On 7 August 1927 a terrible tram accident occurred on Naarderstraat in Laren. Two trams collided. A number of people were killed, among them three members of one family. Husband and wife Emanuel Lisser and Jeannette Vischschraper and their young daughter Greta. The only member of the family to survive was eight-year-old Nico, although he was seriously injured. He had to have a leg amputated.
I came across this story as I was researching the history of my neighbourhood and I was immediately affected by the fate of the young boy. And in 1927 too there was great compassion. The whole country expressed sympathy.
The Rijnbode newspaper of 10 August 1927 carried the following story:
"There is great interest in the condition of those seriously injured in the tram collision in Laren. The Saint Jan Catholic Hospital is receiving countless enquiries about the condition of the patients, while flowers and refreshments are being sent from everywhere. Her Majesty the Queen Mother also phoned to convey her best wishes. The mayor and council secretary visit the patients daily. Much of the interest is directed at the badly injured eight-year-old boy Nico Lisser, whose left leg was amputated on Sunday afternoon. The young lad has already been informed that his mother and father have died. The authorities did not have the courage, however, to tell the unfortunate Nico that his little sister Greta is also no longer with us. "
I immediately wondered about what became of Nico. I hoped I would find out that a loving family had taken care of him, that he grew up and turned out well, and had a family of his own.
How different reality turned out to be. Nico Lisser probably grew up with his grandparents on his father’s side. He certainly lived with them on Vrolikstraat in Amsterdam in 1941. In 1943 he and his grandparents ended up in Sobibor. His grandparents on his mother’s side, almost all his uncles and aunts, and the majority of his cousins didn’t survive the war either.
In 1927 there was a massive, almost national outpouring of sympathy for Nico Lisser when he lost his parents and sister in an accident. In 1943 he was murdered together with most of his family, but without a word written about it in the newspapers or without any messages of support from dignitaries.
That is why it is important not to forget the name Nico Lisser. He deserved an expression of sympathy in 1943.
Donna van der Dussen