Others went into hiding too
During the Occupation all sorts of goods are rationed so that everybody can buy a bit of these scarce products.
The Frank and Van Pels families, along with Fritz Pfeffer, had to go into hiding because they were Jewish. But it wasn’t just Jews who went into hiding in the Netherlands. The lives of for example resistance workers were at risk too. Like the Jews, they too needed to find places to hide. People chose a wide variety of places to go into hiding. Some people hid in cities, others in the country. Hiding places could be large or small. Some people had to stay inside all day, while others were able to walk around freely outside. They were the ones with well made forged papers.
The decision to go into hiding
According to estimates, approximately 300,000 people of which probably 28,000 Jews, hid in the Netherlands, either for a short or long time period. For the resistance, the question of "to hide or not to hide? ", was in fact no real question. If they didn't want end up in prison, they had to go into hiding. For many Jewish families, it was a question as well. A difficult question. Why go into hiding when you had done nothing wrong? And perhaps, the camps were not that bad.
"During that time, our family had to decide whether we were going underground or not. My father believed that we would be better off doing what we were told. He felt that it was dangerous to choose a different option. He was also right to do so. But this was not a guarantee that a safe place existed. Above all, the camps were really bad, but we had a chance to survive, because we were young and strong. My father was not going to go into hiding. My mother wanted to go into hiding, but opted in favour of my father. I wanted to go into hiding. In the end, and after much discussion, I had the support of my mother and I was going to go into hiding. I was fifteen, full of enthusiasm and I hoped that I would be saved. "
A hidden entrance, through a toilet, to a hiding place
Children in hiding
Some Jewish parents faced a difficult decision during the war. It was sometimes easier for an individual child to go into hiding with a host family. For the parents, that meant leaving their child behind at a hiding place on their own. Sometimes even babies had to be hidden this way.
Some helpers were prepared the risk taking a child in. For adults, it was harder to find a good hiding place. The Jewish children hidden this way simply became one of the family. The hosts might have claimed the child had come from Rotterdam, where many records had been lost in the bombings.
Of the 25,000 Jews who went into hiding, 8,000 were discovered. They’d often been betrayed. If you were arrested in hiding, you would be sent as a criminal to transit camp Westerbork’s prison block before being deported to a concentration camp. For the helpers, the outcome varied. Sometimes only those in hiding were arrested and their helpers left alone, but other times the helpers were arrested too. In theory, there were heavy penalties for being caught helping a Jew. In practice, that wasn’t always the case.