Man Leben – school time

Ein Weg durch das Abenteurer, das man Leben nennt [1]

 You continue with your school time in Holland:

“In the summer of 1946 my aunt visited my godfather and godmother in Limburg. She stayed for one week. After this week I moved with my aunt to a village near Rotterdam. The departure from my godparents was not easy; fortunately I stayed on a regular basis with them at their farm: every time special.

In the train near Rotterdam I was surprised that a country could be so flat and empty. And so full of canals small and even smaller. Later I understood that this was the result of a centuries-long co-existence with the water and a necessity to keep the polders dry.



When we arrived at our new home, my aunt had sad news. My father and mother had not survived the war and the consequences of the other regime from Germany, that had over-flooded the Netherlands. My father died in Auschwitz [4], my mother did not survive an illness in Dachau. Furthermore, my aunt never talked about this time of war. I never asked her about it: it was obvious that it was too painful. After the war, a distant family relation helped her with a post at a Trade Office in Rotterdam.

In Holland I lived in a Christian village, I went to a Christian Grammar school and we went to a Christian Church with quite different habits. Still my aunt asked me to study the Jewish scriptures on a regular basis; this legacy of my ancestors was not denied. Everything was strange, even my first name was strange and in the beginning my German-sounding last name caused reservations. I could understand the people, but they responded differently. By my accent and behaviour I remained an outsider. After the war there was lack of almost everything and people were very frugal. In Holland milk was widely drunk – preferably a litre per day; in Limburg only a little milk was put in the coffee. At celebrations a slice of cake was offered instead of an abundant treat of fruit flan; for an important feast in Limburg, the woman next door delivered 24 different fruit flans at the baker for baking.

Over time I became accustomed to our new life in Holland. I got friends at the new school, I silently was in love again and after 6 years I received my diploma for Grammar school. Then I started my study at the University of Technology in Delft”, you say.

“Jo Ritzen, who studied physics at Delft University of Technology, wrote in his autobiography [5] that the transition from Limburg to Holland was the biggest change in his life. Your changes are even bigger”, I say

“For me there was no choice. It came as it came, it was as it was and it went as it was; just like the weather or the wind”, say you.

The following post is about your years of study in Delft.


– “Who are you – Part 1″ ready for download –

– Please, see page: “Who are you – Part 1”

[1] Translation: “A way through the adventure that one calls life”

[2] Source image:,_panorama2_foto2_2010-07-04_13.41.JPG

[3] Source image:

[4] The name Auschwitz is derived from the Polish town named Oświęcim near the camp. Many Jews who live in Oświęcim before the war, named this place Oshpitzin – the Yiddish word for guest – because this place was known for its hospitality before the war. See: Glassman, Bernie, Bearing Witness – A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace. New York: Bell Tower, 1998, p. 4

[5] Ritzen, Jozef Maria Mathias, De Minister – Een Handboek. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1998


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s