Grace Wiersema

During the second WW, Grace was about sixteen years old and lived in Holland. As hard as the times may seem as we look in the past, the people who lived there weren’t always totally sure what was going on.

Soldiers lived in Grace’s house and that forced her and her family to sleep in a different person’s house. The times were hard because during the day she and her family lived in their house with the soldiers and not all of the soldiers were exactly pleasant people and some of them scared Grace. But other soldiers were like any other friendly gentlemen and Grace found that she could talk to some of them as if they were her own brothers.

Her family had little say on what went on especially when it came to the Germans. Two Germans lived in their barn and although they were not welcome they couldn’t do anything about it.

Grace did not go to school during that time because schools were closed where she lived. So instead they did other things to take up their time. This included visiting the trains that went by. Their family lived close to the train tracks so they saw the trains that were full of Jews go by. This was a sad sight because they knew the Jews were approaching their death, and some of the Jews knew it too. All the same, she and her friends would run up and wave to the trains and this excited some of the people because they thought they were going to get rescued. But Grace and her friends knew better, they knew they could not save these people. They knew that these people would be gassed and killed although they never saw the deaths, they heard about them. So they were just saying good-bye.

The little stories that Grace told us seemed quite unbelievable, and it gives you an idea of what life was like in Holland during the war. One day, when Grace was out in front of her house, she noticed that suddenly things went quiet, and the people seemed to have disappeared. Before she could fit two and two together to figure what was going on, she heard something zip by her ear. She looked on the ground behind her and there, was a bullet, about 2 inches long and about half an inch thick. This bullet was so close to her head, and could’ve very well killed her. So Grace simply picked it up, and walked behind her house, where her family was hiding. She showed them the hot bullet, as more were flying. Her family told her to get down, but Grace saw that they were all dirty from the mud, and didn’t want to get dirty herself, so she simply told them no, and stood there, while the attack continued, until it ended.

There were other instances where Grace was really fortunate to get out of her situation unharmed. One time she and her friend were hanging out, when two Germans offered to show them the cannons. The girls thought that would be interesting to see, so they split up and each went with a German. Looking back, Grace is thankful that nothing happened to her. The German merely took her to the cannons and showed her around. Her friend however, wasn’t as fortunate. Her friend never said what happened exactly, because she didn’t want to talk about it, but you can guess that what happened wasn’t pleasant.

Grace had three older brothers who were old enough to fight in the war, and two of them had to. The third brother made up an excuse and he didn’t have to, but then he had to live in fear of being caught. One day he almost was caught. He was working in the barn when they saw Germans coming to their door. Grace said she had never seen her brother run so fast. He escaped that time, but they knew they had to be even more careful.

Their family was involved in the war in dangerous ways, such as hiding Jews in their barn, Germans sleeping in their other barn, and other soldiers sleeping in their living room. The times were tough, and grace found it hard to talk about the war. Yet, she shared her memories with us, and we are honored to pass them on.

Written by: Deborah Wiersema and Regan Veenendaal

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