The History Place - Personal Histories

A Boy's Life in Holland

The War Ends

Section Six of Six

I don't remember the actual day the war ended. But I vividly remember when American B-17s started flying over, very low, dropping crates of canned goods, sometimes in fields, sometimes in streets, but without parachutes. They just dropped them. And the English prepared special low fat, high nutrition cookies for us. We had to be very careful what type of food we started to eat. Our bodies couldn't tolerate too much fat, sugar or anything heavy. Thus, American soldiers were warned not to give chocolate, or candy, to children. It could cause them to get deathly ill or even die.

Distribution of the cookies was a problem so they were loaded in trucks and sprayed on the streets with mechanisms for spraying salt. People were so malnourished and ill that every second was a survival second.

On my own body I counted over 100 ulcerated sores. Also, almost everyone was covered with lice, so the Americans set up special DDT stations in the streets. I shall never forget going through one of those.

Such great numbers of people died that mass graves were established. There may have been some funerals, but basically people were just "placed." They were carried to the graves in rouwwagen, black wagons with four corner posts, pulled by one or two horses. Coffins were unavailable so bodies were wrapped in black blankets. One time I saw a wagon in which one of the blankets had come open and a man's head just dropped out.

Leen arrived home first, probably a month after the war was over. He came in an American truck and wore an American uniform. About a week later, my dad and Jan arrived together in a Canadian truck with Canadian soldiers, wearing Canadian uniforms. The whole truck was piled with food. They unloaded "tons" of it into our house. I don't know how long my father and brother had served with the Canadians, probably about eight or nine months, but when the war was over they came home and brought that truck with people and food.

Reflections On War

It seems to me that the most lasting impressions in life are those you receive as a young child. They stick with you. And strange as it is, the older I get, the closer I feel to the war years.

I will give you a few examples of how I am still affected by my wartime experiences. On holidays, where fireworks are set off, I experience a very strange feeling, an emotional trauma deep within where people are ripped apart by explosions and blood is flying in all directions. Other people respond in pleasure and enjoy the scenario. I don't enjoy it at all.

Then there is the sight of a gun or rifle. Many people in the United States are very possessive of their firearms and many collect them as a hobby. To me, that is totally foreign. Every time I see a gun or rifle, it strikes terror in me because of what I've seen them do. My experiences as a young child have never left me, such as that of walking with the young girl who was shot right through the shoulder, the time the Germans blew out the woman's brains in front of my grandmother's house and on and on. These were daily occurrences.

Another example is when I see animals that have been shot in hunting season, hanging down, blood dripping. To me, an irrational transformation from animal to human being occurs and I feel almost as deeply touched as when I saw corpses lying in the streets, or people being shot or mutilated. I always have that association. I simply can't understand how people can "enjoy the hunt," how it's possible.

Every time I hear a plane, any kind of plane, I instinctively look up. You simply could not take for granted that any aircraft, be it American, British or German did not spell impending disaster, just like the English fighter pilot over Amsterdam who emptied his guns on the crowd in the cul de sac and shot an untold number of civilians. To me, the sound of an airplane means bombs, bullets and destruction. Whenever a plane comes over I just have to look. Not that I'm actually afraid. It's an impulse I can't seem to overcome.

So, in general, the war is still always with me. It was embedded deep within and it will stay that way forever, I suppose.

Thus, my statement is that anything, anybody can do to prevent the leaders of our governments from escalating disagreements that would result in a major assault must be done. We must do whatever we can. I speak through music and words to persons in the U.S. and Europe, whenever possible. I have no other means. That's what I've been doing in Missoula, Montana with the International Choral Festival, and when I go to Europe I speak of peace. In some ways, I think it helps.

I also want to say how grateful I am to the United States for its contribution to European liberation. Otherwise, I wouldn't be here. I would have been long since dead. The Germans planned to overtake Russia and then transport us to work in the Russian quick silver (mercury) mines. There, death was certain, if not from the work itself, certainly from mercury poisoning and lung disease. Every Dutchman was to have been relocated so the Germans could move into Holland. Again, I am very grateful to the United States.

Copyright © 1997 by Lucien Hut All Rights Reserved
Excerpted from "No Longer Silent" - World-Wide Memories of the Children of World War II.

About the Author: Following World War II, Lucien Hut was admitted to the Rotterdam Royal Conservatory in the Netherlands. In 1952, he received a terminal degree in applied piano (the U.S. equivalent of a Doctorate of Music). From 1952-56, he served in the Conservatory Department of Dance as composer in residence, creating commissioned works for ballet companies. He has continued to compose throughout his life, including works for piano and chamber music ensembles, and has also taught composition.

In 1957, he emigrated to Sante Fe, New Mexico and in 1960, became a U.S. citizen. In Sante Fe, and later at Kamehameha Schools in Honolulu, Hawaii, and at the University of Colorado, he taught advanced and professional piano students. In 1967, Mr. Hut moved to Missoula, Montana where he taught at The University of Montana from 1967 until 1981.

Mr. Hut has performed extensively in the U.S. and Europe with numerous orchestras. A special highlight in his performance career has been presenting benefit concerts to promote the tri-annual Missoula International Choral Festival which actively promotes world peace through song and music of choral groups from around the world.

In 1979, he opened Pianos International of Missoula, a retail business, piano rebuilding, rental, and technical training facility, with exclusive dealership for Schimmel, Petrof and Samick pianos. Mr. Hut has been in demand for consulting work from a number of manufacturers including Kawai, Steinway, Young Chang, Petrof and Schimmel.

He is also an accomplished photographer and artist. In his oil paintings, which reveal inspiration from the impressionists, Rembrandt and Van Gogh, he enjoys capturing landscapes (especially Holland, Montana, the sea and sky) which reflect awareness of the power of natural forces.

"Music is the only true international language." It is Mr. Hut's sincere desire to promote world peace through music and in any other ways possible.

No Longer Silent - World-Wide Memories of the Children of World War II. The pains and pleasures, joys and sorrows of childhood during World War II are revealed in 38 memorable autobiographical essays from 24 countries. Compiled by C. LeRoy Anderson, Joanne R. Anderson, Yunosuke Ohkura, with a forward by Mike Mansfield, former U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Proceeds from sales of the book benefit four peace-promoting charities.

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