By David Herszlikovicz
The note from my father
“Go hide yourselves somewhere even if it is in a hole in the ground, because nobody knows what is happening here”
These haunting words on this piece of paper were from my father, my father Leon Lajb Herszlikovicz who had disappeared after attending a meeting in Liege Belgium. This was the first news we had from him after a nightmare wait to know where he was. It also said “Would the person who finds this note send it to this address” (the address was where we were hiding in Robermont – Belgium.) Someone had found the note which he had hurriedly written and dropped on the floor after his arrest. Thank goodness that someone was not a Nazi or sympathiser.
On that fateful day of September 24, 1942, my father attended a meeting in our hometown of Liege. This was a meeting with other Jewish people who wanted to discuss what was happening and come up with a plan to get Jews out of the country to safety. My mother had begged him not to go but he felt compelled to do something to help save Jewish lives. Little did we realise that this would be the last time we would see him – my mother, my young sister Esther and myself. Little did we realise that this would be one of the saddest days of our lives. Little did we realise that this would be the day that changed our lives forever. The Gestapo had obviously been pre-warned of the meeting, someone had denounced them, the house was encircled and all those attending this gathering together with our dear father Leon (Lajb) were arrested. Sometime after while being transported to Malines (Mechelen) he had managed to write a note scrawled on a bit of paper.
It was to my mother but addressed to the Leenders family, who I will tell you about in this book, brave people were sheltering us, risking their own lives to save ours. Somebody had found the note and managed to deliver it to the address where we were hiding. We never found out who it was.
On reflection it was a dangerous thing for my father to have done and could have jeopardised our lives as well as the Leenders, but he wanted to warn us about the atrocities and horrors that were besetting the Jewish people.
I decided to write about what happened to me and my family during the 2nd World War as I think it would be an important reminder for my children and grandchildren to understand and forever remember what I and thousands of other Jews went through during this very dark period of our history. I also hope this will convey a message to whoever else may read it how evil it is to hate somebody because of their race and religion. I owe my life to some wonderful people in Belgium who disregarding their own safety saved me and hundreds of other Jews from the clutches of the Nazis. There have been many books written about the Holocaust – This is the story of what actually happened to me a hidden child.