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Museum Blog

Sam Denhaan
The Hague, Netherlands

Sam Denhaan 1954

Image: Sam when he arrived in Alberta in 1954.

Simon (Sam) Denhaan was 6 when Germany invaded and remembers their astonishing advance. His father was in the Dutch army, and became a Prisoner of War for two months before being released. Releasing POW’s was meant to pacify the Dutch people. But “no one tells Dutch people what to do” so passive resistance began.Sam with his mother and brother in front of the family dairy store in The Hague Sam is in the basket.

Image: Sam with his mother and brother in front of the family dairy store in The Hague. Sam is in the basket.

Soon, Sam saw Jewish people wearing yellow stars. Later, they were rounded up, and then loaded onto trains heading to Concentration Camps. Many never returned.

The Germans took men and sent them to work in German factories. Sam’s father was in hiding. Sam remembers a neighbour lady hiding a man under her sink from searching German soldiers. She defended her home until the soldiers left.

During occupation, Sam visited his grandparents. Their home was in a restricted area near German V1 and V2 rocket launch pads. As a young boy, German’s ignored Sam, allowing him to take food and messages back and forth.

Sam and his siblings in 1944

Image: Sam and his siblings in 1944 (L-R: Gerrit, Sam, Maartje, Adrie).

In April 1945, Sam watched Allied bombers drop food onto grassy polder areas. They flew so low they could have hit church steeples. The food was army rations, but also included chocolate. Children would eat the chocolate, then keep the wrapper to smell it.

Sam and his family immigrated to Canada in 1950, landing at Pier 21. Traveling to Thornton, Ontario, his father worked for a dairy farmer. As a young adult Sam moved to Alberta. In 1959 he married Bonnie Murray. When he retired in 1997, after working for the Northwest Territorial Government, they moved to Red Deer. Today they enjoy active community life. He is forever grateful to Canadians for the Liberation!

Sam Denhaan and wife

Image: Sam and Bonnie Denhaan 45th Wedding Anniversary photo 2004

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