Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alfred Lessing - January 26, 1993

Hiding at the Nemeheisen's House

And you left the rucksack?

We walked, my mother said, she gathered us together and said in very few words, and I don't remember the exact words, but it's not important, I know what the message was, the message was, "there is total and extreme danger, you must do exactly what we tell you and you must trust no one except us and those that we say you can trust." And that was my, those were my instructions and that's what I lived by, there was not a moment of questioning this, there was no arguing, there weren't any tears or scenes... and this is one of the messages that I sure want to give, that here is a six year old boy and he knows in an instant what this is all about, and cannot give a long lecture about what's happening in the East and about the economics of Germany and the effects of the first world war and Hitler's rise, but he knows in a split second what is happening and what he must do which is, he is being hunted, he will be killed, you are living in a totally hostile world, there is nothing and no one you can trust, [pause] except us. Which meant my mother, because my father had to stay out of sight. And so from that point on, my mother became sort of true to her name Angeline, and angel that would appear in my life and take me to a new place and reassure me and then leave again, until the next time she appeared, and she did always come back, even finally, when she was caught and when she didn't come back and was gone for a year and one half and went to Bergen-Belsen, even then, she still came back.We walked out of the house my two brothers and I, first and shortly thereafter my parents, she said, walk to the Nemenheisen's, old friends of my parents, non-Jewish friends, already an elderly couple, about a 20 minute half hour walk from where we lived, she said pretend you are just taking a walk together, we carried no luggage, we carried nothing suspicious, we just took a walk and ten or fifteen minutes later, my parents walked out, there was a man repairing the furnace in the kitchen on that very day, and my mother said to him, we have to run an errand, we'll be right back. And he kept on working and we walked out of that house and never came back. [long pause] We came back to Delft two and a half years later.

You went to your parent's friends?

We went to the Niemenhausen's house.

And then what? Were they expecting you?

I don't know. I think by the time we got there, my mother probably called them and said we were coming. She couldn't have had a lot of time because, you know Delft is a tiny town, and when he called to say we were on the list of coming to get you, it meant 15 minutes maybe. Um, yes, um, we went to the Niemenhausen's and let's see, my brother and I, Attie and I, were taken to the train by a lady called Miss Zelstra who was a teacher that had lived with us, was not currently living with us I don't believe, but she took us on the train to Utrecht where her boyfriend lived and we spent the night in Utrecht in tiny apartment and the only memory I have there is hitting my head on the sink, strange the things you remember...[he laughs] as a little kid, you know, I think I crawled under the sink and then stood up and banged my head on his sink, her boyfriend's sink. Her boyfriend was an older man. His name was Schultz. Later they married, after the war. They took, or, she took me, took us, my brother and I, the next day to Amsterdam to my grandfather's house, um where then, apparently, we stayed for a month, two months, three months, four months, I don't know how long.

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