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October 3, 2018 October 2018 No Comments

Toni Pyle Part 6

My father now felt it necessary to collect food from the farmers in the east of the country, who had plenty. He made many excursions by bike to villages there, carrying linen and cordite lamps (which he had made himself) in exchange for grain, oats, butter and eggs. It was not easy getting the food home as he had to avoid other hungry people and German control points.

Many people went there, biking, walking, some pushing carts and prams. Men and boys fell by the roadside and died of starvation but the women seemed to keep going. The main roads were also very dangerous because of shooting from the allied planes.

As the weeks passed, it became more and more difficult for my father to get home on the weekends. He was usually brought home in a car powered by wood or coal instead of petrol and someone sat on the bonnet watching for planes. This became too dangerous so the car trips suddenly stopped. My father didn’t know this and laden with food, he decided to take a bike. When the axle broke he tied the front wheel to his body and carried on. Luckily, he somehow got a message to us that he would be late so that we didn’t wait and worry in vain. Early in the morning we heard his special whistle but we couldn’t rush out to greet him because of the curfew. My father was safe because he had a permit, in fact he managed to get granted papers for all sorts of things. He arrived dreadfully pale and exhausted with swollen feet but a good meal and rest soon saw him come right again. He had brought home plenty of food.

Now we hid people who were sought after by the Germans. The first person was a woman we called ‘Aunt Mary’ who occupied a little room in the loft. Not heeding my parents’ warning, she went visiting during the daytime, was caught and never heard of again. To stop us talking, my mother thought we children had better be informed of the big secret – that she had been a Jewess.

After her, we had two young men. One was a language student who was hiding because he refused to sign a ‘German Culture’ document. My father loved arguing with him about evolution as the man was Catholic and he wouldn’t believe we were descended from apes. The other young man’s special interest was cooking and he called himself ‘Vic the Cooking Prince.’ We didn’t know why he was hiding but presumed he was he was a member of the Resistance. They only stayed a short time and the student did his exams before being caught and sent to a concentration camp. We heard later that they had luckily both survived the War.

My uncle was a member of the Resistance but had been a Nazi until things went wrong for the Germans. He tried to cover his previous tracks under the cloak of working for the Resistance and sent us a young couple pretending not to be Jews. However, their looks betrayed them, they were Jews all right. My parents were furious.

 

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