Five Brothers and a War

Foreword

The cover art is meant to convey several concepts, some very obvious, and some perhaps not. The billowing Dutch flag is obvious, as the entire story centers around Holland. The five-star cluster is meant to show two things: firstly, the stars of the book are the five van Pelt brothers, Leendert (“Leen”), Pieter “Piet”), Jan Gijsbertus, Cornelis (“Kees”) and Gijsbertus (“Bertus)”. Secondly, the war is represented by the American insignia for the five-star general/admiral (General of the Army/Admiral of the Fleet) ranks. The rank was first awarded in December 1944, and only five generals and four admirals, all of whom served in World War II, received the distinction. But the use of the insignia is not intended to infer an Americanism, rather a basis of an Allied effort. The star was also used as the symbol of the Allies, as opposed to the swastika for the Nazis or the Rising Sun for the Japanese.

This book is not written in a customary way, where one page naturally follows the previous. Instead, it is written by weaving six threads together: [about] Holland; the van Pelts; Nazi Germany; the War; History; and Commentary. Each one of these should be self-explanatory, and each is denoted with its own colors. The book is mostly written in chronological order, which necessitates the intermingling of different threads throughout the book. Essentially, it is several books with interwoven chapters. This does cause a certain amount of “jolt” where one page about Hitler might lead to the next page describing an anecdote about the van Pelts. Pages tend to stand on their own, with the connective links being chronology. This work is not intended to be political, though it is self-evident that discussing politics is inevitable. This is so for at least two reasons. The war, as is true of all wars, was political. World War II was clearly caused by the Nazis in Germany, and the Nazi Party was political. But to understand the context within which the Nazi Party flourished, and frankly the context within which so many otherwise intelligent people ignored the problems created by the Nazis, one can perhaps best relate through a near-repetition of history—or at the least, through an examination of the geo-political forces extant in recent times. This is in no way intended to excuse the Nazis, or more particularly, the German people, who may not have been Nazis, but were to some degree or another complicit in the acts committed by Germany. The hope is that understanding can be gained by recognizing the parallels of somewhat similar circumstances. I have chosen not to use relationship terms, such as “oma”, “opa”, “tante” or “oom” (“grandpa”, “grandma”, “aunt” or “uncle”, respectively) not because of a lack of respect, or familiarity, but rather because the relationship with the characters is different for the various readers. As a result, my Oma van Pelt, Maria Gertruida (Sonneveld) van Pelt, is referred to as Marie, which was her

preface

Five Brothers and a War

Page 1

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