3. Marie Jalowicz Simon
Sometimes the best way to hide from an enemy is to hide in plain sight. In 1933, the Berufsverbot law passed that forbade Jews and the political enemies of Nazis from seeking specific jobs and holding certain posts. Over the years, the climate became even more hostile to the Jews, with almost all of them being deported or killed. Marie Jalowicz Simon didn’t know how easy it would be to go into hiding, but coming back from her new identity proved to be even harder.
By 1941, Marie was working as a laborer in the Siemens factory in Berlin. When her employer mailed her a letter, she told the mailman that Nazi officers had deported her “neighbor” Marie. The mailman wrote down that Marie had “moved to an unknown destination in the east,” the standard marker for deported Jews at the time. This allowed Marie to slip into hiding under a false name. She stopped wearing her Star of David, the label that all Jews were required to wear, and began to live a life in hiding.
Marie moved from house to house, never staying in one place for very long out of fear of discovery. She remembered living in thirteen different places in Berlin during the war. Many of her roommates were Nazis themselves, which shows how easy it was for her to wear her new identity. She lived in hiding for so long that after the war, Simon struggled to return to the identity she had before. She became known as a “U-boat,” one of less than 2,000 Jews who hid in plain sight during the war.
Simon became a professor in art history and ancient literature at Humboldt University in Berlin, and for years, she never told her story. Her son, the historian Hermann Simon, recorded his interviews with her before her death in 1998 in which she finally documented her life in hiding. Sixteen years after her death, her son published a memoir of her experiences based on the interviews, Underground in Berlin: A Young Woman’s Extraordinary Tale of Survival in the Heart of Nazi Germany.