Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alfred Lessing - January 26, 1993

Reunion with his Father

My mother found her way back, she was very impatient to get back, she wanted to get back to Holland right away in February, but Holland was still occupied. She managed to find soldiers that would give her a ride, she managed to get on a plane that took her to Marseilles, from there she got on a truck, I think, that... it was a long journey, but she ended up in the Hague, um, I believe, and then got a truck ride to Delft. This truck driver said he would take her. Now she had never been to this house that we were now living in and my oldest brother Ed happened to be in the Hague that night at a Zionist youth group meeting, which he had been attending for some time already, and he was in the habit of coming home real late at night from these things and waking my father up. In Holland you still had these old fashioned, mechanical bells, you would pull a brass handle and a series of wires would ring an actual metal bell. So he would come in late at night and wake my father up. My father had just given him a key and said, "look, when you come home late at night, use the key, okay?" On this particular night, my brother came back from one of these and was just coming to the house on this rather dark street and this truck pulls up and this woman leans out the window and says, excuse me sir, is this number 32 Mikentumstadt??? And my brother recognized her voice and there was this incredible reunion between the two of them, they just fell into each other's arms and cried and yelled and screamed and my brother is so excited, he started ringing the doorbell like crazy. And my father woke up and he was furious, "I just gave him the key and he's ringing this bell..." so he opens the door all ready to give him a lecture and there is my mother, so it was an incredible reunion, um we then were woken up, we were sleeping on the third floor and my brother Attie and I and we came running down the stairs. My brother Attie always fell down the stairs, always. He's always start falling and on this occasion too, he fell down the stair, but my mother caught him. That's how strong she was. We were up probably until four or five in the morning that night. We just sat around and... I remember my father kept saying... because my mother kept unpacking crates and boxes of stuff that she had gotten and brought for us... and my father kept saying, just sit there and let me look at you... let me look at you [he weeps]... it was something of the magnitude of the liberation itself. It is an undescribably happy occasion that we should all still be together. And, that's sort of the official end of this story, really, although of course, our life went on. But, after that, as I said earlier, life went on and my parents decided that they couldn't stand to stay in Holland, um, because it became evident very quickly that nothing was going to change. All the German collaborators got their jobs back, all the traitors were let out of jail pretty quickly, it was very, very depressing. Further, there wasn't much work for a musician and so they re-activated their emigration plans. My brother Ed and my father left in 1947 to find work and set up a home and in 1948 my mother and Attie and I came to this country on a ship called the Veindom from the Holland America line. It arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey. I spent my first night at the William Sloan House, which is the YMCA in Manhattan and started this whole new chapter of my life at the ripe age of 12. I was only 12 then.

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