Literature of the Holocaust
maintained by Al Filreis
ROCHELLA VELT MEEKCOMS
What a horrible time she had. When she was twelve the Germans came into the Netherlands. She and her sister were hidden by neighbors, but soon they were caught and sent to Westerbork and then to Auschwitz. Here are her comments about her attitudes today.
My sons always say about me that if there is something on my mind I tell it as I see it. It's a release I didn't give up even in the camps. Once on a Saturday a bunch of us, Dutch and Hungarian kids, put on a little show for each other and I was the master of ceremonies. We mimicked top overseers and I did impersonations about camp life and somebody did a little tap-dance, different funny, crazy things. The overseers slipped into the barracks while we weren't looking, and instead of giving us a punishment they were laughing their heads off. I couldn't believe it: one day they were hitting us black and blue, and then there they were laughing while we made fun of them. But, you see, in spite of all our agony and pain we never lost the ability to laugh at ourselves and our miserable situation. We had to make jokes to survive and save ourselves from deep depressions.
But when I tell my stories it is not to be funny. If I tell young kids about the atrocities that went on in a civilized nation in a civilized world, with civilized people knowing about it, it is so they should not sit back. They must be active in government and realize what goes on because of what can happen to intellectuals in a civilized, educated country.
Some people became very devout because of what happened and some lost their Judaism altogether; I came out of it very outspoken as a Jew. Whoever knows me, whoever touches me knows that I am a Jew and a survivor. My father used to say to me, "Chella, when you stand in front of a mirror, do you like what you see? Ask yourself. You have to live with that. And do you give of yourself what you really are?"
He taught me a lot in the weeks and months we spent hiding together. The days were long and the nights were long and I learned a lot from him. And when I stand in front of the mirror, I ask myself ... and most of the time I like what I see.
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