oct 23, 1942 - Freddie's Story


Freddie and his brothers Eddie, who was 10 years older, and Attie, who was 2 years older lived with their parents Nardus and Lien Lessing. They lived in Delft, Holland. Nardus managed a small clothing store and was a classical musician who played the piano and cello and gave lessons. Lien was devoted to the sons she called her golden boys. In 1940 Freddie was 4 years old, the Germans came to the Netherlands and made all Jews wear stars with Jew on their clothes. Nardus was forced to give up his business and house so their family moved into a three story house. In 1942 Nazis began the "resettlement"of Dutch Jews to "work camps". To prepare for this train trip, Lien packed backpacks for everyone in the family and filled them with blankets, clothes and toiletries and put them in a hall closet. Most Dutch Jew believed they would be working and living in decent conditions but the Lessing's believed otherwise according to what Freddie's grandfather, Ies had told them. Ies was exempted from this because he was married to a non- Jew. He heard rumors that they were not being taken to a work camp, but a death camp. On October 23, 1942 they had to leave because they were in extreme danger. Freddie was 6 and Attie was 8. Nardus got a phone call from an old friend who headed the local Jewish council. He told them the Lessings were on the latest roundup list and Nazis would be at they door within the next hour or two. They ripped off their stars and walked outside and pretended they were going for a walk, they didn't bring anything with them. Freddie had grabbed his beertje, his little teddy bear that he brought with him everywhere. They arrived at Frits Niewenhuizen and his wife's house. They knew it would be easier to hide from the Nazis if they split up. A young gentile teacher took Freddie and Attie to their grandfather Ies's house in Amsterdam. He sewed new Jood stars on their jackets. In 1943 Lien got false papers and came to visit her sons. She saw them wearing the stars and was mad at Ies. She made the boys hide in separate homes. Their last name was now Hensink and non jews. Nardus stayed in hiding because he looked too jewish. They're older brother Eddie worked on a farm being a non jewish teenager. LIen and Nardus moved from place to place. Freddie lived with people who fed him and cared for him, but not people he trusted. One day Freddie got so sick, Lien had to come. At night, he had a nightmare and ran right to the living room into his mother's arms. By the end of the first year in hiding, Freddie got moved to a city of Tilburg to a boarding house with students, retired people, and women who reminded him of witches. One time when LIen had visited him, he became deathly ill. A doctor came to the boarding house and told them to got to a hospital immediately, he has a serious case of pneumonia. After being in the hospital for six weeks, his step aunt Lia picked him up. He asked for his mother, she was in a hospital in Amsterdam because she broke her leg. Lia took him to a village of Voorthuizen, where he was reunited with his father and 2 brothers. They kept asking where there mother was. Nardus said her leg wasn't healing right, or it became infected. The 2 boys stopped believing him after a while and thought maybe she was arrested or even killed. Everyday Attie and Freddie walked a half hour to a village to attend school. In early 1945, allied and German aircraft engaged in fierce dogfights. After 3 days of battle, the gunfire and explosions stopped. The area was liberated, no more war, no more hiding. On May 7, 1945, the ending of the war was official. Nardus was in Voorthuizen and he began yelling on his way back, "Moeder is alive! Moeder is safe!" He stopped in an office in the village and looked at a list of survivors and casualties. Lien Lessing was on a Red Cross list of refugees at a displaced persons hospital in Algiers, Algeria. He told the boys that he knew their mother had been arrested a year earlier. He made up the stories about her broken leg so they wouldn't think she had been murdered. Instead of being executed for being a Jew, she was treated as an american prisoner and sent tot the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands and on to Bergen-Belsen in Germany .She was eventually included in a prisoner exchange. sehe was then sent to a United Nations displaced persons camp in Algeria in January 1945. She spent 7 months regaining her health, and weight waiting for the war to end. They were all together as a family again for good.

Added to timeline:

10 months ago
Survivors of the Holocaust


oct 23, 1942
~ 76 years ago
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