As a 12-year-old boy in a Jewish family in Holland, Ed Lessing had no idea the misery he would see from the onset of World War II.
Germany invaded his country on May 10, 1940 and changed his life forever. He recounted his struggle at Team Redstone's Days of Remembrance program April 23 at the Diane Campbell Recreation Center.
"I survived because my God helped me," Lessing said.
To survive during the Holocaust, he and his parents and two younger brothers dispersed and went into hiding from 1942-45. Posing as a Christian stable boy, he hid on isolated Dutch farms.
"I was alone," he said. "I was 16. I had lost my home, my father, my mother, my brothers, my world."
In 1943 he joined an armed resistance group in the woods, and narrowly escaped when it was raided by German troops in December 1943.
Miraculously, his entire family survived the war and emigrated to the United States. Lessing, 81, resides in Hudson, N.Y., with his wife, Carla, who also survived in hiding during the war. They have a grown son and daughter.
Lessing is a frequent speaker in private and public schools, colleges, churches, Jewish centers and synagogues. He is the writer and editor of monthly newsletters for the Hidden Child Foundation/ADL.
Maj. Gen. Jim Myles, commander of the Aviation and Missile Command and Redstone Arsenal, presented a memento to Lessing and thanked him for sharing his experience.
"It's about trying to remember our past so we don't repeat it," Myles said of the program.
Myles presented awards to the following winners of static display and essay contests sponsored by Team Redstone for this year's Days of Remembrance observance:
Aca,!Ac Static displays - first place, Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space; second, NCO Academy; and third, Space and Missile Defense Command.
Aca,!Ac Essays - first, Kim Torres of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center; second, 1st Sgt. Jacob Endres of HHC 59th; and third, Dorman Chasteen of JLENS under SMDC.