During the holiday month, due to the situation in Eastern Europe, we are perhaps more than ever confronted with the concept of war. The 94-year-old Cees de Haan from Amstelveen experienced World War II, and is now thinking more and more about his youth due to the war in Ukraine.
Over the last few years, Cees has often spent his days making puzzles in his apartment on Noorddammerweg in Bovenkerk. He sometimes has a hard time distinguishing the pieces, but Cees does not run from a challenge. Despite his advanced age, the man still lives alone.
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In the 1940s, Cees moved with his parents to a farm on Middenweg in Bovenkerk, which is now Bosrandweg. “We had a farm here,” Cees begins. “My father slaughtered animals here and sold them.”
Sits for four months
When Cees was twelve years old, war broke out. Because the family home was so close to Schiphol Airport, he was well aware of how serious the situation was as a boy. “I remember it well. It was May 10. There were planes all over Schiphol. The Dutch fighter Fokker GI then tried to shoot down the German planes.” That day, the Germans bombed a number of strategic locations, including the airport.
As now, Amstelveen at that time had a large Jewish community. “They worked close to us, with German soldiers there,” Cees says. “I sometimes slaughtered something and sold it in secret to the Jews. But there was obviously someone who had betrayed it all. Then the police came to visit and I had to sit on Weteringsschans for four months. Well, that was not a big deal. “
“Tomorrow they will eat too”
Was Cees scared? “No, I was not,” he says. “I did not mind it at first, because I was still young. Gradually, I learned more and more about the war. For example, there was also some robbery in the home. An abandoned family would come in an SS suit, and my father would be ordered to slaughter the pigs for the Germans. “
It was a time of great poverty and hunger, but little Cees did not have to go to bed with a rumbling stomach. “There was always plenty of food on our farm so we could not complain, but my mother was a very Christian believer, so she let those people in and they got nice hot food,” Cees says.
“Then I went to take a big piece of meat with me, because we had all sorts of things hanging around. In return, I got a receipt to get cigarettes.”
“I also regularly brought bacon to the larger families,” he continues. “The Brouwers family had eighteen or nineteen children, and I wanted to take a large piece of meat with me, because we had all sorts of things hanging around. In return, I would receive a receipt to buy cigarettes. ”
“I well remember my mom had a bucket of green peas for the pea soup,” Cees says. When he suggested he get the bucket back, his mother replied, “No, boy, because they’re going to eat tomorrow, too.” It was my mother with her eleven children “, says Cees proudly. “But at one point I said, ‘Now you have to stop, or we’ll not get any food ourselves.'”
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World War III
When Cees is asked if he still thinks about the past, he answers quickly. “Yes Yes. Absolutely.” Every day he sits on the couch at 7.30 in the evening. “I follow the news by default via the 7.30pm news. It’s very strange, all the pictures of the war in Ukraine,” Cees says. I see what happens, then I automatically think back to my own childhood much more often during the war. ”
“I used to see all the people on the trains running from Central Station. People who were killed for nothing”
“Look, I used to see all the people on the trains running from Central Station. People who were killed for nothing. Now you see all the shot people lying on the street. I think it’s horrible to see,” he said. he with a lump in his throat.
The Bovenkerker can not get his head around ‘what Putin is doing now in Eastern Europe’. “The second Hitler is born,” Cees says firmly.
Not only the victims have an impact on Cees. “You see a lot of people who are hungry. That used to be the case. Those people would come to my mother’s door. I have the same character as my mother. You do not want that hunger and that sorrow for anyone. “