Growing up in occupied France

JordaJones.050615 35.jpgSiblings Marie Jorda Jones and Gerald Jorda saw their country, France, occupied then liberated during World War II. (Photo by Travis Spradling, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

When anniversaries of the end of World War II in Europe — or V-E Day — come around, it’s an abstraction for most Americans. Not for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, siblings Marie Jorda Jones and Gerard Jorda.

Both were teens in northern France when the war came to their country in 1940. By the time it ended, Marie was engaged to an American. In between, they endured an occupation that turned them into refugees for more than two years.

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A German girl’s view of World War II

EvaBardsley.adv
Eva Bardsley holds a photo of herself when she was 14 years old. She was 12 years old when World War II began, lived through relentless Allied bombings of Berlin, captivity by the Russians and the desperate poverty of postwar Germany. (Photo by Bill Feig, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

Most Americans remember World War II through the eyes of veterans who fought, families who awaited their return, or from movies produced from the victors’ point of view.

Eva Rieseler Bardsley had a different vantage point.

Bardsley grew up in Berlin and was 12 years old when Germany’s surrender in 1945 ended the war in Europe. She saw her city turned to rubble, was bombed out of her home three times and separated from her family for more than a year. She struggled to avoid starvation and rape in the chaos of war’s end.

“I should have folded up,” said Bardsley, a longtime Watson, Louisiana, resident. “But I really had a good outlook on life, and even those times as a little girl, I always hoped and prayed there was a better time coming.”

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Wrong place at the wrong time

Conrad MeijerConrad Meijer was a Dutch civilian teenager who spent much of World War II as a prisoner of the Japanese. (Photo by Patrick Dennis, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.)

By George Morris

As a Dutch teenager who never took up arms in World War II, Conrad Meijer seemed unlikely to end up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. Meijer, however, was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Meijer grew up in India, where his father, Johan, built sugar refineries. In 1938, his parents sent him to a boarding school in Indonesia, which then was a Dutch colony. Meijer was at the school when they heard radio reports of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, is a long way from Hawaii, but it didn’t take long for World War II to arrive. Within hours of its strike on Pearl Harbor, Japan attacked the Philippines and Southeast Asia.  Singapore was captured on Feb. 15, 1942, and Japanese forces moved into Sumatra and Java.

Meijer (pronounced MY-er) later learned his father had sent money to the school to pay for his evacuation, but it didn’t arrive in time.

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Mass suicide by German civilians

This is a horrific account of eastern German civilians, either in fear of or response to the Soviet conquest of their towns, killing themselves and their children. Given how Soviet soldiers treated the Germans, it is understandable, but no less terrible. H/T to Dirk de Klein.

https://dirkdeklein.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/demmin-mass-suicide-1-may-1945/

 

The Katyn Massacre

Katyn_massacre_1Mass grave discovered in 1943 in Katyn, USSR.

 

By George Morris

Dachau. Bataan. Katyn. Generations of post-war Americans have grown up knowing about the first two places, but few have heard of the third.

But Sophia Grebocki Denham was aware. She lost her husband there.

“People should know what happened there,” Denham said in 2000.

What happened there was an atrocity.

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