At the age of 17, Eline Hoekstra’s life took a complete turn overnight when Nazi forces took over her home country.
On January 6th Hoekstra, a Holocaust survivor, came to McNary and told her story to the Holocaust Literature class. For the presentation, the survivor’s daughter, Deb Hoekstra, came to aide her mother in telling the story, since her mom was not in very good health conditions to give the whole presentation.
Hoekstra is 89 years old and her daughter is currently 65 years old.
At the age of 17, Germany invaded her home country of Holland on May 10, 1940. Holland was attacked at night and Germany started to bomb the city which was is 1/7 of the size of Oregon. Hoekstra never had imagined that Germany would want to take over Holland because Holland hadn’t been involved in World War I. She said that Germany wanted Holland because there was the ocean right next to it and that would make it easier for Germany to reach England.
It was obvious that Holland wasn’t going to give in so easily,the military was sent out to fight against the Nazi forces, but it was really of no use. Holland didn’t have a decent military compared to what the Nazis’ had, Holland had very old weapons that weren’t very good and they were obviously in disadvantage.
The survivor said that every person at that time in Holland had a bicycle, and this was very necessary for their lives. It was also very easy to ride a bicycle, because Holland is so flat and the highest peak is 500ft which is a mountain.
The invasion lasted four days, there were a lot of deaths in the span of those four days because of all of the bombing that had occurred. After the four days, Germany threatened that if Holland didn’t give up, they would bomb every other major city in Holland. The Queen of Holland didn’t want that to happen to her country, and Holland gave in and the queen left to England thinking that she would be more of a help to her country somewhere else.
Hoekstra’s father was the CEO of a turbine company and her mother helped out at the Red Cross, she was the youngest of four children. One of her brother’s wasn’t in Holland, he was in the United States at the time Holland was invaded. Out of all of her siblings she’s the only one that was still in high school and was hoping to go to college to study pre-med. Her family wasn’t rich, but they were a well-off middle class family, they had a maid, gardener and a seamstress. At that time shopping was a daily affair, there were no refrigerators at that time so the food of the day would have to be bought fresh every morning. It was a lot more work back then, since there wasn’t as much appliances and technology as there is now.
On May 14th, The Nazis came in with their tanks, they were all marching in a choreographed step and were dressed very well seeming as if no attack had ever happened, the Holocaust survivor remembers that her family and herself, for a second, were admiring what they were seeing. After a second she started to wonder why they were there.
She remembered that the Nazis’ had told everyone that nothing was going to change, except for a few minor things such as the rationing of food, and people would have to work in the factories and make items for the war effort. No one at this time was very worried, Hoekstra believes that a big problem was that no one was scared enough, and that’s why things got out of hand.
A little bit later, there came the rule that no Jew could go to school. Also, every person in the country would have to have an I.D. card, on the card there was a number that indicated when you can get your rations of food. For anyone that was a Jew, they had their I.D. card stamped with a J. Many Jews didn’t want to get the J stamped on their I.D. card, because they were scared, but if you were caught, and you were a Jew and you didn’t have the J stamped on your I.D. card they would kill you. The Holocaust survivor was really scared and her all of her family and herself had the J stamped on their I.D. cards.
You’re probably wondering how the Nazis knew who was Jewish and who wasn’t. You were considered full Jewish if three or four of your grandparents were Jewish, you were only half Jew if only two of your grandparents were Jewish. Theoretically, the Nazis’ could check the synagogues to see all the people that had been married there, and could discover who was Jewish. There was also a stereotypical image of the Jews, if you had dark hair, dark eyes, and a hook nose that was good enough for the Nazis. Her daughter’s father was only half Jewish, but her mother was full Jewish . Even though her husband was half Jewish, he still had more “privileges” than a full Jew, Her husband was was only allowed to go to a community college, and he went to Amsterdam, but she was completely banned from going to school.
At that time the Nazis had no “use” for little kids, and they were gassed, or they would be used for experiments.
No one believed everything that was happening,
Her dad was the only Jew that was a CEO, but he was fired as well, like every other Jewish person in the country.
The Nazis were rounding up the old folks, and were being shipped out to Amsterdam.
Soon came another rule in which all Jews had to turn in their bicycles, which was very difficult for them because they relied in the bicycles so much. Along with their bicycles, they had to give up their radios which was the only resource that they had to receive information. A month after giving up some of their most valuable possessions, Jews were prohibited to go to any public places. This included going to non-Jewish homes and non-Jewish people could not go to Jewish households. When this new rule came in no one started to freak out because they didn’t think that it was the end of the world. The whole purpose of Nazis’ was to make the Jews feel isolated, and soon many of Jews friends became frightened.
Two years after the invasion of Holland, Hoekstra became pregnant. Hoekstra and her husband were delighted with the news, but Hoekstra’s parents weren’t very happy about the news. Hoekstra and her husband were happy because now they had something to hold on.
One day one of Hoekstra’s neighbors knocked on their house door and warned them that the Nazis were rounding up all of the elderly. Sure enough, the Nazis came to the Hoekstra’s house hold banging on the door. Hoekstra’s grandparents decided to act sick, to avoid being taken by the Nazis. The Nazis’ asked for the elderly people of the house and her father told the Nazis that her grandparents were very sick, the Nazis weren’t convinced and stormed to the room in which her grandparent’s were in. The sound of boots became very traumatic for her but her grandparents put on a great performance, they told the Nazis that they had dysentery which is diarrhea, the Nazis let her grandparents stay and said that they would come at another time. Feeling great because they had fooled the Nazis’, they had a tea party, but 45 minutes the same Nazi soldiers came back to their house, but they were quick enough to get back to their room and act sick again. Her grandparents were able to avoid getting taken away that day, but three weeks later they were picked up, and were sent to Amsterdam like all the elderly people.Since Hoekstra’s husband was in Amsterdam because of school, he saw her grandparents there for two days, and after that they were never seen. They learned in the death books that were handwritten that her grandparents had been sent to Auschwitz, and the same day that they had arrived there they were sent to the gas chambers and were gassed.
Since Hoekstra’s family was very well off, that meant that they had a very nice home. A Nazi officer ordered Hoekstra and her family to move out of the house in 24 hours. They were able to empty out the house in the time frame that they had been given, the officer paid them but was angry because there was no furniture in the house and he couldn’t have the Nazi officers living like that, so he ordered them to put back all of the furniture in 24 hours. Eline Hoekstra gave birth to her son on April 28th, 1942, it was weird because many women had their children in their homes, but Hoekstra walked to the hospital and had her child there. Hoekstra wasn’t actually married at that time, so it was customary for the baby to have the mother’s last name. But Hoekstra was worried because her last name sounded Jewish, but her partner’s last name sounded very Dutch, and so they put the father’s last name instead of the mother’s last name.
By that time another rule had been put into effect, all Jewish people had to wear a yellow star at all times, everyone that needed to wear a yellow had to buy the yellow star with the textile rations that they received.
Kids were also in a lot of danger at that time, her son was three months old when the nanny offered Hoekstra the option of taking her son at night and taking care of him, a lot of Nazis would go at night to take away people. Before Hoekstra and her family were taken away to a concentration camp, her father found someone to take her son, it was a very good family that took care of him during the war. Hoekstra never wanted to know where her son was at because she feared that one day she’d be tortured and would give away the location of her son.
Eline, her brother, and her father were on a list. The list was of intellectuals. Hoekstra and her family along with the other persons on the intellectual list were picked up and were sent to a lonesome castle, it wasn’t as bad as a concentration camp with a whole lot of security, the only thing that was there to keep them there except for barbed wire. Though they were located in a castle, they had to make their own food. While in her stay there she got very sick, but there were a lot of very good doctors there that helped her get better,and helped her survive. They were at the castle for three months, and then they were ordered to pack their suitcases.
They boarded a train, the Nazis’ would stay outside of the train while the train was leaving the station to make sure that no one escaped. Hoekstra’s brother didn’t want to go to a concentration camp, because they had heard about all the horrendous things that were happening there. So he decided to escape. When the train was going to change into a different railing, the train slowed down and he jumped down and went under the train and laid down underneath the train, and let the train go over him, and he survived but his family didn’t know that until a long time later.
Hoekstra tried to hide, two teachers hid her at their place, but she couldn’t do anything at all, she had to lie down on the couch all day long, and make no noise at all. She couldn’t live like that, so she went home. All of the intellectuals were put in the same barracks when they arrived at the concentration camp, the only thing that separated them was a curtain, on one side were the women and the children under 14 years of age, and the men on the other side. There was only one toilet, and one faucet in there. For three years Hoekstra didn’t have a shower, clothes, undergarments, and there wasn’t any feminine hygiene.
While in the concentration camp she worked in the hospital, the work there wasn’t as hard as the other jobs were, and there was sometimes food. At one point, Hoekstra had to steal potatoes,the Nazis’ found out and they were trying to figure out who had stolen the potatoes, she was able to survive this. She said that you tried to survive by the gifts you made for yourself and this helped her to survived.