“My family definitely lucked out….  Surviving … takes a combination of two things.  Number one is luck….  But, the other thing is awareness.  You have to be alert and aware of what the possibilities are.”

Laureen Nussbaum, nee Hannelore Klein, was born in Frankfurt, Germany on August 3, 1927.  Her Jewish father was a financial expert for a large metal firm, and contracted tuberculosis while fighting for Germany during World War I.  Her mother was partially Jewish and born out of wedlock. This ambiguity is what eventually protected her family, including Laureen and her two sisters, during the Holocaust. 

Due to escalating antisemitism, the family fled Frankfurt in April 1936 to Amsterdam.  In the relatively affluent River Quarter there, the Kleins lived among many other German Jewish refugees, including Anne Frank and her family, as well as Laureen’s future husband, Rudi Nussbaum and his family.  The energetic Laureen adapted easily to a new language and culture, believing with her family that their stay in the Netherlands would be temporary.  Laureen came to know Anne Frank, whom she considered quick-witted and lively, and even a little "annoying." Laureen was closer to Anne's sister Margot. Laureen was the stage director in a play in which Anne acted. 

After Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940, restrictions upon Jews increased, including being forced to wear yellow stars in May 1942.  These culminated with “labor call-ups,” forcing many – including the Frank family – to go into hiding, and deportations.  Thanks to the rescue efforts of German official Hans Calmeyer, Laureen’s mother was declared “non-Jewish” in January 1943, permitting she and her daughters to “shed” their yellow stars and live among Dutch non-Jews.  This, after having witnessed so many of their Jewish friends and classmates deported, while a few went into hiding.  Laureen’s father somehow evaded forced labor orders because his tuberculosis was thought to still be contagious.  During the war, Laureen helped care for, and deliver supplies to Jews in hiding, including Rudi, whom she would marry in 1947.  Otto Frank, Anne’s father, officiated their wedding as “best man.”

Laureen and Rudi left the Netherlands in 1947, ultimately settling in Portland, Oregon.  Laureen earned a degree from the University of Washington and a doctorate in Foreign Languages and Literature from Portland State University.  She has written several published works concerning Anne Frank, and most recently, Shedding Our Stars:  The Story of Hans Calmeyer and How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine.  Laureen currently resides in Seattle to live closer to her three children.

More About This Survivor:

Transcripts for Videoclips - Laureen Nussbaum

Full Testimony - Laureen Nussbaum (2017, 2:36:25)

Full Testimony transcripts

"Advice for teens today" (0:21)

Laureen Lunch and Learn (July, 2020)