Papa’s War is the story of Dutch Captain Jan van Houten and his family told primarily through correspondence between he and his wife Marie during their years of exile in England following Germany’s conquest of Holland in 1940. Captain van Houten served in the Dutch press censorship office based in London and Marie and their daughter Treesje who were sent to live in the countryside. Therese van Houten has done an excellent job combining a personal story based on the exchange of correspondence between her father and mother during World War II with additional family anecdotes and larger facts about the war. The latter help put into perspective the mundane events described in the letters. Translating text from one language to another, particularly when the source material is so personal, presents its own challenges and I was impressed with her ability in making the translation. There’s nothing more I can add in praise except to say that Papa’s War is now a part of my reference library.
Review by Dwight Zimmerman, MWSA President and Reviewer
It's September 1939 and England has declared war on Germany. Jan van Houten, a Dutch journalist working in London, bids farewell to his wife and infant daughter who are evacuated to the countryside. The young couple's almost daily correspondence, during this and subsequent separations, offers an eyewitness account of the devastation of war and its impact on families. When Jan is recruited to the press office of the Dutch government exiled in London, his letters offer a vivid description of daily life during the Blitz. In September 1944, the Dutch military authority sends him, as press censor, to a Dutch town recently liberated by allied forces. Jan arrives within days of the allies failed attempt to cross a crucial bridge across the Rhine--a failure that delays the liberation of Holland until the following May. His letters present the deprivations and horrors experienced by the Dutch during the long winter months prior to the German capitulation, as well as the ongoing deprivations in the immediate aftermath of the war
Papa's War, written by Jan' eldest daughter, places Jan's letters within well-researched historical context.
Book Format(s): Soft cover
Genre(s): Nonfiction, History, Memoir, Biography
Review Genre: Nonfiction—History
Number of Pages: 222