Edda van Heemstra aka Audrey Hepburn

Audrey

There is one myth about Audrey Hepburn I have to dispel, she was not British-Belgian. In Belgium as in many other European countries you don’t automatically obtain citizenship just because you’re born there. You get the nationality of your parents, usually the nationality of the Father or sometimes the Mother.

Audrey was born on May 4,1929 in Brussels to a British father and Dutch mother.Therefore she was half British and half Dutch.

She was born  Audrey Kathleen Ruston or Edda Kathleen Hepburn-Ruston.Her father, Joseph Victor Anthony Ruston , was a British subject born in Auschitz, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary. Her Mother was Baroness Ella van Heemstra, a Dutch noblewoman. Her parents got married in Indonesia which was a Dutch colony at the time.Shortly after they married they moved to Europe, initially London but then later to Brussels.

Audrey’s grandfather Aarnoud van Heemstra, was the governor of the Dutch colony of Suriname.

audrey's gran

She had 2 half siblings from an earlier marriage of her Mother.

The WWII years of Audrey Hepburn do proof that it didn’t matter how well connected you were, survival was not a certainty for anyone.

In the mid-1930s, Hepburn’s parents recruited and collected donations for the British Union of Fascists, and allegedly were great admirers of Adolf Hitler. In 1935 Audrey’s Father abandoned the family. Following that mother moved with Hepburn to her family’s estate in Arnhem. Audrey and her mother did briefly live in Kent in 1937 but moved back to the Netherlands after Britain had declared war to Germany, The Netherlands were a neutral country and had remained neutral during WWI. Audrey’ mother hoped this would be the case again this time.

After the Germans invaded the Netherlands in 1940, Audrey changed her name to Edda van Heemstra, because an “English-sounding” name could be potentially dangerous.

invasion

Her mother  had already introduced Audrey to ballet lessons while they were still in England. The German occupation took a hard toll on the young Audrey Hepburn, who used ballet as a form of  escapism from the harsh reality of war. She trained at the Arnhem conservatory with ballet professor Winja Marova and became her star pupil.

The reality of war hit even harder when her uncle, Otto van Limburg Stirum(the husband of her Mother’s sister Miesje) was killed by the Nazis as reprisal for an act of sabotage by the resistance movement;on August 15 1942, while he had not been involved in the act, he was targeted due to his family’s prominence in Dutch society.

otto

Stirum’s murder turned Audrey’s Mother away from Nazi ideology, to become an avid member of the Dutch Resistance.

Audrey once said in an interview after the war.

“We saw young men put against the wall and shot, and they’d close the street and then open it and you could pass by again… Don’t discount anything awful you hear or read about the Nazis. It’s worse than you could ever imagine”

In 1944, Hepburn met with Dr. Hendrik Visser ’t Hooft, a local physician, and Dutch Resistance leader. She became a volunteer for the Dutch Resistance, using her passion for dancing and talents for ballet by having secret shows to fund resistance groups.

She also worked as a courier.Many Dutch children were couriers because they were less likely to raise the suspicions of the Nazis.

Hepburn also witnessed the transportation of Dutch Jews to concentration camps, of which she later said:

“More than once I was at the station seeing trainloads of Jews being transported, seeing all these faces over the top of the wagon. I remember, very sharply, one little boy standing with his parents on the platform, very pale, very blond, wearing a coat that was much too big for him, and he stepped on the train. I was a child observing a child”

TRANSPORT

The situation turned dire for Audrey Hepburn. Living conditions grew very bad and Arnhem was subsequently heavily damaged during Operation Market Garden. During the Dutch famine that followed in the winter of 1944, the Germans blocked the resupply routes of the Dutch people’s already-limited food and fuel supplies as retaliation for railway strikes that were held to hinder.

Hepburn’s family had to do with flour out of tulip bulbs to bake cakes and biscuit as food. Audrey developed acute anæmia, respiratory problems and œdema due to malnutrition.This would affect her for the remainder of her life.

After the war, she read Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and felt greatly impacted by the book. Luca Dotti, Audrey Hepburn’s son, talked about his memories of her in an interview with People Magazine.

“My mother never accepted the simple fact that she got luckier than Anne, She possibly hated herself for that twist of fate.”

Maybe that’s why she turned down the chance to play the part of Anne Frank.

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Sources

Vintage News

IMDb

http://resources.huygens.knaw.nl/bwn1880-2000/lemmata/bwn5/heemstra

 

 

 

Hongerwinter-Hunger winter.

honger 1

In September 1944 most of the southern part of the Netherlands had been liberated, Unfortunately the rest of the country faced a very harsh  winter. Extreme cold combined with lack of food resulted in a famine, causing the death of about 20,000 citizens.

Dutch railway workers had gone on strike hoping to help the allied forces to advance. Alas the British led allied campaign called Operation Market Garden failed.The Nazis retaliated by blocking food supplies.

The effects of the famine is still felt more then 7 decades after it ended. One famous example of someone who suffered with the effects of the hunger winter for the rest of her life is Audrey Hepburn.She spent her childhood in the Netherlands during the hunger winter and although she would become a very successful actress who accumulated quite some wealth in her later years,  she had lifelong negative medical conditions as a result of the famine . She suffered from anemia, respiratory illnesses, and edema.

hepburn

Babied born from women who were pregnant during the famine would often be a few pounds heavier then the average.Their death rate would also be be higher then those who had been been in utero before or after the famine.

Below are some impression of the hunger winter 1944/45.

hunger 2

hunger 3

hunger 4

hunger 5

hunger 6

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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Sources

Beeldbankwo2.nl

New York Times

 

World War 2 in the Netherlands

paratroopers

As the saying goes “A picture tells a thousand words” therefor rather then writing at length about  WWII in the Netherlands, I have decided that this time I will let the pictures do the talking.

The photograph on the top is a picture of American troops from the 82nd Airborne Division parachute into The Netherlands on Sept. 17, 1944.

Following are just a few pictures in no particular order

German SS soldiers advancing towards the Allies on stolen  bicycles during Operation Market Garden.

german-bikes

In 1941 the German occupiers turned the Jewish district in Amsterdam into a ghetto.

opnamedatum: 27-10-2006

Jews are being arrested during a raid in Amsterdam in February 1941

raid

The city of Rotterdam after the German bombing during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940.

1024px-Rotterdam,_Laurenskerk,_na_bombardement_van_mei_1940

Dutch soldiers guard the border with Germany shortly after mobilization, 1939

Mobilisatie_1939_Dutch_soldiers_on_guard

Diplomat being evacuated from occupied Holland. German special visa issued for the travel on a diplomatic train for the evacuation in July of 1940.

800px-Passport_being_used_by_a_diplomat_being_evacuated_from_occupied_Holland_in_1940

Members of the Dutch Resistance, identified by their cloth armbands, with American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division in Eindhoven, September 1944

101st_with_members_of_dutch_resistance

A case of ‘friendly’ fire on October 5 1942 RAF bombers mistakenly bomb the town of Geleen, thinking it was Aachen in Germany.

geleen-bombardem-42

Canadian troops pass a windmill in Rijssen-Holten, April 1945.

Holten-Rijssen_April_1945

Dutch civilians pictured during the Hongerwinter of 1944–45

Twee_deelnemers_aan_de_hongertochten_tijdens_de_hongerwinter

The town of Nijmegen in ruins on Sept. 28, 1944. The bridge in the background was one key element to Operation Market Garden.

nijmegan-ruins

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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