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Pieter (Peter) Kohnstam
Transcript of Pieter (Peter) Kohnstam
Nazi‘s conducted a search for Jewish occupants living in homes located in Amsterdam.
A dark motorcycle as well as two German cars pulled up in front of their house. While Pieter’s mother quickly answered the door to a Nazi Gestapo and soldier saying ‘‘open up, or we will break the door down!’’ Clara quickly slipped a note containing phone numbers and family names in Pieter’s pocket.
The soldiers threatened the family and warranted a deportation.
Morning was spent sewing cash, large bank notes, and jewelry in the shoulder pads of coats and blouses. Pieter had obtained two backpacks (the type hikers’ use) to store two days worth of food inside them. Gerda had forged travel permits and identity cards for Pieter, Gerda herself, and Clara.
Gerda ordered the driver to safely take the Kohnstam family across the Belgian boarder. Emotions and tears flew down the faces of the Kohnstam family, as they knew that they were now safe. Pieter asked, “How can we ever repay this nice lady?” And that was asked throughout the car ride. Tears of sadness arose when leaving Gerda, an amazing friend who risked her life, for the Kohnstam family. Tears of joy arose when the family was finally on their way to the Belgian boarder, to cross their path to freedom.
Pieter Kohnstam was born in 1936. He lived in a small home in Amsterdam with his mother Clara and his grandmother Ruth. Peter was confused of all the was happening when the
occupation was going on. In 1942 Pieter and his family were intruded by Nazi soldiers and
requested to leave their home. Pieter was very unaware of all the Germans had done, because
he was a very young boy. When an action plan to escape had been laid out, it was time for the
Kohnstam family to react, and pick their path to survival.
Pieter (Peter) Kohnstam was a brave, quiet, innocent boy who had to leave his house,
belongings, family, and friends to embark on a near death journey to freedom, which made a
memorable story to tell.
They first made it to Gerda’s salon and quickly removed the Stars of
David in the back room to not arouse suspicion, it was a difficult process, but it was key for their
survival. Gerda made an excuse if ever needed, that Pieter was Gerda’s son and she was the
fashion designer, and Ruth was a model, and that they were on their way to Maastricht for
fashion show. Pieter was ordered to stay quiet and deny knowing his mother when the time came
on the train. The Kohnstam family all agreed on a meeting place if separated. After they left the
and they boarded the train. Gerda saw a familiar face, and the person winked to let them know
they were safe on the train.
Pieter was the quiet little boy on the train who kept his mouth shut. The train mostly
consisted of Dutch workers heading home for the day. Pieter and Gerda were sitting two isles ahead of Ruth. Pieter was very determined and serious, but also content, and sad. The
innocence of a young boy having to leave his home and flee to freedom was saddening to any human. The Kohnstam family agreed that if stopped by any soldiers, they would deny eye contact, or knowledge of any family members. Pieter did look at Ruth a few times, but she tuned around quickly avoiding it, so she would not arouse suspicion. It hurt her and Pieter both, to pretend to not know each other for the duration of the ride. The soldiers patrolled the isles of the train and the nerves of Gerda, when asked to show her papers, were extremely tense. Fortunately, the forged ID cards worked, and a wave of relief was flowing throughout Gerda’s body. The train reached finally reached Maastricht, and the sun was quickly setting. Nighttime would soon be approaching. Ruth ran up and gave her son Pieter a very tight hug; he hugged back to show the “extra” love. After leaving the station the managing director of Gerda’s salon was waiting with a car for the Kohnstam family. Gerda was asked to talk in private with him. The conversation was about “safety” and “risk” from what Pieter heard. Eventually both Gerda and the managing director went silent. Finally it was time to leave, which meant leaving Gerda to.