Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alfred Lessing - January 26, 1993

Staying with a Catholic Woman

Okay, let's go back to Tilburg.

Back to Tilburg. Okay, in Tilburg, uh, I was living in this boarding house, I was Catholic, I kind of liked this old lady, she was kind of nice to me, obviously, relationships were very limited because of this tremendous secret, but on the other hand, I was a little boy, and a lady was nice to me, you know, I would get some nurture from it. We would, I would go to church with her, and we would take walks. I remember one walk in particular, and you'll understand in a minute why I remember the walk, it happened to be a pretty day, and we wandered around Tilburg and we came to this pretty place where there was sort of a river and a bridge over it and on the other side was this beautiful modern spread out building, and I said, "what is that?" and she said, "that's the new hospital." And I said, "boy, it's beautiful, wish I could see it on the inside." Which I did, shortly thereafter, because I became extremely ill again, this time with pneumonia. Again, I nearly died. Uh, my mother as I have said several times, would appear out of nowhere, later I found out that she did this pretty intuitively, my father said she would wake up one morning and say, "I've got to go see Fred." And he would say, "no, don't, it's dangerous, you don't want to go..." and she would say, "yes, I have to go see Fred, I know I have to go see Fred," and nothing would stop her. And then she would come to Tilburg, this happened maybe a couple of times, and she would find me playing in the street with the other kids, uh, in those days we played what did we play, maybe spinning a top, mostly um, leap frog, in fact, my landlady said to my mother this one day when she came and I wasn't in the street, and she said she knew right away something was wrong because I was always playing in the street when she came and she asked the lady and she said, he's hurt himself, or he's sick, when they were doing leap frog. This lady was also not very educated. My mother came upstairs, she saw right away that I was deathly ill, and said, I need a doctor, she got hold of a doctor, she apparently explained to the doctor that we were Jewish. I'm not sure about his, but the doctor came to the house, came up to that little attic room took one look at me and said, bundle him up and get him to the hospital immediately, I'll meet you there. So, I ended up in that hospital for the next six weeks. I believe it was six weeks that I was there recovering from very bad pneumonia, and it was somewhat later, on one of her visits to me, that she was caught at the rail road station. Uh, she had to show her papers, and somebody who was an expert, not all policeman, not all guards, not all German soldiers or Dutch policeman were experts in identifying falsified papers, but many of them were specialized in that and he saw right away that these papers were forged and she was taken into custody. That happened on May 9, 1944.

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