The Heroes of Holland

 In Featured, Memories of Glass


Welcome to the final post of the D-Day 75th Anniversary Blog Tour! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the past six posts as much as I have. Thank you for joining us on this journey to remember the many men and women who sacrificed their lives for others during World War II. If you missed any of the posts, you can find the list by clicking here.

Each novel along our blog tour explores a different aspect of the war and an opportunity to win ALL NINE featured novels and a gorgeous signed hardback copy of Everything We Have: D-Day 6.6.44, the new commemorative book from the National World War II Museum!

Giveaway Details

For a chance to win these ten books, please visit each blog, collect the answers to ALL SEVEN questions, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below or on the BLOG TOUR PAGE. The contest closes June 16, 2019 at 11 pm PST, and the winner will be announced on Monday, June 17, 2019 although several of the titles (like mine!) will be mailed closer to their release.

The winner must be prepared to send all seven answers within 48 hours of notification by email or a new winner will be selected.

Memories of Glass Giveaway

Here’s a little about my next book, Memories of Glass:

1942. As war rips through the heart of Holland, childhood friends Josie van Rees and Eliese Linden partner with a few daring citizens to rescue Eliese’s son and hundreds of other Jewish children who await deportation in a converted theater in Amsterdam. But amid their resistance work, Josie and Eliese’s dangerous secrets could derail their friendship and their entire mission. When the enemy finds these women, only one will escape.

Seventy-five years later, Ava Drake begins to suspect that her great-grandfather William Kingston was not the World War II hero he claimed to be. Her work as director of the prestigious Kingston Family Foundation leads her to Landon West’s Ugandan coffee plantation, and Ava and Landon soon discover a connection between their families. As Landon’s great-grandmother shares the broken pieces of her story, Ava must confront the greatest loss in her own life―and powerful members of the Kingston family who will do anything to keep the truth buried.

Memories of Glass will release on September 3rd, but I’m giving away a hardback pre-release copy to one reader (worldwide) in August. To submit your name for this drawing, please sign up for my quarterly newsletter here or leave a comment about one place you’d love to visit in Europe. I’ll draw a name on June 16th.

An Impossible Rescue

In 1942, three Dutch leaders concocted a wild, outlandish scheme to rescue Jewish children from deportation, right out from under the oppressive watch of their occupiers. And the Nazis never discovered their secret.

Before the war, The Netherlands had been a neutral country, welcoming many German Jewish refugees across the border, but on May 10 1940, after promising not to attack, Hitler’s army swept furiously into Holland and overtook this beautiful land. The Dutch were stunned but consoled by promises that the persecution happening in Germany wouldn’t occur in Holland. A special council—the Judenrat—was formed to meet the needs of Jewish residents, and they provided these Jewish citizens the best healthcare in the country at a camp called Westerbork. Even as new regulations were implemented in Holland, many of the 140,000 Dutch Jews believed they were safe because the Nazis granted thousands of exemptions to their growing list of rules.

Everything changed in July 1942 when the Nazis, assisted by the Judenrat, began rounding up Jewish citizens and cramming them into a gutted Amsterdam theater called Hollandsche Schouwburg. Residents waited there for days will little sustenance or fresh air before they were transported east.

Walter & Daughter

Walter Süskind, the first of these three Dutch leaders, was a German Jewish salesman forced to oversee the registration and deportation of each man, woman, and child inside the theater. Across the street from the theater, separated by a tram line, were two brick-clad buildings that housed a daycare run by Henriëtte Pimentel, a matronly Jewish woman, and the Reformed Teachers’ Training College with a young principal named Johan van Hulst.

The children housed at the theater were quite loud, annoying the German soldiers, so Walter befriended the commanding officer and suggested they transfer these kids to the daycare. After the officer concurred, Henriëtte readily agreed to host them, and Johan and some of his teaching students volunteered to help. But they all wanted to do more than just offer these children food and shelter before deportation. They wanted to save their lives.

The German records were quite meticulous and regulated, but Walter, Henriëtte, and Johan devised a seemingly impossible plan. With permission from the parents, away from the oversight of the Nazi officers, Walter began eliminating the names of children from the registry lists. Once he erased them, these children—in the eyes of the Nazis—ceased to exist.

(Jewish Historical Museum)

Still the Nazis kept an eye on the daycare center so Johan and Henriëtte concocted a number of ways to steal these unregistered children away. When the tram divided the daycare from the watchful eye of soldiers, for example, students would smuggle the kids out in laundry baskets, burlap bags, and milk cans. Sometimes they would take a dozen children on a walk and return with eleven. Or a baby tucked away in its carriage would be replaced with a doll.

Holland Theater Today

More than six hundred children were rescued from the Hollandsche Schouwburg.

A miracle.

Each child was escorted to a safe home by a resistance worker, saving their life, but two of the three leaders who orchestrated their rescue died during the war.

In 1943 Henriëtte was killed at Auschwitz after accompanying her staff and the remaining children in her care.

Walter was exempted from deportation, but his wife and daughter were not. He chose to leave on a train with them and many think he was killed in 1945 by fellow inmates at Auschwitz who thought he, a former employee of the hated Judenrat, was a traitor.

Johan van Hulst

Johan van Hulst passed away last year at the age of 107. He knew that I was writing Memories of Glass, and it’s been a great honor for me to connect with those who love him.

Most of the Dutch who rescued children didn’t think they were heroic, and Dr. van Hulst was no exception. In fact, he once said: “I actually only think about what I have not been able to do. To those few thousand children that I could not have saved.” (Het Parool)

The six hundred that he helped rescue, I suspect, think of him often.

Memories of Glass was written to reflect both the corruption and heroism in Holland during World War II. It is a tribute, I hope, to those who risked everything to save a Dutch child.

Question for Blog Tour

Approximately many children were rescued from Hollandsche Schouwburg?

Rafflecopter Giveaway

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for the Blog Tour, enter your name and email address below (we need these to notify the winner). Then select an author’s name and enter the answer to that author’s question. You only need to enter the Rafflecopter once to be entered in the giveaway, but you can earn up to seven entries by answering all seven questions in the Rafflecopter. Don’t forget…to win, you must have collected ALL SEVEN answers and enter the Rafflecopter before June 16, 2019 at 11 pm PST. US mailing addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Schedule for the D-Day 75th Anniversary Blog Tour

Thanks for stopping by! If you haven’t completed the tour yet, be sure to visit each site by June 16th for a chance to win all nine featured novels, plus the commemorative D-day book.

  • AMANDA DYKES, author of Whose Waves These Are
  • CATHY GOHLKE, author of The Medallion
  • LIZ TOLSMA, author of When the Heart Sings
  • SARAH SUNDIN, author of the Sunrise at Normandy series: The Sea Before Us, The Sky Above Us, and The Land Beneath Us
  • AMANDA BARRATT, author of My Dearest Dietrich (hosted on Amanda Dyke’s blog)
  • VALERIE LUESSE, author of Almost Home
  • MELANIE DOBSON, author of Memories of Glass
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Showing 46 comments
  • Sandy Fuller

    I would like to visit Belgium because my grandpa was a Belgian that came to America in 1923 when he was 3 years old. I would like to learn more about his family there and how WWII affected them. My grandpa’s brother was killed fighting in New Guinea in WWII.

  • Kerri Weldon

    I have always wanted to visit Holland and Germany as this is where my ancestors are from, but also I love the history around the WW2 time period and would love to see some of the places I love reading about. I am really looking forward to your new release. Thank you for the chance to win it.

  • Nancy Brown

    Thank you for doing this research on the terrible persecution against the Jews and others. It must have been sad at times, and also difficult to understand how a nation could follow Hitler. We must remember to be on guard against the possibility of this happening again.
    God bless you.

  • Cheryl

    What an incredible story – and LOVE the cover. Can’t wait to read this one. xoxo

  • Violetta Davis

    I always enjoy your books, Melanie. I look forward to reading Memories of Glass. Thank you for all the time you put in to researching the background for your books.

  • Paula Shreckhise

    I would like to visit Belgium. I don’t know much about it but what I have learned in Christian Fiction piques my interest. My family and my husband’s family came from Germany a very long time ago. I am distantly related to Bach. That would be fun to go and research in person too.

  • Rachael Merritt

    If like to visit England…my family came from Farnworth England. They added an”s” once they got here. No one knows why. I put your answer in the wrong box. Is there any way to fix that??

  • Lisa Hudson

    I would like to visit France because I would like to see Normandy and other such important sites from WWII.

  • Barbara Cochrane

    I always wanted to visit the beaches of Normandy to see where the beginning of the end, of the war, started. The place where so many brave soldiers stormed the Nazi war machine must be rather sacred. It would be like visiting a famous cathedral, I would think. The cemeteries, as well, would be heartbreaking but a place to say prayers. We must never forget their sacrifice.

  • Brenda Dickson

    I can’t wait to read this book! I have such a love for World War II history and am looking forward to learning so much more. I must say that this whole Blog Tour has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Thank you so much to each and every aurhor for your contributions.

  • Betti

    I subscribed to your newsletter but I will also comment here. I have been to Europe many years ago, spending most of my time in the Netherlands and Germany. I would love to have the chance to visit Paris and Normandy. As well, I would like to see all those wonderful sites in Italy.
    Thanks so much for putting together this wonderful tribute to D-Day. I always seem to learn more about history through these wonderful newsletters and the books you all have researched so well!

  • Anne Clare

    This sounds fascinating- thanks for sharing this piece of history! I’d like to visit the British isles…and then everywhere else 🙂

  • Dorothy Harkes

    Hi Melanie! Thank you for the opportunity to enter a giveaway for your book. You are an author after my own heart. I am 100% Dutch, with many of my relatives, past and present, still living in Holland. In fact, during WW2 and the Nazi occupation of Holland, a great uncle, brother of my paternal grandmother Elizabeth Vermaire Harkes, was sent to a concentration camp, where he later died, for his work in the Dutch Resistance. Therefore, I would love to visit Holland, my ancestral home. I would also like to visit Poland. I am looking forward to your book release! In the meantime, I have also signed up for your newsletters. Thank you again.

  • Sabrina Templin

    I’d like to visit the Isle of Sardinia 🙂

  • Winnie Thomas

    What a fascinating, although heart-wrenching, story! I’m so looking forward to reading your new book! It sounds fantastic! I’ve been to Europe three times and have visited several of the countries there. I’d love to go back and explore some more. My favorites are Switzerland and Scotland, but each country has a special flavor.

  • Allyson Wieland

    I did not know this story. Thank you for writing about it, Melanie.
    I would like to visit Prague in the Czech Republic. Both because of its role in WWII and because of the early Reformer Jan Hus.

  • Barbara A Klein

    Love your books and appreciate the research involved.

  • Erika

    I would enjoy visiting Germany.

  • Stacy

    I can’t wait to read this book. I signed up for your newsletter to be entered in the giveaway. Thanks!

  • Brenda Witt

    Hi Melanie,

    I subscribed to your newsletter.
    I cant wait to read your book

  • Erin L.

    Thanks for this giveaway! I’m already a newsletter subscriber, so I thought I would comment. I would love to go to Paris. It’s a bit trite, I suppose, but the culture (art, architecture, etc.) there is just something I want to experience someday! Close behind that is Italy. The historic significance of the Roman empire, plus Italian food. Need I say more?

  • Lelia (Lucy) Reynolds

    I signed up for your newsletter. I would love to read your book. Thank you for sharing.

  • Janice Laird

    I’ve never been to Europe, but hope to go to Madrid within the next year to visit my son. While there, I also hope to visit the Normandy beaches. I also have a fictional hero with the Third Infantry Division, and I’d like to trace his path from Casablanca, to Sicily, to Rome, and especially from southern France up into Vesoul, Strasbourg, and Colmar.

  • Perrianne Askew

    What a profound story and at the risk of their own lives! I shall look forward to reading this story. I would enjoy visiting Belgium since I have some Belgian lineage along with Ireland in honor of my Irish grandmother. I signed up for your newsletter, too.

  • Keren Herrera Lyles

    Would like to visit Germany. And your research on these events are highly appreciated. Can’t wait to read this one, the story facts alone makes it a great read. Beautiful cover. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Megan L.

    This was so fascinating! Thank you for sharing this story and for writing the books you do. We MUST remember things like this, or we will end up repeating these same atrocities.

  • Susan Cornwell

    Wonderful article. If us amazing how much there is still to learn.

    One of the countries I would most like to visit is Ireland.

  • MJSH

    Would love to visit Rome.

  • CutePolarBear

    I would love to visit Germany, as I am very fond of that country, and have much extended family there.

    I’ve loved this D-Day blog tour, and reading all the interesting posts! Your story about smuggling Jews in Holland was especially fascinating.


  • Alison Boss

    Melanie, thank you for sharing about the amazing rescue that the three Dutch leaders concocted to rescue Jewish children from deportation! Truly an incredible story!! I am really looking forward to reading Memories of Glass! It sounds so captivating and one that will truly touch many hearts!!
    Thank you for the chance to win a copy!!!

    I would love to visit Italy!

    I am subscribed to your newsletter.

  • Karen Mercer

    I would like to visit Ireland. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of Memories of Glass.

  • Melissa

    I would love to visit the Netherlands and see “The Hiding Place” of Corrie Ten Boom, but also England, Ireland, and various other places!

  • Karen

    I want to visit Germany and France to research my German ancestors!

  • Arletta

    I didn’t know this! Thanks for sharing this story with us. Hearing stories like this just amaze me that people were willing to risk their lives to save others.

  • Mary Kay Moody

    One place! Like picking a favorite child. 🙂 Prague is my fantasy place, I think. Reading this blog post, though, makes me consider replacing that with Holland! So looking forward to reading this book, Melanie. Powerful story you shared here.

  • Karen Asfour

    I can’t wait to read Memories of Glass. I read about this before but I’m not sure where and it was just a part of another story. I wonder if some of the babies and small children even knew in later years that they had been saved by these three brave people.

  • Kaye Whitney

    I would like to visit Poland, because my aunt had married a wonderful Polish gentleman. We were not able to go there in the short time we traveled in Europe over 50 years ago.

  • Anne L. Rightler

    Our son and his family of 4 kids just did a 2-week tour of WWII Europe. How I wish I could’ve gone! We have traveled a bit to England and Europe but never have gone to Normandy or any of the WWII memorial places. I would love to go to see some of those.

  • Becky D.

    I would love to visit the UK. So much history, beauty, & a language I can grasp. 😉

  • Judith H Jennings

    I subscribed to your newsletter. Eager to read your new book!

  • Memefaye

    If i ever make it “across the pond”, i want to visit Ireland and Scotland. That is where my ancestors are from and it just looks like beautiful country! I enjoyed your book, Hidden Among the Stars! i am looking forward to reading more of your books.

  • Cathy C

    I would like to visit the D-Day beaches of Normandy, among other places, as I had several family members in the thick of the action that day.

  • Stephanie H.

    I would love to visit Germany, France, Ireland, England, Scotland, and Italy someday.

  • Jessica

    This pulled at all my momma strings and I couldn’t help the tears at this element of history I was unfamiliar with. Heros indeed and you got to meet one, what an amazing privilege and honor 💕.
    I can’t imagine the agony of the parents who let the children escape. A very heart breaking past.
    Thank you for the opportunity, I have subscribed and can’t wait for your upcoming release 💕.

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