Five Brothers and a War


nickname. Similarly, Opa van Pelt, Leendert van Pelt, whose nickname was Leen, is referred to as Leendert. That was done because his eldest son was also Leendert, and my uncle, “Oom Leen”. In order to keep them separate, the son is “Leen” throughout this book. This book does not use the Dutch naming protocol for the use of women’s maiden names. In Dutch culture, a woman really never loses her maiden name, but it is hyphenated after her married name. Thus, Maria Geertruida van Pelt-Sonneveld was Oma’s legal name after her marriage to Leendert van Pelt. I have chosen though to use parentheses before the married surname to show the maiden name, as I did in the previous paragraph to describe Oma van Pelt. I have chosen to use American spelling rather than my native Canadian or British, but I will use native words wherever possible to avoid very awkward anglifications of words such as “Cologne” when the real name would be “Köln” or where it is just as simple to use the native word, such as the German, “Rhein”, rather than the English bastardization, “Rhine”. When that same river crosses into Holland, the word used would be the Dutch, “Nederrijn”, rather than the English “Nether Rhine”. However, there are exceptions, such as the use of the words “German” and “Germany” rather than “Deutsch” and “Deutschland”, as those terms would themselves be awkward to use. Because there are so many Dutch words and names in the book, I have provided a brief section that discusses the Dutch language, in order to allow non-Dutch readers not to be as intimidated by words that are seemingly unpronounceable. One of the most obvious examples is one that was just used with the word “Nederrijn”, because of the “ij” combination. This combination is called a digraph, because the two letters form a single sound that cannot be pronounced by pronouncing the letters in a normal fashion. The “ij” essentially becomes a single letter of the alphabet, and when it begins a word, it would be capitalized as such. The “IJsselmeer” is correct, not “Ijsselmeer”. An English speaker would be tempted to pronounce “ij” as “idge” like in the word “fridge”, whereas a closer approximation would be to turn the “ij” into a “y”, just by taking the two dots off of the “i” and the “j”. To finish with the word “Nederrijn”, the first syllable of the word “Nederrijn” would be pronounced “Nay” and not “Ned”. It would be far easier for a reader to know that the names of the van Pelt brothers are not pronounced in Dutch as they seem in English. “Leen” is pronounced “Lane”, “Piet” is pronounced “Peat”, “Jan” is pronounced closer to “Yon” (not “Yawn”), “Kees” is pronounced “Case” and “Bertus” is pronounced closer to “Bair” rather than “Burr” for the first syllable. Finally, great thanks go out to all of the people who contributed to this effort, from the memories, photos, documents, proofreading, editing and advice. In particular, my parents, Kees and Flora, tante Immie, oom Bert, cousin Hannie Ford and my wife, Carol. A great thanks also goes out to the descendants of the family that sheltered Oom Leen and my father for the last five or six months of the war. The Aantjes family, particularly Willemijn “Willy” and Arja, were extremely gracious and generous in their help. They both went well above and beyond what I could have expected in providing crucial information and photographs that filled in an important segment of this book.


Five Brothers and a War

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