Creek Speak April 2017 - Page 15

what it was all about.Years went on, and by 1942 in our small town we got use to it to spend during the day and night a good number of hours in a shelter, beneath the surface of the ground/street level. Together with people of our neighbourhood, we could hear the Allied bombers in the air, heading for the industrial areas of Germany, where they dropped the bombs.

My Dad's father was a Jew. But he had left Germany on time, with his new family.

By Hitler's standards and law, my Dad was therefore a 1/2 Jew, the children a 1/4 Jew.

But we kids did not know about it at that time. And we would not have understood it.

Early 1943 the situation for our family came to a turning point. One early evening, with four

little bags, tucked in warm clothing, our family drove off to an area towards the North Sea coast.

At a remote settlement we had a bite to eat. We children were instructed to keep our mouth shut

from now on. It is pretty hard for kids this young. We left the eating place, passing our car, and

followed two men in the darkness. After a while we could hear the sea. Soon we had reached a point,where my Dad handed over the car keys to one of the men. Three new men took over. Together with them we left the shore in a small boat. Hardly any sound, my sister and I holding on to each other in fright. I was so damned scared by that time, because I could not swim. The journey by boat took some time before arriving at a landing. Two new faces were expecting our family. We had to walk a mile or so, when we reached a saw-mill. We were pushed into a shack. One of the men gave us to drink and to eat, before disappearing into the darkness. Next morning the owner of the saw-mill gave instruction to my parents and us children, how to behave in our new surrounding. It became our home for the next 27 months!!!

Dad taught us to read, write and count. Due to shortage of pencils and books, we learned to memorize many things, to be good in spelling, and do mathematics in our head. A fair amount of Dutch we learned as well. Nevertheless, we had lots of time on our hands...A luxury in our dull daily life was a hot bath in a tub every 10 days, and to put on clean clothing. I remember two pistols (handguns), hidden in a safe place. We knew it was for protection. My parents told us many years later, when we had grown up, that Mom and Dad would had used them on the four of us, as a last resort.

Came May 1945, seeing our parents looking so much happier, one early morning we saw big tanks rolling down the country side. My Dad, who spoke English quite fluently, had figured out, it were Canadian tanks. Not before long a tank stood before our "home". Out came, what a shock for us kids, a soldier with a black skin. Our first sight of someone not looking white. But he was such a lovely person, handing out chocolate and sweets to us, it was an unforgettable moment. Dad became during the next weeks quite busy. The news of us, someone fluent in English (my Mom spoke French), had been passed on between the armored vehicles. Liberation Day, May 08, was the end of our Odyssey. We kids gained weight again, my parents full of joy, that this all

had come to an end.. In Fall 1945 we went back to Northern Germany, where the nightmare had begun over two years ago... Uncounted Allied soldiers liberated Western Europe from the German occupancy. One is not certain, how many lost their life, buried in foreign soil, resting in War Cemeteries in France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany. If one of your students will travel this countries, and you will see a sign "War Cemetery", do stop and pay a short visit.

I know, it is the soldiers generation of your grandparents, which went through hell over here in Europe, A grandparent in uniform, you know only from an old photograph. But I am sure, if your grandpa looks from heaven, and seeing you walking between the crosses, he will be so proud of you and sure will sent you a big hug when you pay your respect to the fallen. Let us be thankful, that good parts of our world can now live in peace. Remember, peace was payed by a heavy price, above all by the brave men and women of the Allied Forces.

Kind regards to you, Kiley, and your students in your school.

Rolf.