Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alfred Lessing - January 26, 1993

Allied Pilots

Did you ever encounter any downed pilots, downed planes?

Um, no. I did not, though it turned out later that the family down the road about a mile from where we were, there were also people hiding there, it turns out after the war that the man was actually a Jewish man, he was hiding in his own house, this is the strangest thing I had ever heard. He pretended to be an uncle to the family and whenever anybody suspicious was around he would disappear, he just kind of wasn't there, but he was there, and uh, anyway they had a radio that they listened to the BBC and my father would go over there, and apparently some down fliers came through there and my oldest brother uh had contact with them in that hut, the resistance hut that he was in, occasionally pilots came through not in Forthausen, we were just uh, four Jews in hiding trying to survive, um, but there were down planes, there was one night when a British plane, a Mosquito it was a twin engine recognizance plane, crashed very close to us and both pilots were killed, we went there the next day and saw their bodies scattered all over the place and collected a dog tag and a map and some other items from this horrible scene, wrote to the families after the war and, of course, they already knew. Uh, that made a big impression on me. One morning we woke up and there had been an allied drop of supplies for the underground which had drifted and landed in the wrong place. We came out of our little cottage and right in front was this huge metal canister with a parachute that had gotten caught in the apple tree. My father said, "oh the apple tree is in bloom." But it turned out to be this parachute [laughs] that had draped over it. And we opened up this huge case and it was full of guns. There must have been 50 or 75 guns inside this thing. All of that hands fell into German hands, by the way, because some farmer called the Nazis and all the stuff never reached the underground. Except for one basket. A huge basket of supplies that fell into a ditch and was never found by anybody until later. It contained a radio, which the people in that other house got, some food, we got a can of rice pudding. Military can of rice pudding which we saved, it was like some sort of divine food from the gods come down from Mt. Olympus. And we opened it, we did not open it until we were liberated. We celebrated being liberated by opening the can of rice pudding and the candy bars, the Hershey bars we saved until we were reunited with my mother. Which turned out to be a real disappointment because she had boxes and boxes of fresh Hershey bars that she brought when she came. But, that didn't matter. Uh, it was just another incident was this drop and my brother took the parachute and he had buried it. Wonderful nylon cord and all that material, you can't believe how precious that was. And, 20 minutes later a policeman, a Dutch policeman knocked at the door and said, where's the parachute that belongs to this? We said, we don't know, we don't know anything, and he said, and he looked at Ed and said, "you better put that back or they will take you." Now there is an example of a "good" Dutch policeman. So, he put the parachute back. He did cut a couple lengths of cord, because there was so much cord and we had this wonderful nylon cord, we couldn't resist taking something. Um, probably the biggest single thing that happened was the liberation.

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