Catalogue

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The occupied garden : a family memoir of war-torn Holland /
Tracy Kasaboski & Kristen den Hartog.
imprint
Toronto : Emblem, 2009, c2008.
description
xii, 316 p. : ill. ; 21 cm.
ISBN
9780771026232 :
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Toronto : Emblem, 2009, c2008.
isbn
9780771026232 :
general note
Originally published under the title: The occupied garden : recovering the story of a family in the war-torn Netherlands (Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2008).
catalogue key
7777880
 
Includes bibliographical references: p. [305]-311.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
The devastation of Rotterdam was visible from Gerrit's vantage point, and from Cor's too. Separately, each of them stared at the billowing clouds of smoke. Rige, their eldest, stood on the Tedingerstraat, watching the smoke lift and roll out into the sky, staining the blue day black. Rige's pulse sped and slowed again with dread and shame. She thought of an old wives' tale that said picking thekoekoeksblombrought thunderstorms, and wondered if she, then, was the culprit. She'd never seen such black clouds. Within three hours, Rotterdam was in ruins. Neighbouring Schiedam, too, suffered massive destruction. Cor's cousin Cornelia, who helped in the bookstore, stood with her mother and sister in the doorway of their house, watching bombs explode in the schoolyard while air raid sirens screamed and people fled. Their rucksacks were strapped to their backs in case they, too, needed to run. The destruction multiplied when a margarine warehouse erupted, and a strong spring wind spread the shooting flames. The intense heat spun into a whirlwind that lifted roofs off houses, shattered glass, and bent young trees to the ground. The blazing streets grew thick with people fleeing for their lives, but the small details seemed to happen in slow motion a pot of flowers tumbling from a windowsill, an old man falling. For three days, the core of Rotterdam was black with smoke, and its buildings continued to smoulder; debris rained down on Overschie and beyond. When houses were unlivable but the inhabitants had survived, people left messages for loved ones in the rubble, and walked to a safer place:We are all right, they wrote, and scribbled an alternative address. The Posts in Overschie had been spared by just a few kilometres, but for several days Cor had no news of them or of her brother Gerry and his family, who were living right in Rotterdam. When word finally did filter through that all had survived unharmed, Cor learned that the offices of the shipping company that employed Gerry had been totally destroyed, but that Gerry had set sail just days before the invasion. She was glad that at least he had escaped, but worried for Gerrit as she watched the disciplined band of Wehrmacht soldiers march through the main street. The staccato sound of their boots on the pavement echoed in her mind at night, magnifying her fear that Gerrit had not survived. Two days after the capitulation, Cor listened as the radio announced that at various points in the Netherlands, German troops would be entering en masse, and that civilian traffic was to be halted between 5:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to make way for them. Among the terms of occupation: German "credit certificates" were to be accepted as cash, beer was to be reserved for German officers and soldiers, the air raid blackout would be strictly maintained, and all carrier pigeons would have to be registered, and were forbidden to fly free. Cor remembered the radio reports describing the release of pigeons at the Berlin Olympics, and the announcer saying they'd carried a message of peace to the world. The irony was already astounding but within two years, the Germans would go further, and order the birds slaughtered, requiring the ringed, severed legs as proof of the deed. In Rotterdam, there was little time for licking wounds. The bodies, once counted, would number between eight hundred and nine hundred, though the international press estimated much greater figures, reaching as high as one hundred thousand. TheNew York Timesreported that Nazi film footage of the destruction had been shown to correspondents in Berlin, and that the images gave the impression "not a single house . . . was left untouched by fire or some other instrument of destruction." The voice-over accompanying the footage maintained,
First Chapter
The devastation of Rotterdam was visible from Gerrit’s vantage point, and from Cor’s too. Separately, each of them stared at the billowing clouds of smoke. Rige, their eldest, stood on the Tedingerstraat, watching the smoke lift and roll out into the sky, staining the blue day black. Rige’s pulse sped and slowed again with dread and shame. She thought of an old wives’ tale that said picking the koekoeksblom brought thunderstorms, and wondered if she, then, was the culprit. She’d never seen such black clouds.

Within three hours, Rotterdam was in ruins. Neighbouring Schiedam, too, suffered massive destruction. Cor’s cousin Cornelia, who helped in the bookstore, stood with her mother and sister in the doorway of their house, watching bombs explode in the schoolyard while air raid sirens screamed and people fled. Their rucksacks were strapped to their backs in case they, too, needed to run. The destruction multiplied when a margarine warehouse erupted, and a strong spring wind
spread the shooting flames. The intense heat spun into a whirlwind that lifted roofs off houses, shattered glass, and bent young trees to the ground. The blazing streets grew thick with people fleeing for their lives, but the small details seemed to happen in slow motion — a pot of flowers
tumbling from a windowsill, an old man falling. For three days, the core of Rotterdam was black with smoke, and its buildings continued to smoulder; debris rained down on Overschie and beyond. When houses were unlivable but the inhabitants had survived, people left messages for
loved ones in the rubble, and walked to a safer place: We are all right, they wrote, and scribbled an alternative address.

The Posts in Overschie had been spared by just a few kilometres, but for several days Cor had no news of them or of her brother Gerry and his family, who were living right in Rotterdam. When word finally did filter through that all had survived unharmed, Cor learned that the offices of
the shipping company that employed Gerry had been totally destroyed, but that Gerry had set sail just days before the invasion. She was glad that at least he had escaped, but worried for Gerrit as she watched the disciplined band of Wehrmacht soldiers march through the main street. The
staccato sound of their boots on the pavement echoed in her mind at night, magnifying her fear that Gerrit had not survived.

Two days after the capitulation, Cor listened as the radio announced that at various points in the Netherlands, German troops would be entering en masse, and that civilian traffic was to be halted
between 5:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to make way for them. Among the terms of occupation: German “credit certificates” were to be accepted as cash, beer was to be reserved for German officers and soldiers, the air raid blackout would be strictly maintained, and all carrier pigeons would have to be registered, and were forbidden to fly free. Cor remembered the radio reports describing the release of pigeons at the Berlin Olympics, and the announcer saying they’d carried a message of peace to the world. The irony was already astounding — but within two years, the Germans would go further, and order the birds slaughtered, requiring the ringed, severed legs as proof of the deed.

In Rotterdam, there was little time for licking wounds. The bodies, once counted, would number between eight hundred and nine hundred, though the international press estimated much greater figures, reaching as high as one hundred thousand. The New York Times reported that Nazi film footage of the destruction had been shown to correspondents in Berlin, and that the images gave the impression “not a single house . . . was left untouched by fire or some other instrument of destruction.” The voice-over accompanying the footage maintained, “The responsibility for this rests on a government that criminally did England’s bidding and afterward cowardly left their people to their fate.”

Within Rotterdam, the devastation was great, if overstated. Firefighters were called in from other towns and cities, including Leidschendam and Voorburg. People with automobiles were urged to go to the city with food and bandages, and anything that might help with the cleanup of mountains of rubble and charred wood. Meanwhile, the newly homeless flooded out of Rotterdam to surrounding areas like Overschie, and farther on to Leidschendam. Next door to the den Hartogs, the rooms Bep and Henny had vacated were taken over by a family whose house had been swallowed by fire. The couple arrived with a train of little boys behind them. The children looked strangely calm, but the parents’ faces were white with shock, even days after the bedlam faded. Cor, too, was stunned. Almost overnight, familiar surroundings had changed profoundly: Vader den Hartog had seen a German plane in the Tedingerbroekpolder beyond the tuin, its broken fuselage embedded in the soft earth. And she and Moeder had seen hundreds of dead and wounded trucked to the Saint Antonius Hospital in Voorburg — mostly Dutch soldiers but Germans too, and apparently also an English pilot and crew whose plane had crashed in the area. It was said that corpses were stacked in the mortuary, and surgery went on in the hallways. Cor ached to think of what might have happened to her own soldier.


From the Hardcover edition.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"The family's struggles to endure terror, surveillance, bombing and the edges of starvation have been pieced together with colour and compassion. . . . Their story of war, dislocation and survival is well and evocatively told." London Free Press "Amazingly detailed and moving . . . it is the quintessential Canadian story." Ottawa Citizen "Moving and lyrical . . . If this book were less carefully crafted and not as well written, it would be mere family history. Instead, it's also the history of a country and of the people who lived in it during a terrible time." Montreal Gazette "In this heroic gesture of recovery of family history, the authors not only recreate their grandparents' world, but the horror of life in Nazi Occupied Holland. History is retold in relentless detail through the tragedies lived by people who become as real to us as our own family.The Occupied Gardenis a triumphant refusal to accept the silence that erases the past." Rosemary Sullivan, author ofVilla Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille "A dramatic and moving account of the World War II occupation of The Netherlands and its subsequent liberation by Canadian troops as seen through the lens of one Dutch family's experiences.The Occupied Gardenis a fine read." Mark Zuehlke, author ofTerrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign, September 13November 6, 1944 "A personal, unsentimental, intensely compelling 'memoir.'. . . The tiny, mundane details of these very ordinary lives are brilliantly interwoven with the colossal events and backwash of all-out war that move the story relentlessly, sometimes breathlessly, forward. . . . As in a painting by Seurat, the masses ('dots') of information meticulously build up, slowly, vividly, revealing the many personalities and the devastating times." Ernest Hillen,Globe and Mail "This is a fascinating, informative, beautifully written book." Winnipeg Free Press From the Hardcover edition.
"The family's struggles to endure terror, surveillance, bombing and the edges of starvation have been pieced together with colour and compassion. . . . Their story of war, dislocation and survival is well and evocatively told." London Free Press "Amazingly detailed and moving . . . it is the quintessential Canadian story." Ottawa Citizen "Moving and lyrical . . . If this book were less carefully crafted and not as well written, it would be mere family history. Instead, it's also the history of a country and of the people who lived in it during a terrible time." Montreal Gazette "In this heroic gesture of recovery of family history, the authors not only recreate their grandparents' world, but the horror of life in Nazi Occupied Holland. History is retold in relentless detail through the tragedies lived by people who become as real to us as our own family. The Occupied Garden is a triumphant refusal to accept the silence that erases the past." Rosemary Sullivan, author of Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille "A dramatic and moving account of the World War II occupation of The Netherlands and its subsequent liberation by Canadian troops as seen through the lens of one Dutch family's experiences. The Occupied Garden is a fine read." Mark Zuehlke, author of Terrible Victory: First Canadian Army and the Scheldt Estuary Campaign, September 13 November 6, 1944 "A personal, unsentimental, intensely compelling 'memoir.'. . . The tiny, mundane details of these very ordinary lives are brilliantly interwoven with the colossal events and backwash of all-out war that move the story relentlessly, sometimes breathlessly, forward. . . . As in a painting by Seurat, the masses ('dots') of information meticulously build up, slowly, vividly, revealing the many personalities and the devastating times." Ernest Hillen, Globe and Mail "This is a fascinating, informative, beautifully written book." Winnipeg Free Press From the Hardcover edition.
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
A moving, revealing memoir about a man and his young family during the Nazi occupation of Holland, as told by his granddaughters, one a beloved novelist. At once a memoir and a social history of a time,The Occupied Gardenis the story of a good but poor man, a market gardener, and his fiercely devout wife, raising their young family in Holland during the Nazi occupation. Pieced together by the couple's granddaughters, who combed through historical research, family lore, and insights from a neighbour's wartime diary, the story chronicles how the couple struggled to keep their children from starving, but could not keep them from harm, and reveals the strife and hardship endured not just by them, but by a nation. These experiences, kept from subsequent generations of the family, were almost lost until, long after their deaths, the path of the couple through the war and on to Canada was uncovered. A personal and intimate account within the larger context of a terrorized nation, this is also a story of the bonds and strains among family, told with the haunting, evocative prose for which Kristen den Hartog is known. From the Hardcover edition.
Main Description
A moving, revealing memoir about a man and his young family during the Nazi occupation of Holland, as told by his granddaughters, one a beloved novelist. At once a memoir and a social history of a time, The Occupied Garden is the story of a good but poor man, a market gardener, and his fiercely devout wife, raising their young family in Holland during the Nazi occupation. Pieced together by the couple's granddaughters, who combed through historical research, family lore, and insights from a neighbour's wartime diary, the story chronicles how the couple struggled to keep their children from starving, but could not keep them from harm, and reveals the strife and hardship endured not just by them, but by a nation. These experiences, kept from subsequent generations of the family, were almost lost until, long after their deaths, the path of the couple through the war and on to Canada was uncovered. A personal and intimate account within the larger context of a terrorized nation, this is also a story of the bonds and strains among family, told with the haunting, evocative prose for which Kristen den Hartog is known. From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
The devastation of Rotterdam was visible from Gerrit's vantage point, and from Cor's too. Separately, each of them stared at the billowing clouds of smoke. Rige, their eldest, stood on the Tedingerstraat, watching the smoke lift and roll out into the sky, staining the blue day black. Rige's pulse sped and slowed again with dread and shame. She thought of an old wives' tale that said picking the koekoeksblom brought thunderstorms, and wondered if she, then, was the culprit. She'd never seen such black clouds.
Within three hours, Rotterdam was in ruins. Neighbouring Schiedam, too, suffered massive destruction. Cor's cousin Cornelia, who helped in the bookstore, stood with her mother and sister in the doorway of their house, watching bombs explode in the schoolyard while air raid sirens screamed and people fled. Their rucksacks were strapped to their backs in case they, too, needed to run. The destruction multiplied when a margarine warehouse erupted, and a strong spring wind spread the shooting flames. The intense heat spun into a whirlwind that lifted roofs off houses, shattered glass, and bent young trees to the ground. The blazing streets grew thick with people fleeing for their lives, but the small details seemed to happen in slow motion - a pot of flowers tumbling from a windowsill, an old man falling. For three days, the core of Rotterdam was black with smoke, and its buildings continued to smoulder; debris rained down on Overschie and beyond. When houses were unlivable but the inhabitants had survived, people left messages for loved ones in the rubble, and walked to a safer place: We are all right, they wrote, and scribbled an alternative address.
The Posts in Overschie had been spared by just a few kilometres, but for several days Cor had no news of them or of her brother Gerry and his family, who were living right in Rotterdam. When word finally did filter through that all had survived unharmed, Cor learned that the offices of the shipping company that employed Gerry had been totally destroyed, but that Gerry had set sail just days before the invasion. She was glad that at least he had escaped, but worried for Gerrit as she watched the disciplined band of Wehrmacht soldiers march through the main street. The staccato sound of their boots on the pavement echoed in her mind at night, magnifying her fear that Gerrit had not survived.
Two days after the capitulation, Cor listened as the radio announced that at various points in the Netherlands, German troops would be entering en masse, and that civilian traffic was to be halted between 5:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. to make way for them. Among the terms of occupation: German "credit certificates" were to be accepted as cash, beer was to be reserved for German officers and soldiers, the air raid blackout would be strictly maintained, and all carrier pigeons would have to be registered, and were forbidden to fly free. Cor remembered the radio reports describing the release of pigeons at the Berlin Olympics, and the announcer saying they'd carried a message of peace to the world. The irony was already astounding - but within two years, the Germans would go further, and order the birds slaughtered, requiring the ringed, severed legs as proof of the deed.
In Rotterdam, there was little time for licking wounds. The bodies, once counted, would number between eight hundred and nine hundred, though the international press estimated much greater figures, reaching as high as one hundred thousand. The New York Times reported that Nazi film footage of the destruction had been shown to correspondents in Berlin, and that the images gave the impression "not a single house... was left untouched by fire or some other instrument of destruction." The voice-over accompanying the footage maintained, "The responsibility for this rests on a government that criminally did England's bidding and afterward cowardly left their people to their fate." Within Rotterdam, the devastation was great, if overstated. Firefighters were called in from other towns and cities, including Leidschendam and Voorburg. People with automobiles were urged to go to the city with food and bandages, and anything that might help with the cleanup of mountains of rubble and charred wood. Meanwhile, the newly homeless flooded out of Rotterdam to surrounding areas like Overschie, and farther on to Leidschendam. Next door to the den Hartogs, the rooms Bep and Henny had vacated were taken over by a family whose house had been swallowed by fire. The couple arrived with a train of little boys behind them. The children looked strangely calm, but the parents' faces were white with shock, even days after the bedlam faded. Cor, too, was stunned. Almost overnight, familiar surroundings had changed profoundly: Vader den Hartog had seen a German plane in the Tedingerbroekpolder beyond the tuin, its broken fuselage embedded in the soft earth. And she and Moeder had seen hundreds of dead and wounded trucked to the Saint Antonius Hospital in Voorburg - mostly Dutch soldiers but Germans too, and apparently also an English pilot and crew whose plane had crashed in the area. It was said that corpses were stacked in the mortuary, and surgery went on in the hallways. Cor ached to think of what might have happened to her own soldier.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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