Rachel Scheffer

in hiding


We heard the stories from our parents........
My mother, Viviane Fraikin, her hand was always folded. It happened when she was in the basement of a building in Liege during a bombing raid. Broken glass had cut her tendons. She was a classical pianist and played the works of Chopin with her knuckles.

My father, Carel van Helsdingen, was a member of 'the 'Underground' (World War II resistance movements) and he told me that he had been arrested several times and put in several Jails in Europe and the Far East. A miracle happened one day when he was put against a wall to be shot. The Canadians walked in and saved him. Death would have been a matter of seconds. In the Eighties I received a request from the Red Cross to meet with Mr. Dekker the North of Holland. After being arrested in Amsterdam he had spent time in a Nazi jail with my dad. Mr. Dekker had to tell me these stories. "Oh yes", he said, "Carel, your father, was an expert in Jail survival and - communications. He had messages sent out on little hidden cigarette papers and he divided the daily bread in many tiny peaces so that everybody could eat and survive. He was the manager in Jail".
And presently I live around the corner of this jail on the Amstelveenseweg in Amsterdam.

My stepmother, Rachel Scheffer, had lost most of her family in Auschwitz.
She spent 3 years in hidi
ng in the attic of a building on the Rokin, Amsterdam. It was during this period (1943-1945) that she gave birth to 2 daughters. Their doctor was also in hiding.
It is a great honour to take part in the WWII commemorations and the celebrations of the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and all of us dedicate this book to our parents.

René van Helsdingen