Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"one gets so miserably nervous when the Nazi's would take all those people"

My husband's Grandmother Elisabeth came to America after World War II. She has amazing stories to tell about the German occupation in her home town in the Netherlands. We have all heard the stories so many times, sometimes we are impatient and don't want to listen. Goal for 2010: record the stories.

These are the letters that came from a relative, inviting them to come to America. We should remember how lucky we are.

Letter from Theresa Kennedy to Froukje and Children

From the desk of Mrs. Theresa Kennedy
335 E. 19th. ST.
Long Beach , CA.

Aug. 2, 1946

To the Widow of Albert Dykstra
(Froukje Dykstra Hager)
Hitsum - Friesland, Netherland

Dear Froukje and Children:

Mary and I have been talking and thinking about all eight of you. We are wondering what each of you will be doing when Zwaantje (Sally) is twenty-one years old.

How would all eight of you like to come to America? If nothing now wholly unexpected happens to me, to make it impossible to do so, I will sponsor your coming and pay the transportation of all eight of you to come to America, if you decide to do so.

To leave Netherland the country you love, and all the people you love is a difficult and serious undertaking. Think it through and talk it through carefully with your husbands' father, mother and brothers.

Do not hurry this answer to this letter. Take a long time to consider every side of this great change in your lives. To leave your relatives who are so dear to you, that is hard and sad. I have been thinking about all side. I can do this for you if nothing unforseen occurs, but no one knows the future.

If you decide you want to come to America, go to your American Counsul. Ask him what you need to do in order to get visas to come to America. Have your names put on the list of applicants. If your American Consul in Holland has directions for me to follow, which are different from what I will get from the immigration bureau here, I will be glad to get them and follow them.

Since I cannot be sponsor or pay the transporation of anyone outside of your family, I feel it will be wise for you not to tell outsiders of the contents of this letter. If anyone asks me to pay their way, I will have to refuse. I have already been compelled to do so in some cases.

Sincerely yours, Theresa Kennedy

Froukje's reply to Theresas invite to come to America

(Date unreadable)

Dear Aunt,

The 19 Aug, I received what for us was a very interesting letter. I have read the letter and re-read it again. The content was almost too beautiful to be true for such an offer. But Aunt, as you also write, it is something difficult. Especially for my own father and parents in law, where we now frequent every day. To leave, yes, who knows. they are getting older, that we perhaps for the last time separate. And yet even when it is difficult we accept your offer. When I look at the future of my still so young children and now no matter how hard they work they can't bring it farther than to a poor piece of bread. Klaas is soon now l8 years and an alert and strong boy and a best milker. As Uncle Gerlof said, will be able to earn a good piece of bread in a stable or so. Also Elizabeth and Pietje can already help to earn. The 4 younger children must go again to school, but Aunt that would be alright, he? What the future shall bring us there, we don't know, but we are full of hope, to us a new life. If nothing happens contrarywise and everything as are our plans, then maybe we can come inside a year. The bourgemaster of Franekeradeel gave me the address and I will right away write you, dear aunt so that when you receive this letter there shall directly follow another. We received the last l4 days, a total of 9 packages from you and Miss Rees and Miss Elms. That we have already beautiful cloths. All will be wonderful (heerlyk)when we can thank you personally. Mother Geertia finds if diffifult (liet er wel tegen op) and no wonder. The children have been grown up (raised) by them. Be heartfully saluted Aunt, and Maria,

Froukje Dykstra

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Letters from Froukje to Theresa Kennedy and Mary Rees

Dear Mrs. Kennedy,

We are all very lucky. All my girls have nice hair and are in good health. Here little children have had a terrible time- so many big sores on arms and legs from undernourishment, says the doctor.

I have a great help from my oldest daughter, even in keeping the children clean for them to grow healthy again. We are going toward summer and hope much good from that. But, Miss Rees, we have no sheets or pillow cases for what we had is gone for bandages first, then for towels and tiny shirts, etc., but America helps everywhere.

We live in a little village and when my daugher goes to get the packages, then it is full in the postoffice. All from American sent to us. I will give you a little example: A women came to me, she has more then three times my income, but didn't have a needle to sew with. Luckily I had received some needles so I could help her, and she was so happy that she could sew again! Then a girl came and said, "Mother just had one needle yet and I broke it and now we can't sew anything." I gave her five needles. She pinned them carefully on her hankerchief as something precious, and then to her mother. I just write this to show how little we have here yet to help the housework. Buttons, elastic, or suspenders, even if it is old it is all so welcome. I can hardly find words to thank you for all your kind sendings.

As soon as we get the material, I will send you some photos from us all 8. There are no films or they are so high priced. How happy were my children with their shoes and too the beautiful quilt, the children think that is so fine. Pietje (Peggy), my daughter of l5, had hardly a coat and now has that beautiful red coat and beautiful shoes too. How glad she was! I myself had hardly anything to wear and that beautiful black suit just fit me. Oh, what a relief! All the children now wrote a letter to Aunt Theresa, and will also write to Ms. Rees. Each evening one can write for we have only one pen. From the pieces of materials and the (table)runner we made a pair of pants fo the smallest boy and from the other a dress by putting a piece on top and on the bottom - did the same with a little coat and shirt, adding yellow sleeves and lower parts - ditto that for the nine year old. She looks real nice with her new clothes and curly hair. The pieces were nice and warm. I would sew more if I had more thread and yarn. We have offered up many times our night's rest as there is so much to do. My oldest daughter (Elisabeth) is so willing and always working to help and does it with pleasure. How lovely it is to be able to work again after such hard times - to accomplish something!

I will write you again and send you the heartiest greetings from a mother from the far away Netherlands and her children who are all so very thankful to you all.

Froukje Dykstra

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Letter from Pietje (Peggy) to Theresa Kennedy

April 1, 1946

Dear Auntie,

It is Sunday morning and I thought I will write a letter also. The radio is going and it is so cozy in the room. I think it is so nice to write a letter to America. I received many things and am so glad with them. I could not even go out on Sunday, I had no shoes on my feet. And then Grandmother, Geertje did get the package from America. Uncle Gerlof came to tell me that Grandmother wanted me to come and then I got a beautiful pair of brown shoes. How very glad I was to get them Auntie. You can understand that. I keep them for Sundays, and also received a nice brown dress. That too was in that package and am wearing all that not while I sit and write to you. It is a lovely warm dress auntie, you know. And then I got that nice blue wool skirt. I will wear it with a white jacket, and a beautiful hankerchief. I received also, and my friends find it and all so beautiful. I have four friends. I am Pietje, l5 years, weight 95 pounds and am 174 cm. Auntie, we find it so very dear of you to be so kind to us. Mother of course think too and appreciate so much that you make those beautiful packages for us and we are so thankful for the beautiful and so useful things in them.

Now Auntie, I will tell you what I do. I was in the household school, but time became so bad that we didn't have anymore materials to sew, also no thread. I can sew very nice. I am now in the morning by the school principal. They are nice but kind of funny. By and by I will sew again when times are better. We had a lot of men hiding from those Nazi's in this village. Mother's brother was here hiding. He slept behind a wall with some straw. When we woke up in the morning my brother Rinze would knock on the wall and we could call out, "out you go to Smilde." Auntie, you will think they are strange words. It meant when the men from 40 to 60 had to go in the Smilde to dig ditches for them Nazi's to turn off the English and Canadians. and they made deep holes in the roads. The farmers had to give up loads of stuff t them, hay, cows, horses, cheese, butter, about EVERYTHING. You could write a book about those Nazi's. And I better quit.

Much love and best greetings,

(English translated copy)

Letter from Rinze to Theresa Kennedy

Hitsum, Apri 1, 1946

Dear Aunt,

Mother says we all should write a letter to Auntie and then all will go clear to America of which mother tells us so much. I am Rinze, am 10 years, my birthday will be April 19. I am in the 4th class and I am small. I am doing my best in school because I would like to become a teacher. We were sometimes hungry in school, we got only 2 pieces of bread and get such nasty kitchen food. It is now much better and were are nice and warm in the school. I got an 8 for writing and in arithmetic sometimes a 7 and in geography a 9 and in reading a 7 1/2. I weigh 58 pounds. We now go to school with SHOES, it is here always so wet. We can't get wooden shoes, only the workers them them on the bon. I received a lovely cup from Auntie, in it we get milk or tea in the morning. We are longing for the summer, then it is here so lovely in the village. I was so glad when the Canadians came with the tanks. Although I am small, I know a lot of the war. When the Green police came here I was afraid of them, they were always after men. I ams so glad of those pieces of material, I got a thick pair of pants of it that I wear to school.

Now Auntie, I know a lot more but will write later on. I think it so lovely of you to send us those packages.

Greetings and many kisses.
(English translated copy)

Letter from Elizabeth to Theresa Kennedy

Hitzum, Holland
April 1, 1946

Dear Aunt Theresa,

I thought I would write you otherwise I would stay so far behind the other children. They all wrote to you and I thought that was so nice. I'm 20 and in April will become 21. Time goes fast Auntie. I have been in the household school three years now and have received two diplomas, one for householding and one for dressmaking. I always enjoyed it very much and always have had such a good time there. I was always very thankful to you Auntie, that I could go to school, because now I can make all kinds of things. I wasl also in Leeuwaarden with a Doctor to help in his household, but is became unbearable with anxiety for that Doctor was taken as a laborer to Germany. He was held by them for 6 months and when he came out there was such happiness. We would be in the house with curtains draw, the doors locked, just as if nobody was at home. At night there were so many times the Green Police around the house and the Doctor would hide and we would be watching. So that I went home to the peaceful little village of Hitzum. They were not so many soliders there and one gets so miserably nervous when the Nazi's would take all those people.......

We are so glad with the parcels you sent, and it is so kind for clothes are so scarce. I received 2 c oats from your packages, the light gray one looks so nice on me, also 2 dresses and all fitted exactly. I was so very glad for I had one one dress left because I had grown so fast. We say sometimes to each other, "That Dear Aunt, if she was here now we would HUG her." What a lot of work that must be to make all those packages, but if you could see the HAPPY faces! You will get also a photo from us all, but can't yet get the materials.

I hope your hand is getting better because we know about that too. Now Auntie I will end and will write to you soon again.

Heartiest Geetings.

(English translated copy)

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Letter from Zwaantje (Sally) to Theresa Kennedy

March 27, 1946

Dear Auntie,

I am Zwaantje (little Swan). I am nine years old and I sit in the third class. I am 56 pounds. I am tall, 140 cm. In the beautiful little cups each morning we get tea or cholcolate milk. I have received from Auntie a roll of yarn. From it Hizza knit me one sock, and Pietje knit me another, and then I went with mother to Leewarden to Auntie Jantje's, and there I had so much fun. I went to the zoo garden and there I had also so much fun. Sunday we go again to Altewerp with mother and there again we will have so much fun. Once I sat there in the swing and oh, that was so luscious.

I have also four friends at school and I can knit. And we get now chocolate on the ration and oranges on the ration. When the soldiers were here we could hardly get anything.

And I have a doll's bed, but I have no doll. There are some for 10 Gulden. Mother can't buy that. First Lizza (?) had the doll bed, then Pietje had the doll bed, then Geertje, and now I may have the doll bed, but I have no doll. And we have two pussy cats. One is black and one is speckled. They are such dears. They love me so much. Uncle Gerlof has such darling cows and such darling sheep.

Now Auntie, I know no more. Now the hearty greetings.

Zwaantje Dykstra
(English translated copy)

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P.S. Some funny things in English but perfectly correct in Dutch) This letter was translated to English and all letters retyped by P.Kovell as best as I can make them out.
from: http://dutchnsuch.tripod.com/famletters.html#top