From summer 1941 onwards, the German authorities discuss with the Jewish Council opening up labour camps in the Netherlands for unemployed Jews. Most of these unemployed Jews are jobless exactly because of the antisemitic laws the Germans put into place. On 5 January, the Jewish Council is informed that they are expected to supply 1.402 Jews for transport to labour camps within five days. The Jewish Council protests, but nonetheless passes the order on to the Amsterdam Labour Office, who selects the Jews based on their age and ability to work.
The Jewish Council informs the selected people that “serious measures against you will be taken in the event of non-compliance” and “we strongly advise you to cooperate in your own interest.”
905 Jews respond to the call, and are transported to a labour camp in Drenthe. This marks the first of a number of transports to labour camps. Throughout this process, the Jewish Council becomes increasingly complicit to the German demands.
Around the same time, Alex's father Jules starts trying to find a way to leave the Netherlands. On Alex’s school report his teacher writes that he is missing a lot, possibly because of Jules' plans to leave with his family.
While Jules tries to find an escape route, a fatal and far-reaching event takes place in Berlin. On 20 January, a group of highranking Nazi officials meet in a Villa at the Wannsee. They discuss the procedures and details of the final solution, the mass murder of all Jews within Nazi Germany’s reach. This event will become known as the Wannsee Conference. Meanwhile, three extermination camps capable of killing thousands of people per day are constructed in absolute secrecy in eastern Poland: Treblinka, Bełżec and Sobibór. By mid 1942, they are operational.
Meanwhile, leaving proves impossible for the Kan Family. Jules starts building a network of helpers and possible places to hide. His profession turns out to be very useful, because through his business operations he knows a lot of people.
At the end of April, the German authorities order another humiliating measure. To further separate the Jews from regular society all Jews from the age of six have to carry the yellow star. The Jewish Council is tasked with distributing the stars within three days, and does so under protest. The Jews have to pay for the stars.
On 22 June, the Germans order the Jews to hand in their Bicycles within 48 hours, adding that they should “not forget their spare tyres and tubes”.
Then, in mid July, the deportations start. At first more or less orderly with lists supplied by the Jewish Council, but then increasingly forceful. German soldiers as well as Dutch police drag Jews from their homes, round them up in the streets, and take them away — sometimes by car, sometimes on foot. Most of them will never return.
It is in these weeks that the Kan family manages to go into hiding. They split up, and Ella, Jules and Alex are all hiding at different places. From the start, multiple people are involved in helping them. They provide hiding places, so-called “guesthouses”, and take care of passing on letters between them. Everyone involved starts using aliases and abbreviations to conceal locations and identities.