By Haley M.
Vacaville High School
Dina’s story began in 1940 in Holland, Amsterdam. She was only 12 years old when the war broke out, her father was a doctor with his practice at home and her mother was a stay home mom. Being the oldest of three girls, Dina lived a fun childhood until the war started, in the beginning she had a scary experience because her father was a medic in the army for the armed forces, so her family always worried about him. The family was very observant, they attended the synagogue weekly and ate kosher. Her and her two sisters went to Jewish school for all 12 years. When the war started in 1940 Dina recalls the 5 days of real war in Holland, when Germany invaded. Holland was neutral until Germany invaded then they were forced to defend themselves, their best defense was the water, they were able to flood anywhere they needed to, but eventually the Germans’ big army was able to invade the small country. Dina was in the 6th grade when the Germans started to pick on the Jews, the first thing Germans did when they came was forced everyone to fill out paperwork explaining exactly who they were, explain their religion, and race. All the Jews got restrictions; they wanted to keep all the Jewish families in one section. All the people from the provinces were forced to move down to the city of Amsterdam to keep inside this restricted area. At the time, Holland had about 11 million people and about 140,000 Jews, all of which either went into hiding or were sent to camps, whether it was concentration, labor or death camps. Fortunately, Dina was sent into hiding in 1943 at 15 years old, she recalls her experience as easy going and free, she was fortunate enough to have a very welcoming family, she was very thankful that a family was willing to put their lives in danger for her sake. She moved to a town not far from her own, called Utrecht. There she stayed with a young couple and their newborn baby, the father was a doctor and the mother was a nurse. Dina was able to be the nanny of the house while the parents continued with their daily routine. She cooked, cleaned, took care of the baby, and did the grocery shopping, she wasn’t looked at as a Jew in hiding, and she was simply a nanny while the war was taking place. Dina was able to make friends with the neighbors and be in public while hiding her identity.
During war time, only Nazi Police were allowed in public past 8:00pm, no one else, at 8:00 the streets were silent. One late night, as Dina was getting ready for bed, there was a knock on the door, the family panicked, as did Dina. She quickly ran into the other room, lifted the large wooden floorboard, and slid her body underneath the floor, a hiding place her host family had placed for her beforehand in case of emergencies. Dina was praying it wasn’t the Nazi police, and praying harder they wouldn’t find her. As the young couple opened the door, a sigh of relief came over her and the family. It was the neighbor next door asking for some sugar to make cookies. Dina came out from the hiding place and felt so relieved.
Months later, the family went to a dinner party at a friend’s house and brought Dina along. Little did she know, she would be seeing a familiar face. At the dinner, she saw a friend from school, Lieske she was also in hiding. Dina was so excited to see a friend, they spent the rest of the evening together talking and laughing. Over the next few weeks, Dina and Lieske were able to see each other a few more times before both families decided it was not a safe idea for them to be spending time with each other, as it could cause suspicion. Once freed from the war, Lieske and Dina were able to maintain their friendship after returning to Amsterdam.
Once the war was over for good, Dina was thankful for the fact that all of her immediate family, many of her extended family, and her two grandmothers survived, but a few aunts, uncles and cousins perished in concentration camps. Dina reunited with her family and her high school sweetheart. Together, she and her boyfriend found jobs, got married soon after and decided to start a life together. Her brother-in-law was a sergeant in the American Military, living in America. He was generous enough to sponsor Dina and her husband and help them move to America as smoothly as possible. They moved to a small farm in Northern California where her husband partnered with the owner of a dairy farm. There they lived on the farm, started a family, and had six kids until the dairy farm partnership broke up.
When Dina’s youngest children were about nine and seven, Dina and her husband got divorced. Dina took the opportunity to go back to school and become a social worker. Dina moved to Camp Meeker, a town near Occidental because of the inexpensive real estate, in Camp Meeker, Dina finished up school and worked as a social worker in Sonoma and Marin counties. She enjoyed her work very much, but decided Camp Meeker was too far away from her work, so after 10 years, she moved to Petaluma for its central location and great weather.
26 years after moving to Petaluma, Dina is living comfortably, with nice neighbors, friends and a large family to keep her busy. Dina is enjoying life and plans to spend many more years cherishing her 6 kids, 13 grandkids and 8 great grand kids.
 “War over Holland – May 1940: The Dutch Struggle.” Dutch Army Strategy and Armament in WWII. February 9, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.waroverholland.nl/index.php?page=dutch-army-strategy-organisation-and-armament-in-wwii.
 “Jewish History 1940.” Jewish History 1940. 2006. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.jewishhistory.org.il/history.php?startyear=1940&endyear=1949.
 “The Netherlands in WWII : The Occupation.” Resident Alien Being Dutch in America. May 22, 2012. Accessed February 27, 2015. http://residentalien.co/2012/05/22/the-netherlands-in-wwii-the-occupation/.
“Jewish History 1940.” Jewish History 1940. 2006. Accessed February 18, 2015. http://www.jewishhistory.org.il/history.php?startyear=1940&endyear=1949.
“The Netherlands in WWII : The Occupation.” Resident Alien Being Dutch in America. May 22, 2012. Accessed February 27, 2015. http://residentalien.co/2012/05/22/the-netherlands-in-wwii-the-occupation/.
“War over Holland – May 1940: The Dutch Struggle.” Dutch Army Strategy and Armament in WWII. February 9, 2015. Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.waroverholland.nl/index.php?page=dutch-army-strategy-organisation-and-armament-in-wwii.