Moshe Flinker and his family lived in Holland at the time of the German invasion of during World War II. Moshe experienced all of the persecution to which Jews were subjected at that time, such as expulsion from public school and prohibitions that prevented him from going to the theater and many other public places. He and his family endured the harsh conditions until the Germans began to deport Jews from Holland to an unknown destination in the east. This convinced the family to attempt to escape to another country.
Moshe listed the neutral countries of Europe in his diary. Any of these would have made an ideal destination, but the family must not have known a way to get into one of them. Instead, Moshe wrote that his father found a friend who would help to smuggle the family across the border into Belgium. This must have been very difficult to arrange since the family consisted of nine people. They had to split up in order to move with greater safety. Amazingly, the entire family made it across without being detected.
Belgium was not an ideal destination because it was also under Nazi occupation. Still, it held the possibility being better for the Flinkers because no one there knew that they were Jewish. Jewish people were sometimes able to live without restrictions in the occupied countries, but only if they could hide their Jewish identities. This required them all to have false identification papers, but Moshe’s father was somehow able to obtain those as well.
Although the escape plan had worked well, it was still difficult for Moshe to keep up the pretense of being non-Jewish. He was bored without having school or work to occupy his time. He thought that reading and study might help, but when he signed up to use a library, he couldn’t avoid the temptation of seeking out Yiddish and Hebrew literature. He was deeply committed to Judaism and it wasn’t easy for him to live as though he was not. In the end, he tried to hide his Jewishness from the outside world, but explored it deeply through the pages of his diary.
Excerpts from Moshe Flinker’s diary have been published in a book entitled, by Alexandra Zapruder.
Click here to read more about how the Holocaust affected Jewish children who attempted to hide or conceal their identities as Jews.
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Religion 201: Interfaith Relations with representatives of Islam, Buddhism, & Baha’i…
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