WWII survivor Tells Her Story, Warns Trump Emulates Hitler Perfectly.
I had the incredible opportunity to meet a survivor of the Nazi invasion and occupation of Antwerp, Belgium. For the sake of her privacy, I shall only refer to her as NV. After speaking with NV over the last week, she has given me the supreme honor of being able to share the story of her life during that time. She was a young girl witnessing the horrors of war and fascism. Her story truly takes my breath away, and her warning to us that Donald Trump is acting in the same way should not go unheeded.
Please share her story. Let us never forget the horror of fascism, and let us never stop fighting the man who would subject us to it in our homeland.
NV, if you are reading this, thank you again for your courage to share…
This is her story:
In the late 1930s and early 1940s there was no television. We heard the news on the radio, and saw the newsreel before movies played in theaters. We heard and saw Hitler on the news in the late 1930s and early 1940s. What stood out was the way he ranted and raved to the point that you would have thought he was ready to have a heart attack. (Donald Trump is exhibiting those exact same characteristics)
In early 1940 my mother, grandmother and I lived across the street from an army barracks. In the early morning of May the 10th, we were woken up by the sounds of sirens, heavy artillery, and explosions. We quickly went to the cellar to hide and waited until the bombing had subsided. When we left the house, an unexploded bomb was laying below our living room window. (After my mother reported it to the fort commander the bomb was defused and removed). When we rounded the corner the most horrible scene presented itself: Almost four complete city blocks had been destroyed, body parts were scattered all over. One scene I will never forget is when I managed to get to where my favorite candy store used to be, there was a severed leg stuck against a remaining wall.
For the next 3 or 4 days there were scattered bombings, planes flying overhead, etc. During that time we hid in an ancient fortress (Antwerp used to be surrounded by fortresses in the 1600s).
When my mother noticed that the soldiers in the fort were loading trucks and leaving, she decided that we needed to get away from the German invading army as well. She packed up a few of our belongings on her bicycle and we set out for the free zone in France, walking alongside the Belgian troops fleeing from the Germans.
While fleeing, we were strafed by German machine-guns. We hid in pastures and barns whenever we heard the drone of oncoming aircraft. We slept in barns with fleeing Belgian soldiers.
At one point in time, after very heavy air attack, during which the soldier who had held my hand had been killed, a farmer came running to us and urged us to go with him. My mother finally figured that we would never make it to Free France and gave in. I don’t remember how long we stayed at the farm, it must have been a week or more. I loved it, there were farm animals, we had fresh milk, plenty of food and it was a vacation for a ten-year-old who was a city girl.
When things started to settle down and we heard that the Germans had conquered both Belgium as well as the Netherlands, my mother decided to return home.
When we entered the outskirts of Antwerp, I noticed army trucks filled with civilians. As a child, I didn’t know what was going on, but later found out that people were being sent to labor camps and factories in Germany.
We made our way back home and settled back in as if nothing had happened. But something had happened, the fort had been taken over by the German army. Every day German soldiers highstepped past our house singing their marching songs…I still remember them shouting out “Erica!” I still remember that song even though I was only 11-12 years old.
I still remember one instance when I was about 11 years old. I was on the tram and a pregnant woman wearing the Star of David on her coat got on the tram. I got up and offered her my seat. A German low class officer grabbed her and threw her off the tram, where she fell down on the ground. He then proceeded to take the seat I had vacated for her. I was a child, but even to this day I can’t seem to forget those things.
Jews were forced to wear a yellow star on their coats or jackets, but very soon they all seemed to have disappeared.
Life went on, and somehow returned back to normal, except food was scarce and rationed if available.
We sometimes stood in lines all night just to get a loaf of bread that was made with something other than flour. It was black, looked like uncooked dough, smelled bad, and grew mold within a few hours. We didn’t get sugar, we got saccharine to sweeten; there was no coffee, instead we got some kind of roasted grain the Germans called Kneipp; we didn’t get milk or butter, we got some type of margarine that came with a coloring capsule that had to be kneaded into the margarine to give it color. I went hungry, I was always starving. Once in a while we would get some figs at school or bananas which I would save and take home to share with my mother and grandmother, sometimes I was too hungry and ate them on the way home from school.
Twice the houses we lived in were bombed and destroyed; we lost most of our belongings, but we didn’t get hurt because we were still in the process of moving and were still sleeping at the old apartment, and my grandmother was in the hospital because she had tuberculosis. Each time we went through the rubble to see what could be salvaged.
By that time the allied forces had started to bomb Germany and German installations. Whenever we heard the drone of the bombers we would go outside to see if we could see the bombers. The whole neighborhood would be cheering when we saw the tiny specks in the sky.
When the allied forces, mostly Canadian and British, finally got there, the battle for the port of Antwerp and the surrounding area was very brief.
Everything seemed to go back to normal, when one afternoon a giant explosion rocked the neighborhood. I ran up to the roof, a place I always used to go to see what was going on, and noticed a big black cloud rising. A buzz bomb had hit one of the museums. The Germans still had another trick up their sleeves. This was the trial of the V1 rocket. It was meant for London, but hit Antwerp instead. The Germans proceeded with their rockets, sending them to the Netherlands and London, but some still fell in Belgium due to miscalculations. Shortly after that British and American forces entered Germany, marched to Berlin and Hitler committed suicide.
It was September 20, 1945; I turned 16 a month later.
P.S. During all those years we heard Hitler speak on the radio, we also saw him in newsreels before the movies. I can remember seeing him rant and rave, his face becoming contorted with rage. Donald Trump emulates Hitler to a T. His actions, speeches and ranting remind me exactly of Hitler. I am afraid that if he is not stopped, he will lead this country into another world war. Unfortunately, this war will not be waged with conventional weapons, and very few people will survive. And if they do, there will be nothing left to be worth living for!! I am 88 years old and I am afraid. Trump must be impeached!!!
This story first appear on Bastards for Progress. We came upon it on the Daily Kos (http://www.dailykos.com/blogs/main) sign up for their news releases. Fantastic group.