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Grandfather Ernest This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Unknown
   The Diary of Anne
Frank
prompted me to learn more about World War II. My grandfather, Ernest Kervel, lived
in Holland during this war. I thought it would be interesting to hear his firsthand knowledge and
personal experience.


How old were you when World War II broke
out, and where did you live?


I was about nine years old and lived in
Laren, Holland, approximately 22 kilometers from
Amsterdam.


What was it like to go to school while there was a
war going on?


Well, our schools were confiscated by the Germans and
used as an army base. My teachers taught us in underground villas, or buildings confiscated by the
Germans but standing empty. Our parents arranged for us to meet at these
villas.


Did your family harbor Jews?


No, but we did harbor onderduikers. These
were Dutch people, children and adults, from North Holland, who were wanted by the Germans. The
onderduikers were hiding from the Germans because they were not registered with them. Had they been
found, the Germans would have sent them to concentration camps or the front
line.


How was your mother able to feed so many
mouths?


My mother and sister went to North Holland in search of food.
The trip took a minimum of four days, and while they were gone my brother and I stayed with another
family.


What was one of the scariest things you remember of
the war?


One day I was walking to school and noticed my bike among the
others that had been confiscated by the Germans. It took a lot of nerve, but I pulled myself
together and stole it back. It was also scary to see all the armed Nazis, not knowing when they were
going to shoot next.


Did the Germans enter your house
frequently?


Yes. The Germans would walk down the street and enter any
house without consent. My house was large, so the Germans suspected we would have Jews
oronderduikers, and they entered frequently.


Where were
the onderduikers hidden, and how did you make sure the Germans did not find
them?


We hid them in secret rooms behind walls which you could only
reach through one room. When the Germans would come to search we would let them see our vicious dog,
putting him in the only room that connected to the secret room, and then they would not enter the
room.


If anything, what important lesson did you
learn?


I learned to be a good friend by helping the onderduikers, and I
learned to appreciate friends like those who took care of me when my mother was not available. I
also learned how important a family is; when I was left alone I missed the love, caring and security
of a family.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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