Rachel (Roos-Hertz) Harel

Is your surname Harel?

Research the Harel family

Rachel (Roos-Hertz) Harel's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Rachel Harel (Roos)

Also Known As: "Didi", "Roos-Hertz", "Hertz"
Birthplace: Rotterdam, Government of Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
Death: November 16, 1989 (66)
Herzliyya, Israel (CVA)
Place of Burial: Herzliyya, Israel
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Samuel Roos and Betsie Engers
Wife of Marcel Ernest (Moshe Marcel) Harel
Mother of Private User; Private User and Shmuel
Sister of Jacques Roos

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Rachel (Roos-Hertz) Harel

My confession is this. 

That you wouldn't perhaps understand it's the very first time for 40 years

I intended to speak and tell you about my experiences in WW2..It was a lady of the English-speaking group who asked about these adventures and my first reaction was Why should I ? In a country where there are such a lot of heroes and after so many wars that I believe in coincidence that in the same week that she asked me my second son in a discussion at our home accused me of never having spoken one sentence about what happened to the Jews,

What it is to live in hiding and resistance work, and then I decided to do it because I felt really guilty that we didn't talk about those horrible times.

Our youngsters don't know a word about what happened to the Jews .They live in the country blind because we didn't open our eyes .I have to speak in English but believe me it would be better for me in Dutch or Hebrew .It's difficult

For me to speak about it because I'm too emotionally involved about all these things.

I like to tell you that I decided to speak from paper and not off by heart. I hope you will take into account my translation. This is Dutch conversation as it can be hard.

The Jewish community was integrated for hundreds of years in Holland. My own family goes back to 1789.The Jews were speaking the same language as the Gentiles, at school you were together with the Gentiles and I have to tell you in Dutch schools it is forbidden to ask your religion.

I didn't hear a word of Yiddish before I came to Israel. My youngest son was asked Is your mother a Goya that

She doesn't speak Yiddish and he came to me and he didn't ask Mother, what is a Goya?.

Jews in Holland didn't live in ghettos, oh yes, we lived openly in Amsterdam between them were Gentiles

Never as we now recall there were a lot of Jews could be closed apart from another part of town.

We wore the same clothes, I never saw a Streimel or a kaftan or sideburns. What happened to the Jews in Germany ,oh yes we did know but you have to know the standard of Jews in living in Holland ,We thought we were a lot better

Than the German Jews, they were so loud, so imprudent ,we were not like them and next to that the Dutch Gentiles wouldn’t allow what happened to the German Jews happen to us.

I was brought up as the daughter of a middle-class family, I went to a girls school, I got my matriculation(bagrut)

.I went to a seminary and became an undergraduate. There was a saying in our family that when you could play Plaisir D'amour or Fur Elise on the piano then you were ripe for marriage .I didn't play the piano, I played hockey and tennis and had been in the discussion club .In March 1940 there was a ball and it was the first and last ball of my youth

There was only one good thing about it ,I met my fiancé. I have to tell you a terrible thing: this ball was in order to raise money for the German Jewish refugees and therefore you had to dance and to play.

It happened on 10th May 1940, the Germans came like thieves in the night and came over the bridges in Dutch uniforms. They came over the bridge at Rotterdam only after the city was destroyed by heavy bombardment.

Holland had to surrender after 4 days of fighting. On the 14th May our house on the west side of the town was spared.

In the evening three rows of tanks were standing in our street and as we were already making ourselves ready for bed, all these days of fighting you still had to sleep.

Suddenly the bell was ringing and someone was knocking at the door saying Open the door!!. My parents

Panicked . She thought they'd come to catch us. I went down to open the door and there stood a young soldier

Asking for water From this moment we never had rest, we always lived in fear.

A year of relative quiet followed and this lessened our fear. Summer 1941 we were deprived of our existence,

Shops were closed by the Dutch Nazis and we were thrown out of our houses and had to walk in the middle of a terribly cold winter, snow knee-deep to find another house .Jews were not allowed in our house, had separate trams .hours of shopping from 10.00 pm. The Jews had to give bank and saving accounts. There were no secrets anymore and you had to hand in your jewellery, silverware and diamonds .Jews got 250 guilders to live on

That was very poor, but suddenly there was a difference between the Dutch Jews and the Gentiles. The Dutch went on strike. Dock workers in Amsterdam ,Philips workers in Eindhoven, ship workers in Rotterdam . 20000 walked out and became demonstrators against the restrictions against the Jews. The Germans broke up the strike after 2 days.

425 Amsterdam Jews were arrested, 2000 inhabitants were sent to Buchenwald. Amsterdam Jews had to pay 15000 guilders.

You know, I have to tell you that the demonstrators had a saying We don't like Jews but they are our Jews.

Don't touch them, they were famous for being gentle to the underdog and I'd like you to remember the Jews

Of the Inquisition, the French Huguenots, the Boers and the German refugees.

October 1941. Sunday morning. It was the birthday of our grandfather and I and my family were sitting in our living-room and doing what people were doing when suddenly we saw out of the window a small red-haired Jew thrown out of the tram and nobody helped him. From this moment I knew that nobody would come to our house. In May 1942 came the identity card with the G' for Jews. They were taken out of the small places, villages and towns and had to

Concentrate in large cities. From May 1942 we had to wear the yellow Star of David. Forced labour started.

Still there was resistance. The Dutch students, professors and teachers had to sign a declaration of loyalty to the

Germans called Kutura comrad In June 1942 we had an evening visitor. I'd like you to remember that it was not allowed to visit Jews in the evening, he came to visit Marta who lived with us for a year. He came from a very

Religious and poor family, who would have gone against the Nazis.

In August 1942 there came a new word ?? to die, to duck under, when my parents-in-law went to the eldest brother of Marta who was living in a small town outside Rotterdam with five small children who didn't know that there were

People living in the attic above. My parents-in-law had to sit still in the room with slippers on and it was impossible to use the WC and it was terrible. We after a lot---------- came to the parents of Marta. We were helping them but couldn't help any more. My mother and me were sleeping in a small room. Three grown-ups with a young girl.

We could never go outdoors. We had no knowledge or connection with the outside world. We could see the changing seasons through 20cm of glass window. As spring changed into summer and autumn to winter the only difference was the colour of the leaves high on the trees. Because you could not see the children, the men going to work in

the street. Sleeping several times under the floor lying on the bed without moving without clothes only a cup of water next to you. We were listening to the click-clack of the soldiers' boots in the street and slowly, slowly came a change in the balance of connection with your housekeeper and yourself. You had to bear in mind that we, the Jews, were totally dependent. They were in his hands, you were not a living person any more ,you changed to somebody preserved. You didn't know anything, your opinion was not worthwhile, your education, your social standing weren't

Taken into account. Night after night we were living in this room.

Then in August 1942 I got a new G card. With this I could go out-of-doors , a new address to live at. Also a very religious Protestant child and the lady was pregnant. Her husband was a fairly religious Protestant: out of consideration would not sign the loyalty declaration of the Kulturcomrade. He was also in hiding and would sometimes go out after dark and I understood that he was working against the occupiers .Later he became a commander. I wanted to do my share against the German occupation and would he give me the opportunity to help

The good cause. I couldn't wait for others to free my country. He took into consideration what I asked him.

He had to convince his co-workers because the Jews were in danger.

Now I will tell you about the Resistance. The organization I became a member of was an official organization.

We were a lot of scattered groups all over the country. For religious and political principles the Resistance had its

HQ in London. It was organized in Holland. Our group had an agent dropped from England and brought modern equipment and through them were connected to HQ in---------and so we received our instructions. The members of my group were varied ,firemen , labourers, intellectuals, several Jews in hiding with one goal: to free Holland from the Germans. All these people did not live in concentrations as in Czechoslovakia. They were courageous, brave men and women and most of them did not see the liberation. Our work was to blow up bridges, help people in hiding, to rob

Distribution offices and to lay hands on food and identity cards. For men to help get maps, secrets and ammunition.

I was helping my country and my conscience, always on my bicycle, summer, winter, rain and snow, moving from one place to another, alone on my way without company, without real friends, nobody knowing my real identity.

Till the historic battle of Arnhem, all of you have seen films, read books A Bridge Too Far about this battle.

I was living in a small place and knew all the small villages in the vicinity of Arnham we saw on Sept 17th 1944

The air full of flying machines as we called them and out of them came parachutists from parachutes of all colours.

Before this day our commanders got their instructions and passwords. The instructions were to go to the forest and to look for soldiers, bring them behind the lines, hide and feed them till they could join the proceeding troops.

Can you imagine the joy of all the people seeing this long-awaited moment, thinking of the Liberation come and the end of the war in sight? To our deep disappointment after a battle of 5 days the English soldiers and all airborne people had to retreat behind the rivers dividing Holland in the liberated south and the occupied north.

Hundreds of them ,British soldiers cut off from the troops, most of them in terrible conditions, the Dutch men and women went into the forest to give them first aid, food and water and shelter for some nights.

But the contrary happened. The English didn't speak a word other than English and were dressed in dirty uniforms and the number was much larger than had been expected. So we found ourselves in the middle of Germans and hundreds of Allied troops waiting for new instructions from England which came after 3 weeks. All had to be fedin a poor-rationed country. 120 of these parachutists were brought together in a sheep shed. We girls had to cook for them, and in order to conceal these enormous portions of food we set up a communal kitchen for the evacuees from the towns around Arnhem. The came the big day of the crossing over the Rhine. We waited until one of the villages had to be evacuated, and everyone was on the move with horse and carts and bicycles. The soldiers and officers brought overalls over their uniforms and were divided into small groups of 3,4 and 5 with one Dutch man. We had to walk 25km to the borders of the Rhine to hide.

Darkness fell, we started the crossing in small boats, even swimming with ropes .Can you imagine our exultation and joy as we listened to the BBC on the 28th October when we heard the password the grey goose has flown away?

With one of these men I have to tell you so that you'll understand what happened. I had changed my very wet shoes for his boots he wouldn't need them anymore and my shoes were ruined. This has been one of the most spectacular events in this terrible time, most of the time it was dull, grey and tiring in very difficult circumstances.

My work was mostly courier work. On one of these errands on the morning of 18th Nov pedalling on my bike in heavy rain that went right through my clothes till my bones I came to a farm and had to bring a letter. What happened there

I like to say a word to one of my present companions who wrote the book Women Partisans. After the liberation in the lovely town of ???????? in East Holland, a picturesque, small town 26 women were imprisoned in the barracks for being in the resistance against the Germans. They were arrested by the SS, all were waiting for a trial which never came. In these barracks were also male Partisans in the most feared of all Nazi groups.

Now I have to tell you because you never went through this time and you couldn't know it. You had several persons - divided soldiers??. You had German soldiers who had to go to war, you had the SP, they gave themselves up to go to war, really sadistic, bad people Now cones the report of the book. Here follows the testimony of one of the female inmates as it occurred on the evening of 18th Nov 1944.

We were to call it a day and prepare our dresses on the floor when one of the men opened the door and shouted

Come out, come and look at these bad ,bad women. She is a witch and because of her men died, the houses burned down. We were put to attention and saw a very young girl, her face swollen with blue patches, her eyes, small slits, blood dripping from the swollen lips and her legs bandaged dragged through by two SP men, and thrown into a cell next to ours. I went back to my sleeping place on the floor, not interested in the foul-mouthed amusement of the SS warders. We were weeping for ourselves at the ill-treatment of this youngster.

The next morning 2 of our girls had to go into their cell and bring her to the office for a new interrogation and from there we heard the sad history. She was a courier on the way with her message to the farm which is her contact address. A young girl with a bike and wearing a wet coat and on her feet old man's boots who was pedaling in such stormy weather if it's not fairly urgent, she was bent over the handlebars to protect to protect herself from the rain

And wind and enters the farmyard. The SD is waiting for her, they spring out from behind the door, shouting and asking her name, they are beside themselves with joy. This is the girl they are waiting for. They take her to the kitchen and ask her to tell them the names of her friends who sent her. Where are they? Who are they? They will let her go if she will only tell them, she will be free to go. She answers she doesn't know what they are talking about she's a friend of the farmer's wife, She's pregnant and not feeling well, she came only to visit her. Then they beat her to the floor, threw her on the table, took off her clothes, beat her on all parts of her body, still she doesn't speak out.

Then they tried to strangle her with her own shawl, she tells them she doesn't know names, but she has a rendezvous

At 1300, a meeting in the middle of the town. This is her only opportunity someone will see her and tell her friends, that she's been arrested and the have to hide themselves, they took her into the car to the meeting place,there she stood covered by all sides.

Of course nobody came, so they took her to the garden of a small hotel, shot by the Germans ,she fell down.

She tried to get up but couldn't .The furious SS officer hit her on the head with the butt of his rifle. She had to walk to the car and back they went to the farm. Then they repeated the beatings without success. She didn't give away names and places .Her tormentors took a box of matches and said This is your last chance ,if you don't tell us we will set fire to the farm. She did know from experience that even if she told them they would still burn the house down and what

Is a house against the lives of her friends. She didn't break down. First the Germans stole everything, then they burned the farm ,the stall and the sheds.

In prison ,her wounds were not attended to and when she ran a high fever they called for a medic who dressed the wounds and bandaged the legs. Sometime later another warder came to take me out of the cell. He told me to say farewell to the other prisoners, because I will not come back. I don't have to take anything with me, I was seized with fear. Another interrogation: this time they said I may sit down, will I tell them of my work. They know already ,so perhaps will I tell them in my own words. I have nothing to say, they take me to a window ,closed with cardboard, and with a little hole in it. They were very cordial, would I look through the hole, my tormentors behind me. I have to bend over to look through the hole.. Outside the wind is blowing stood 13 men, some I knew quite well, they are hand-cuffed, everything is very quiet, then orders, three salvos .Soldiers get marching orders, men found their end at the murderers hands

Every shot went through my heart, full of hatred, .not any more afraid I am. They take me from the window, now do you have anything to tell us? You know these men were traitors ,interfered with our plans. You had the opportunity to save yourself,to help us. I could not speak ,too disturbed ,too shocked. I could only shake my head They led me away,

I was sure to be shot, how surprised I was to be brought back to my cell with the other women prisoners.

Later I heard that the men were shot as a reprisal for the murder of Auter??. Till March we stayed at Appledorm, then we were transported to the concentration camp at Westerburg .During the interrogation I was standing above all these things ,nothing could happen to me any more than already happened but to be sent with all these political prisoners to Westerburg from where all the Jews were sent to Eastern Europe to find their deaths. This was a degradation, until now nobody found out that I was Jewish. I was sure now they would discover my Jewishness. For the first time in all these years I was terribly afraid. In Westerburg we all stayed in barracks, we were lousy, our heads were shaved. We stayed in Westerburg till the second week in April 1945. The Allied troops were advancing through Southern Holland and Germany. On the 11th April we were taken to Germany on foot. In the meantime we were 58 women altogether, and day and night we were slowly proceeding. A poor sight,the second evening came and I decided not to be taken to Germany, at darkness we came to a small river and there I went into the ice-cold water where I stayed with only my head above the water till dawn. The following morning after an hour's walk I came to some small s where I got shelter and stayed till the Canadian liberators came on 16th April. After a lot of adventures I returned to Edon??

Where two weeks later Germany surrendered. Holland exploded in joy. We, the Jews had not any opportunity for joy.

.We went to look for our family but did not find them. From the 120,000 Dutch Jews in May 1940 only 10,000 came back,7000 survived in hiding and 3000 survived the camps. In my family 46 persons died, perished, the only survivors

were my mother and myself. In Holland the Germans achieved their goal. After the war I got from the hands of the

American ambassador in Holland the Medal of Freedom with the bronze bumps? The same as the services and other important fighters for freedom from the English ambassador. I got the King's medal for courage and Medal of Freedom.

I didn't tell you this story to tell of my own experiences, neither as a Jew or as a member of the Resistance .I came through this time together with wonderful people, most of them Jews and Gentiles who lost more than they got.

They fought the bitter struggle for life and freedom, this honour , standing after the war, looking everyone in their eyes. For myself under the Germans, I renewed my Jewishness because they expected it of me. I also found out that

Even the very best Gentiles, is at heart, an anti-semite.

I have seen the very best, the elite of Gentiles they fought with the Jews. I lived and suffered with them not knowing

That I was Jewish.

The reason I told you all this because all of you living in England ,South Africa and Australia wherever you're from

You had no idea what it has been to live and to struggle against the Germans in Occupied Europe ,but living in Israel I found out did not hold against us the youth of our country, how it was and what it is to live with Goyim. They went on ????? to the Gentile world. They are outwardly friendly to you, but they really want to kill you. Germany and Austria are very beautiful countries and they don't take into account all the elders of the people now living in these countries are the killers of our own Jews. They have to stop saying that our country is ugly and dirty and we have to take into account that this is a young country and we have to help the country and our young people together with us to live here. First ,we have also to tell them t all the Jews went without a struggle to their deaths. Second, we have to fight for our values. Third ,the only place we can live to fight our struggle where we have the right to live.

view all

Rachel (Roos-Hertz) Harel's Timeline

April 13, 1923
Rotterdam, Government of Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
November 16, 1989
Age 66
Herzliyya, Israel
Herzliyya, Israel