Oral History

Carla Heijmans Lessing describes the fear her family felt while in hiding

After invading the Netherlands in 1940, the Germans imposed anti-Jewish measures. With the aid of a Catholic priest who helped Jews find hiding places, Carla, her mother, and her brother went into hiding in August 1942 to avoid deportation to work camps. They had to leave the hiding place after three months and with the priest's help found shelter in Delft with a Catholic family which had seven children. They remained in hiding there for 30 months, until liberation in May 1945.


Some people had, in their hiding place, had another hiding place where they thought they would be safer. We had nothing. Absolutely nothing to run to or to hide in. Nothing. So we were exposed and everything. Uh, this didn't happen, you know, but there were many instances that the Germans would come in the barber shop and would ask for a shave and the man who hid us would have to shave the German soldiers and we would be upstairs and we would never know if they wanted to go to the bathroom or not, you know, because the
bathroom was upstairs. So, I can't really tell you exactly how frightened we were. I can't also can't tell you what we did because it's like one day was like the other, and also it's you didn't really want to think because you would hear things. We would get some bits of information and they were all, like, you know, this man was caught and this man was caught or this family was caught. We would hear that and we didn't really want to believe it because we hoped it wasn't true, and we would maybe be next.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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