Little did I realize that my parents might have been involved in a nonviolent way with this resistance. After the war was long over, Oda related to me that during the war there were occasions that our mother had confided in her and given her a message scribbled on a piece of paper, which she was supposed to pass, unseen, to the priest in the Catholic church at the time she approached the bench to receive communion. She also told me that on at least one occasion a somewhat disheveled man in tattered clothes came into the house and disappeared into the bathroom and came out shaven and neatly dressed, only to leave in a hurry. I never saw him myself but one can only surmise now that that man probably was a downed pilot who needed to disappear in the crowd and try to return to England, and that the messages passed secretly by Oda had something to do with that. I was never made aware of these activities by my mother, but Oda was and she told me about it much later. Apparently, my father stayed out of that activity as he was afraid of losing his job if he would get caught, or worse be arrested and deported to a concentration camp. I keep wondering now if my parents might have been involved with other nonviolent “resistance” activities without telling us. If I had known at the time I would have worried that they too might be arrested and sent to a concentration camp. Early on I had not much idea what a concentration camp was other than a prison somewhere far away. Of course later on that became all too clear to me.

Indeed such clandestine activity might have been more common in our family than Oda and I realized. After the war was long over we found out that our future brother in law had actually been sent to a concentration camp for helping in hiding downed British pilots. More about that later.


And so it went for more than four years. We became accustomed to living with rationed food, going to bed somewhat hungry many nights, being woken up by the sirens announcing a possible air raid, and scurrying to the cellar to await the all clear siren. As I mentioned earlier, Antwerp was never really the target for bombing raids, with some exceptions, and life went on, modified by the many inconveniences described. Oda and I went to school, my father went to work and my older sisters went to boarding school in the Netherlands. Towards the end of these four years Oda had developed her own circle of friends and we were doing fewer and fewer things together.

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