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Category Archive for 'Netherlands'

Devastated by the surrender of his country just five days after the Nazi invasion, twenty-three-year-old Erik Hazelhoff, decides to resist. A university student in Leyden, Hazelhoff, joined by friends, makes several attempts to get to England so they can fight the Germans, before finally succeeding. Connecting with Francois van ‘t Sant, Private Secretary to Queen Wilhelmina, who is in exile in England, Hazelhoff and three friends agree to help start “Contact Holland,” an Underground communications network between Holland and England. Ferrying spies across the North Sea into Holland proves more difficult than they have imagined, and with winter weather, high seas, and no communications network in place in Holland, their good intentions do not produce the desired results. In this autobiographical account, Erik Hazelhoff conveys in dramatic detail the many attempts to establish Underground connections through Scheveningen, and in equally dramatic detail the political scheming between Dutch bureaucrats living in London, who simply want to continue the government’s legal existence, and Van ‘t Sant and the Queen, who want real results. (To see the full review, click on the title at the top of this excerpt.)

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So daring and exotic are Erik Hazelhoff’s adventures and so strange are some of the coincidences, that if this were fiction, a reader might be excused for finding it “unrealistic.” Yet this is the story of a real Dutch citizen who has believed all his life in challenging fate, forging ahead, doing what he had to do, and not looking back. Unwilling to accept “impossibilities,” he has constantly challenged the status quo, often in wildly heroic actions. Seemingly fearless, he learned from his earliest childhood in Dutch Java that Fear dwelt in a Black Cave, but “you must defy him, and a pebble in your mouth will protect you.” Hazelhoff has spent his entire life with a pebble in his mouth, boldly marching past Black Caves which have swallowed lesser men.

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