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Mon April 12, 2010
Holocaust victims remembered at Providence service
By Flo Jonic
Providence, RI – His letters to his parents during the six months he spent there form the basis of "Hidden Letters," a book written by his first cousin, Deborah Slier, who spoke at Providence's annual Holocaust Remembrance event a the Temple Emnauel yesterday.
"It is important to stand up and be counted," she said. "It is important to help your neighbor."
Flip's letters were found in 1997 during the demolition of his parents' apartment in Amsterdam. When he arrived at the Molengoot work camp, the teen was optimistic, or at least trying to appear so. His first letter and a few others were read aloud yesterday.
"Dear Father and Mother," one letter read. "Have arrived in the camp-- fairly comfortable, reasonable bed, three blankets, good atmosphere, decent people."
But there was never enough to eat.
"Fond regards and a kiss from Flip," he wrote. "If you have any food, send it. There are eight of us in one room."
Flip was the only child of Seline and Eliazar Slier. His father was a newspaper typesetter. They must have been very close because Flip wrote nearly every day and always signed his letters "A big kiss from Flip."
His parents had not been arrested but they would be. A few months after Flip was deported to the Sobibor death camp in Poland, where he died, his parents were sent there and perished as well.
Flip's last letters home in September 1942 were filled with dread. By this time, the strong, tanned young man with the big round glasses knew Jews were being gassed by the tens of thousands.
"I read that Pa has already prepared several things but that Ma does not wish to do so," he wrote. "Well, that's stupid. You must get everything ready. You know they can come and get you anytime."
Deborah Slier says she knew of her cousin but had never met him because she lived in South Africa. As she read the letters, she says she was touched by his thoughtfulness and consideration for his parents.
"The sweetness of the boy," she said. "He writes home every day. I don't think any of my kids would do that, and he's so concerned about his parents. And when some old people are sent to the camp he says, Some oldies arrived. They can't dig. Tomorrow, we will dig for them.' He's just a sweet boy."
Flip was one of six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. He was remembered yesterday, along with 600 others with connections to Rhode Island who also perished at the hands of the Nazis, and whose names were read aloud at yesterday's service.