2nd book: May-June 2021
Apple Eater (Paperback & Kindle)
by Annemarieke Tazelaar
The author is known as Mieke Tazelaar.
She resides in D Building and is the Sunshine Committee organizer.
Mieke will provide some of the book copies for purchase $13.
My father was born in Grand Rapids Michigan and came to Holland (the other name for the Netherlands) in 1930. He met and married my mother, and my brothers and I were born during the 30’s. At one point, he wanted us to emigrate to the US before the imminent war, but by that time, it was too late to carry out those plans.
In retrospect, I am glad that we didn’t leave then, because we were able to form a close bond with my grandparents (Opa and Oma). Because my mother was an only child, it would have been hard for them, actually impossible to have survived without my parents.
We lived nearly normal lives for those earlier years of the war, although food and other supplies were becoming more and more scarce. We depended a lot on our neighbors for support, companionship, and all the children who lived in our street were watched over and taken care of by this extended family.
On September 17, 1944, our city was the center of one of the most pivotal battles of the European side of World War II. Many German troops guarded the city to keep it from being taken by the British. Arnhem was about 10 miles from the German border, and the first Dutch city on the Rhine, over the border from Germany. Arnhem’s strategic bridge over the Rhine was mainly guarded and used during this time by the Germans.
The English general, Montgomery, figured that if the British could capture that bridge and the city, it would end the war in the Netherlands, and be a major downfall for the Nazi regime. He called it ”Operation Market Garden.”
He arranged an airdrop about 8 miles (too far, it turned out) of approx. 35,000 paratroopers dropping from gliders, who landed early in the morning, and the airmen started walking toward Arnhem and over the bridge.
But “Monty” had been warned by the Dutch Resistance and others, that there were too many German troops living in the city, and that they would mobilize quickly and defeat the Brits.
Which is what happened, aided by a series of blunders by the British troops and their commanders, and it took ten days of a fierce battle.
The city was heavily bombed. Our house was partially destroyed by a bomb while my mother, brothers, and I were sheltering in a small lavatory.
The townspeople were given two days to leave their homes and exit the city. Which we did – about 100,000 of us.
(Look up “Operation Market Garden” for the complete description, or ask Tom D, who still can’t get over the fact that I lived through that battle! The book by Von Ryan, A Bridge Too Far, tells this story. It is also a major movie. )
We stayed with friends first, in a nearby village until that became too dangerous, and then to another village, until we trekked north with 150 people on horse-drawn wagons. We ended up in the province of Friesland, where we were taken in by village people util the end of the war.
This is part of our family’s history, but another story, fictitious, weaves through it concerning a Jewish family in Amsterdam.
More book background details are below ...
Apple Eater Plot
In Amsterdam, Jitse Wieringa, a Friesian Christian, worries about his Jewish wife and their 13-year-old daughter, Joslyn. Alecja is a translator for the German government, but when a German officer meets her young daughter and demands that the girl come to live at his villa, Jitse hides his family in his sculpture studio. Fearing this is still not safe, he finds a place for their daughter in an orphanage run by Dominican nuns. He brings her the Apple Eater, his hand-carved statue of a life-sized boy, and it becomes a favorite in the cloister, hugged by starving and diseased children.
Later in the war, the Konings survive Operation Market Garden, as 10,000 British paratroopers land from gliders and march into Arnhem. German forces mobilize quickly and defeat the British. The Konings narrowly escape with their lives, but their house is damaged. All citizens, including the Konings, have to evacuate the city. After a grueling ten-day trek through the snow on open horse-drawn carts, the family ends up in a small northern village. Lincoln survives harrowing adventures, but his devil-may-care attitude changes when his girlfriend is shot and killed. For her own safety, Joslyn leaves the convent and joins her uncle’s family in the northern province of Friesland.
The Koning family, Lincoln, and Joslyn experience the end of the war in the village, before returning to war-devastated Arnhem.
- Battle of the Netherlands (May 1940)
- Battle of Arnhem (September 1944)
- Operation Market Garden (September 1944)
- Liberation of Arnhem (April 1945)
- Netherlands in World War II (1940-1945)
- Videos about Netherlands during WWII
Arnhem (September 1944)
Dutch records suggest that at least 453 civilians died during the battle, either as a result of Allied bombing on the first day or during the subsequent fighting. After the battle, the residents of Arnhem and its surrounding towns and villages were forcibly evicted from their homes, allowing the Germans to turn the north bank of the Rhine into a heavily defended line. Residents were not allowed to return home without a permit and most did not return until after the war. The Dutch homes were then systematically looted, with the spoils being sent to bombing victims in Germany. The Germans continued to fight Allied forces on the plains between Arnhem and Nijmegen, and the bridge that the 1st Airborne had fought so hard for was eventually destroyed by the Allies to deny German forces its use. On 7 October, it was bombed and destroyed by Martin B-26 Marauders of 344th Bomb Group, USAAF. The buildings of Arnhem were heavily shelled by the Allies over the next few months and suffered further when the city was eventually liberated in April 1945.