My father luckily kept his cool and sat down in mother's chair, while the soldier after thanking mother for her kindness, took off to the farm to the east of our house, where a platoon of the German Grun Polizei had placed an anti-aircraft gun on an centuries old small dike behind that farm with which to shoot Allied bombers.
The gun was not used at the end of the war as English and American bombers droned over our homes by the hundreds making the earth tremble, but one day they did use it.
The thunderous noise was painful on the ears, and my little brother Bart, who then already was a wanderer, was lost and nowhere to be found. Mother went half crazy with fear but did find him unharmed at the gun site where a soldier had put cotton wads in his little ears.
(Note: The Grun Polizei had the task of policing the civilian population of conquered countries and were operated at the end of the war by the infamous Waffen SS.)
The following morning the soldier came back to return the borrowed tools. His stomach ache was gone, he said, and presented mother with a nice chunk of hard cheese.
He told mother that he lived not far away in northern Germany, he said this was the reason they understood each other so well, as they both spoke a similar dialect.
He wanted to visit mother 'as soon as this mad war is over' to introduce her to his wife. They would come on a motorbike he had hidden under straw.
After that he came regularly for a few days, but was smart enough to stay out of the way of father, though he somehow made friends with our fugitive Roelof!
Coming from school one day my brother Henk did not belief hie eyes when he saw Roelof and the soldier sitting together at the kitchen table peeling potatoes for mother who happily smiled.
The last time 'our soldier' as we called him (but not father) came over, was to say goodbye and to warn mother to hide as there was going to be fighting in our village.
Father took that message to heart and spoke with the neighbors who agreed to hide in the potato cellar of our neighbor friend for the night, 'just in case.'
Were we in for a surprise, instead of fighting somewhere in the village, we were going to be right in the front line.
When it became dark we filed into the potato cellar, while English soldiers had taken possession of the farm to our west and now we were right in the middle of the war zone, with on the east the German soldiers and to the west the English, they were only two-hundred feet away from each-other, both ready kill the other, and we like sitting ducks right between them.
I could easily stand up in the potato cellar but we all sat down on potato crates, - waiting.
Waiting for what, I wondered.
It was pretty dark inside as there was only one small window just above the ground outside, and they had put straw bales over the top of the cellar.
Everyone was quiet, not knowing what to expect. It was all very exiting.
It did not take long for all hell to break loose.
I think it was the German soldiers who started by shooting the big anti-aircraft gun, which made three distinct sounds, first a boom when they shot the projectile, then the loud overhead whizzing of it, and finally the blast when it landed, but since the farms were so close together the time between first and final was very short and since they shot in series of ten or twelve at the time, it made a racket like summer thundering, when the lightning and thunder happen at the same time.
When the English, which we found out later were Canadians, returned the fire with machine guns and mortars, it changed to continuous lightning and thundering.
The noise was painful.
The neighbor woman in turn cried and yelled, her husband told her to shut up, because the soldiers might hear us, and I wondered about that – how could they hear us with all that noise, and the woman did not stop screaming.
I saw feet of German soldiers rushing by through the little window and later what must've been Canadian feet, because they were of a different color. O, it was exciting, and everybody was scared, but I was not, because my father was with us.
Finally toward dawn things were getting quiet and father wanted to investigate, mother tried to stop him but he went anyways. I sneaked up the ladder as well and saw father standing in the morning sunshine rolling a cigarette, so everything was alright.
But it was not.
It was eerily quit and a strange smell hung over the village.
Then the woman who had been crying so much started screaming now
'Where is the farm of Jansonius, where is the farm of Jansonius,' and turning around
'where is the Church farm. Bastards! they shot everything to a rubble. That beautiful farm.'
Both farms were burned to the ground.
'Good the cows were out,' my father said, who really cared about animals.
Our house was spared except for a little bullet hole in the living room window, where father used to sit on Sundays and when there were visitors. He never repaired the glass.
'To remember,' he said.
He decided to walk to the next village where he knew a relative, to get out of the line of fire.
It was one of these beautiful spring mornings when you cannot help but be happy when we started walking.
The first lilacs were just out blossoming. Father had planted purple and white lilacs, not appreciating either color since he was color blind, close to the kitchen window so mother only had to open the window to savor the scent.
I liked the white lilacs the best because they smelled the best. Mother used to put large bouquets of them on the table filling the house with this sweet aroma.
But no-one thought of picking flowers today.
We started to walk, and my feet were hurting because my shoes were too small.
I remember it well, it was my birthday, I was ten years old and not one remembered that.
But hey, the war was over and we were free, though I had never really felt imprisoned.
Our soldier never visited us on on his motorcycle as he said he would, but after a few months we received a letter from his wife in which she thanked mother for her kindness.
She went on to write that her husband had been killed at the end of the war, close to the border.
Mother was sad about it, but most people were surprised about the little change the end of the war and foreign occupation had brought about and everyone continued doing what they had been during the war and even before, and wild expectations of great changes about when we were free again just fizzled out and died.
Our fugitive Roelof Maarhuis joined the Dutch army soon after the war ended. He received his training in Brabant, in the south of the Netherlands, where he found a nice girl whom he took to Groningen one time to show her off to us, and no wonder, I was so impressed with her, she was so different from the local girls, so vivacious in her yellow dress. I just adored her.
Shortly after he married the lively Brabant girl, Roelof died
I vaguely remember a rumor that his wife might've been pregnant, but those things were not talked about with young girls around, so I am not sure about that and since we not heard a thing about her anymore, we never found out.
And what about me?
I was surprised how little changed after the war was over and we were free, other than that all excitement had gone, a feeling, I understand, many people would share. The good thing I remember is that mother sometimes bought oranges.