Yvonne Aronson was born in Brussels, Belgium on April 5, 1939. She and her mother went into hiding in a convent in 1942, just after her father was deported to a camp in Germany.
In the convent, Yvonne’s mother was hidden as a young Initiate of the church. Her mother was allergic to incense and would pass out, so they placed her in charge of the children. Although there were many donations of food for the children, little actually was given to them since the Mother Superior was keeping the food. Yvonne’s mother asked the Mother Superior to provide more food for the children and, when the request was refused, Yvonne’s mother was able to take her back to their apartment in the city.
Later in 1942, Yvonne’s mother fell ill and found a pharmacist and his wife who took in her 3-year-old daughter. Yvonne spent each day alone, sitting on a wooden chair in the cellar of the pharmacy with her one doll. She remembers watching the feet pass by the window. The pharmacist’s wife brought her three meals each day and, in the evening, would bring her upstairs to the store so she could walk around a bit.
Her mother found another family, a widow with an adult son who took her in. She lived with this family for three years. She could not play with other children as they were scared that she would say something about her parents. She had five books so she taught herself to read and she read those books over and over. Her mother came to visit every Sunday. Tragically her mother was deported and murdered a month before the war ended. Yvonne remembers her mother as very courageous.
Yvonne had relatives in the US, which HIAS located; she came to the US in March 24, 1947. She married on November 8, 1959. She has two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.
Her message to the world is: “You have to find a way to cope and survive. There is inner strength in all of us, tap into it!’ “My mother was amazing.”