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By Louise Laurence-Israëls

My brother and I heard shouting and loud noises all around us. He was five years old and I was three. We had lived a very quiet life for two and a half years between our safe walls.

For the first time, we saw our father climb on a chair and open the window, and we heard what the shouting was all about: “Peace, there is peace.” It was May 5, 1945. We had to ask what the word “peace” meant. The explanation did not sink in.

While in hiding, my father had baked some very nutritious cookies with lots of butter and sugar and he had sealed them in tins. The cookies were for times when there was no food, or in case we would have to flee from our hiding place. Sometimes half a cookie had to do for an entire day for the children. I am sure the adults did without very often.

When peace came, my parents had managed to save one whole tin. My father got the last tin and opened it and we were allowed to take as much as we could eat. After two cookies, we felt full.

My parents waited one day and on May 6 they took us outside to the park that we had lived across from for two and a half years. It was very frightening for my brother and me, and we held each other’s hands tightly. Our parents put us on a grassy field and told us to play.

We looked at each other and started to cry. We wanted to go back inside, where it was safe. We liked our four walls. We were afraid to be without the walls.

It must have been devastating for our parents when, after dreaming for years of showing us the outside world, my brother and I stood and cried. 

It was the first time I saw my mother cry.

©2006, Louise Lawrence-Israëls. The text, images, and audio and video clips on this website are available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws.