Anna’s silent struggle: deaf in war

Project realisation:

Willy Lindwer, AVA Productions BV


Time frame: 1925-2008


Location: Auschwitz


Number of interviews: 10




Little has been published about the history of the deaf. Almost nothing is known about the experiences of deaf Jewish Dutch people during the years of German occupation. In this oral history project, deaf people who barely survived the war are interviewed. Because the deaf are also verbally handicapped, an interpreter for Dutch Sign Language was used to record their special and previously unrecorded wartime experiences. The interviews reveal, among other things, that for the deaf in the concentration camps it was of vital importance that they managed to keep their handicap hidden from the Germans. 


Director Willy Lindwer interviewed the deaf woman ‘Anna’, who survived Auschwitz in an extraordinary way and with the help of others, about her experiences. Of course, the help of a sign language interpreter was called in.


The Stichting DovenShoa from Amsterdam is closely involved in the project.

Witnesses to the history of Anne Frank



Project realisation:

Anne Frank Stichting ©


number of interviews: 18


Thematical collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog


Anne Frank’s diary and the letters she wrote to her family and friends before she went into hiding contain people and events about whom there are hardly any written sources and about whom little is known. There are also many gaps in our knowledge of the other people in hiding and their helpers. Thanks to the testimony of 18 people who knew these hitherto unknown figures in Anne Frank’s environment, our understanding of her social environment is enhanced.


Like the Frank family, a number of the witnesses interviewed in this oral history project came from Germany. Their children also went to the Montessori school, the Municipal Lyceum for Girls or the Jewish Lyceum and were in Anne and Margot’s class. One of the ‘witnesses’, a girl next door to the Frank family who lived at Merwedeplein at the time, tells her story about Anne. Another interviewee is a woman who was transported in the same train carriage as the Frank family from Westerbork to Auschwitz. In the camp she stayed with Anne, Edith, Margot and Augusta van Pels in the same barracks.

Annes vriendin, Hannah Pick-Goslar, bij een klassenfoto van de Montessorischool (2015) Fotocollectie: Anne Frank Stichting, Amsterdam / foto: Cris Toala Olivares