Persons, places and things: Holocaust ‘hidden child’ survivor still misses his parents


By Barb Arland-Fye


Listening to Holocaust survivor Joe Koek recall the day he, as a 12-year-old, last saw his parents, made my heart ache for him. Even though he’s now 83, I could hear the child inside of him crying out for the mom and dad he didn’t get to hug and kiss goodbye.
Koek shared the haunting memory during Yom Hashoah, a Holocaust Remembrance, on April 7 at Temple Emanuel in Davenport.
Born in The Hague in 1930, he remembered a blissful early childhood as the middle child of parents who loved him and his two sisters dearly. But in 1940 everything changed with the German invasion of the Netherlands. Koek had to wear a yellow star on his clothing that marked him as a Jew. His father, a tailor, would cover his own yellow star with customers’ fabrics. Their lives became more and more restricted. In August 1942 the family received a letter with instructions to report to a train station.

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