These are the first pages of my diary
I was 16 years old at the time and for my age not very tall. This might have
helped to survive the months I was for most of the time in a group of men of
about 150 who were under very strong guard (SA?) and were forced to do labour
under guard, mainly digging trenches for the German Army (Wehrmacht) to fall
back on when retreating.
The writing in the diary was done with a pencil of dubious quality and some
pages are not very easily to decipher. Also, even at my age, I decided not to
write too much about the atrocious circumstances we were held and fed by our SA
guards. In the diary are some mentions of places etc. However, and again maybe
due to my age, we were not always aware what the names of the places were where
we travelled and had to dig the trenches. It was however always very close to
the frontlines and at times, when we returned the following day to do another
day of digging, the trenches were already occupied by the Wehrmacht and even
sometimes we found these same trenches we dug the previous day, full of dead
soldiers and horses etc. (During our marches to and from digging trenches we saw
that the heavy weapons of the German Army were not powered by trucks etc. but
were pulled by horses to the frontline, even their "panzerwagens" were
transported close to the frontline either by horses or some sort of a tractor
that was fitted with burners that made gas which was stored in those big bags to
power their engines!) (MY COMMENT NOW as it WAS THEN: Why o why did the
Americans/English troops not overrun this depleted army)
After the liberation we were visited by American Army doctors who were amazed
how I could have survived the illness that brought us in hospital. They took
blood samples from the tip of my ears and of the tips of all my fingers. They
also arranged for us (5 in that ward of the hospital, all with the same illness)
to receive the American Red Cross parcels that I believe were for their soldiers
in German Prisoner of War Camps. (Cigarettes, chocolates etc.). We were allowed
to leave the hospital some weeks after liberation day and most of the men I was
with during the "lager" days were already well on their way home. The
Americans took care of me and I was transferred to Honnef (Hennef ?), I believe
a resort somewhere near Koln. I received a DP number and card. (Displaced
Person) and was told that if I wished I could go to the USA.
I also helped some investigators into the then "Wehrwolf "
(spanning cables over the roads between trees to decapitate drivers of jeeps
etc") organisation by posing as being sent by the Russians to frighten the
suspects who were being held in prison cells, of being to be transported to the
Before we arrived back in the Netherlands I was told by some one who knew
about the group I was in during the trench digging days, that I was 1 of about
25 out of the group of about 150 that had survived. Quite a few died of the same
illness, EPIDEMIC TYPHUS FEVER (exanthematic typhus), others were clubbed to
death by our German guards, some were shot to death because they strayed out of
our marching columns. Some were killed through Spitfire attacks, bombardments
from planes and artillery fire.
Since 1945 and now I lost most of all the memento of that period of my live.
The only surviving thing is my little diary and my memory of that awfully
horrible time. I have never ever been able to tell anyone the full history of
what happened and what people can do to others. What I have described here and
on the following pages is really the first time that I have opened up a bit. On
arrival at the station in Rotterdam, there was nobody who took care of me,
nobody to council me. I was just given some ration coupons and that was it. At
home, with my parents it was the biggest surprise of their lives to see me back.
They must however have suffered quite a bit afterwards because I was told months
later that I kept them awake at night with my screaming and moaning during my
See further the following pages but remember, written by a 16 year held
prisoner by the Germans.