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War Memories

March 15, 2019 March 2019 No Comments

Toni Pyl

Part 10

On the evening of May 24th 1945 an old friend of mine rushed into the house shouting that the war had ended! We were urged to come out onto the streets and celebrate but I was already in bed and wasn’t allowed to go out. That night I wept with rage!

The next day was like a dream, there were white notices everywhere saying the Germans had capitulated and we were well and truly free!

It was another beautiful day and the sky was full of low flying aeroplanes. In the town where I went to school, a crowd had gathered at the Town Hall and were looking up at a Dutch flag being hoisted up. The crowd quivered and broke into singing the national anthem, no wonder some people were in tears. At school the flag was raised as well and we were then sent home for a long holiday.

Every day we went to the main highway because up until then we hadn’t seen a single English or American soldier and we were told the whole allied army would come down the road. After many false alarms, at 2pm one day, two Canadian soldiers appeared on motorbikes with sirens to make way for the arrival of the army. 

The Conquerors came on tanks, in jeeps with guns, trucks and more tanks before finally trucks arrived carrying food! The men looked healthy and sunburnt, they waved at us as we cheered and cheered. Children crawled over the tanks and guns and many adults did the same. Many tried to hop into the jeeps and tanks but that had to be stopped as the army was already moving so slowly – no wonder we had to wait so long. 

Our village became occupied and jeeps were cheered everywhere they went.  Some Germans were still around and they had to hand in their guns and were booed as they were carried off as POWs.

Now there was a time of celebration, people danced in the streets, singing English and American songs. We joined the crowds too, dressed in our national costume. On street corners people danced around bonfires.

For some people it was not a time of celebration, namely the Dutch Nazis. Concentration camps were set up again and all the cruelties of the Germans were repeated on them.  Girls who had been out with Germans were caught by youths who shaved their hair and painted swastikas on their heads. 

A sort of Home Guard was set up by louts who thought they could do anything they liked. They stole everything out of the homes of Nazi’s and with revolvers, ordered citizens to hand over their bikes. This happened to my father once but luckily, he was near an allied camp and he called out to them so the youth ran off.

However, a lot of people ended up in prison without doing anything wrong, not having proper paperwork was a common reason.

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