Miss Katz


The other day I went to my grandson’s kindergarten graduation. The graduates’ performed songs, obviously well-rehearsed, with great enthusiasm. And the teacher, a very attractive woman sporting a sexy dress, spoke lovingly. 

I have no memory of such nice, loving kindergarten teachers except one: Miss Katz. She started working at the kindergarten of the then-named Sixth Montessori School (later named the Anne Frank School since Frank had been a student there, but no one knew about her at the time) in Amsterdam after I had been there for about a year. 

Miss Katz was sweeter and kinder than the other teachers. She always had a smile on her face — at least that is what I, seventy years later, remember. And she had numbers tattooed on the inside of her forearm. 

The other kids were curious to know what those numbers meant. She wouldn’t answer their inquiries, though. She’d just smile. 

I am not sure how it happened; maybe she once challenged them to guess where the numbers came from. I raised my finger and said I knew. She asked me to approach and whisper in her ear what I knew. I told her “it means you were in a camp.” She nodded, and it was our little secret. I knew what it meant because my mother’s close friend, who had been a prisoner at a concentration camp, had a similar tattoo. 

Miss Katz announced one day that she was getting married and wouldn’t be our teacher any more. Not long afterwards she appeared in front of the school. Smiling, dressed in a flowered dress, she stood arm in arm with a young man. She was showing him where she had worked. 

I hope he treated her well.

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Jeanine Lopes Dias grew up in post-World War II Amsterdam. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California. She can be reached at JeanineLopesDias@gmail.com