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Jeannine Burk survived as a 'hidden child'. Please see the link below. Jeannine Burk was born in Brussels, Belgium. She was eight months old when the Germans occupied Western Europe. When the Nazis began deporting Belgian Jews to Auschwitz, Jeannine's parents put her in the care of a Christian woman. Risking her own life, the rescuer sheltered Jeannine for two years. JB I was born September 15, 1939, in Brussels, Belgium. PR September 1939, of course, is when the Germans invade Poland and war is declared. It's the month you were born. And then in May 1940 the German armies sweep across Western Europe and Brussels is occupied for the second time that century. I wonder what your recollections are of the life before under German occupation before you went into hiding? JB I don't have any recollection. I have to assume that things began to be difficult for Jews. There appear to be rumors that Jews were rounded up, and I think that's probably when my father made plans for me. PR And your sister and brother? JB Yes. My sister at the time was bed ridden. It was difficult to make plans. Things were in order. Me, my brother, my mother, and I have to assume my sister and father. PR To go underground. JB To go into hiding. PR So it's 1942 and the destruction of the Jewish people was underway. Your father takes you to a Christian home on the outskirts of Brussels. You take a tram. JB I remember we got off at the last stop. For a little girl, I remember, it was a long walk to the lady's house. They had steps to the doorway, and my father rang the bell. This lady answered. I believe she had two daughters. I'm not sure. There were two daughters. My father took me inside. He had a suitcase, but I hadn't. This was the last time I was saw my father. And that was the house I stayed in for two years. PR The Christian lady, you refer to her as that lady because... JB I don't know her name. I have no way of thanking her for saving my life. The only people who knew were my mother and father and so I had no way, when I became aware of what she had done for me, that I could thank her. I don't remember what I used to call her. I'm quite sure that I had a name for her. Aunt something. I know I didn't call her mother. That I know. PR She was a Christian rescuer, risking her life and that of her family. And your feelings towards her? JB How can I possibly tell you? She saved my life. She saved my life. I know it as I'm telling you this. She saved life. PR So from 1942 until 1944, when Belgium was liberated, you lived in hiding. PR Yes. I lived in the house. I never went outside for two years. PR What did you do? JB Sometimes I used to go out in the back yard. I used play. I used to have imaginary friends. I had no friends. Two years I never played with anyone. I don't even remember playing with her daughters. I think they were substantially older than I was. I would make up games. Sometimes I remember I cut out newspaper and I would make, like, handbags out of them. I don't know where it came from. At the time. I used to make up things. I had nobody to play with. PR You were so young, yet you were old enough to be afraid. JB Yes, very much so. Especially when the Nazis paraded down the street. They used to really like to do that. As I got older I assumed because it was intimidating. Apparently people had to keep their doors open and so the neighbors had to keep their door open and stand in front of their house. I remember I had hide in the outhouse. PR In the bathroom. JB Outside, in the outside. There was no bathroom inside house. It was a small structure made out of two by four plywood. I remember hiding. And there was a crack. I guess one of boards was broken, missing, and I remember being able to watch through the crack. Straight view to the front. I was so scared. I wasn't sure what it was. I knew I was scared. I remember going to furthest littlest corner of this outhouse absolutely petrified. I heard a pussy cat murmuring. And I had no idea how this pussy cat got there. And I remember I crawled out on my hands and knees. And I grabbed that pussy cat. I wanted something to hold. There was nobody to make me feel better. Nothing to reassure me that everything would be okay. So I held that pussy cat for dear life. It was so frightening. And that was my existence two years. PR And today, so many years later, you turn on the TV, and there's a documentary and you see Nazis marching down the street. JB I can't stand it. I really can't. I literally curse at them to this day. I curse at them. In French. PR Your father was arrested by the Gestapo. JB Yes he was. PR And he was deported to the East, as they said. To Poland, the killing ground. To Auschwitz. JB Yes. PR The Gestapo came for him in the morning. JB Yes, they came at five o'clock in the morning. On our street the house were attached. Connected by a low brick wall. They woke up the neighbor and ran through the house and climbed over the wall to our house and broke into our house and broke down my parents bedroom door, and they grabbed my father and they threw him in the truck, and the officer grabbed my sister, and my mother said, You can shoot me here. But I'm not leaving my daughter. My sister had a disease. She was the only one of us children at home. They were waiting to put her in a hospital but there was no room. Whatever plans my mother and father had, they couldn't do it. And the officer pulled the blanket off and saw my sister in a caste and that she cannot be moved. He told my mother, We'll be back for you later. And one of the miracles of this horrendous time was that my mother contacted the Catholic hospital and they sent an ambulance for my sister and put her in the isolation ward. PR Your mother's protective instinct towards her daughter, your sister, Augusta was greater than her fear of the Nazi killers. JB Yes. Absolute, absolutely. She was not going to leave her. PR That must have given you strength for the rest of your life to know that your mother was that sort of person. JB She was. With all suffering she did afterward, she was. She really was. She was an incredible lady. PR Your brother Max also was rescued by Christians. JB Yes. He was in a Christian home for boys and he stayed there for the duration of the war and after the war, after the liberation, he found his way home. And my mother was hid, it was prearranged, in a nursing home in the country. My mother got away by not saying she was Jewish. She didn't appear to be Jewish. Most people had the preconceived idea that Jews are dark, olive, dark eyes, hooked noses possibly. My mother was blond, blue eyes, fair. She got a job. It was prearranged that she would be a nurse's assistant or practical nurse in the nursing home. PR Do you remember when, in 1944 once Belgium was liberated by the Allies, when your mother came to get you? JB It was wonderful, wonderful. And then we went to get my sister. And my poor sister had been immobile, in the isolation ward, for two years, so she had difficulty walking again and my poor sister suffered ever since this almost forced immobilization. But that saved her life, being placed in the isolation ward. That saved her life. The Germans, the one place they were afraid to go was the isolation ward. The nuns knew that. They knew she was Jewish. That's where they hid her. They wouldn't go in isolation ward. One place they refused to go. They were afraid of the isolation ward. PR They were afraid of disease. JB Right. Exactly. PR You were also united with Max, your brother. JB Yes, he came back. My brother was twelve years my senior and he really began to have a life. He got married young. PR There were those agonizing weeks and months of waiting. JB We were waiting for father. And we waited and we waited. There appear to be groups came home at certain times. Whether all prisoners, whether soldiers coming home, and I remember waiting outside. With my mother and sister, we were waiting, and I guess it was three months after we were home we found out that father had been exterminated at Auschwitz. PR Your mother told you he was not coming home. JB Yes. I was much older when I realized he was not coming. PR When was that? JB 1986. I was already living in New Orleans. I was a mother. I had six children. And I still had fantasies that my father was alive. I know it was irrational. But I still believed that I would be driving through City Park or walking down the street and he would be alive. He somehow knew that I lived here. PR You had never been to his cemetery, never seen his grave. JB Right, never. PR But then? JB Then, in 1986 I believe, there was gathering of survivors in Philadelphia and a nice group from New Orleans went. My sister and brother-in-law went and the gathering was in some sort of auditorium and you went down steps and there was this great big hall and there was, I guess, a makeshift stage and people would walk up to the stage in tears and say, I am survivor. I lived in this place. They were mostly Polish survivors. Some were French. They would say, Does anybody here know of anybody? It was the most heart wrenching thing. Unbelievable. And my sister, brother-in-law and I walked around, and we came to a big long table and on this table were books and in the books were written deportation dates. The Germans, the bastards, were so meticulous in record keeping. They had actually written down every Jew who was deported. Every city in that country. And they had my father's name, and they had columns: the deportees name, when taken, and when they were set free. There was another column and next to my father there was the date taken but there was no date set free. I realized my father really was dead. But I was grown woman. Imagine? All that time. That was the first time that I really said, Okay, my father is dead and they did this. They did this. PR It wasn't one person. JB No. Oh no. It was the Nazis, it was the people who hate Jews, Belgians, it was Polish, Hungarians. It's not one man. He couldn't have done this by himself. He's not the one who came to take my father. He's not the one who gassed him. It's not just him. It's all the others. PR Ordinary people. JB Yeah. I think so. Absolutely they are ordinary people. PR How do you feel towards the Germans today? JB I can't forgive. No way. It's not in me. There is no way I can forgive. PR And today when you watch the evening news and you see human vultures at work in Yugoslavia, and you hear friends say, Why should we get involved? JB How could they possibly doubt the importance of us getting involved in anything that saved other human beings? How people have not learned. I can't comprehend. It's very difficult for me to understand how it's impossible for people to live with someone who believes something else. I cannot understand that. Why does it continually have to be that way? And it is. PR After the war, you didn't observe religion for a long time. JB No, I didn't. When I came to America, I was twelve. I attended a synagogue on the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, and I went to a Yiddish school in Belgium. I never denied. I was Jewish. I just didn't believe. PR Because? JB How can God allow this? How can God allow what happened to my father or what had happened six million people? So many of them. One and a half million were children. And I could have been one of them. If it hadn't been for this wonderful women. How can I believe in a God who allows this to happen? And after a while, I guess, I began to realize that maybe there was a reason. I can't figure what the reason is. Usually there's a reason. PR For your survival. JB For my survival. For why God allowed this to happen. I still don't know why. I don't think it's God. I think's people. A maniac who started this hatred and he just fueled what already was there. That's not God. That's man. People. People. PR And now you speak out. You speak to young people. JB Because I think that's why I survived. Survivors have to go through a guilt process, I guess. I used to ask myself: why did I live? Why wasn't I taken with my father? This is why: this can never be forgotten. You have to realize, I'm a young survivor. In the New Orleans there's a Club of New Americans made up of survivors. I'm the baby of that club. When I go, it's up to these young people that I speak to, to remember what happened, the Holocaust. They must never forget. I speak to them so they'll understand. It's true. It did happen. So many people now are saying it never happened. I believe that's why I do this. This is something that has to be told. PR You have a beautiful photo of you and father. JB Yes, it's the only one. PR You're standing beside him. JB As a little girl in the street. That's all I have. - END -

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16y ago
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14y ago

She hid from 1942 until 1944. She was in hiding from the time she was three until the time she was five.

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11y ago

Yes, Jeannine Burk is now working as a secretary with six children and married.

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10y ago

she survived cause god survived her

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15y ago

in the U.S.

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Q: Where did Jeannine Burk live during the Holocaust?
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You can probably get photos from the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum or they will know where you can get them. See the related link below to contact them.

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