Miriam's Blog

Friday, January 13, 2017: back at work

by Miriam Keesing

Due to personal circumstances I have not been able to devote as much time to my research project the last year and a half as I would have liked.

Of course I never stopped. I get enquires through the website on a regular basis. Often from family members who are touched to see that someone remembers their  cousin or sometimes even brother or sister. A few weeks ago I received an e-mail from a cousin of a girl who lived with a foster family in Amsterdam between August 1939 and May 1942.  She had a picture of a family wedding in Amsterdam and was wondering whether her cousin’s foster parents were on the picture. Some research from my side took me to the foster brother, Isaac, born in 1938. I actually have known him for many years. I e-mailed him the picture, thinking he would surely know about this German refugee girl who had lived with his family for almost three years. He answered me that there had never been anyone living with his family! He does not remember, does not know, and had never heard of this. Yet according to all the available documents she lived there with the family! This is not the first time something like this happened. In many cases where a foster child did not survive but the foster family did it was a taboo to talk about it. Just like in my family, Uli was never mentioned. I guess we cannot even begin to understand the feelings of guilt and remorse people must have had.

I also get many questions from other people who are researching subjects related to mine. Yesterday I went to the book presentation of Lody van de Kamp. He has written a book about a refugee girl from Germany for which he has consulted me. I met Lida Boukris-de Jong there as well. She has recently done some research on Mrs. Wijsmuller. We talked about the strange fact that Mrs. Wijsmuller has saved so many lives yet has received so little recognition for all her work.

In May 2016 I talked about Hannelore Thal at the house where she lived with her foster family in Utrecht for “Open Joodse Huizen Utrecht”. In this project current residents make their home available to the public and speakers talk about persons who have lived there during the war.  

In July 2016 I attended the conference “Children and War, past and present” in Salzburg. On the last day I presented a paper that I have prepared together with Peter Tammes and Andrew Simpkin of the University of Bristol, about the survival rate of the refugee children in the Netherlands. That was a whole new experience for me. At the moment Peter, Andrew and I are preparing the paper to have it published in an academic magazine.

Last year George Frankel sent me a document which appears to be the last of 12 newsletters that were written about the Dommelhuis. Alexia Gültlingen translated it and now I finally get around to putting it on the site so it is available to anyone who is interested. You will find it at the Dommelhuis page in the section “Refugee homes”.  Or just click here. And thank you, George!

Now I go back to working on my book!!