Sunday, July 5, 2015

WW2 | Lies Boissevain, Imprisoned Aide to Wally van Hall (Updated Mar. 17, 2016)

Elisabeth (Lies) Boissevain (1924-2014), during
the war years before she went to prison. Copy of
photo courtesy of Hester Boissevain Grinberg.
In the Chapter on Wally van Hall and the Financing of the Resistance, I briefly mention Elisabeth (Lies) Boissevain Land. Her father's name was Walraven Boissevain.

She was employed before the Occupation as a schoolteacher. During the Occupation, she worked as a courier and secretary for van Hall, the "oil man" (financier) or Prime Minister of the Dutch Resistance.

Wally van Hall found, as the war progressed, he could trust very few people and that is why he looked for help from among his family.

Near the end of the war, in December 1944, Lies was discovered to be working for the Resistance. She managed to flush the key to Wally's office in toilet.

She was put in solitary confinement for five months, but she revealed nothing. Two years ago Lies sent to Hester Boissevain Grinberg (daughter of Bob Boissevain) a poem that describes her feelings as a young child in the prison.

Walrave Boissevain (1876-1944), father
of Lies Boissevain Land.
Hester says that Lies told her a few years ago: "Tell people, especially children, as much as possible - not to forget World War II."

Here is the beginning of the poem Lies wrote in the "Hunger Winter" (1944-45) of the Nazi Occupation of Holland. Any substantial stores of food they could find in Holland, the Nazis sent by train to Germany.

THE DARK CELL
by Lisha Boissevain in August 1987
(About her confinement in December 1944.)

I was locked in a cell,
In a cell without light,
In a cell with a heavy bolt.
I shivered in the darkness,
So wintry, silent and cold.

Arrested by German oppressors,
Who took my country by force,
I sat there in deathly silence,
Locked in by those prison doors.

Only my steps on the concrete floor
Broke the silence and the gloom.
Four steps to the left,
Four steps to the right;
Endless days without light.

How long would they leave me here,
With only water and bread?
How could I battle this fear?
Torture seemed a real threat.
These men would force me to speak.
They had their methods, while I was weak.
Lies Boissevain Land, who died in 2014. She
urged Hester Boissevain to tell the stories of
the war for the next generation.
Four steps to the left,
Four steps to the right.
How should I act?
How should I fight? ...

An interview with Lies Boissevain Land appears here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oo-wjsPFAx8

The Dutch description of the interview was uploaded on Apr 22, 2011:
Fragment uit het interview met Lies Boissevain (1924-2014). Zij raakte betrokken bij verzetswerk in de betere kringen in Amsterdam: dat van de - later bekende - verzetsfamilie Boissevain, en het NSF (Nationaal Steunfonds) van Wally van Hall. Ze werkte als koerierster en een soort secretaresse. Tot het misging en ze werd opgepakt.