Family Saved Many From the Nazis
A book about
bravery in a difficult time.
How One Family Saved Many From the Nazis, features Frans and Mies Braal.
During the last year of World War II the Nazis no longer allowed
transportation of food and fuel in Holland. The result was the Dutch
Hunger Winter. Many people died of exposure and starvation. During
this difficult time, Frans and Mies hid twenty-six people in a vacation
home on the island of Voorne. The group included Jews, a downed
Canadian airman, starving children and others hiding from the Nazis.
BRAVE DEEDS became a 2009 Silver Birch Award Honour Book, a 2010 Golden Oak Award Honour Book and was also nominated for the Chocolate Lily Award. Previously, it became the 2009 Silver Birch Award Honour Book and was chosen by Resource Links as one of the best books of nonfiction for young people written in Canada in 2008.
BRAVE DEEDS was chosen by Bank Street College, (New York) as one of the best children's books of the year.
* * * * * *
Philip Pochailo, a
Canadian Airman whose plane had been shot down, hid at the Braals' for
seven months during a very dangerous time.
The Braals moved
their cozy home in town
to a children's camp out in the country.
The children's camp was on the island of Voorne.
Once they had a
room with dorms, and they realized that the Nazis could only execute
them once for hiding people, they took in a lot of others who were
hiding from the Nazis.
Peter Oppenheimer was a
thirteen-year-old Jew who stayed with the
Braals until the end of the war. This is one of the few pictures
taken of Peter during the war years. Dutch Jews were also
persecuted by the Nazis. Peter's father was sent to a
Mies Braal made
special occasions were celebrated and everyone took part in traditional
Dutch activities such as dances and songs. They led a dangerous life,
but they cared more about keeping everyone safe than about their own
The children's camp had wonderful opportunities
for the thirteen children to play, explore and have fun when the Nazis
Braals put on skits at times.
Frans and Mies
survived this dangerous time and immigrated to the USA
in 1957. Eventually, in 1969, they moved to the West Kootenays in
British Columbia and built a house in the mountains. This is where Ann
met Mies, who was her neighbour. Ann visited every week and she and
Mies talked to each other in Dutch. By this time Frans was in a
seniors' home with dementia.
The story came
out little by little and finally, after getting permission from Mies,
wrote BRAVE DEEDS.
book was Published by Groundwood Books in 2008, has become
a 2009 Silver Birch Award Honour Book, and was chosen by Resource
Links as "one of the
best books of nonfiction for young people" written in Canada in
2008. Have a look at
reviewers said about BRAVE DEEDS
Listen to a 12min
CBC interview with North by Northwest
For many more
of the Braals and the other people at the summer camp and the whole
story of how Frans and Mies hid, fed and cared for these people during
an extremely cold and dangerous winter read BRAVE DEEDS, How One
Family Saved Many From the Nazis.
Ann has many
additional stories, pictures, a tape with snippets of Mies Braal
telling her story, and Dutch keepsakes from the war to show to
audiences when she does her school or library visits. (See "Presentations")
* * * * * *
If you have
already read this incredible story you may wonder how to make poffert. Here is
the recipe for Dutch poffert, (from Ann's mother's very old Dutch
cookbook) to eat while you read another good book, like one of the ones
from the suggested reading list in the back of BRAVE DEEDS.
een oud gerecht dat niet te versmaden is"
In a bowl mix the salt with the flour. Make a hollow
middle and break the eggs into it. Add half of the warm milk and the
yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon from the middle, gradually adding a
little more flour into the dough. Bit by bit add the rest of the milk
and continue stirring. Make a smooth dough. Cover and set to rise in a
damp, warm place for one hour. (Behind the stove, out of reach of pets
and small children, or on the laundry rack are ideal places.)
|Poffert, also called Jan
in de Zak (Jan in the bag)
|2½ cups (250grams) all purpose flour
|| 1 egg
|1 cup (¼ liter) warm milk
|| ½ teaspoon salt
|1½ teaspoons (15 grams) yeast
|| ½ cup (50 grams) raisins
|½ cup (50 grams) currents
Knead in the raisins and currants.
Dampen a cotton or linen bag with warm water. (A
towel with the corners tied together will work.) Sprinkle the bag
lightly on the inside with flour. Add the ball of dough and close the
bag at the top, leaving enough room for the poffert to rise.
Pour warm water into a large cooking pot. Place a
upside-down on the bottom of the pot. Place the bag with dough on the
plate, making sure the dough is covered with water. Add extra water
because the dough will rise. Simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, until, when you
poke a broom straw in, it comes out clean.
Cut the poffert in slices and eat with butter and
syrup, or brown sugar.
and the book. And if you have already read BRAVE DEEDS you
know why this picture is at the end of this section.