I want to say. The Nazi attacked the population in cowardly and torturous manner.Cowardly because they attacked women, children, babies, elderly people and deceptively , deceptively because they announced that the Jews had to go and work in the camps, the war camps.
It was a trap.
They locked us up in a barn in a transportation camp. I spent a month there. Everyone who was there was convinced that they are sending us to work in the camp . If anyone would’ve said that they are sending us to death, we would’ve thought that person is insane.
This camp has been operating for 2 years by than and no one could escape from this camp. But there was a rumor, that once they load us on the train, we can leave if we want. They loaded us in the train car [train to Aushwitz]. There were about 50 people in the car. It was pitch black. The car had sliding door. Than at some point, people in the next car managed to open this sliding door. And than people in our car managed to open the door in our car as well. The door wasn’t supposed to be open, but everything in that camp was done by prisoners. Including locking the doors of train cars. So some camp prisoner was supposed to lock it, but did not.
People started jumping off the train. Mother put me on the step so I could jump. Her last words I heard were “The train is going too fast!”. But at a certain moment the train slowed down and I jumped. I landed smoothly on to the ground. I waited for my mother expecting that she would jump too. But the train stopped completely and I heard the guards who came from the front of the train in my direction yelling and shooting. My mother could not jump anymore because otherwise she would be caught immediately. My first thought was to run forward and go back to my carriage to join her and not to be caught. But to do that I would need to go in their direction. Then suddenly in a kind of unconscious movement like a reflex I ran left way at full speed. Do you understand? And I ran all night long through the woods. I said to myself it is good that I’d jumped from the train but where am I now? In Belgium? In Germany?
In fact, I was in the Belgium province of Limburg. I was eleven but a little scout, I could look after myself and I knew that I could not tell anyone where I came from. You don’t know who you encounter, maybe a friend of the Nazi’s. Should I continue? While running I saw a sign with a name of a village. Arrived at dawn in the village I picked a small (house) that I trusted because large houses were often occupied by the Nazi.
I rang a bell, I said to the lady: Madame, I (played) with children nearby . I got lost and I have to go back to Brussels to my father. I could not find anything better that... than this strange explanation. What would a little French-speaking boy be doing here in the Flemish-speaking province of Belgium, (Flanders). With torn clothes, covered with mud, some 80 kilometers from Brussels.This lady took me to a neighbour who took me on his bicycle to the next town and dropped me in the living of a gentleman. When I saw that man with his uniform and his gun on his belt, a policeman, I was terrified: the man will take me back to the Gestapo, - I thought. He kept asking me: “What happened?” And I kept telling him: “I was playing and I lost my way”. But he didn’t believe me. He handed me over to his wife, took his bike and went to the station. There he was told the story of the train and there were three victims from my car shot dead there, including a young women. He came back home. I was terrified. And this man told me: “I know everything, you were in the train with the deported Jews. You have escaped but don’t be afraid. I’m a good Belgian. I will not betray you”. And then I confessed to him. I fell into his arms weeping, telling him about my mother.
His wife gave me a meal, a bath, a suite of their little son, because I had to go back to Brussels by train and dressed in normal clothes. He had me returned by train to Brussels and the same evening I was in Brussels in the arms of my father.
It was April 20, 43. And I still had to wait for 17 months until the liberation of Brussels - September 3rd, 44. During these 17 months I was in hiding with catholic families separated from my father. I changed my hiding place 2-3 times for safety. When I arrived in a family, I went first to the attic to see how I could escape over the roof if the Gestapo would come and get me. Each ring of the bell scared me. This 17 months I only went out to the street 2-3 times. And this was hard for a twelve years old boy. And almost every night I dreams that i was being pursued and chased by the Nazis. But during these 17 months they began to also deport Belgian Jews. And my sister left to (...) barracks on September 19th, 43 with 22nd convoy.
But when allies entered Germany in Spring 45 and discovered the concentration camps, mountains of corpses, gas chambers, crematorium, my father understood that his wife and daughter would not be coming back and he died in despair in July 45. So the Nazi (executed) my mother and my sister in the gas chamber of Auschwitz. My father died in July 45. And me by miracle I have jumped off the train and escaped - a real miracle. My life is (all miracle).
Today I’ve not brought you message of sorrow, but of hope and happiness. Yes, life is beautiful but life is a struggle every day. I, who lost my family by hate, hate crimes, I do not hate. Hate is an illness. Despite the tragic events of the past and those of today because in today’s world there are still people, humans who suffer, I keep my faith in the future because I believe in human goodness.