The War started when I was at the end of the 3rd grade. We went to school as usual from 9-12 then home for lunch and then from 2 to 4:30. Wednesday and Saturday afternoons we had off.
In the beginning there wasn't much difference, except we could not fly our flag anymore, sing
patriotic songs or mention the Royal Family.
We were given Vitamin C and a small 1/2 pint bottle of milk, which I never drank, because I have never liked milk - it makes me sick to my stomach. Learned to swap that for something else.
In elementary school books are provided but you have to bring your own paper, pencils, erasers, crown point pens for dipping into the provided ink well in your school desk. (A favorite trick of the boys was to dip the braids of a girl in front of them in the ink well).
We started to erase what we wrote so we could use the paper again - but then the quality of the paper got real bad, more wood than anything else, we could not erase without making holes in the paper. You could not use ink on this paper, it flowed. Then erasers were no longer to be found - fortunately I had a large supply that my father had left with his drawing board at home. Pencils were holding up because they came from Germany,but they were difficult to sharpen due to the poor quality.
In the 4th, 5th and 6th grade we started to concentrate on our exit exam from elementary school, which exam would determine for what type of school we would qualify - prep school, business schools, housekeeping or trade schools.
I qualified for the prep school and now I had to go on my bike to school. Sometimes I was late because the air raid sirens went off and I had to take shelter. There were air raid shelters, but we were afraid of going in there, so I usually hid in the entryway of some house. It did not always help when the aircraft gunners starting shooting at everything that moved and the bullets ricocheted off the pavement. The little sting in my ankle, which started to fester a few days later, happened to be a small metal splinter, shrapnel.
During class, especially during tests, we loved it when there was an air raid, we younger ones had to sit in the hall way, the senior students were trained in first aid and set up the litters and equipment.
If we had a test that day, we would ask the class that just had the test for the questions (and possibly) the answers. We had three classes in the same grade and the teacher was not going to make three different test. He marched through the hall, shouting; "No talking, no talking" but to no avail.
By now the war had escalated - we had no shoes, they were rationed but we kept those for Sundays and they were of the poorest quality.
The lucky ones under us had wooden shoes - you can imagine the noise that made in the halls. So the order came from the head master that we had to take our "klompen" off - his other concern was that the old wooden floors would not survive this klompen attack.
Clothing was ratione but again there was little and of the poorest quality. Our seamstress was good at remaking clothes, added matching or contrasting pieces to the hems and inserts in the sides. But I needed a raincoat. We had some old sheets, they were dyed and waterproofed and then made into my raincoat. I kept me dry but not warm.
Our talk at school was mainly on the war and how and were to get "stuff". A boy, who was sweet on me, gave me once his butter ration. His father was in the coal suppliers business, so he made a good income on the black market. The boy said his mother never needed the coupons.
In the middle schools we had to buy the books, and at the beginning of each year there was a book fair. The teachers were not that picky anymore if we had a very old book, as long as we had something and the pages about Dutch History and England we were no longer allowed to read were removed.
Mother and I went to a movie sometimes, but the first half hour was nothing but German propaganda and newsreel. Trying to come in the theatre after the newsreels was not allowed. We quit going but I remember seeing my first movie in (Afga) color "Immensee".
With kids from school I sometimes made bike trips to the lakes or went for walks in the park, none of it too far from home. We also had to adhere to the law of "no more than three people congegrating" which was widely ignored. But homework took up too much of our time to have time off.
Then disaster struck - woke up in the middle of the night with a high fever and a sore throat - could not swallow. The doctor came right away - diagnosis Diptheria (yes, I had my shots). I had to drink, I was thirsty, but it hurt too much to swallow.
This illness could have cost me a year in school, for months every third test came out positive, meaning no school but everyone had to do the class over again. To this day I think that the tests were wrong - so I could keep my extra rations and the note on the door that there was a contagious disease in the house.
The civil guard brought a litter, which was occupying the entry hall till the war was over.
No longer did we had to take German soldiers in the house, recuperating from the Russian front. I remember there was a real young kid, about 18 or so, he had frostbite on his feet and later he was in the gym of the elementary school which was turned into a German military hospital. His parents were farmers from Bavaria and sent him many packages. He always shared with us - his parents wrote my mother a nice letter saying that she was so good to him even if he was the enemy.
Our whole neighbourhood had youngsters like him and, after initial resentment, felt sorry for them too. Our boys, about the same age played soccer with them. We never heard from our German soldier again, so we assume he was a victim of the war.
In November of 1944 all water, gas, electricity was cut off and all schools were closed.
From "Fragments of My Life"
World War II in Holland
by Henny Carlisle