Doris was born October 28, 1937 in Amsterdam, Holland. Her parents, Siegfried and Helene, had left their home in Frankfurt, Germany, three years earlier to escape persecution by the Nazis. Prior to that, Doris's father was an accountant working in the German courts, and her mother was the owner of a small mail order business. Doris's father lost his job in 1933 simply because he was Jewish. Realizing that things would only get worse, Siegfried and Helene decided to cross the border into Holland.
Holland accepted many refugees from Germany, and the Jews there enjoyed equal rights. But in 1940, the Nazis invaded the tiny country and immediately began persecuting its Jews. Fearing that the Germans would arrest them, Doris's parents began looking for someone to shelter their daughter. Knowing that they might never see Doris again, Siegfried and Helene tried to prepare their daughter for the separation by distancing themselves from her emotionally. With untold pain in their hearts, they stopped hugging and holding her. Doris was only three years old at the time.
With the help of the Dutch resistance, Doris's parents were able to place their child with a childless Dutch couple. Then they went into hiding. On Friday, August 25, 1944, the Gestapo located their hiding place and arrested them. Less than a month later, they were sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Doris's father was murdered there, but her mother was transferred to a slave-labor camp in Czechoslovakia. Doris's mother miraculously survived the Holocaust.
With the defeat of Nazi Germany and her liberation, Helene now began her trek back to Holland. Deathly ill and weighing only 70 pounds, she kept herself alive by hoping that the Germans had not found her little girl. When Helene finally located her daughter, Doris, now eight, she did not even recognize her mother.