Isaac and Ida (née Yacoel) Angel lived in Thessaloniki, surrounded by their families. Isaac owned a paper goods factory. They had two sons, Raymond Solomon (b. 1930) and Eric-Errico (b. 1935). In November 1940, the Angels moved to Athens. "We thought that it would be easier to spend the war years in Athens," explained Ida in the testimony she gave in Athens in 1959, which was later used in the preparations for the Eichmann trial. "Life in Athens was completely different from life in Thessaloniki… we didn't feel any discrimination between Jews and non-Jews."
On 27 April 1941, the Germans occupied Athens, and the city was included in the Greek territory given over to Italian rule. When Italy surrendered in September 1943, the Germans reclaimed all the Italian-occupied land in Greece, including Athens. In the wake of the German occupation, Isaac and Ida searched for an escape route for themselves and their sons. With the help of Greek friends, Isaac obtained forged ID papers for the family, and they hid in various places. Isaac approached his business colleague Konstantinos Kefalas, later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations, with the request to take in and hide his son Raymond, which Kefalas agreed to do. Isaac himself hid in a suburb of Athens in the home of Eleni Hala, also later recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.
Ida and her younger son hid in another location. Isaac and Ida decided it was safer not to meet. The owner of the apartment where Ida and Eric were staying notified her that they had to leave, because he didn't want to jeopardize himself anymore. Ida found a place for them with one of the secretaries of the Spanish Legation, where she posed as a chambermaid and paid for board and lodging. The secretary loved to entertain, and to hold parties attended by many Germans, and Ida would clean the house. In March 1944, Ida and nine-year-old Eric were arrested by the Gestapo in Athens. Ida relates:
I don't know who betrayed me, but one day, four armed Gestapo men arrived at the apartment with an interpreter. They shouted at me that they knew full well about my Jewish identity, and ordered me to go outside with my child.
Ida was taken to the Gestapo headquarters in Athens, where she was separated from her son, interrogated, beaten viciously and tortured. Her interrogators demanded information about her husband. Even after being beaten with a metal-tipped whip, threatened with a gun and pouring with blood, she didn't give anything away about Isaac. She was thrown into one of the cellars at the headquarters, and Eric was thrown in after her. The following day, they were both transferred to Haidari, a transit camp that also served as a prison. Christian Greeks were incarcerated in Haidari too, and they tried to help the imprisoned Jews, whose rations were extremely meagre, by sharing their food with them. Ida, whose clothes were all soaked in blood, received a dress from a Christian prisoner.
On 24 March 1944, two weeks before Passover, the Jews congregated in the synagogue on Melidini street in Athens, following a rumor that the Gestapo was going to distribute Matzot. Some 350 Jews were caught there, soon joined by their families, bringing the number of detainees to 800. All of them were held in Haidari. On 2 April 1944, these Jews were added to transport no. 20, a deportation of Greek Jews. Among the deportees were nine-year-old Eric Angel and his mother Ida. On 11 April, after nine tortuous days, they reached Auschwitz. On arrival, Ida and Eric were forcibly separated. Eric was sent to the gas chambers, while Ida passed the selection. When Ida was marched into the camp and pointed at the crematoria chimneys, a German SS man told her that they were used for burning garbage.
Following Ida and Eric's arrest, Isaac asked Eleni Hala if she would take in Raymond too, and they both stayed with her until liberation.
Ida was liberated at Bergen Belsen. She relates:
What I saw in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen has faded in my mind. I remained alive thanks to a French sanitation officer. On the day of liberation, the Germans left me in a hut full of corpses. I lay amongst the dead, and I couldn't move, or give a sign of life. He presumably felt that I was still alive, and pulled on my tongue to check. Then they transferred me to a hospital near Hanover.
After she recuperated, Ida returned to Greece, and was reunited with Isaac and Raymond in Athens, where they made their home. Most of their extended family members were murdered in the Holocaust.