Nel Lazeron

Pieternella Antonia (Nel) Lazeron 1930-2017

Via this website we received this message from Australia written by Melanie Weckert:

My mother, Nel Lazeron was in the Dam Square during the shooting. She was 14 years old and had followed the crowds. She and her husband Henk Dogger and I (a baby) emigrated to Australia in 1954. She told her five children the story of the Dam often – how she ran past dead bodies. She saw a pram and wondered if there was a baby in it. She died six years ago without knowing. I saw the pram in the video, empty. I wish she had known that before she died. My mother hated crowds all her life and managed to avoid them by living in a tiny town on the Gippsland lakes most of her life.

I wrote this poem after my mother died. I believe the baby was saved but did not discover that until after she died.

The Dam Square Massacre May 7th, 1945.

In this new land, I sit with my mother
in whispers, she tells me her story
of the Dam Square, of Amsterdam
where she, a child, small and excited
had snuck out to dance to the end of the war
to patriotic songs of the Netherlands
cranked out from a blue barrel organ.

But machine guns were trained on those revellers
and as the gunfire began, they took flight
from the monstrous rattle of stammering guns
as bullets ripped through them like butter
the blood-splashed ran screaming
like shrill birds fleeing,
that mad and bewildering slaughter.

My mother ran
a solitary girl
she ran straight past
the adults hunkered down
behind trucks and  
the barrel organ
she ran past a woman,
her arm shot off
she ran and ran
past long columns
in the lee of the
skinny lamp posts.
She ran past a young boy
lying motionless
on cobblestones.
She ran past a pram,
still and abandoned, with  
a slanting glance of terror,
was there a baby?
But she kept running
flying like a sparrow bird,
fleeing predatory hawks
through the narrow
stone streets
to her home.

Today, years later
under cliffs cascading to the sea
she cries her grief for that pram
as seagulls cry out above.
Seventy years haunted
‘Was there a baby?’
Should she have stopped?
‘I never forgot it’, she says.

Poem Published, Four W Thirty-four, New Writing, 2023, NSW, Australia.

Photo taken at the immigration of the family. Nel is holding Melanie in her arms.

August 2023 – May 2024

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