“A liberating emotional experience” is how participants described the “Hidden Children Conference” which was held in Amsterdam last week.
The conference gathered some 520 Jewish people who as children were hidden in Holland during the Nazi occupation.
Many of the participants found they were able to talk about their experiences at the conference, after having suppressed the memories for nearly 50 years.
The topics they spoke about included their divided loyalties between birth parents and foster parents, the obligations of gratefulness to the foster parents, and the influence on the adult life of children raised by Christians who saved them.
Bloeme Evers, an Orthodox Jewish psychologist, lectured on the great difficulties she encountered among the children who returned after the war to their biological parents and had to learn anew how to relate to them.
Evers revealed that not only the children but the parents as well found it difficult to adapt.
In his address at the opening session, the mayor of Amsterdam, Ed van Thijn, who himself was a hidden child, recalled that he was hidden at 18 different addresses, all of which he had to flee because they had ceased to be safe.
Some of those who hid him were Protestants, others Roman Catholics. Van Thijn, who is the son of Jewish parents but not an observant Jew, said that his upbringing during the war had made him see the value of all religions.