Joke van Zuijdam - van Steenis

This is my grandmother from my mother’s side of the family. She was only 4 when the war began. She doesn’t have much memories of the war. Just like my grandfather she grew up in a very small town called Meteren. My grandmother grew up in a big family of ten. During the war there was always enough food.

During the German invasion the Nazi’s where stationed in a part of the house my grandmother grew up in. She was too young to understand what was going on and having a father whom wasn’t very pro nor anti-German she was allowed to sit with the young soldiers. She remembers sitting on the lap of one of the Nazi’s. “I remember them being very friendly, giving me something of their food and playing games. One morning I woke up and they were all gone. A few years later the same happened but only with Allied soldiers.”

During the war the family was able to have a normal life. Sometimes they would watch the Nazi’s use their anti-aircraft guns but most of the time it was just normal life. Only food and house hold products got more and more scarce.


After the war my grandmother’s mother became very ill. My grandmother had to walk to the hospital with her sister to pick up the laundry. They had to wash it at home. Being 9 years old and having to walk 8km with a big bag of laundry wasn’t easy. And to make it worse her mother passed away. This meant that my grandmother had to take over the household with her sisters. The sisters also had to nurture their 6 months old sister. During the war my grandmother never remembers being hungry. But after the war life was harsh. The whole family had to work their butts off to make a living. My grandmother told me once that the years after the war were much worse. One day a woman rang the doorbell and asking for her mother. Telling the woman that she had passed away she was devastated. She told my grandmother that because of her mother she was still alive. The woman came to their home to talk my grandmother’s mother for giving shelter and food.

A couple of years ago I gave my grandmother a book called ‘Betuwe in stelling’ by Victor Laurentius. It is about ww2 in a specific area in the Netherlands and my grandparents grew up in this area (my parents, my sisters and me as well, and may generations of my family). My grandmother was shocked about what all happened in the Betuwe. She couldn’t read more than a couple of pages per day because she would burst in to tears while reading. Recognizing so many names and places but never realizing how hard life was in the Betuwe. Every time I visit her she brings up the book and emotionally tells me how grateful she is with the book.


Steven van Koeverden | +31617351867 |