Translation of a Letter by Jan Bouma

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English
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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2012.942.1
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TRANSLATION OF JOHN (JAN) BOUMA'S LETTER

FOREWORD: This letter was written in the village of Welsrijp where Jan was hiding at some relatives of his wife Baukje. Epke Talsma, brother of Baukje, recuperated at his fiancee's family home in Sexbierum. Baukje, her daughter Liesje, and baby son Dirk, continued to live at Baukje's parents at Lutje Lollum. Because of fuel shortages that winter, the two families lived together at Baukje's parent, Anne and Liesbert Talsma. The Talsma neighbour was a Nazi sympathizer and squealed on Jan and Epke's presence - both were in hiding to avoid conscription to a labour camp. In the night the Nazi police came to bring them to the police station. In the morning, Baukje arrived there to bring them suitcases packed with clothes and bread to eat.

Words in parenthesis are used to clarify sentences.

March 7th, 1945
My Dear Baukje,

Received your letter yesterday. I am glad that you are over the shock of that night. Man, that was something. However, I thought more about you all than of myself, but as I have said before, we, who are in the midst of this, will get through this (war). But it was difficult not to be able to say goodbye to little Liesje and the little boy. I was able to briefly kiss his little hand..

Everything was not all in good order with your father. You already wrote that, but we immediately felt that the evening he visited us (in Welsrijp.) He was happy that we were here, he repeatedly said that a few times. If I speak of we, than it is about Epke and myself. We were able to stay together. Too bad we can't return home because of that hated Belial's (Satan's) man. He did not make it any better for himself, I can guarantee that. But in your letter were the words of our Saviour, "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. " These words comforted me, Baukje, then one can bring every concern to the Throne of God. No matter how difficult it is, the fact is that we are sitting here and at home there is all that work waiting. We can do no other but pray to the Lord that He graciously will be with you and us and grant us what we stand in need of for both soul and body. Be assured, girl, that everything will eventually be fine. Look back to the beginning when we first stepped into the "wedding boat ". You know well enough that I don't have to list them all, we would still forget many blessings. We can only see it is as God's hand, and we always had to acknowledge that. Until now, God has always helped us. That is what He has done again for us and as we look back, we can see how we came out of the hands of the enemy and arrived at this place in good health.

In short, I want to describe our journey beginning with that famous night..

We stood on the running board of the luxury car to the police station. Man, that was cold! There were more than forty men at the police station. In a few hours almost twenty were let free and at approximately ten o'clock, the "affair " according to Koster (police chief), had to be loaded onto the truck, which had arrived. After a trip of about 4 hours through wind, hail and snow showers, we arrived very cold in the Smilde (Drente work camp) at about two o'clock. After waiting a while at point one, we had to go to point two to become registered, which was almost a half hour away So we could, under police direction, walk ourselves somewhat warm. On the way, we passed the kitchen and all dashed inside to eat, since we had almost eaten nothing, just a few slices of bread that you had placed in the suitcase. But we did not know when we would eat again. So we were frugal with it. Well, that food had to be prepared yet so that we again proceeded under supervision of course, to point two. After arrival, the police had fulfilled their duty and delivered us to the hands of the Germans.

We, Epke and I, had of course already agreed beforehand, that given the chance, we would overcome them. We stood there in a sort of café where behind it was a bakery and beside it was a station where we were registered. We ate the leftover bread. Finally, after about an half an hour wait, an official arrived with registration papers and the number of the barracks (that we were assigned to). We also received two German breads. We were told we would receive five breads each week. We were thus free and were to look up our barracks and then in the morning at eight o'clock, we had to report again. Our number of barracks was luckily the same so we went in that direction. Underway, a third joined us who had an even higher number than us. We had number 299B ahd he had 416B. We did not know him, but he worked at Oostervoud (a manufacturing plant in Franeker) and had also a German identification, but that had not helped him (no advantage). After three quarters of an houir, we saw our number but our third companion thought precisely the same as us, and we walked further. If we would be stopped, we would show his number which was even further. When we continued walking, we saw also his number approximately in the beginning (edge) of Smilde. Then we had no cover any more but continued to walk with good luck towards home.

Underway, a number of Nazi passed, they do have the Green police (SS police). We asked a young man the short cut to Appelscha, and with good luck too. We walked off the main road to a sand path but do not go to the first farmer to ask (for help, according to the young man, they could not be trusted). After an hour of walking, we were well out of sight and came by some locks (on the canal) where the highway crossed. After inquirng about our directions we traveled on inland foot paths and (minor) roads toward Elsloo. Near Elsloo we were at the crossroads and saw a German car coming towards the corner which made us immediately change direction towards Makkinga.. The car, which was a ways from us, passed us, luckily without negative consequences. We agreed to ask a farmer if we could have a drink and the three of us approached the house. Our third partner motioned with his hand and ordered us to quickly leave the premises. He had seen a Nazi officer (in the window), he said, when we were on the road again. We were relieved to be spared the encounter.

As dusk arrived, we again stopped at a farm to ask for something to drink and we would also address our need for food. Almost immediately, the farmer's daughter brought us each a mug of warm milk, which of course, we appreciated. We wanted to go in the direction of Donkerbroek and we planned that we would leave most of our baggage there (at Baukje's Uncle's house), since we looked so obviously like refugees from Smelde (work camp). We questioned the farmer and it seemed that the way towards Makkinga was a fairly safe route to walk. That was far enough away that we arrived there by eight o'clock so we again approached a farmer for shelter.

That did not go well at first. The farmer told us that he had previously sheltered refugees but they dealt an underhanded blow. When he arose from his bed, the refugees and his bicycle gone. Yes, what could we say about that? The good would have to share with the bad. We ate well, bread with some cheese and drank warm milk.

Then we began our walk towards Makkinga with blisters on our feet that we had received walking the day before on the Balkweg (a minor road) to Donkerbroek. We decided not to go to Uncle Sjerk Vander Kuur.Thast would be dangerous to go over that check point. Instead Epke went to Mr. Fase to question him the Nazi (activities). Our third partner wanted to travel towards Wynterp, Ureterp, Beerderzwaag and to Rootevaal, (since) that is where his parents live. We could go to Wynterp to borrow a bicycle from acquaintances. But Mr. Fase advised us against that because of the German defense on the bridge). Fase also gave Epke ten guilders for traveling expenses since none of us had a wallet. We had a tip to go through Jubbigo and then to Kortezwaaag and Langeswaag by way of Nieuwe Brug.

We could hardly go further when we arrived at Niewe Brug. It was approximatgely five thirty when we knocked at the first farmer's door. We were now a twosome since our third partner left following a shortcut path to Wynterp. We were lucky, we were allowed inside and maybe we could eat in the cow milking stable and then possibly, after eating, we could go on even further. After entering the cow stable, the farmer insisted we come into the house which we did not refuse. The wife cut slices of bread and spread thickly with butter, cheese and bacon. The farmer was a bit late and was just gfoing to eat and there was no other way but we had to join them eating potatoes and turnips and porridge. The daughter invited us to stay and we could sleep in the hay. They did not have to say that again for the second time. After that night, Sunday arrived with rain coming down in buckets. "Don't worry, " the wife insisted, "you can wait as long as you want. I am quickly cleaning up the living room, and make the coffee. " And then we could sit there.

Approximately half past ten, we were on our way with very painful feet. After questioning (a person), we were advised to take the way over Stablegat to Joure and then up to Terhorne. From there we went over the lake (by boat, since much of the land surrounding the lake was flooded by the Nazis) and landed on the Green Dyke and so on to Gouw.

When it was dark again and we could hardly drag ourselves forward, we again approached a farm and asked for shelter. The wife called the farmer who was not so enthusiastic. We would have to go in to the cow milking stable and talk to him first. He soon realized that he dealt with good folks which was also the case from our point of view. We had landed at a nephew of the Dutch Minister Gerbrandie who was hiding in England. He was in "good books " and had a good name with the Nazi. (Nazi looking for him). We had a good time there, we had a place of honour in our old clothes at the table. After putting milk, cheese, sausages inside us, we could sleep in the hay, and the farmer himself covered us with hay. The next morning we were again well fed. In the thanksgiving prayer, the farmer commended us into the hands of the good God who governs everything and (asked) God to lead us under His care and in sure safety to our loved ones, I was impressed that we were led to such a house by a higher hand so that we were full of good cheer to continue on our way. We traveled over Bozum to Itens, Henaard, Spannen and onwards to Welsrijp (by shortcuts).