There were so many soldiers in our town, and at night time women from other towns would come to entertain them. As young as we were, we were used by the soldiers to find lovers for them. In return we would get paid. It became like a trade. We knew all the dames in town. Many women were without husbands as they had not returned from the war yet. American soldiers were well liked by the women. The women without husbands needed a lot of things. The American soldier was able to spoil them. Through all of this a lot of love affairs started which couldn't last long as the soldiers had to move on again. So many women were left behind with a baby and the father was never heard about anymore. Many Negro soldiers had love affairs with Dutch women and left them behind with babies. Most of the Negro soldiers drove transport trucks to the frontline. On their way back they loaded up with all kinds of stolen goods from the German frontline. They sold most of that on the black market. So the Negro soldiers always carried a lot of money. So they spoiled the women with lots of money. People were poor and needed the money. There were always so many used condoms on the streets. As kids we didn't know what they were used for as we had never seen them before. We first thought they were balloons, but then we were told by the soldiers not to touch them. There were so many things going on which a kid at my age should have never witnessed. One day I was riding my bicycle to the coal mountain to find some pieces of coal for my mother so she had enough to keep the house warm. To get there I had to go through a long open stretch of road through a forest area. A jeep with a soldier came behind me and stopped. He called and the soldier asked me to keep his coat for a little while as he had to go in the woods to do his business. As I waited for a little while he called to come into the woods. As I got closer I saw him standing there with his pants down and having an erection. It didn't take me a minute to get on my bicycle and hit the road.
NSB Dutch Nazi collaborators get captured
As kids we always had to be very careful, but we learned very quick how to deal with many of those soldiers. There was a war going on and many of those soldiers had to go back to the frontline and never knew if they would come back alive. Every day you could get killed. Even when the Americans had liberated the many towns around our area, the German Air Force was still sending their fighter planes on sneak attacks. Most of the time it was only one or two fighter planes but they could do a lot of damage when they hit their target. They always flew very low so that it was not easy for the light artillery to hit them. They usually dropped a few bombs and took off again. Somehow they must have been tipped off by some German intelligence, as they knew their target and location very well. After all the shooting was done I would go into the field and pick up all the empty shells. They were solid copper and easy to sell. As kids we were used to all that shooting and it became part of our lives.
For many weeks now we had all those army units and this pile of war equipment all over our streets. We knew something had to happen soon. Since the West wall of the Siegfried line was broken and the city of Aachen was taken, troops had to start moving further into Germany. I was going to the girls' school as I always did when it was chow time to pick up some leftovers of the day's meal. As I was walking toward the school building I noticed several jeeps with flags which had stars on them. I was told that Generals Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton had a meeting inside the school building. I waited by their jeeps until the Generals came out. I was very surprised seeing those generals traveling in a simple jeep as most of their soldiers did. The only difference was that the General showed a flag with stars on his jeep.
We had seen the German Generals and how they were treated. They had special transportation, and there was so much class distinction between Nazi officers and soldiers. It was always so noticeable to us. With the Americans everything was so simple and easy. It was not easy for us to understand to see a General like Eisenhower who was the Supreme Commander of all allied forces to come in a jeep to a meeting. That's what I liked about the Americans right away. They didn't show much of class distinction at all. In our society we had lived with that for so many years.
The Dutch people who had cooperated with the Germans and still lived in our town had big white signs on their doors saying Off Limits. This meant that no American soldier was allowed to go in those houses to visit any of those families. Most of the Dutch men who had cooperated with the Germans were put in work camps. The fierce hated Dutch N.S.B who were not able to escape the country with the Germans were killed by many Dutch underground freedom fighters. The ones who after the war was over came back to Holland were put in prison or work camps. Many of them were put to work in the Dutch coal mines. They had to work in very dangerous coal strips. Many of them had never done a day's hard work. During the German occupation of Holland they all had white collar jobs. There was a prison camp not too far from the coal mines. Prison guards would take them to work, and pick them up again. The money they made was sent to their families. I always thought that the Dutch Government was too good to them to let those prisoners work in the coal mines. It was right after the war was over and the only industry the Dutch Government had left was the coal mines. The rest of the Dutch industry was completely demolished by the German warfare. The Dutch Government needed the money badly to build up the Dutch industry again. So underground coal miners were in great demand. To fill up the shortage of coal mining labor they put up those camp prisoners. I always thought the Dutch Government was too nice to let those prisoners work in the coal mines. They should have let them suffer a little bit. So many Dutch people were tipped off by them to the Germans, and after that were sent to German concentration camps. And even in the coal mines those prisoners were not very safe as many of the coal miners hadn't forgotten their past life with cooperating with the Germans.
When the Generals had their meeting in our girls' school, several days later every unit stationed in our town was told to get their battle gear ready. It was time to move into the combat zone and further into Germany. Most of the equipment had to be checked and started as it hadn't been used for a while. You could see soldiers all over the streets each one working on his own piece of equipment. It all had to be combat ready.