Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Message of Love From Henny's Brother John d'Haene

When Hennie was born in Oct.1935, I was five years old.

My name is Johannes Jacobus d'Haene known as John and the brother of Hennie.

When Hennie was about 4 and a half years old, the war the war broke out and the Netherlands were invaded by German Forces. It took 5 days for the powerful German armies to run over our country which is small. Our country fits about 300 times in Canada.

I remember our strict school years, the boys went to the Catholic school and were taught by broeders [ brothers, a catholic order.] They wore long black robes.The school was called St. Vincentius or in english St. Vincent . Behind the school was a monastery where the brothers lived. The girls went to the Heilig Hart[Holy Heart School],where the teachers were nuns, who lived in the convent behind the school.

The last years of the German occupation we hardly got anything to eat, as the Germans plundered our country empty. To stay alive we ate tulip bulbs, which had to be boiled 3 times, and some could be poisoned. It only gave us diarrhea.

Our mother was sick in the hospital and Hennie and I had to walk about 10 blocks to visit her. When we arrived at the hospital, our mother had saved her meals in the side of her bed for us to eat. The patients in the hospital got good food.

We loved our mother very much for she had a soft and gentle character. In 1941 I remember my brother Eugene leaving in the middle of the night. He said as we slept in the same bedroom, " I'm going away and see you later."

He wanted to flee to England, where he wanted to become a pilot and bomb Germany. He told my mother once and she thought it was all talk. Eugene was 16 years old at that time, but he meant it.

Later we heard that he was with a bunch of guys, hanging on the outside of trains and managed to arrive in Switzerland, a neutral country. They had no money on them .

At that time it was known, that people were picked up by English boats from the Dutch and French coasts by night. Eugene still wanted to try to get to the French coast. He left Switzerland crossing the Swiss-French border, where he was picked up by German guards and sent to concentration camps, where he died 2 weeks before the Russian Troops liberated the city of Leipzig.

A Belgian fellow by the name of Gaspar, who lived in the cell next to Eugene and survived the war, came to see us after the war to drop off a little note Eugene wrote on a piece of paper to us, that he felt sorry for all the sorrow he had caused us and asked for forgiveness. Gaspar came home and heard that his dad died in another concentration camp.

Our brother Pierre was in the Dutch Resistance and was lucky to survive the war. Some of his resistance workers were killed by the Germans. Pierre was very silent about the war time, he never wanted to talk about his experiences, which we figured must have been very bad at times.

After the war Pierre signed up as volunteer in the Dutch army to go to Nederlands Oost Indie, the former Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia. Indonesia got their independence from the Netherlands in 1948. I remember my dad saying, " Are you crazy to go in the army to fight over seas?!You just went through hell in the war time".

But he had made up his mind. By the end of 1946, we were notified by the Red Cross, that they had found Eugene's body. We had to tell mother, who had a heart condition and 2 months later she died broken hearted. She always hoped that he would come back.

Our dad died in May 1953 from stomach cancer. In the meantime Hennie joined the Dutch Air Force, I believe in 1954 and she was discharged before she left with Pierre and Luuk and family to Canada in 1957 where they arrived in Calgary.

Hennie became a flight attendant and met the love of her life, Karl Scherer in Toronto. They married in Calgary on the 8th of April 1961 and settled in Toronto where Karl worked. Hennie visited Calgary several times and Helene too. We spent good times together and visited her in Toronto.

Hennie was a go getter, very active in her community and a pro on the tennis court and got several medals for the seniors. We will miss her very much and she we be in our thoughts forever!!

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