Monday, October 18, 2010

Mijn Oma's huis

My Grandma Gerritsen was born and grew up on a farm in Wieken, near Gendringen in the Achterhoek - literally, the 'back blocks' of Holland. It's a small farming community right on the German border - the border is so close that you can sit in my relatives lounge room in Gendringen and look out the window at Germany! This family farm at Wieken stayed in the family and was a working dairy until recent years when it was bought out to be knocked down and turned into a gravel plant. It's a tremendous shame and now falling to ruins while it sits and waits to be demolished. I am so lucky to not only have been able to visit it while it's still standing, but to have made the journey there with my Dad and also again with my sisters.

This is the original building, where my Grandma (and her 10 (?) brothers & sisters) were born. Typical of Dutch farms, the family lived in the far end of the building and the animals in the front.

Mitch and I both really loved all the decrepit old bricks on the building & especially this flower window pane.

My eldest sister Kim had visited the farm on previous trips to Europe while it was still a working dairy. She stayed with Om Dirk (our great-uncle) who was still running the farm and still rounding up the cows on his fiets. While we were walking around the house, we passed by this window and Kim remembered a story she was told. During WW2, the basement here was where our great uncle & aunty would hide with their children for safety. They would wait in here and watch the German tanks & soldiers roll down the road, literally only metres from where they were hiding. I've seen so many war movies & heard stories but actually seeing it for myself - seeing where they were, how close they are to Germany, well - it gave me the shivers. I just couldn't imagine being at war with your next door neighbours. It's such a foreign thought, yet really only such recent history.

There is an old family photo that my parents have of my Grandma, her parents and brothers & sisters taken in this exact spot so naturally we had to take our own version - my Dad's cousin & his wife (far left & far right) and Dad, 3 of his daughters (our other sister has also visited here in 2009 - I think we need do some photoshopping to add her in!) and 3 of his grandchildren.

My Dad last walked down this road as a 9 year old, when he visited his Aunty & Uncle here who took over the dairy. Here he walked back out, 59 years later... Het was heel leuk om mijn Oma's huis met mijn vader te bezoeken :-)

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