"Hidden Letters is a profoundly compassionate report on the tragedy that befell a young Dutch Jew and his extended family during the Holocaust. It is also a thoroughly documented scientific analysis of how and why young Philip Slier and so many other innocents were destroyed by the German Nazis and their local helpers.
"We bear witness to the process of destruction as slow and methodical, starting with the exclusion of Jews in German-occupied Netherlands from work and school (which made them eligible for a work camp) all the way to their concentration in Westerbork, the dreaded Dutch transit camps. From there, the road led directly to Auschwitz or to one of the death camps. Philip Slier, an attractive and intelligent young man, tried to escape his fate but had no luck. He left behind an extraordinary legacy, however, in the letters that he wrote to his parents almost daily from the work camp which were found accidentally more than fifty years later during the demolition of an old tenement building in Amsterdam.
"This collection, carefully studied by Deborah Slier (a close relative of Philip Slier) and her husband, constitutes one of most valuable contemporary sources on Jewish life, and on Dutch life in general, during the war. It shows, as similarly honest documents show everywhere, that the behavior of the non-Jewish Europeans toward the victims of the Holocaust, ranged all the way from the abominable to the self-sacrificing and the heroic. The death or survival of the majority of Jews was, however, not a decision of the denunciators or of those who hid Jews, but that of the German Nazis and the local authorities. It was also the consequence of the fortunes of war. In this respect, the Dutch Jews were not among the luckier ones.
"The two authors completed precise research on life in occupied Netherlands, on the Holocaust, the revolt in Sobibor, and the history of the Slier family. The translations are excellent as are the many photographs and maps. In brief, like the Diary of Anne Frank, this is masterpiece."
- István Deák,
Professor Emeritus of History, Columbia University