"Then the next day after, happy, happy. The Canadians welcomed - now we found out they were Canadians - and were welcomed with open arms."
My name is Adrie Kornelis Schapp. I was born in Holland, the 3rd of July, 1935. I came to Canada in 1953, as my dad joined the Canadian Army at that time, from Holland, as a music instructor. And my experience was that I spent my younger years, from when I was five years old until I was 10 or almost 11, during the war with Germany at the time. I remember that just before the war started, we could hear artillery fire in the background. We didn’t know what was going on. We knew something was happening and then, but we heard a rumour that the Russians were coming. And well, anything but the Germans at that time sounded good.
And then one day I was on the road, this is in April 1945, as a kid, I was 10 years old, and I noticed the roads, there was no one on the road, an eerie calm and the artillery in the background, the noise in the background; and five German nurses come right down the middle of the road, screaming, just screaming. And we crowded around them, the kids and the people just ignored them because they were German. But we went up to them and they, we were asking, what was going on; "what are you fleeing from?" And they said, "the Russians are coming; the Russians: they’re animals; they’re animals!" Oh, so I ran back to my grandfather’s place where I staying at the time, right across the road where I lived and it didn’t turn out to be the Russians at all.
And three days later, they had a war right around us at what time we … Oh yeah, during that time too, a two-engine German aircraft came over and I thought it was going to fall on us. It was on fire and it came right over us; and I didn’t see it crash, but he was so close that I could see two pilots talking to one another. And then we had to stay home. My mother prepared… we lived in an apartment building across from my grandfather and it had a ladder, like a stone ladder going up to the second floor. And there was a little screen there where you could look outside if you had some potatoes hoarded because we were all starving to death. And then during that time, we noticed that it came closer and closer. There was firing going on and there was one tank was on fire down the street. And then we still didn’t know who was coming.
And then there was a lull in the fighting. I don’t know why they did that, but it seemed to be every once in a while, during the fighting that was going on for two and a half days in Groningen, that’s my hometown, and every once in a while, they used to stop firing and both ends used to pick up their wounded. We still don’t know there were Canadians there. And then, that was the next day, I was at home and it was really going bad then; and the Germans were knocking on my door. I opened the door and they wanted Wasser, Wasser, they wanted water. And I tried to ask the guy, I could speak a bit of German by that time, who was coming. I said, who’s coming? Oh, he says, the British; he said, the British are coming. And he took off.
And then I see the actual Canadian soldiers coming out. There was two of them and there was a grassy area in front of my house; and I see these two guys and they, well, I thought they were negroes because their faces were all black. And they had the helmets on, you know, typical Canadians in battle dress, I didn’t know that at the time. And they got shot down right in front. And they laid there and laid there for the longest time; and I thought they were dead because there was a tobacco factory down my street where the Germans set up machine gun posts. It was a big concrete building. And they were shooting down our street. But I often wonder what these two guys, whatever happened to these guys. And then there was one of these lulls again or a little truce, whatever it was, and I seen the Germans coming and picking up their dead and wounded, and somebody picked up these two guys.
And then the next day after, happy, happy. The Canadians welcomed - now we found out they were Canadians - and were welcomed with open arms. And the funny thing is that I met one guy, it was after it was all over. The Canadians were there for quite a while. And we as kids used to go and sit in their jeeps, and then you can imagine being ten years old; and we used to step on the starter. And the jeep used to go, (makes noise), and jump forward. The Canadians didn’t like that much, but they just let us go anyway.
And they gave us chocolate bars, gave us fruit, gave us all kinds of good things that I had, couldn’t remember, couldn’t remember having a banana or an orange, and they had all that stuff, but especially the chocolate.