Flinker, Moshe (Zev)

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FLINKER, Moshe (Zev)

Nationality: Dutch. Born: The Hague, 9 October 1926. Died: Murdered, Auschwitz, 1944.



Hana'ar Moshe: Yoman shel Moshe Flinker. 1958; as Young Moshe's Diary: The Spiritual Torment of a Jewish Boy in Nazi Europe, 1971.

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Born in The Hague on 9 October 1926, Moshe Zev Flinker was known to be a bright student both at the public school he attended and in the Jewish studies he pursued with a private tutor. He had a particular facility with languages—he studied eight foreign tongues—and soon mastered Hebrew, the language in which he kept a diary. His studies came to an end, however, when Holland surrendered to the German juggernaut on 15 May 1940. The occupying forces quickly implemented the anti-Semitic policies that had forced the German Jews out of any "legitimate" presence in life. Compelled to wear the yellow star, Jewish professionals such as doctors and lawyers could have only Jewish patients and clients, a point that was soon meaningless since all Jews had to deposit their money in a German bank.

On 14 July 1942, the Nazis began rounding up Jews and sending them to Westerbork for deportation to Auschwitz. As the deportations were getting under way, the boy's father, Eliezer Flinker, a Polish-born businessman, moved the family from German-occupied Holland to German-occupied Belgium. A wealthy man, Flinker managed to hide enough money to enable his family to make their escape. Thus, in the summer of 1942 he, his wife, and their five daughters and two sons settled in Brussels. He obtained a so-called Aryan permit to move into an apartment, and he successfully bribed his way into having the permit extended several times.

Meanwhile, the young boy followed the news of the war and prepared himself for an eventual future in the Jewish state that he believed was about to be reborn. He began studying Arabic, for example, so that one day he could become a diplomat for peace in the new land. He and his family remained relatively safe until 7 April 1944, the eve of Passover. On that day, as the household was preparing for the Passover seder, a Jewish informer led local Gestapo agents to the Flinkers' apartment. Since the Flinker family was orthodox in its lifestyle, with matzos stacked on the seder table and kosher meat in the kitchen, they were not able to hide from the Germans the fact that they were Jews. The entire family was arrested that evening and sent to Auschwitz.

Although Moshe Flinker's five sisters and younger brother survived, he and his parents were murdered. After the war came to an end, his sisters returned to the apartment where the family had lived in Brussels. In the basement of the apartment building they found three notebooks in which their brother had kept his diary. From those notebooks Hana'ar Moshe: Yoman shel Moshe Flinker was published in 1958; the English translation, Young Moshe's Diary, appeared in 1971. His diary demonstrates that during the war the teenager was keenly aware of what was taking place. Not only did he know about the systematic deportation of the Jews to the east but he also knew the murderous aim of the deportation. The diary also demonstrates a deeply rooted identification with the Jews and a profound sense of the historical import of the events transpiring around him. Indeed, he saw in the Holocaust an event of biblical significance to the Jews and to the world, something that would bring the world to the threshold of the messianic age. As for Moshe Flinker it brought him only to the threshold of a gas chamber.

—David Patterson

See the essay on Young Moshe's Diary.