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Daring to Resist


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Dutch food-lines during the Hunger Winter
Dutch line up for food during the Hunger Winter of 1944-45.

barbara ledermann rodbell
The War Years
Barbara and Manfred, along with his sister Magda, rented rooms in the home of a German and hid Jews in the house, thus carrying out resistance work literally in the home of the enemy.

Barbara risked being recognized as a non-Jew in a city where many people knew her real identity. The danger increased when she began performing with the famous ballerina Yvonne Georgi, who was rumored to be a friend of Hitler and whose ballet audiences were full of German officers. Despite the danger, she used her position as a dancer and papers that allowed her to be out after curfew, to help transfer Jews from one hiding place to another.

 


"If somebody would stop you, you could show the papers and a big smile, with the makeup still on, and it worked. I know I was scared and worried about it, but it never stopped me."


In an ironic twist, Barbara's friends, never suspecting that she was using her position in the ballet for resistance efforts, and fearful that it was too dangerous for Barbara to dance in public, went to Yvonne Georgi and revealed Barbara's true identity. Georgi asked Barbara to leave the ballet, but never betrayed her to the Germans. Barbara didn't learn the real reason for her dismissal until years later.

In addition to transferring Jews in peril, Barbara was able to procure food without being suspected of harboring Jews. She and her friend Magda delivered illegal underground newspapers so that Dutch Jews would know what was really happening in the war. They put the newspapers in baskets, covered them with lettuce and tomatoes, and were told to drop them at various doorsteps. Barbara and her fellow resisters knew very little about one another’s specific activities. That way, anyone who was caught would not be able to reveal information that could harm others.

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