten up! One after one, we were interrogated. And I was lucky again! I was still registered in Zevenbergen, and not in Amsterdam. The ones who were registered in Amsterdam and did not have the right papers, were transported to (transfer) concentration camp Amersfoort the same night. Half of the people who went to this horrible place were transferred to Germany to work there. It’s a notorious camp where many people were killed, starved or horribly abused.
Locked in a cell
That night, I was transported to prison “Huis van Bewaring II” at the Amstelveenseweg. This was the same place where Hannie Schaft (‘The girl with the red hair’) had been brought to, before she was executed in the dunes of Bloemendaal. We where put in a very small cell (built for one person) with six people. The first thing what I was asked was whether I had any cigarettes. I had a few in my jacket. The circumstances were terrible. In the morning, we first received a bowl of water to fresh up your face. After that, we received instant coffee, in that same bowl! Except for a shower and a shave, we had to sit down in that cell all day long. But fortunately, they gave us food. The people who I was locked up with were black market sellers (spiv) and persons in hiding.
After three days, they pulled me out of the cell, gave me my stuff and sent me away!