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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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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Can We Have Gratitude for their Choices?

 

I’ve been having many conversations with people about FAMILY. CHOICE. GRATITUDE. JUDGMENT. NEGATIVITY. CHANGE. WAR. LIFE. DEATH.

Whenever I have posed some questions, usually in a short video, about family choice and what would it take to stop judging it all, the response I get on the posts and through messages is often filled with negativity. As if there is no possibility to see anything positive in the “bad” or “wrong” or “terrible” choices our family members made. Yet, what if there is something in there to be grateful for?

Add to this the tangled web of someone saying, “Well my grandpa did THIS and I know how it traumatized THAT person and THAT person so why should I not judge?”

First, we do not know the 100 choices and experiences that led up to grandpa making a choice that did some damage or whatever it caused. Second, we do not know the 100 choices, experiences, baggage, etc. carried by the people his choice hurt. We were...

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