Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alfred Lessing - January 26, 1993

Lone Ranger Outfit

Um, it is very difficult for me to condense that last year of the war because I remember, at that point my memory is continuous and it was an extraordinary year, not only the survival, but it was the year when the battles in the air began, allied planes were over head, there were dog fights over head, there were bombs that would drop at times, there were planes that got shot down over head, it was incredibly exciting for a kid. There were attacks on German ammunition trains. There is one day during that period that I will never forget when the allied planes Spit Fires, Thunderbolts, Lightenings, Typhoons, these are the names of the planes, were attacking an ammunition, we lived right between a highway and a railroad, about three miles between those two, and they attacked this German ammunition train, which was maybe 100 cars long and all day long they kept coming and dive bombing and all day long the train was exploding and you would look up and see a whole freight car go up just like sort of in the movies these days, you know. And later on after it was all over, days later, we went there and the whole area was all shot up, there were bullets everywhere, there were burned up shot up stuff, it was... unbelievable. The um, I think I should tell this as part of my own story, which is very memorable, um, maybe I can show these pictures even as I talk: this is the only picture that came from that last year of the war. This is my father, my oldest brother Ed, my brother Attie and me holding my pet rabbit. And I am wearing, you cannot really see it, the little overalls that has, maybe you can see it, I don't know, that is Silver, with the Lone Ranger, that's the Lone Ranger and his horse Silver and on one knee was, I believe, I don't know, maybe Tonto, no this might be Tonto, anyway, it was a Lone Ranger outfit for a little kid. It must have come from my aunt in Chicago, in the United States, before the war. I was wearing that, I had that. Um, that's what we looked like, that's how we survived. Now, here is a drawing that my oldest brother Ed made of the little cottage that we stayed in. That's how small it was, and here is actually a picture of that same window, this is some years later, this is in the late 60's when I was back in Holland, I took a picture of that, of that little cottage. Um, one more picture over here, I don't know how well you can see that, this is the little lane, here is the house that Mr. Hamburg lived, you went down this little dirt road and at the end right where my finger is, is the little cottage. Now, if you follow this little road out, this is a driveway really, it leads a little bit further out to the main road, which is also a dirt road, we're way out in the country. On that dirt road, I was playing in that same Lone Ranger suit with my brother Attie, just along the roadside when we saw two German soldiers coming down the road. And, they turned into a farm, must have been maybe 2,000 feet down the road. And they came out of there, the farmer had a car in his barn, he had no gas, but he had a car, you were supposed to have turned it in, but he had it covered with hay. They found it and made the farmer push it out in the road and they were gonna take it, but they had no gas, so they left it in the road or something like that... anyway one of the Germans stayed there and the other one came riding his bicycle down the road. And on the other side, on my left, there were some farmers... farmers always wore the same outfit, blue shirt, blue overalls, and one of these farmer guys was walking in the opposite direction of this German coming on the bicycle. When the German soldier was exactly right smack in front of me, that's where the farmer met him, right smack in front of me on this road. The farmer, as it turned out, wasn't a farmer at all, it was an underground resistance fighter, he pulled a gun, stuck it in the soldier's ribs and said, hands up. The German reached over his shoulder for a rifle, the underground man shot him... dead. Right in front of me. He fell off his bicycle, the underground soldier took his rifle, kicked the body over, it rolled into the little ditch on the other side of the road, he jumped on the bicycle and rode back where he come from and he was gone in five seconds. I looked up, my brother, I forgot to mention that the reason I hadn't run back to my house like my brother, cause I was all alone, is because I got dead scared that this German soldier would see this Lone Ranger's outfit... again, this is the thinking of a little kid... I got English written on my shirt... and here is a German. And so I fell down on my chest on the ground and just pretended to be playing so that he wouldn't notice that, and of course, he never paid any attention, of course, he never had a chance, he got shot right in front of me before he ever even saw me. But, the other German heard the shot and there followed a gun battle with our little cottage right in the middle between what turned out to be about 30 underground guys hiding behind the hedge all wearing blue uniforms and this other German soldier. This is like in the westerns... there is just a lot of shooting back and forth, until they finally shot this other German... and the whole incident ended, they took him away, he ended up in a hospital somewhere and died I think or maybe they killed him, I don't know. That is as close as I ever came to violence, but I never forgot it either. It scared the shit out of me. Years later in psychotherapy, a therapist reenacted this scene for me in a psycho drama, had some people act out this scene, and had a cap gun go off and when the gun went off, I just collapsed in tears and screaming with fear I had more or less forgotten this whole incident, after that I never forgot it again. So that is very memorable from that year. The other, let's see, sort of brief summary, the hunger, the begging, the trying to make use of anything of all, the allied planes had spare gasoline, aluminum gasoline tanks attached under the Spitfire wings to increase their range, and when these tanks were empty they just disposed them. They just cut them loose and they fell all around. They were covered with a kind of foam material which made them bulletproof, the bullet would go through and this foam would close up and stop the leakage. We took this foam material off of these tanks and tried to make gloves out of them. People took these aluminum tanks and made little boats out of them, anything at all we could find um, there are so many memories of that year that I can't possible include them all here, but they were all extraordinary.

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