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  • I lived in the Netherlands for nearly a year while finishing graduate research on the colonial period in Indonesia. That was the official story. But I also managed to sneak a bit of family related research into my daily library "stays". The archival material was unbelievable. I can still smell the pages.

    At some point during my time in Leiden, I started to track my grandfather's journey through Europe during WWII. I suppose it was a bit off topic. I had some basic material to work with. In the mean time..I dug up documents that traced the movement of his company (the Timberwolves) from England to France to Holland all the way through to Germany. As things had turned out, they had seen the worst of every battle. They had been in the heart of things at every turn. The violence had been incredible. Terrible. More than should be recounted.

    All the way through to the heart of Germany.

    I asked Grandpa about it.

    Me: "Grandpa, there is a street in Holland named after the Timberwolves. What happened there?

    Grandpa: "There was a woman there that let us stay in her barn. She made us hot chocolate."

    That was the only story about his experience in Europe. I think that it says a lot about his character and perspective on life.

    I try to hold on to this.
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