Robert Krell: Surviving the Holocaust in Holland
Date:Saturday, September 13, 2008
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20.08-24
RK: Well, I was the first born in 1940 in Holland where the war had already broken out, and I was in Holland in hiding for three years with a Christian family, the Munniks, M-U-N-N-I-K. Albert and Violette Munnik and their daughter Nora, who became my sister. In 1945 I was reunited with my parents who survived in hiding individually in different places and that was at least a minor miracle if not a large one because everyone else except for one first cousin was murdered.
RS: And how old were you when you were taken into hiding with this family?
RK: I was two years old, 1942 to 1945. Liberation of Holland was May 5, 1945 and I was returned to my parents within two or three weeks after that.
RS: And after that, Dr. Krell, your family decided to immigrate to Canada?
RK: My parents in 1949 looked at Israel, which was not a great place to work for a furrier, which my father was and they were worried about more wars and had just come out of one barely. So then they looked at Australia, then we got American visas which were given to the family with my father so that they could emigrate which they did to Los Angeles area and then we got our Canadian visas and came to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1951.
RS: So how old were you? So I guess now we will start with your life in Canada?
RK: I was...we came here in March and I was 10 years old, turning 11 in that coming summer.
RS: And how do you remember that time of your life moving to a new country, you have gone through so many...
RK: Oh, I was the world’s most eager immigrant. I wanted to get out of Holland that was just a place of reminders of death and other than missing a couple of relatives who survived in Switzerland and my own Dutch Christian parents, other than that I left nothing of importance behind, I was eager to be here in Canada and it turned out to be the right place.
RS: So what do you remember, when you moved here how was it for you as a family to find a house, to start, you know, finding a school, to be in a new country as a child? Probably I don’t know if you spoke the language back then, so...
RK: No, it was complicated for my parents. They made their second, third, or fourth start in life, which is not easy. And of course they were the only survivors of their entire family so there was no one, no one left. They started anew. For me it was a piece of cake. I didn’t speak English when I got here so I was put back one grade in an elementary school. I learned English over the summer.