Posted by Timothy FitzGerald on Nov 05, 2018
In 1940, when Holland was invaded by the Blitzkrieg, our Rotarian, Dolf Wynia was 6 years old.
Rotarians Dolf Wynia and Craig Hunter
(Dolf Wynia and Rotarian Craig Hunter at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 79)
Dolf’s parents lived on the outskirts of Rotterdam. His mother kept him away from the windows lest stray bullets from aerial battles overhead enter the home. (The invading German armies wanted the shipping port of Rotterdam and the coastal airfields intact to launch invasions against England. Holland’s military put up a stiff fight; but with its outdated equipment soon exhausted the city of Rotterdam and Holland were surrendered within four days.)

Dolf reminisced about his childhood experiences. Bricks from bombed out buildings were used to build low walls from which Dolf and his friends could challenge youngsters from other neighbourhoods.
But, simultaneously, Dolf observed unexplained (to the eyes of a young child) variances in the daily life and routines of his parents – their secrecy where none had existed before, closing the curtains against the songs and propaganda of the Nazis, vinegar bottles in the liquor cabinet. (Dolf’s father was a vinegar salesman. Vinegar was manufactured from fermented gin. His father brought home gin in these vinegar bottles and used them as the only currency that could gain any cooperation of the German officers.)
Dolf was fortunate to never experience a shortage of food during the war years. First - his mother had lain in supplies of salt and vinegar to preserve food before the war based upon newspaper reports of failing talks and fear of invasions. However, a German blockade of fuel and supplies from farm towns in 1944 threw Holland into famine. Second - Dolf’s family moved about 120 kms north to their uncle's farm (via some wood-burning motorized contraption but that’s another story). Their uncle’s farm was self sufficient in agriculture, livestock and energy from burning peat and tapping methane gas from the bogs.
This is the point in Dolf’s presentation where his voice and emotion cracked - the proud (as a survivor) reminiscences giving way to memories (now at age 10) and horrors of starvation passing by the farm gates. His uncle built a shelter by the roadside and fed the humanity passing by. One man had a small suitcase under his arm. Inside the case were 12 place settings of sterling silver. Starving, he offered that just for a bag of potatoes.

No one wins at war!