The war ends and Josje is returned to his parents. “Who are these people who call themselves my parents?” he imagines. He is three years old and feels abandoned, confused and angry. He wants to return to his “real” parents who loved and sheltered him during the war. “My name is Pietje Dijkstra not Josje Gosler,” he states tearfully when goaded by his cousin. As a Jew and a hidden child in the Netherlands, his innocence protected him as much as his Christian family. The impact of his first separation from his parents may not be so easily ascertained, but when he is returned to them, his porcelain psyche is damaged and his closest companions are fear and distrust. His life is seen through the lens of an immigrant, as he migrates with his family to Israel and subsequently to the United States. This is a story of a young boy who becomes a man, ever wandering and struggling to find himself. His parents, emotionally gutted from their own wartime experiences, are barely able to care for themselves, let alone this young stranger.
Searching for Home: The Impact of WWII on a Hidden Child
September 1, 2019
Courtesy of Joe Gosler
- Since you were an infant/toddler during the War, weren’t you protected by your own innocence? What do you remember? In any case, how does your experience contrast or compare to those who were older and do remember?
- Your book focuses on the impact of war on your development. In what ways do you believe the scars of war influence how you make decisions, and in fact see the world?
- You mention in your book that you distrusted synagogues and large organizations in general. Can you tell us why that is?
- Has the war influenced your religious beliefs? In what way?
- Since the kibbutz was a positive experience in your early childhood development, why have you never returned-not even to visit?
- You state that your experience is seen through the eyes of an immigrant? What do you mean by that, and how has your experience influenced your thinking about immigration today?
- Do you ever feel safe?
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