This must never go away again: Notes from an employed

Some objects seem worthless but have a lot of value to the owner. Because there‘s a special story or special memory attached to it.

During World War II, Johannes Karelse was hiding in Renswoude. In 1943 he was arrested during a raid and employed in a cookie factory in Dresden, Germany. Among other things, he made the bombing and finally managed to flee to Prague with a group of fellow prisoners. On the blank pages of his bible he kept data and places in short sentences.


That booklet is now the most precious possession of his son Arie Karelse (67). Together with his brothers and sister he started a scavenger hunt for what happened to their late father. โ€œThe Mรผhlberg POW camp on the Elbe, must help with the burning of corpses after the bombing… It was only when I was in Dresden years ago that I realized the terrible things he must have experienced.โ€

Father John didn’t tell much about his time in Germany. If there were images or sounds of bombing on television, he ran away.

About ten years after the war, he suddenly dove under the table on a terrace in The Hague. Later he told us that the squeak of the tram on the rails resembled the whistling of the falling bombs on Dresden. At home, turnip never came to the table because he should have eaten rotten specimens.

However, he would always keep in touch with the group of people he fled with, in the Karelse family called ‘the prisoners of war’.

He took the little Bible with the notes to church every week. โ€œFor me this is a booklet of ‘Never again war’, says son Arie.