Matthew Büchli's letter from Holland
Shortly after the end of World War II, Matthew Büchli wrote to Phyllis Creasy in Canada to thank her for her
contribution to a gift parcel he had received. His letter contains a poignant description of one man's
experience of the consequences of war and, we feel, is worthy of being in the public domain.
A transcript of the letter is given below to make it easier to read.
His picture postcard of the house
It is a photo of the Institute for the Deaf and Dumb at Groningen, founded by Henri Daniel Guyot in 1790, where
Matthew and his family were housed after the fighting he talks about in his letter.
Transcript of the letter:
Groningen, May 20nd 1946
Our cousin, Mary Molenkamp, sent us a parcel with many useful things and
she wrote that they partly came from you. We are very thankful for
your gifts which we could very well use.
What a funny world that we who were never in want of anything are short of
many things now. Funny? No, tragic is a better word, for is it not
tragical that though the world has plenty of all things men want, they are not able to distribute them among us
all in a fair way. Wars increasing in cruelty, extending to
It is now a year ago that your brave soldiers liberated us from the german
oppression. It is not possible for one who has not been with us all
these long five years to understand what we have suffered.
Thousands and thousands of our compatriots died
either in concentration
camps or were executed, only because they loved their native country above everything.
Our famous soldiers have been inundated, our woods have been cut down, many
of our towns were destroyed, our factories were ransacked, our farmers were robbed of their
cattle. In the last phase the population of the western
provinces were starved to death; we in the north were better off in that respect, but the last winter was
very bad. No light, hardly any fuel; our son hidden away in our
temporary house; because he had refused to give in to a semi-military organisation under german influence,
the Nasi police was after him. I myself was in a list of people
to be executed when something would happen to the Germans (e.g. when the underground movement killed a german
or a Dutch nasi. Fortunately we were liberated before they could
execute their plans. Many of us left their homes, because they
feared to be arrested, or – as I did – were very careful when walking in the streets and slept
We shall never forget the 16th of April when the fighting
between the Canadians and the Germans in our streets came to an end. It had lasted from Friday night till Monday morning. Part of the house was burned down and cannot be rebuilt before we have the
materials again and you have no idea how poor we have become, not in money perhaps, but in goods. Textile e.g. is still very scarce and therefore we were so glad, when your
Do you know how many we are.
Five + three, us. father, mother (Matthew and Gerda), John, Jelly and Klara (aged 48, 47, 20, 17, 14) and three
cousins (aged 15, 13, 11) who lost their parents in the Forties during the war, their father was a
prisoner-of-war and their mother died in a concentration camp); the father was my wife’s only
Please write us about you all in Canada. Do I know your mother? (I met my
cousins Lizzie and Jessie besides John and Roelof). I enclose a
picture postcard of our house. Let me end by thanking your country
and you all for what you did for Holland and for us.
Your loving cousin