1. The Long Black one tells his story…..
Born before the war, the youngest of 4 children, in the heart of Amsterdam near the river Amstel on the edge of the Jewish section of the city, I enjoyed a carefree childhood.
My dad had a hardware store in the “Kerkstraat” and I played with my friends near the “Magere brug”, better know to English speaking people as the “Skinny Bridge.
Many of my friends were Jewish and with one of them named Loekie, I shared my passion for aeroplanes. At any time when we had saved a few cents we used to go to a shop in the Utrechtsestraat, just round the corner of our house. It was a bookshop selling cards with pictures of aeroplanes on them, such as bombers and torpedo hunters of the English and American forces.
Loekie wanted to become an aviator…
When the war started we used to play games and try and recognise the plane noises and associate them with their makes. There was a clear difference between the German “Heinkels” and the planes flown by the Americans and English. Loekie was an expert and got it right nearly all of the time. Until that evening in 1943, in a dead quiet, blacked out Kerkstraat, when I heard Loekie say to his mum: “Mum English Bombers”. I could not make out his mothers reply because of the noise made by the planes flying overhead.
The next morning I went to his house to ask Loekie why he was still out in the street at that late hour last night. When I arrived at his house the front door was open, there was nobody in the rooms, I saw rubbish everywhere and drawers and cupboards were open…..The whole family was gone…..Removed by the German soldiers, only because they were Jewish!!!! I asked myself then what they were going to do with all the people?????
A few weeks later, on a Sunday morning I went over to my friend Bobby Springer. I remember his name so well because his uncle was the world champion checkers player before the war. (Ben Springer. ej)
Bobby lived on the first floor in the Kerkstraat 384. I rang the bel and there was no response. The lady from the ground floor opened the door and told me that Bobby was no longer living there, because they were removed by German Soldiers overnight.
I cannot remember what else she said but a feeling of helplessness and anger came over me and got more intense by the minute. I stood there for a long time just staring at the closed windows. I realised that I would never see my friend Bobby poke his head out those windows again.
In a short period after that more and more of my friends were disappearing from around me. Daantje, Eddy, Wim, I have never seen them again. I had no idea what was going on but somehow I knew for sure that they would not be coming back and I would never see them again. Everywhere people were removed by the German occupiers the same removal truck from “A.Puls” used to turn up and shortly after that other people used to move in. I knew that something terrible was happening, but I could not understand it at the time, and I still can’t.
I saw first hand how the German occupiers used to treat people when an older boy Frits, who was running from the Germans, was shot down from the roof in my street.
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