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A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience

By Carolyne Van Der Meer
Series Life Writing Hide Details
Paperback : 9781771120050, 110 pages, December 2013
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771120074, 110 pages, March 2014
Audiobook : 9781771125772, September 2022

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience by Carolyne Van Der Meer



1: Finding the Motherlode

Journal Entry–18 July 2010

Going Home


Journal Entry–19 July 2010

Letters from a War Child

The Dig

Nine Ways to Happiness in Wartime

Marijke's Song

Journal Entry–20 July 2010

Marijke's Song

The Poem About Hiding Jews

Cat Got Your Tongue?

How Do You Know?

My Education

Journal Entry–21 July 2010

The Librarian

The Hiding Place

The Hunting Game

Negotiating with the SS

Journal Entry–22 July 2010


My Mother's Voice

The Root Cellar

The Hunger Winter, 1944–45

A Conversation

The Walls Have Ears

Where We Hid Them

Journal Entry–22 July 2010

Stimpie Stampie at the New Dorrius

The Bartender

The Red Boots

Listening to the Radio

The SS Came at Night

Journal Entry–23 July 2010

Speculaas on the Prinsengracht


Journal Entry–24 July 2010

2: The Children

The War Begins

Onderduik, 1944

We All Took Part

The Risks He Took

Learning Curve

Soldier Boy

Christmas Eve 1943

The Beef Tongue

Wool Was Hard to Get

The Collection

The Walnut Tree

The American Soldier

What Lisbeth Knows

No Visible Injury

God in de hemel


The Bouquet

Liberation in Nijmegen

Institut Henri Jaspar, Brussels

3: The Survivors

Manna from Heaven

A Dutch Jew Looks at the Facts

Real Estate Value

Riches to Rags


Teaching Kindergarten


Thunder and Lightning

The Department Store

War's Insidious Bite

Altje, 1942

4: The Fighters

The Story Wasn't True

Girl in a Flowered Dress

Lotte's Journey

The Namesake

Dear Folks, Love Ralph

The Outline

Homage to a Canadian Soldier

Stationed in Veghel

The Solider Watches Retribution

Occupation Duty

Afterword: The Complexity of Belonging


Glossary of Dutch Terms


Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience is Carolyne Van Der Meer’s creative reinterpretation through short stories, poems, and essays of the experiences of her mother and other individuals who either spent their childhoods in Nazi-occupied Holland or were deeply affected by wartime in Holland. The book documents the author’s personal journey as she uncovers her mother’s past through their correspondence and discussion and through research in the Netherlands. Motherlode also considers mother–daughter relationships and the effect of wartime on motherhood.

Motherlode is not about recording precise historical data; rather, it attempts to recover and interpret the complex emotions of the individuals growing up in wartime. The book is based on interviews with the author’s mother and other Dutch Canadians, interviews with and letters from Canadian Jewish war veterans, and information provided by individuals with direct or indirect experience of the Dutch Resistance. The creative pieces explore onderduik (going into/being in hiding), life in an occupied country, the work of the Dutch Resistance, liberation, collective and individual cultural memory, and the way in which wartime childhoods shaped adulthood for these individuals.


``Content determines form, or, more precisely, the multiple forms that comprise Carolyne Van Der Meer's unique and moving new book Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experiences. Juxtaposing essays, poems, journal entries, letters, interviews, and short stories, Van Der Meer demonstrates how our life story is seldom, if ever, set in stone. Instead, it's a moving target, a kaleidoscope of the complicated ways in which we choose to remember. .. Motherlode is part of Wilfrid Laurier University Press's Life Writing Series. With more than 50 titles to its credit, the series aimes to ‘foreground the stories of those who may never have imagined themselves as writers. ’ That said, this is a writerly book. Van Der Meer may not have started out with literary intentions, but by mixing fact and fiction, by involving a cast of peripheral characters—including other Dutch war children, participants in the Dutch Resistance, and Canadian war veterans—she gives a voice to the previously silent ‘voices of the time. ’''

- Joel Yanofsky, Montreal Review of Books, Spring 2014

``A mesmerizing journey through occupied wartime Netherlands; the voices emerging from the pages are haunting: replete with powerful emotions and modernity. ''

- Isabelle Laflèche, author of J'adore New York and J'adore Paris

``Motherlode is Carolyne Van Der Meer's Orphic journey to reclaim the past of her mother, a child during the five years of Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The mosaic of poetry, fiction, and reminiscence is her Dodenherdenking, a remembrance of the dead, but also her immersion in the Lake of Memory. Her quest to understand a loved one expresses the need of every child and every parent to know and to be remembered. If the past is a foreign country, Van Der Meer shows us that with empathy and imagination we can enter that land as more than mere tourists. ''

- Steven Manners, author of Ondine's Curse and Valley of Fire

``In reading Carolyne Van Der Meer's remarkable work, Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experiences, I was reminded of the intricate lace curtains found on the windows throughout Holland. In this creative reinterpretation of memories and experiences, Van Der Meer has eloquently succeeded in intertwining short stories, poems, and essays with the delicate touch of a fine Dutch lace maker. Based on the recollections of the author's mother and other Dutch Canadians, as well as letters from and interviews with Canadian soldiers and resistance fighters, Van Der Meer takes these accounts and her first-hand research to craft a compelling view of what we are left with after war's end. ''

- Gina Roitman, The Rover, February 23, 2014