~ 1 ~
In Amsterdam, Holland, where she was born, Dien was
the 4th of seven children. For the last two years, everything about her life was in
Happy times were turned into sad, difficult times,
leading her to continuously search for a job to help support her family.
She shared everything, including her clothes, with
She loved her homeland with it's rich farm land,
surrounded by vast stretching waters and narrow canals.
Living in the city of Amsterdam, in an apartment with
her family, she walked the cobble stone streets daily ~ often finding herself in tears, as
her country was at war ~ a war that she felt was going to last a long time.
Everywhere she turned enemy forces where marching,
never ending sounds of the thunderous roaring tanks moving along the streets.
Devastation and ruin were everywhere, sleepless
nights of always wondering, "Will they survive this? Would she find employment?"
Ration books were handed out for food, to only those that worked.
Posters were tacked to the poles giving notice,
"If you had no ration book, you would be transported to camps."
She had to find a job ~ any job ~ to keep her
from this fate.
Dien was able to find odd jobs from cleaning toilets
in factories to helping families care for their children ~ anything to earn a few gilders
to purchase food. Food was just as scarce as jobs. Her most recent job at a bakery had
afforded her some bread and sugar.
Although she took most of her wages in food supplies,
she was happy to contribute.
She tried her best to help her family survive each
day. Forced to leave school a year earlier,she gave absolutely no thought to those days
now. Many of the schools were being used as shelters, for those who had lost everything.
She prayed everday that she would stay employed, but
most of all she prayed that no harm would come to anyone in her family.
Her two youngest sisters were moved to England for
safety, along with many other Dutch children that were of a certain age, boarded onto
ships sponsored by the Red Cross. Her older brother had to be hidden, as all young Dutch
men would be sent to training camps and given orders to spy on families in the area ~
pitting one country man against the other. The policing enemy forces were cruel and
heartless to anyone not obeying "their" rules. This task was always first, keep
She loved her brother dearly and feared that
everytime the soldiers came to do a house check, they would discover him.
Her father managed to stay working. The soldiers had
taken over just about all factories, allowing the older, more experienced men to do the
work. Her father worked long arduous days, for very little pay, just enough to put
morsels of food on the table.
Nights were filled with low flying planes, bombs
setting off explosions that illuminated the skies. Never ending noises that were
deafening. Broken hearts and souls begging to continue on. When day light came, they all
were thankful to have survived another night.
Each day brought new hope, a hope that this war would
soon be over.....
Underground news told them that Canadian soldiers
were fighting their way through Belgium in hopes of liberating this tiny country of
Time did not stand still for Dien. Her family
gathered together every Sunday, just in case this would be the last time, hoping always
for another Sunday to come. Everyone managed to add some little morsel of food to the pot
on the heater.
Dien tried always to be aware of what was around the
next corner, what she could do and not do ~ she had to be mentally alert .
No cars were in sight, except the ones the invading
soldiers drove. Some had bicycles and cart. Being scrupulous was the only way to hang on
to these things.
All these long months she had been able to hide her
bike, but for this one occasion, Dien was careless. Riding to get medical supplies for a
family, she rode her bike in the darkness of the night,not wanting to be seen. She left it
and upon returning, discovered it gone.
The soldiers had taken her bike. Furious and angry
fornot being more careful, her thoughts turned of ways to get it back. Searching, waiting
for the perfect time in dark of the night, she crept through the side streets to a camp
near by, where she had learned they kept confiscated items. Feeling scared and terrified
that she would be captured, she searched for her bike. Chills went up and down her spine,
even in the still of the night. Every noise seemed like a huge clap of thunder.