Letter from Holland

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Leeuwarden, Holland
27th April, 1945

Dear Mrs. Crofts,

Our town was liberated by the Canadians on the 15th of this month. Your son Joe was with them, and he stayed with us for a couple of days and so we made friendship. I promised him to drop you a few lines just to tell you that your son was doing well, everything O.K.

We have had an awfully bad time, these five years. The Germans came here on the 10th of May 1940. Their army was then nicely equipped, and they had quite a number of planes on the Leeuwarden airodrome. When they went on the 14th inst., they had very little left, no planes, their cars riding on wood-gas, for they have been out of petrol since a long time already. That is the end of Hitler’s army.

But a lot of harm they have done here. In 1941 they started picking up all the Jews. All our Jewish friends disappeared and were sent to Poland, and Germany, most probably to be butchered there. I wonder what will come back of them, I am afraid not many.

In 1942 they started sending all our young fellows to Germany to work as slaves for them. Those who could escape were hidden by friends or family. Often the Germans entered the houses and searched for young men, bu then they were put under the floor, so that in most cases the Germans could not find any. When a German wire was cut, they let all men of the town do some watching so that no more wires should be cut. When a German was killed, they picked out a number of civilians, ten, twenty-five, and in one case even 400, and shot them. You will understand how glad we were when at the end it was all up with them, and when the Canadians arrived here we gave them a cheery welcome where ever they came.

Now perhaps you would like to know who we are. I shall introduce the family. My wife, aged 54, my eldest daughter Wilhelmina aged 29, my second daughter, Ida, aged 23, and I myself aged 55. I have always been in business, my eldest daughter does some bookkeeping in a dairy-export-firm, and my youngest is working with the police in this town. We gave Joe a photograph and if he will still have it on his arrival home, you will make acquaintance with our faces too. Joe told us quite a lot about his family and showed us the photos he has got with him. So we have seen you, his sister and brothers here already.

There seems to be not so much fighting left now in Germany, and we therefore hope that the "B" squadron will have no more engagements so that all the boys will arrive safe and sound in Canada with their families.

In our country the war is not going easily. The Germans blow up every dyke, so that the country which for a great part is under the level of the water, is under water now, quite inundated, and it is very difficult to pass through. If it had been the enemy’s country the army might bomb the towns until every resistance would be over, but this being the country of a friendly nation, they cannot take to such measures. Anyhow, there will be an end to this in our country as well within a short while.

We are glad to have had your son with us. It was only in the night that he was with us, in day time he had work to do, and he also took his meals with the boys.

Well I think this has been quite a long letter, but I daresay my wife and daughters will be glad to hear from you so now and then, and I myself as well.

I send you our best greetings, and to everyone of Joe’s family, and we sincerely hope that you will very soon be able to welcome your sons back in the family again.

I remain, Dear Mrs. Crofts, sincerely yours,

(Signed)

H. van Heulen, Dronrijperstraat 9, Leeuwarden (Holland)

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