Family and World History Loop

 

Johan and I traveled to the Dutch/German border near Aachen and spent a few days exploring WWII history and contemplating family history. I did a lot of writing on this trip. Musings. Questions. Concerns. Joyful things. All of this was captured in my journal.

One thing that keeps showing up the longer I am in Europe on this trip is that history keeps repeating itself. We are not doing enough to stop this.

Distraction

War is a distraction. Conflict is a distraction. These things keep us from the more important things in this life and reality. Yet, we continue to create them on a daily basis.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

I'm guilty of this. Sometimes when things are going really well there is a part of me waiting for the other shoe to drop. I might unconsciously find one thing to nag my husband about and create a conflict - small or large. Over the last year I try to be more aware of this and clear whatever is causing it. Yet there are times when I fail.

What would change in our lives,...

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What Can We Learn from Vogelsang?

 

In October, Johan and I visited Vogelsang, a former Nazi Training Facility and Tourist hot spot/wedding venue during the 1930s and early 1940s. Standing in this place now, looking out over the beautiful fall Eifel National Park, and knowing the history of this place, was hard to wrap my head around.

The National Socialist Documentation Center, which we visited and saw the exhibit, "The Master Race", offers these questions on their website:

  • What was the attraction of a place like Vogelsang during the National Socialist period?
  • What did the party leadership promise young men coming here regarding their future?
  • What motivated their hopes and their desire for social advancement?
    Were they, through drill and formation, predestined to participate in crimes, or could they have also said no?
  • Did they see themselves as members of a supposed master race and act upon this?

After we viewed the exhibit and walked most of the complex, I had no answers to those questions. I only had more...

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Caregiver Resources

 

At some point in our lives, we are all caregivers. For some it is a short period of time where it might be an intense experience. For others it is a long, often excruciating time of uncertainty, grief, anger, and sadness mixed with elation, answers, joy, and closure.

At Finding the Answers Journey we are creating new resources for caregivers and are dedicated to helping you uncover this within your family history and your own history. We have the tools to help you write your story and find closure.

If you would like to schedule a free consult to discuss a research or writing project, please contact us today.

© 2018 Jennifer Holik

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Let's Talk About Being a Caregiver

The last year of my life has had beautiful moments (I got married in a Town Hall built in the 1600s in the Netherlands) and not so beautiful moments (think doctor and hospital visits with numerous tests for my husband.) My husband was diagnosed with two kinds of cancer in early 2016. One was treated and gone. The other in a non-active state. This year, other issues showed up and it took 10 months to get answers. Over the last four to five months I realized I was a caregiver.

This isn't my first time being a caregiver. I did it for short periods for my ex-husband when he was treated for cancer, and one of our twins. Those were short periods of intense caregiving. It was different than this period of caregiving and in some ways I felt I had it 'all together' then and now, not so much.

Considering my husband has been relatively healthy since treatment ended, I never labeled myself as a caregiver. Never really saw myself in that role for him, especially since we live on two different...

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The Mission Belle - Following the Flight Path

Saturday, 29 September 2018, I attended the unveiling of a new monument in the Netherlands honoring the crew of the Mission Belle B-17 bomber. I wrote two articles about the day's events, which you can read.

The Mission Belle - Freedom Demands Responsibility

The Mission Belle - Unveiling the Monument

In this article I would like to share more of the healing and closure side of the day's events.

We often hear of people walking in their soldier's footsteps. That is a phrase I have used a lot since I walked in my cousin James Privoznik's footsteps in 2015. Colonel Fischer of the U.S. Air Force, who spoke at the commemoration of the Mission Belle, thanked the families for following the flight path of their family member. I love that phrase.

I attended the unveiling of the Mission Belle monument for several reasons.

  • I like to attend commemorations in Europe when possible to be a part of the remembrance and also share this with others.
  • My husband was going to translate the Dutch speeches...
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Journaling to Find the Answers

We all have a story inside of us. Usually more than one.

As I write this I am sitting in an Amsterdam hospital while my husband receives treatment. We will be here all day and several more days this week. To pass my time while he sleeps I am writing in my journal with my beloved fountain pens.

I am trying to Find the Answers to my life.  

Have you stopped to consider how often we try to Find the Answers to our ancestor’s lives, yet we do not often stop to find them for our own? You could say I’ve been seeking them my entire life. The journey really became more challenging and emotional several years ago when I fully embraced the questions in my life and purposefully and consciously started to Find the Answers.

That journey led me to Europe and more specifically, the Netherlands. Little did I know the life I would create here, with all its joys and struggles, would help me Find the Answers to so many pieces of my life and the past.

I do a lot of journaling and have...

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Are You Using Fiction to Examine Your Life?

 

In June 2018 I spent some time in Naarden-Vesting, Netherlands. I was in a major transition in life and created this video on the books I was reading at the time.

As I prepare for another journey and am in the beginning of another major transition, the books, both fiction and non-fiction are showing up to help me navigate my new life.

What are you reading that is helping you change your universe? Our readers would love to know. Please post in the comments.

© 2018 Jennifer Holik

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A Family’s Grief & the Cost of WWII Repatriation

Last fall I published this post on my WWII Research and Writing Center website. I felt it was time to start talking about what the government did not pay for after the war. To bring out of the darkness the grief felt by families.

This article stirred a bit of controversy with people who believe our ABMC cemeteries are the only place a WWII soldier should be buried. Even one man who works at an ABMC cemetery was very angry in his comments telling me it was the highest place of honor for anyone to be buried and that they treat families very well.

That's true for some - TODAY. My family would disagree it is the highest place of honor for war dead because we have one soldier buried in ABMC Luxembourg but we also have several who were repatriated and are buried in Chicago. I know many other families who chose to repatriate their family members believe where they are now buried is the highest place of honor.

We have to keep in mind that there are very few people alive today that had to...

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The Choices of the Past

 

I spent the weekend in Son, Netherlands for the 74th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden, specifically for the 101st Airborne commemorations and living history. This was my second time experiencing this event.

This year I spent a lot of time talking to Dutch people about the choices their families made during WWII. In some cases, the family members fought in the resistance, were taken as forced laborers to Germany, or fought to survive the hunger winter of 1945.

In other cases, family members chose to join the German ranks and were sent to the Eastern Front. There has been a stigma around those who chose to fight for the Germans, that affects families even today. Even when those who fought are long dead.

My questions to you are....

Should we be bringing these family secrets and stories out of the darkness and into the light?

How much will that change the stigma attached to this part of history?

Can we stand back and observe the choices made and not judge?

Can we acknowledge what...

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Moving Deeper into the Combat Experience

I’ve spent more than 20 years in the fields of genealogy/family history and military history with a focus the last decade on World War I and World War II. I taught myself a lot where genealogy was concerned, and attended classes and conferences. I participated in the community’s professional genealogy education. Throughout everything I studied or read, the focus was on names, dates, places, sometimes historical context, but never on exploring the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of family.

When I began researching in-depth both world wars, which led me to teach and write books on how to research any branch, there was no one to teach me what to do. No one in the country had written educational materials. Yes there were two very outdated books on barely researching Army service, but beyond that nothing existed. The few people who were starting to lecture on this were not going beyond the basics of “all the records burned and here are some online...

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