A WWII Memoir
When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf and the Moon Broke Curfew… is a moving memoir about the author’s childhood in Amsterdam, during and in the immediate aftermath of the war.
Although the Germans invaded and occupied the Netherlands in 1940, little Hendrika, born in 1937, was too young to fully understand the ramifications as her parents tried to keep life as “normal” as possible for their only child. But by 1943 when her beloved father, a Dutch calvary officer, was taken by the Germans to a work camp, her family’s “normal” was a distant memory. Food was scarce, neighbors no longer trusted each other, and the Germans and their Dutch collaborators were increasing aggressive to the civilian population. Adding to the tension, her mother, who was quietly working with the Dutch resistance, agreed to hide a Jewish girl, Nel, in their home.
After four and a half years of deprivation, in October of 1944, the gas and electricity were turned off indefinitely in Amsterdam. The next few months were what is later referred to as the “Hunger Winter” in which more than twenty thousand people died of cold and starvation over a five-month period. Hendrika and her mother barely survived death by starvation before Amsterdam was liberated.
Although the book was a pleasure, my enjoyment was greatly enhanced after hearing Hendrika speak to my book club (via Zoom) about her experiences. She is vibrant and delightful, and if you ever have a chance to hear her speak–she was in the middle of a book tour when the pandemic started—jump on it.
What Other Reviewers Say
Ginette Paris, PhD, author of Wisdom of the Psyche: Depth Psychology after Neuroscience “Here is a memoir that remains in the heart…On one level it tells, with historical acuity and storytelling genius, the traumatic events in Amsterdam during WWII. On a deeper level, it offers a psychological frame that can guide anyone facing adversity.”
Who Wrote It
Hendrika de Vries was born in Amsterdam and immigrated to Australia with her family after WWII and later moved to the United States. She is a therapist, teacher, and writer. De Vries hold a BA from the University of Colorado, an MTS in theological studies from Virginia Theological Seminary, and an MA in counseling psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara where she now lives with her husband, Harlan.
(Another WWII memoir that I enjoyed was Shanghai Dairy by Ursula Bacon about her family’s experience as Jewish refugees in Shanghai during WWII. This was a part of history about which I knew nothing, and it was eye-opening.)