Veteran Stories:
Peter Van Breevoort

Army

  • Holland, Den Dungen 1944.

    Peter Van Bree Voort
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"I never can forget it. My freedom. I see the sky again. The freedom is so much."

Transcript

Then when they started to round up the Jews in Amsterdam, and the Jews were not allowed to buy any vegetables, groceries in the stores. But my brother worked in a textile where they make jersey cloth. You know? And it was all Jewish people all around him and he know a lot of people. Just my brother came home and he’d say, oh, Peter, come on, let’s buy some vegetables and we bring it to the Jewish people. That’s what we did. We bought it, we brought it to, it was close to the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam. And it was in an apartment. And there were people my brother know and we brought the vegetables. But somebody in the apartment was a Nazi collaborator on the police. And he saw it and he followed us. And then he stop us in the street and he took us to the police officers. And they took us in and they lock us up in the jail. Well, my father was in the Civil office, worked for the Amsterdam [meaning: the city of Amsterdam], they have connection with the police in Amsterdam. Between, by the way,I have to say the Dutch police don’t cooperate that much too. Well, a lot of Nazi lovers too. He get us out. August 1944, around August, we were between the village Vught, but there was another concentration camp, Vught, and sent to Hertogenbosch in the train. We’re sitting and then the SD [Sicherheits Dienst], that’s the secret service, which, before you go to the train, checks your papers. And then we show the papers, look at the papers and they are false. They took us right away and brought us to jail and lock us up. And from there, it was the nightmare starting. I was sitting with I don’t know how many people in a jail cell, no place to sleep and they tried to get it out where I get the false papers. We were, we were, my brother, we stick with the same story all the time. But didn’t get anything out of us and then they would have notified home so they sent us in a small packet with clothes and by that they knew, know that we go on transport. When they arrive, they put us in a bus later on, but only 30 places for 50 people and that’s the old type of bus that they have the rear doors at the side, left and right, for emergency. And we were sitting on the left emergency doors. I was sitting in the rear and my brother was sitting in front of me. Oh no, my brother was sitting at the rear and I was sitting in front of him. And my brother found out that the door was not locked. But we don’t say anything, we look each other, that’s it, boys. We was going to the train and then from the train, we are going to one of the concentration camp. Now that was, I found that all out later, the only concentration camp I had to go first, it was Amersfoort. There were two concentration camps in all, Vught and Amersfoort. And then from there on, you go to the other concentration camp. But I thought, well boys, how we get out of that, we, I’m singing that. So when the train, when the bus arrived at the railway station, and waiting there for the train, but the train was not showing up, we were told later, I know later, one of the Spitfires shoot the train. The train was broke or something and the line. Then they return, I talk about this in August 1944. They brought us back to jail and there wasn’t as, the long street through the city and then a short street where you have to turn a corner to go to jail. And you have to know, that you can’t talk to each other, we had to sing and both and look at each other. Then I know what Tom was planning to do. I know when we get to the corner, then he have to break escape, take the corner and then my brother opened the door, sprung out the door and I sprung right on top of him. And we run. But we run in the wrong type of street, it was dead end. There was on the right hand side, a couple big doors. We opened that up, we run inside there and was a kind of long warehouse , with a stack of boxes and there was no door out of there. But we put the box on top of each other; there were windows on the top and the windows were all with wired glass to prevent breaking. And we get it and broke maybe two wires, the windows and they cut me arms all bleeding. And then I look down and I see people, help, help. We just escaped. The people get a stepladder, a step, and they took us down and below that, was a small riool, what do you call a riool, sewers. They brought us down in the sewers, we had to walk on the side. He said sit and stay there. We walk on the side, then we sit there and we slipped in the shit… and pull each other out and then all of the sewers in the city, we stay there till is was dark to hide and the secret police, had the police looking all over the place. But there was a neighbourhood was all poor people and they keep their mouth shut. And then they took us back and then if you look in the book, there’ a picture of it too, help us and they brought it down. But the sewers was full of shit…stay in it in the left side go to the right side and stay right in the edge. I walk, walk, walk to get at the end and then you get outside the city. That’s what I did, with my brother. When we get outside the city, we had to go to water and get to a rest stop and they laid us on our back and I still remember. I never can forget it. My freedom. I see the sky again. The freedom is so much. And we lay that there. And then one farmer saw walking there and we call him, say help us, we just escaped. He took us to his farm and his name was Jan Footz, Jan Footz. And he took us to his home. And he gave us food, help us and I stay with him. God save his place.
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