Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Nationale Bevrijdingsdag 'Liberation Day--Inside Story of Eindhoven Told by Dutch Parents'

They are greeting us with the V-sign or with their thumbs up. We are on the road to victory! And when the column stops for a minute because apparently the narrow streets further on hold up the traffic we shake hands with those men and we are able for the first time in all those years to speak to an Englishman. Have we ever been so thankful towards complete strangers? ‘Thank God you have come at last.’ ‘It is good to be true.’ They are laughing all the time and they tell us that only a few miles from Eindhoven they had to fight hard when we were sleeping peacefully. It is a curious world, indeed! ‘Jerry gave us hell on the Dutch border,’ they say, ‘but here we are, anyway’. They ask us how the Germans treated us and they can't believe what we tell them. They shake their heads and say, ‘Well, that’s all over now. You are free again.’

Free! Think about it, children! That one can say what one wants; that we are going to have decent papers again and all the rest of it. I am sure that we shall only gradually get used to it.

They are very generous, those English troops. They distribute cigarettes among the population. Those first English cigarettes after all those years! We snatch the English papers from their hands. They just laugh at those people who are so happy with all those very simple things. At the cars which are pulled up at the roadside, groups of children are pushing and hustling and begging the soldiers for their autographs. They are quite willing to give them not once but hundreds of times. I asked one of them how many times had he done that. He answered, ‘Numerous times. Yes, it’s being like Gary Cooper.’

For us this entry has something unreal. Such a mad enthusiasm we had not thought possible. But for the troops, too, this entry must be unforgettable with the radiant evening sun over all those flags and pennants flying from the houses. We have been watching all this together with you, children, and we told you that those men were our friends. At times there were touching moments and one felt a lump rise in one’s throat. Mummy is holding you high, Saskia, and you shake hands with a soldier on top of a huge tank, and very shyly, with a very small voice, you say to him the first words in English you ever spoke, ‘Good luck to you!’ And smiling, the answer comes back, ‘Thanks, kids. We’ll need it.’ Yes, they’ve got to carry on. From the bottom of our hearts we wish them God speed.

When it is quite dark we go home again tired out but happy as never before. With friends we spend the rest of the evening, talking about this gigantic war machine about which we heard so much over the wireless and which at last we were allowed to see with our own eyes.

As published by The Examiner, Saturday, May 12, 1945
* 6 years to the date of this publication, the Schippers had another daughter, Celine--my mum.

1 comment:

  1. so weird to see my dad's words on paper, and in English!!
    Thanks for posting this blog - I hope other people will also find it interesting...