Soap saved my grandparents in World War II’s time of panic.
I felt a sense of connection with my grandparents last night when I pulled out a book about our family history to read to the kids. We’re quarantined with our children so what better time to look back at a time of a real quarantine.
My grandfather, a genuine World War II hero, survived the war while often risking his life. Selling soap played a part.
My Dutch grandparents were newly married and running a drugstore below their home in Huizen, The Netherlands. Their good friends, who were Jewish, were at risk of death and so my grandparents quickly decided to hide them in their home. This led to others joining them (26 total by the end of the war) and hiding for many, many hours in close quarters. Quarantined. For years.
Here’s where good ‘ol soap came in. I love this story.
My grandfather Bert had a friend named Jaap who owned a paint factory. The Germans had already requisitioned all of his stock, but before they came for it, Jaap managed to keep several thousand liters of linseed oil in barrels buried in the yard.
“I’ll make soap for you to sell in the store,” Jaap said.
Jaap provided Bert with large blocks of soap that Bert could turn around and create more soap with. Having sometimes as many as 60 customers a day come through his store for soap made it easy to keep people safely hidden upstairs, and fed, throughout the war. Bert’s drugstore became a haven of safety for many people who fled for their lives from the Gestapo regime.
I love this soap connection with my grandfather. What a coincidence that here we are selling soap 80 years later.
Read up on my grandfather’s full story here: http://ellenlandweber.com/rescuers/book/Bochove/bertstory1.html