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Stories To Tell Part 4: Annalise Lanza

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by Smiley 2.0, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

    Dec 2, 2014
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    The Land of the Noble Steed
    My dad had told me a little bit about Analise before I met her. He had told me that she was from Denmark and she had stayed there during the German occupation and that she was looking forward to meeting her as I was also excited to meet her. After making the proper introductions and my dad returning to his office to allow us to converse, we wasted no time getting into the story that she wanted to tell me about her family and the occupation. Analise Lanza was born on August 17, 1934 in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her father was a bricklayer and worked in a factory. He was born in 1902 in Leipzig Germany with 13 brothers and sisters. He lived in Leipzig during the First World War and moved to Denmark in 1919 where he would soon meet Analise's mother. They would be married in 1932. Fast forward to 1940, even at the age of 6, Analise still remembers the day the occupation began. On April 9, 1940 after the collapse of the Danish military, she woke up seeing sheets of paper floating down from the sky. She picked one up and remembered it telling them that they were now under the occupation of the German military. After doing a little bit of research I believe that these sheets of paper were known as OPROP! That same day she remembers going to a grocery store and overhearing someone talking about how the occupation should only last about a month. "It lasted four and a half years." She told me. It only got worse after that.

    She described the Germans as always wearing long boots that almost went up to their knees with a metal piece on the heel so you would hear them coming. That was a sign that you had to get out of their way. Describing the Gestapo she said that they referred to them as "Green Grasshoppers." She described the SS and their skull and bones insignia on their caps. "They had an insignia that were like two lightning bolts." she told me. She took a piece of paper and drew the SS insignia saying that this was one of the things they had on their uniforms.

    The Germans soon set up a curfew where you could not be out during the hours of 6 pm - 6 am. If you were caught you would immediately be arrested or be shot. She remembered how there were Germans hiding in plain clothes with jackets on the streets and if they caught anyone outside when curfew was in effect, they would pull out guns hidden underneath their jackets and shoot them. "We were afraid to go out." She told me.

    When it came to survival things were more difficult. There was a 4 day time period where the Germans shut off the water, electricity, gas and heat. Her family had to cook in a stove outside of their apartment. One of the ways in which they would get their food was that there was a bakery on a corner a couple of blocks from where they lived. She and others would sneak their way to the bakery and had to climb over a fence and sneak into the bakery and take things such as bread. During the occupation she continued going to school and her mother would make her lunches for school. They would primarily consist of two slices of bread with margarine that "tasted like petroleum," along with tomatoes. There was no lunch meat and they would always have to boil their potatoes. Annalise's family had a farm that was around 30 to 40 miles outside of Copenhagen but in order to simply get out of the city they needed a passport. and one of the rules was that if anyone was to leave the city they could not bring anything back. However they still snuck things, mostly food, in the city. Another thing she remembered her family having during the occupation was coffee. However the kind of coffee they were making, because of hard rationing, consisted of only a small amount of coffee and mostly chickweed which she described as "disgusting" and "awful." She remembered the winters of 1941 and 1942 being very bad. The windows in her family's apartment were frozen solid she recalled. Her father would ride his bike in freezing temperatures to go down to the nearby docks where he could find coal from the ships in port. She told me that her mother almost lost her ear to frostbite when she went out to get food.

    As we continued our conversation, we came across a very interesting topic: the Jewish population. Annalise remembered that there wasn't a real large Jewish population where she lived but she did have a very good friend that she would play with before and during the occupation that was Jewish. Her friend's family owned a fur coat store across the road from Annalise's family's apartment and lived in the same building as their store on the fourth floor. One night in 1943, Annalise heard a truck pull up. When she looked out the window she saw that a German military truck had pulled up in front of the building where her friend lived. She saw the Germans rush into the building and up to the fourth floor. She watched as the Germans dragged her friend and her family outside and forced them into the trucks and watched as they drove off. "I never saw her or her family again." She told me solemnly. She told me that she had a bit of an idea of where they were taken but she wasn't sure. It wasn't until much later that she fully understood where her friend and her family were taken. I asked if she could remember her friend's name, but after taking a minute to think she sadly told me that she could not remember.

    Throughout the occupation, in Copenhagen the resistance was active. On her family's part, they would use a radio to tune into BBC. She recalled listening to this radio and hearing announcements of major military operations including D-Day. If anyone was caught listening to one of these radios, they would be arrested. She remembered how her father, whenever he was riding his bike, was frequently stopped by German soldiers and checked and searched. One thing she remembered the resistance doing was taking stones out from the road and going to the very top of buildings and dropping them on any German car driving by that had open tops. Annalise also remembers a tobacco store nearby being raided by the Germans and raiding the tobacco store's owners' apartment and throwing things out of the window including a piano. One day when she went to school, there were German soldiers guarding the entrance to the school who turned them away saying that there was going to be no school today. For a while they had to go to school in a church. As it turned out the school's principal and his son were working with the Danish resistance and the Germans had discovered weapons that were being hidden in the school's basement. The principal and his son were arrested and never seen again Annalise told me. She told me that a lot of these incidents occurred from 1943 to the end of the occupation.

    She told me that she will never forget the day the occupation ended which was May 8, 1945. She remembers seeing the crowds cheering and even seeing Montgomery himself walking down a street with a military band. When I asked her how it felt to know that the occupation was over, she said, "It was unbelievable."

    We continued talking about other things such as life after the occupation, her family, and travelling and other topics. Years after the war (I believe she said in the 1960s), she married a man from Italy and was happily married until he passed on I believe earlier this year or last year. She told me that he was a wonderful cook and that he taught her a lot about cooking. Today she continues to be a proud mother and grandmother.

    Yesterday I got a phone call from my dad telling me that it was her birthday and that she had asked about me was wondering how I was doing. He then added that she has been extensively following what has been going on in Charlottesville and that she has lost a lot of sleep over it. He told me that a lot of what has been going on over there has reminded her of the stories that she told me and that it is a great shame that this kind of hate is still alive. I pray for her and the rest of the world that the hatred and fear she witnessed will not be repeated again.
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2017
    lwd, TD-Tommy776, KJ Jr and 2 others like this.
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

    Jan 5, 2009
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    An especially heart-wrenching story told from the perspective of a civilian. Thanks for posting these, Dave.
    Smiley 2.0 likes this.
  3. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

    Jun 3, 2011
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    The Land of 10,000 Loons
    Another great personal story that needs to be documented and preserved. Thanks, Dave.
    Smiley 2.0 likes this.

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