Philip Pach was born May 30, 1940 in occupied Amsterdam. While his mother Mina took care of him, his father Leendert worked as a tailor, designing dresses and suits. When the Nazis invaded the Netherlands on May 10 (20 days before Philip’s birth), the Jewish population in Amsterdam, including Philip’s parents, was still somewhat able to continue with their daily lives. However, as the war and the Nazi Party’s Final Solution intensified throughout Europe, more restrictions were placed on the Jews. Nazi-occupied Holland had a curfew at night, and Jews were forced to wear a Star of David on their clothing at all times. Eventually the Nazis began rounding up and deporting Jewish men, women, and children from Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands to various concentration camps located throughout Europe.
In mid-1942, it became apparent that it was only a matter of time before Philip and his parents would be caught and deported in the increasing number of razzias (round ups). His parents tried to find a hiding place for the family and also made plans to hide Philip (only two and a half years old). Philip’s parents had prepared a plan where they would hand him off to a non-Jewish neighbor, who then hid him in a coal bin. Shortly after making arrangements for Philip, they were deported to a transit camp and then herded onto rail cars and moved to various concentration camps. The neighbor who was caring for Philip was terrified because the razzias were coming closer. When the search party came into the house, they investigated the coal bin using their bayonets to stab through the coal to see if there was anyone hidden. Fortunately Philip was not discovered.