OCEAN ISLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — A woman who hid from Nazis at just 4-years-old shared her story in the Cape Fear area Tuesday night and it was a story about more than just survival.
Renee Fink, originally from the Netherlands, now lives in North Carolina. Fink presented “Out of Hiding (at last!),” her personal experience of hiding from the events of the Holocaust at the Museum of Coastal Carolina in Ocean Isle Beach.
“I am a child survivor, that’s what we are called ‘hidden children,'” Fink said.
Fink is hidden no more, sharing her story to anyone who will listen.
“The Holocaust has to be remembered so that we can at least arm ourselves with knowledge,” Fink said.
Fink’s story is a familiar one, by the end of World War II, six million Jews were dead and as many as 1.5 million of them were children. For those who survived, many did so in hiding with help.
“Everyone has a story but I think a larger message has to come from out of the fact that I survived. And that people were willing to risk their lives for that,” Fink said.
At 4-years-old Fink was separated from her parents, who she would never see again, and taken in by two strangers who already had 8 children of their own. Strangers she grew close to, known as Momma and Poppa.
“All ten did this at the risk of their lives, to harbor one Jew,” Fink said.
Sentiments that moved dozens to tears.
“They had no choice, they had to do something it was the only right thing to do. And for them it was that simple,” Fink said.
A simple choice for Momma and Poppa, but a hard one for Fink’s grandmother. Fink’s grandmother knew where she was, but was in hiding so she could not get fink until 1945 when the war was ending.
“One winter she walked two nights,” Fink said. “Because Jewish people were not free and you could be picked up, killed on the spot, or taken to the camps. So she walked in the dark of night and hid in the day time and it took her two days and two nights, and she came on my birthday in December.”
Out of Fink’s entire family only she, her aunt and grandmother lived. Now her message to others is one of survival and one of remembrance.
“We have to speak up, speak out and protect what is this wonderful democracy and make sure that we keep it in tact,” Fink said.
Fink and her grandmother left Europe on a boat to America in 1948, but unfortunately due to money they were split up again. Fink was then adopted into another family and lived in the Adirondack Mountains in New York.
To this day Fink still keeps in touch with the three living members of the family who saved her.