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A Dutch Story

by Dutch_Frances

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Erik Van Schaik
Location of story: 
The Hague, The Netherlands
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
11 November 2003

As an English woman living in Holland, I was recently given a "baby book" written by the parents of a friend of mine, Erik van Schaik, who was born in 1943 in The Hague. His father worked for the evacuation bureau in The Hague, his mother was a nurse. I have translated some parts of this diary and submit them to you.

24 April 1943:

Our son has been born in an exceptional time. Luckily he has no concept yet of what the air raid sirens mean and is not upset by the sounds of aeroplanes flying overhead or the thundering of anti-aircraft guns. I, his father, queued for ages for half a pack of butter. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and we will try, despite everything, to create a festive spirit. While Aunt Mien baked some truffles from oat flour, I made some pancakes using government flour. This is made from a secret recipe, but after 3 years of war we've got used to it.

2 May 1943:
Yesterday was 1 May, but due to all the unrest in our country all celebrations were cancelled. Today we took our son out in his pram and took some photos of him. We pray the photos will be successful as in these crazy times it is impossible to buy new film. We passed a river and I dreamt of one day when I would go fishing with my son. He's only 6 weeks old but I often think about his future, which is probably foolish when our very existence is uncertain.

8 May 1943:

Mother went to town to try to buy something nice for herself, but came back empty-handed, which is hardly surprising in these mad times. Tomorrow it's Mothers Day and I will try to find her some flowers, which are astronomically expensive these days.

1 June 1943:

This evening, without him knowing, I studied our little chap as he lay sleeping. He made delightful little noises, sweet and soft and joyful. My boy has Spirit. I sincerely hope that the world will be kinder to him than to us. I am completely happy with my boy. I would love to be 20 years younger so that I could be young with my boy - but we can't have everything. Maybe one day our boy will read this diary, which has been written with a full and happy heart. Maybe our boy will be surprised that mature adults can write such things about a baby, ,but we do this partly to forget the terrible things that are happening around us. But maybe he will understand our sheer happiness and joy with him in a time when thousands of young men are dying and thousands of young women and children are being killed by bombs. Our joy and happiness with our baby while everything around us is frightening and uncertain, so uncertain that we can only believe in ourselves and hardly dare contemplate what tomorrow might bring. We live for this child. He has taken over our thoughts and is the centre point of our existence while the whole world around us has gone completely insane. We worry about how we can protect this new life through these difficult times. We have just received a letter from a friend who is in a concentration camp. He writes about a child born there 4 weeks before ours, but under a thousand times worse circumstances. In comparison to that tiny life, that is hated by a huge nation and as a result hardly has any chance of survival, our boy lives like a prince. In this year 1943, in a time when modern man exists, with his technical ability, "broadmindedness" and so-called humanism, who calls himself civilized and cultured, there is a small life, and thousands and thousands more with him, who will perish because he belongs to another race than that of his "superiors", his oppressors

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This story has been placed in the following categories.

Childhood and Evacuation Category
Diaries Category
Netherlands Category
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