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Dutch Survivor’s Holocaust Diary Offers Rare Look at Religious Life in Hiding

In the 1940s, teenager Carry Ulreich kept a journal of her life of hiding out with her Jewish family in the home of a Catholic family in their Rotterdam neighborhood. Ulreich, now 89 and living in Israel, finally reread her diary two years ago – and it’s now been released as a book, At Night I Dream of Peace.

The book, in which Ulreich documented her family’s battle to survive as the world around them became increasingly dangerous, is among a handful of detailed testimonies of life in hiding in Rotterdam, which unlike most Dutch cities was largely destroyed in massive aerial bombardments both by the Germans and later the Allied forces.

It affords a rare account of the sometimes awkward encounter between the Ulreichs, a Zionistic and traditionalist family from Eastern Europe whose members were proud of their Jewish heritage, and their deeply religious Catholic saviors, the Zijlmans family.

Whereas the Franks [Anne Franks' family], a family of secular and cosmopolitan Jews from Germany, lived apart from the people who hid them, the Ulreichs lived with the Zijlmans in conditions that required considerable sacrifice on the part of the hosts and led to some friction as the two households interacted.

The Zijlmans couple, who were recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977 for risking their lives to save the Ulreichs, gave their bedroom to the Ulreichs and moved into a small room where potatoes were stored. They also severed their social contacts to avoid detection as their guests lived in fear.

We hope this Dutch-language book will soon be released in English as well, offering yet another account that helps us all never forget. 

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