They warned us when Germans were to make "house calls" to search for Jews. They let us stay on the grounds of the Theosophical Society across the road. A professor of literature gave me private lessons, the children became my best friends. Although very dangerous collaborators lived in our street, we survived in semi-hiding. I remember the period as a very happy and enriching one, emotionally as well as intellectually. Many good conversations with many generations of wonderful people, deep into the nights.
Then Chris arrived in our house and promised to get us to Switzerland. There was talk of disguising us as workers and driving us by truck. My father questioned the validity of such a plan. How could two young girls and a woman pass as workers? But somehow Chris became a fixture in our house and fond of us, genuinely so. My father eventually paid him a fortune for false papers; and one day we walked to the train station. Neighbors who we knew were discreetly waving goodbye. Chris turned out to be a crook who actually delivered Jews to the Germans; but
he delivered us into the hands of a Belgian smuggler, who that night expected the usual cargo of butter or goods, but not people. He walked us for four hours through the silent moonlit night. My sister still remembers as the only sound the rubbing together of my fat thighs. We had no belongings; but I took my miniature wooden train. I still have it. The smuggler took us to his farm just inside Belgium. Two days later we were
One of Ursula’s Water Colors painted during one of her European trips
joined by friends. We, the four children, slept in the hay. The oldest boy was allowed to help milk the cows. I don’t remember what the younger ones did (if anything). The two fathers found a hiding place. We went to 33 Rue Legrand in Brussels. M & Mme Geudevert, owners of this boarding house, took us in at great danger to themselves. Regular house guests never let on that they knew who we were, never questioned us, and helped us with our meager knowledge of French. I helped in the kitchen with a lot of baking and delicious home grown food. When I had a period, I was not allowed to touch certain foods. Those were the rules at the time.
Monsieur Geudevert grew tobacco and we were allowed to help with the harvest. Another family of four arrived. My father and the man had a very serious conversation. It was much too dangerous to have us all in one hiding place. They left since we had been there first. They were discovered soon after moving into their own house and were never heard of again. Only one of their small boys came running to us after finding his house sealed. I do not remember what happened to him. We ate our meals with the other guests. Only when members of the Italian family came to lunch, would we stay in our rooms.