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Flora Bader.Flora Bader.
Flora Bader

Name: Flora van Brink Hony Bader (nee Melkman) (1919 – 1997)

Birth Place: Amsterdam, Holland

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1954, Milwaukee

No human being can fully comprehend what was done to us.

Flora Bader

Map of survivor's journey in Europe.

Biography

Flora van Brink Hony Bader (nee Melkman) was born in Amsterdam, Holland, on June 20, 1919. She was the oldest daughter in a well-to-do Dutch family. When the Germans occupied Holland in May 1940, the Melkmans witnessed increasingly anti-Jewish legislation.

In January 1943, the family realized it was only a matter of time before they would become victims of the Nazis. The 24-year-old Flora and her husband of two years, Israel van Brink, went into hiding with Flora's sister. Both Israel and Flora's sister were betrayed by Dutch Nazis, arrested, and eventually killed. Flora took refuge in the home of a Dutch Underground member. After the member was betrayed and deported, Flora moved through the homes of several Dutch Underground members until the Allied liberation in May 1945.

After the war, Flora was the only survivor in her family. She joined her mother-in-law in Amsterdam and they took many survivors into their home. One of those was Josef Hony, who had survived Auschwitz. The two married in 1946. In 1954 they immigrated to the U.S. with their only child and settled in Milwaukee. Both Flora and Josef worked at Gimbels department store. After Josef's death in 1967, Flora married Aron Bader in 1968. He died in 1979. Flora died in September 1997.

Audio and Transcript Information

Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions


Listen to Flora's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Family background and history of Jews in Holland
  • Happy childhood, summers at the ocean
  • Recollections of siblings and mother
  • Family's religious life
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 1, Side 2
  • Childhood and school years in Amsterdam
  • Cultural activities and childhood friends
  • Anti-Semitism increases during the 1930s
  • Volunteer work during teen years
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 2, Side 1
  • Refugees and Zionist activities in Holland
  • Dutch reaction to German aggression
  • Outbreak of war, 1939
  • News of early concentration camps reaches Amsterdam
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 2, Side 2
  • Marriage to Israel Van Brink, 1940
  • Anti-Jewish measures, Jews must close businesses
  • Terror raids (razzias) and the dockworkers' strike of 1941
  • Husband avoids deportation, thoughts of escape
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 3, Side 1
  • Jews herded into a single Amsterdam neighborhood
  • Razzias and deportations, March 1943
  • Abduction of family members
  • Flora and her husband go into hiding
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 3, Side 2
  • Hiding with underground leader Anthonie Vingerhoed
  • Radio Orange provides news of death camps
  • Poverty at war's end, D-Day, arrival of Americans
  • Holocaust experience of second husband, Josef Hony
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 4, Side 1
  • Role of Amsterdam's Jewish council early in the war
  • News from labor camps
  • Incident with German soldier who felt he was a victim
  • Decision to go into hiding, fears and reservations
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 4, Side 2
  • Hiding with Bergsma family
  • Hiding with Vingerhoed, Dutch underground resistance
  • D-Day 1944
  • Leaving hiding place to see her mother
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 11.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 5, Side 1
  • Husband and sister arrested
  • Flora escapes arrest
  • Finding refuge with Vingerhoed
  • Life in hiding
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.5 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 5, Side 2
  • Involvement with Dutch underground and resistance
  • Wartime effects on health, eating tulip bulbs
  • Hitler's suicide
  • Freedom fighters Rob De Vries and Tom Van Druyten
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 6, Side 1
  • Underground members caught by Germans, tortured and executed
  • Flora carries coded messages to printer
  • Joy of liberation eclipsed by deaths of family members
  • Emaciated survivors in Amsterdam
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 6, Side 2
  • Amsterdam after the war
  • Flora takes over confiscated home of Dutch traitor
  • Second husband Josef Hony
  • Postwar business and emotional difficulties
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.7 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 7, Side 1
  • Immigrating to Milwaukee in 1954, learning English
  • Financing the trip, weathering storms at sea, New York experiences
  • Moving into black neighborhood to counter racial hatred
  • Working conditions at Gimbels department store
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.2 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 7, Side 2
  • Jewish Family and Children Service, New Home Club
  • Second husband's death
  • Visit to Holland with daughter
  • Courted by Aron Bader
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 8, Side 1
  • Flora's religious practices in Wisconsin
  • Psychological scars from her Holocaust experiences
  • Family and friends
  • Relations with American-born Jews, anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 8, Side 2
  • Flora's intellectual and social life in Wisconsin
  • Thoughts on dramatizations of the Holocaust, the need to speak out
  • Family and travels
  • Reflections on Jews in the U.S., American Nazi marches, prejudice
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.6 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)
Tape 9, Side 1
  • American culture and politics
  • Thoughts on new refugees, anti-Semitism, and Israel
  • Germany and present day Germans
  • The pain of talking about her experience
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 698 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by archivist Jean Loeb Lettofsky during two sessions at Flora's home in Milwaukee, on November 17 and 18, 1980. The sessions lasted two and one-half hours and six hours respectively.

    Over the course of the conversations, Flora described her years in hiding several times, each time adding new details or clarifying others. The interview is somewhat complicated to follow because Flora circles back to the same topics multiple times, hours apart.


Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Nov 17, 1980; Nov 18, 1980
  • Interview Location: Bader home, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Jean Loeb Lettofsky
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 9 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 8.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 153 pages
  • Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.

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