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Toni Pyl’s War Memories

November 21, 2018 November 2018 No Comments

Part 7

My parents had stated they didn’t want to hide any more Jews because of the death penalty. When another Jewish looking couple arrived, my parents thought it was a real Jew trick and were furious, however they were eventually allowed to stay. The couple had nothing to do so helped around the house – he helped cut wood I brought in and she helped with housework and gave me piano lessons. Both helped me with my homework and they sunbathed beneath an open window in the loft. For extra food we were given a double ration card by the resistance. Luckily our doctor was a member of the resistance so could be called in case of sickness.

Toni’s sister tells the story of the neighbours calling in one day asking about the beautiful piano playing they could hear and Toni (to her horror) was pressed to play one of her beginner pieces, using nervousness as an excuse for her inept performance.’

With eight people in the house, we couldn’t keep out of each other’s way and feelings ran high sometimes – especially between my parents and grandparents. Opa was envious of the amount of food we got every fortnight and demanded some of it. My mother argued that growing children needed it more. She must have sacrificed some of her own food for us because at the end of the war she was very pale and thin. When the Jews joined the argument and gave their opinion, my Oma made nasty anti-Jewish remarks and told them to ‘shut up or else…’!

Oma had beans and peas in her cupboard, which she said she needed because she was sickly and while they were cooking, Opa would pinch a couple of handfuls when she wasn’t looking. At the end of the War we found mouldy peas in Oma’s cupboard.

The War went on steadily around us: shooting, bombing, sirens wailing at any time of day. Twice our village was bombed directly; we knew it was going to happen when high flying planes dropped ‘Christmas Trees’ of green, white and red flares first.

The allied bombers came in a formation of six and their drone was soon drowned out by the noise of the antiaircraft fire from the ground. We stood, pale and trembling, in the passage while the floor rocked and crockery rattled. 

Our little dog, Bobby, was especially worried when the lid of our mailbox in the front door rattled and he would cautiously creep forward to investigate until the next rattle when he would jump back. We had to laugh in spite of the very tense atmosphere.

The bombs were aimed to land in the forest nearby where the V2s were hidden but some fell at the end of our village. In the Hague we heard that bombs meant to destroy V2s were mistakenly dropped in an area crowded with refugees and sadly thousands of people were killed.


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