Joe Crilley

Helene Rotterdam

On the morning of October 5, 2004, the 60th anniversary of my Dad's rescue to the hour, Bernhard Florissen brings my brother Dave and I to visit the only child born to my father's rescuers, brother and sister Wim and Dir van den Bosch. She was born Helene Rotterdam, the sole daughter of Dir van den Bosch and she is 50 years old. I considered this beforehand to be the highlight of the tour, but what happened was a different story. When I first met Helene, now a mother living in Opheusden only a few hundred yards from her Mother's home, I could see the resemblance of her Mom's face and I couldn't stop looking at her because I had studied Dir's photo for so long. As I begin to show her pictures of my Dad in this three-ring binder I had amassed she had this look of puzzlement on her face. Since she didn't speak any English, I asked Bernhard "doesn't she realize we are the sons of the American soldier that her mother saved 60 years ago?" Bernhard said no. Her mother could never talk about what that Thursday morning because she, like her brother Wim, assumed my father must of died from his wounds or was killed later on because they never heard from him or about him. As Bernhard would say, "it was locked in her heart." I was able to get a few photos of us together, holding a picture of our parent, both taken in 1944, when they were both 28 years old. Dir was not only the same age as my Dad, but Wim was also the same age as my Mom. After this, Helene had to leave for a hair appointment which she was late for. As my brother and I left, we both realized that for the rest of their lives, Wim and Dir thought my Dad had died, while my Dad thought that they were both were killed by the Nazis for helping him. Just another sad chapter in a war that had so many unfortunate stories.
Wim's Grave

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