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Dancing in Bomb Shelters: My Diary of Holland in World War II [Paperback]

Wycoff Johanna Wycoff

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Book Description

March 20 2010
"A rare historical treasure that tells the riveting story of a Dutch family's survival in World War II."
-Melanie Wiggins, author of Torpedoes in the Gulf, Fatal Ascent, U-Boat Adventures, and They Made Their Own Law

In May 1940, fourteen-year-old Johanna de Wilde was just like any other teenage girl in Nijmegen, Holland, who loved boys and music, but when Hitler and his German troops invaded her town during World War II, her life was changed forever.

As bombs exploded around her house, Johanna was encouraged by her father to document their large family's struggles to survive as they desperately searched for food; fearfully hid Jewish friends; and bravely endured SS brutality, Gestapo searches, and resistance activities. Johanna shares how she was forced to write secretly and keep the pages of her diary well-hidden to avoid discovery by the Gestapo who would have surely shot her father and sent the rest of the family to concentration camps as punishment.

As her town became the focal point of the huge Allied invasion, Operation Market Garden, Johanna provides an in-depth glimpse into how teenagers behaved during a traumatic time in history as they searched for excitement, danced and romanced, and played tricks on the enemy in order to offset hunger, earsplitting noise, and privation that persisted for five long years.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: iUniverse (March 20 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145020757X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1450207577
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 249 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #834,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Johanna Wycoff grew up in the Netherlands and, after World War II, immigrated to the United States. After attending several colleges, Wycoff became a ceramic expert and has lectured on antiques and the evolution of pottery. She currently lives in League City, Texas, where she is a member of the Galveston County Historical Commission.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Historical "Must Read" June 26 2010
By Denise - Published on Amazon.com
This literary gem should not be missed by anyone that wants to know more about this sad period and/or share the story of a young woman coming of age in one of the most difficult times and places in history. "Dancing In Bomb Shelters" is simply a translation of the author's diary, (originally written in Dutch,) spanning the five years of the German occupation of the Netherlands, with some occasional footnotes inserted by the author for more explanation. Based on this reading style, it is a very personal encounter with the author and her innermost feelings through it all, as well as attention to details of the war that I previously did not know. The book takes you from joyful moments with her friends, (including the dancing,) to the atrocities of one of the most horrible wars ever known, and many places in between because this was her life for five years starting at age 14. I was truly amazed at how it was possible for her and those around her to somehow continue on with life, despite all the horrors that the war seemed to continually send their way. In that respect, I would think that this could be a particularly fascinating read for someone in the field of psychology, and history teachers and students would obviously benefit by reading this book as well. I would love to know more of the author's story after this time because she is so successful in letting the reader get to know her so well, but she opted to end this book at the conclusion of the war. The book is relatively short, but the story is powerful and gut-wrenching at times, to be sure. I would not recommend the book for readers earlier than high school level, only because of the graphic description of some of the events of war that are mentioned.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ ! May 24 2010
By RLW HISTORIAN - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I HAVE JUST FINISHED READING "DANCING IN BOMB SHELTERS". BEING SOMEWHAT OF A WW11
HISTORIAN,I FOUND THE BOOK TO BE FACTUAL,HUMOROUS AND AMAZINGLY HONEST IN PRESENTING THIS EPIC TIME THROUGH THE EYES OF A YOUNG GIRL IN OCCUPIED HOLLAND.

THE SECOND WORLD WAR WAS THE ONLY WAR OF THE MODERN ERA THAT WAS TRULY "GOOD vs EVIL",THE AUTHOR DID A MAGNIFICENT JOB OF DEPICTING THE "GLORIFIED GANGSTERS" OF NAZI GERMANY FOR WHAT THEY TRULY REPRESENTED !THE AUTHOR'S ASSESSMENT OF THE "MARKET GARDEN" CAMPAIGN AND THE CALAMITIES IN ARNHEM IS ABSOLUTELY FACTUAL.

I PERSONALLY FEEL THAT THE DEPTH AND STRENGTH OF THIS BOOK LIES WITH THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF THE WAR FROM A CIVILIAN PROSPECTIVE . AS OPPOSED TO THE FIRST WORLD WAR, CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN WW-11 WERE EQUAL TO THE COMBATANTS ...IT WAS A "TOTAL WAR".THE AUTHOR'S NARRATIVE SKILLFULLY BRINGS YOU INTO HER WORLD, LIVING IN NIJMEGEN DURING THE HORRORS OF THE BOMBINGS , STARVATION AND THE SHEER BRUTALITIES WHICH OCCURRED EVERY DAY !

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS HISTORICAL BIOGRAPHY, NOT ONLY BECAUSE IT IS EXTREMELY INTERESTING, AND WELL WRITTEN BUT FOREMOST FOR A YOUNG DUTCH GIRL'S COURAGE TO SHARE HER PERSONAL JOURNEY ! DANCE ON..JOHANNA WYCOFF BRAVO !!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Gem! April 1 2010
By Liz Scoggins - Published on Amazon.com
"Dancing in Bomb Shelters" gives you a unique window into the ravages of World War II, as seen through the eyes of a spirited, idealistic girl coming of age during the Nazi occupation and liberation of Holland.

In the beginning, you feel a bit like a voyeur reading a girl's private observations and thoughts. With every diary entry, you are drawn into her world. Becoming part of her family, like the allied soldiers they housed during the liberation. You begin to identify with her. Cheering her on and laughing in amazement while she and her friends play pranks on the German soldiers occupying her hometown.

She was in many ways was a typical teenager who wanted to have fun, hang out with her friends, date boys, dance, listen to music and shop for clothes. However, her words poignantly illustrate that it was an everyday battle to stay alive, feed her family, hide Jewish friends, cope with the deaths of friends and family, endure the ever growing restrictions of the Nazis and avoid being thrown in the camps or shot. Her struggle to maintain any sense of hope in her everyday life under impossible conditions is inspiring.

Her story speaks volumes to the creativity and elasticity of the human spirit.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart Wrenching! April 2 2010
By ALM - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Wow! This book is an amazing and detailed piece of history of a time that cannot be recaptured. A girl who wants to be a journalist faithfully records and interprets her everyday experiences at the German front in The Netherlands over 4 years. Included is invaluable detail about the events of the war as well as how it was to live as a young person during that frightening time.

Sometimes humorous and other times devastatingly painful, the diary is a peek into her sorrows, secrets, loves and fears. I also found it interesting to see life from the perspective of an average person who is not one of the unfortunate victims of the Jewish holocaust. This is another side to the horrors of war not often exposed.

Better than any history class, we learn the truth of how political decisions can destroy not only lives but precious possessions, governments, businesses, antiquities and livelihoods. But also we learn that despite all that, the human spirit, religion, hope, humor and love survive.

This book is honest, real and very moving. I recommend it to everyone!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dancing in Bomb Shelters April 3 2010
By John T - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This historical diary takes us on a journey that gives the reader an up close and personal account of the trials of the war as seen through the eye's of a child. The author's illuminated documentation in her literary works serves as a reminder to all generations that the war; with all it's brutality; must never be forgotten and must simply be examined at every possible opportunity. The author cleverly weaves her experiences through the years with honesty, humor, gallantry and grace possessed by only those who lived through the atrocities of the occupation. I thoroughly enjoyed this read and would recommend it to anyone interested in a first hand account of this dark era of the human experience.

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