As a child my life was full of family stories. Told and untold, open and secret, horrific and beautiful. They were all both enriching and at the time sometimes confusing. In the midst of all the extremes, and for the longest time, I searched for the place where I truly belonged.
Without elaborating too much, my father was born in 1922, son of Lucy and a game keeper from Berkshire, England. Raised in a small home as the youngest of 5 sisters and many children who were born but passed on quickly as was normal in the early century. My grandfather and grandmother were both born in the 1900’s and my grandfather fought in Europe in WWI, was lost in action after the war and returned to England when life had taken its natural, and new, course. My father was with the RAF in WWII and survived D-Day, unlike many of his friends. After the war, he married and years later split up with his then wife and moved to Europe in the 60’ies. He met my mother in The Netherlands and married in 1970.
My mother’s family history is slightly more complicated. With a Jewish grandfather who was ousted from the orthodox Alter clan because he married a Christian woman, the early death of her own mother and her grandmother, her family torn apart during war time in The Netherlands and our entire extended family gassed in the camps, my mother was without a mother and in the midst of war at 5 years old. My ‘step’ grandmother, the mother who raised her lovingly, was a German lady who was running from the Hitler Jugend she was recruited for. She found work in my grandfathers architects office in The Hague and the rest is history. Her brother was shot while trying to desert Hitler’s army in Scandinavia. And her parents lived in Eastern Germany, whom after the war she could not visit because of the Wall. After the war, being German, they almost drove her to insanity in the neighbourhood, where they wouldn’t accept her.
And so, the stories of the past, religious rituals, memorial days, silences, spoken and unspoken events, were all around me. And were always a part of me. Betrayal, Secrets, Belonging, Love and Loss, War, Compassion and Endurance. Much research has been done about how stories and trauma continue into further generations. And for me, writing poetry and short stories has brought me solace and understanding of all those stories that I was part of, even though I wasn’t there. That and so so many books, documentaries and films that I read and saw about WWI and WWII and the Jewish heritage.
After years of writing, over 70 books full, I have decided to share some these stories. Theirs and mine.