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International Holocaust Remembrance Day: story of a survivor living in B.C.

Louise Stein Sorensen, age 11, Montessori Elementary School Bussum, 1940.
Louise Stein Sorensen, age 11, Montessori Elementary School Bussum, 1940. Louise Stein Sorensen

85-year-old Louise Stein Sorensen lived many years or her life hiding in an attic, but she considers herself to be one of the lucky ones.  She is a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands.

She is sharing her experience of survival and loss during the Holocaust at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre Monday night to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In 2005, the United Nations marked January 27 to remember the victims.

She was 10 years old when Germany invaded the Netherlands on May 10, 1940.

“They confiscated my father’s business, home and we were forced to go into hiding. We were hiding at   a number of addresses for 2 years. Living in attics and holes in the ground. No books and no writing” says Sorensen.

While in hiding, there were many times when she was separated from her sister and parents, but once the Netherlands was liberated she was reunited with her family. Other members of her family were killed in concentration camps.

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“The holocaust hit Holland very badly. Much worse than the rest of Europe, only 20% of Dutch Jewish people survived. 105 thousand Dutch Jews were murdered. 20 thousand people went into hiding and 15 thousand survived.”

Sorensen says there were many close encounters when she was in hiding.

Louise Stein Sorensen, age 10 with cousin Emmy (centre) and sister Elly (right) Naarden, Netherlands 1939.
Louise Stein Sorensen, age 10 with cousin Emmy (centre) and sister Elly (right) Naarden, Netherlands 1939.
Louise Stein Sorensen, age 11, Montessori Elementary School Bussum, 1940.
Louise Stein Sorensen, age 11, Montessori Elementary School Bussum, 1940. Louise Stein Sorensen
An identity card belonging to Louise's mother Marianne Stein, issued in August 1941.
An identity card belonging to Louise's mother Marianne Stein, issued in August 1941. Louise Stein Sorensen

“We were warned when there was going to be a search. We crawled into a underground hole to hide from the search.”

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It was 1945 when she heard the sound of cannon balls and celebration. That’s when she knew Canadian troops had liberated the Netherlands.

“We walked through a forest where we knew the troops were established. That’s where we saw our first Canadians.”

She said the Canadian troops gave her white bread buns that “tasted like cake.”

Minister Kenney issued a statement on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“On international Holocaust Remembrance Day, Canadians join with people around the world in memorializing the millions of European Jews and other civilians who were tortured and murdered by the Nazi  regime seven decades ago.”

In 1959 Sorensen and her husband moved to British Columbia where she started a new journey in her life, one free from hiding and persecution.