“Don’t you know it’s the end of the world Saturday?” Everyone at Peet’s coffee in Morgan Hill is saying this. I’m an early a.m. regular because being here helps me to keep writing…no laundry, no family wandering in and out to get me away from the keyboard. But this is a huge distraction, the end of the world. They’re all saying it.
They don’t mean it.
Peet’s coffee folks are adding, “Haven’t you seen the posters at the side of the road?”
Actually, I have. They say the world is ending.
“Then we’ll have a party Saturday.”
“Yeah, it’s going to happen between 5 to 7 p.m.”
“How’s it (the end of the world) going to happen?”
To me, this has to do with coffee shop folks trying to have a sense of humor about those who believe we can predict the day and hour of the end of the world. History tells us by now, you can’t. predict the end of the world.
This website is dedicated to what history also tells us: that in times of war, it feels like the world has ended. When war ends everything you are left with a horrible “new normal.” During World War II‘s new normal, peace, family, homes, money, food were all wrenched away.
So for the second generation of World War II survivors, I grew up with parents who lived in a world that ended, and did NOT instantly rebuild when liberation. Finally. Came.
After 5 years in most places (more or less in others) the world stopped ending, peace returned. Celebration may have happened immediately, but healing did not. So what happened to the Second and Third Generation after these survivors.
Soon I’ll do a post giving you the list of what I think us Second Generation adult kids experience. The list is rooted in experiences like this:
For my father’s surviving Jobsis family members, he suffered long waits of months to “return home” to the Netherlands from the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). They left a war -torn home for another war-torn “home” (Netherlands/Holland) which had only been a place to visit previously. They reunited with other family members. Most of my great grandparents were deceased due to the ravages of war and starvation. My grandmother (see blog post Oma) never fully recovered, my father and his siblings were separated and often left much on their own to make up for 4 years of lost education/lost youth.
For my mother’s De Vries family, she experienced constant tension (would the Germans take my grandfather), deprivation (no heat, no electricity), fear (bombings, raids) and abandonment (woudl my grandfather return from his bartering trips safely, or would she and Beppe –grandmother- be left with no food and no protection). They learned to be brave, they learned to act brave. Pake (grandfather) described the good parts of “his” World War II, as, “It’s like America’s wild west, every man for himself.” He made the best of a tough time, traveling by night on a boat through canals, hiding during the day, luckily avoiding capture. Capture would have meant transport and possible death in a German labor camp. (Check the Dutch-Canadian-American monthly, De Krant-The Newspaper for my mom’s Boukje De Vries Jobsis’ article on this time, in a special publication).
What did my Mama and Papa suffer, that many in the Second Generation also “live”?
- WAITING for either good or disaster to emerge
- WAITING to find if loved ones would live or die
- whatever you can control, control it now, all choices have been taken away
- hypervigilance – always watch for danger
- starvation and near starvation
- seeing the face of evil, so you have to be cynical and expect the worst
- seeing the face of good, but anything/anyone good can change
- adults struck down and not able to protect children
- the need to hide – well
- the need to lie – well
- the need to survive when you are not, well
- I have to take care of Mama and Papa so they can take care of me
- losing a sense of home, as a result always looking for a sense of secure home
My parents, like all the other survivors fought hard to have no aftereffects. They happened anyway. How are you impacted when it feels your world has ended for any reasons, how did your parents’ past courage and terror impact you? Tell me.
One thing I’ll tell you for starters, is that one segment of my “war” was rarely feeling at home. The image at top is of the Gilroy/Morgan Hill, California area where I make my home. For about fifteen years now, I finally feel I’m home. Thank you for also making a cyberspace home here with me.