- Ed Lessing was born in 1926 in the Hague, Holland to Nathan and Engeline Elizabeth Lessing. His father was a cellist and his mother worked as a professional telegraph operator. His brothers Attie and Freddie were born in the 1930’s.
- When the German armies overran Holland in 1940, the Lessing family was living in Delft and could not foresee to what extent their lives would change. The time came when Ed Lessing was banished from his high school, forced to wear a Jewish star on his jacket, and told to prepare to leave Holland for “work relief in Germany”. Ed’s grandfather Isaac came from Amsterdam to warn them not to get on those trains and to go into hiding.
- Ed’s mother started to find hiding places and rescuers for her family. Ed’s hair was bleached, he got false Christian ID papers, and he started working as a stable boy and farmhand on an isolated farm.
- His mother got him into a Dutch resistance group that was living in a hut deep in the forest. The SS tried to kill this group in a dawn raid but somehow his mother miraculously rescued him and had him placed in another temporary hiding place. It is in this place that Ed learned about his Jewish heritage in a copy of the Old Testament that he found in a bookcase.
- In 1944, on a Dutch train, a Gestapo agent arrested Ed’s mother. She was sent to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. This prompted Ed to find and join his father and two brothers who were hiding in a one- room cabin deep in the Dutch countryside near Arnhem. They struggled through the bitter, last winter of the war, until they were liberated by the Canadian army in the spring of 1945.
- In August of 1945 the family returned to Delft (Ed’s mom, with a lot of ingenuity had managed to survive), and Ed’s father resumed teaching piano and cello.
- They emigrated to the U.S. in 1947. It is here that Ed met and married Carla Heymans, a former hidden child. The young couple moved to a kibbutz in Israel where they lived from 1950-1955. Their daughter Noa was born there. Today they have 2 children and four grandchildren.