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Afterword

Walter Less sergeant in France – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen through the Eyes of a Child

Walter as sergeant in France, 1943 – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese made a surprise attack and bombed the American fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, bringing the U.S. into World War II to fight against Germany and Japan. Walter immediately joined the American Army. All immigration opportunities ceased at that time. The Lesses were fortunate, indeed, to have arrived eight months earlier.

Walter was stationed in France and England. He was first assigned to a medical unit. Later he became an interpreter for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), interrogating German prisoners of war.

Walter and Joan Less 1960s – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Walter and his wife Joan in the 1960s – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

Anna Less – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Anna Less with her granddaughter Margaret Ann – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

While in England, he met a young Catholic woman, Joan Todd. When he returned to California at the end of the war, she joined him and they married. They had one daughter, Margaret Ann.

Anna Less, Ahronheim family – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

The Ahronheim children with their parents. Anna is standing on the left – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

Ahronheim family, Less family – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

The Ahronheim family with the reunited Less family: Ernst, Anna, Leopold and Walter – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

Walter’s sister Kate, her husband John and daughter Eva, and Walter’s brother, Ernst, also escaped safely to the United States. They, too, eventually settled in San Francisco. Walter’s father died in 1945 of a heart attack; his mother lived well into her 80s. His father would never discuss his time in the concentration camp, even though he was safe in California. German officers had warned him if he ever spoke about anything he had witnessed, they would find him and his family and kill them all. Walter’s mother, as she grew old and frail, would tell her son she could hear the Nazis and the Hitler Youth marching under her window each night, singing their songs and shouting, “Death to the Jews!”

Ahronheim family 2009 – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Ahronheim family reunion in Princeton, New Jersey in 2009 – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

Fifty years later, Walter and his wife, Joan, returned to Lüneburg. They were welcomed by the mayor. An article was written in the newspaper after their arrival, and citizens who remembered Walter’s parents and their department store introduced themselves. Several commented how Herr Less had generously allowed their families to buy on credit, and the son of a woman from a very poor family told how grateful his mother was that he always gave her a hot breakfast before she began her day’s work in the store.

Walter Less, Margaret A. McQuillan – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Walter Less and daughter Margaret with her children Jessica and Matthew at Christmas – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

Walter’s daughter, Margaret, still has the silverware, photographs, wedding ring and pocket watch her grandparents, Anna and Leopold, chose to bring with them. She also has Walter’s photograph album and stamp collection. Joan died in 1985. Walter died in December, 2001.

Walter Less 2001 – EBook Margaret A. McQuillan: An Orange in Winter / The Beginning of the Holocaust as Seen Through the Eyes of a Child

Walter Less, age 84, sailing in Newburyport, Massachusetts, in 2001 – © Archive M. A. McQuillan

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Afterword Copyright © 2017 by Margaret A. McQuillan and Geschichtswerkstatt Lüneburg e.V.. All Rights Reserved.

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