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David Bebelaar

I was born in Toronto in 1963. My father was 23 years old when I was born. When I was 3 years old, my Oma passed away. My dad, now 26, has lost both his parents. My childhood was influenced by the experiences of my father, and the scars he carried. 

In 1973, I had my 10th birthday in The Netherlands.  This trip was the first time my father had been back to The Netherlands since coming to Canada in 1957…

I graduated from Ryerson with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance. Originally considered following in the family steps of being an accountant, but life took me in a different direction.

I started to write this to give my daughters a sense of where they came from. Having no knowledge of my grandparents character, I wanted to find out what they were like, so that my daughters could know the past family members that they never met. As the process continued, I realized that the story was bigger and would appeal to a broader audience, as many families could relate to the lack of information that was passed down after WWII.

With the information recounted of experiences in both the European and Pacific war theaters, the information could help others heal, and start conversations. For those that had similar experiences, seeking information and the friendship of others that can relate is paramount to understanding.

Honoring the past brings a feeling that is hard to describe. Writing this book was a learning and healing experience.

I knew nothing about the character of my grandparents and reading their letters I felt like I was a child at their knee. I was able to gain an understanding of who they were as people and how they treated others. I found so many character traits of my grandfather in both my father and myself.

Searching for information about my grandparents led me to a box of letters they had written to each other, as a young couple with all of life’s experiences ahead of them. Relocation from the Netherlands to Dutch East Indies to start a new and great life was soon changed by the start of World War II.

Letters my Oma received post war from Prisoners Of War who were with my Opa in Burma give great insight into the man my father never knew. War ending brought other struggles to a widow and young mother. Doing the best for her family was hard during this period, so she sought the best options for the two of them.

Final recognition of the war efforts of my Opa in 2015 helps the family heal the wounds that passed down through the generations.

“Time” is a tribute honoring the memory of my grandparents and father, and all those that endured the horrors of Japanese internment.

EXCERPTS

Batavia, 20 November

My darling Bebetje, Tonight I am going to write early to you. Your last letters were so very cheerful, my wifey. That is, of course, because you see that time is really marching on. Don’t you think that after all it goes fast? When I think about it, it seems a long time ago since you brought me to the train and we were making love to each other in the train to Utrecht. Oh, my angel, I will never forget that!! To be true, initially I had never been burdened by the thought of leaving Holland, but when it came to the point I felt so miserable about it and I did feel how we had absolutely grown together in that time: We truly belong to each other, my Bebetje. I believe we couldn’t be without each other. I feel quite distinctly in the time that I am here now, even though we write each other so often, that I miss you, my dearest. That feeling will never go away. We must make our marriage so that it will be an example here in Indie.

Batavia, 1 December 1936

My precious girl, This will be the last letter I address to Miss Oltmans. The next one I will write to my own little wife. I find it almost like a dream. I get just so, without any ado, a little wife without noticing anything. It is really as if I fell asleep at night, dreamed that I was marrying, then woke up, and when I woke up and boom, it was true. My dearest Bebetje, I know for sure that we will be very happy together and stay that way.

Eindhoven, 11 Dec. 1945

Darling Bé and darling Woutertje, When we heard about a year and a half ago that Jaap had died and heard that he died a year earlier we were totally shocked and upset. We always loved Jaap very much. He was still so young. We couldn’t believe it. And for you, it must be terrible and dreadful. We can imagine it because here in Holland terrible things have also happened. Many died in concentration camps or were executed.

Bé, we wish you strength. We always thought of you and Woutertje. And Jaap, we remember as a fine and warm man. We hope that Woutertje has that same sunny and friendly character from his father.

Friday 14 August 2015

Dear Bebelaar family and guests, I would like to start this decoration ceremony with the playing of the National Anthem of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

(playing of “Het Wilhelmus”)

Tomorrow, 15 August, 70 years ago, the Japanese armed forces capitulated, and with that the second World War officially came to an end.

Today, we are here together to award a decoration of honour, posthumously, to Sergeant Jacob Bebelaar and Private Maurits Cornelis Cramer

My book is available at : https://www.amazon.com/Time-Love-War-Heal/dp/0228806119/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1548435071&sr=1-1&keywords=Time%3A+Time+to+Love+Time+for+War+Time+to+Heal+David+Bebelaar

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