EK: So, it was a surprise, you think, then, when the German army came in?
SS: Yeah, it was a surprise; it was [a] surprise attack. But now we’re occupied, and they told us, “We are going to leave you alone. Go about your work, go about your daily tasks, go about your schools and everything, your work. We won’t bother you; we are here only to occupy the territory so that the Allied forces will not be able to come on from the coast from the North Sea and enter Europe.” And we believed them and we went with it, and life went on just like normal, nothing doing—not knowing that for nine months they are taking all kind of information about anybody and everybody living in Holland.
That’s where it came in that everybody had to present themselves in an office, where everybody was getting an ID card. Everybody had to go there—and as a matter of fact, you were fingerprinted. You [had] never done anything wrong: fingerprinted. At that time, I was eighteen, nineteen years old: fingerprinted. Never done anything wrong: fingerprinted. I had to bring a passport picture that was put on there.
But the difference of the whole thing was that Jewish people, they’d get an ID card with a J on it. And this ID card had to be worn on the person at all times. If you were stopped on the street by the Gestapo—Nazis—you had to identify yourself, and if you couldn’t produce that ID card you were taken away for good, for never, ever to come back. This was the law. You had to wear this ID card with you at all times.