My story here begins in Colombo in mid-2020 where I stubbed by big toe badly as I walked into the National Archives. The injury turned septic; and I was treated … I would say rescued …. by a Richmondite, Dr Sarath Gamani De Silva. He ensured that I was fit to fly to Australia in mid-September 2020. This entailed extra airfare and quarantine for two weeks at another cost of 3000$. The toe became a godsend because it meant that my enforced stay was at a hotel run by the Health Department and not that run by the Police.
At this hotel I was visited every morn by a nurse or two for a PCR Test and nose-swab. They were garbed in protective gear and took care to stay in the corridor while administering the tests. However, my toe needed checking and cleaning on occasions. One nurse, the head-nurse I think, did not hesitate to enter and clean my toe on two occasions. This was one Julia XY. In subsequent email exchanges I discovered that her familial name was “Hoolsema.” This sounded Dutch and I sought out more details from Julia.
Her information kindled my knowledge of the travails faced by so many peoples in the path of Nazi Germany’s aggressions in 1939-45. Though I was too young to recall the war years in detail, I had been exposed to the war by the avid absorption of (a) the London Illustrated magazines stocked in the library of St, Aloysius College in Galle once I began schooling from about 1947; (b) the adventure stories about “Biggles” and other boys’ books dealing with World War Two; and (c) numerous films on wartime action – for instance, The Dambusters, Iwo Jima, Cockleshell Heroes, Guns of Navarone.
It is this background that encourages me to present some wisps of European wartime history through the few details Julia Hoolsema-XY has about her parents and grandparents. This information reminds us of the miseries imposed on the peoples of Western Europe (especially the Dutch, the Belgians, the Danes and the French) by the imperial aggression of Nazi Germany. As we know only too well, those of Jewish descent faced the worst horrors (and Thuppahi has recently recorded the recollections of two Australian migrants who were concentration camp survivors).
Lo and behold, Julia’s grandmother was Jewish. But her grandfather seems to have succeeded in evading the Nazi net – a net which, as we know from the famous tale associated with Anne Frank, the Dutch Jewish girl whose attic hideout was eventually discovered by the Nazi monsters.
So, now, we can glance at the wisps of information provided by Julia about the Hoolsema background with some passing mention of the battle against Mister Covid in Sydney. To our correspondence I turn.
Hi Mike, I have appreciated your enthusiastic contact after you left our hotel. But, given the professional restraints, I prefer for contact to be made via my personal email.
Julia Hoolsema is my public/published author name. In honour of my birth name, and my family lineage.
Things are looking quite grim for healthcare workers and the communities we look after at the moment.
I am quite involved with things at the moment. The Atlas staff have moved to a larger hotel site a few months ago due to the increased demand for accommodating people from the Sydney community.
I am hoping to be elected to the union branch leadership tomorrow 02/09 and will be speaking about the situation for NSW healthcare workers at a public forum on the 20-year anniversary of 11/09 coming up. I have been consulting with many of my colleagues about the contemporary issues and will be using this as inspiration for my talk next week.
I hope you are faring well and that you are not missing your toe nail much haha.
Hi Michael, See the attached image and Facebook link.
Happy to forward the zoom information when it comes available. …. https://facebook.com/events/s/crisis-in-the-healthcare-syste/899677477649246/
Thank you for sharing your writing with me.
Unfortunately, my grandfather and grandmother passed away when I was fairly young. I don’t know much about the details,
ADDENDUM: Anne Frank
Among the tales of the Second World War in my memory bank was the tale of a Dutch Jewish family who were hidden away in an attic loft in Amsterdam for many months before they were discovered and sent to a concentration camp where they mostly perished. Their tale came to light via the retrieval and publication of the diary maintained by their daughter Anne Frank. Their attic location and house were subsequently turned into a museum and was one of the spots that I made a beeline for when a tourist in Amsterdam.
Do digest this nugget of information in Wikipedia and pursue its other leads: “The Diary of a Young Girl, also known as The Diary of Anne Frank, is a book of the writings from the Dutch-language diary kept by Anne Frank while she was in hiding for two years with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. The family was apprehended in 1944, and Anne Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945. The diary was retrieved by Miep Gies, who gave it to Anne’s father, Otto Frank, the family’s only known survivor, just after the Second World War was over. The diary has since been published in more than 70 languages” …………. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl). I has also entered the List of Hundred Books of the Twentieth Century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Monde%27s_100_Books_of_the_Century).
Fiona Harari: “Profound Testimonies: Aged Holcocaust Survivors and Their Last Testaments,” 27 January 2018, https://thuppahis.com/2018/01/27/profound-testimonies-aged-holocaust-survivors-in-their-last-testament/
Rachel Gray: “The Holocaust through the lens of Australian Jewish refugees,” 15 September 2020, https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/social-affairs/holocaust-through-lens-australian-jewish-refugees
 Richmond and Mahinda were the principal opponents when I played cricket and soccer from St. Aloysius in Galle in the 1950s. Sarath was a stranger on official duty when we first met. By happy circumstances I garnered a whole crop of new Richmondite and Mahindian friends during my covid-enforced six-month stat in Sri Lanka.
 The nurses were a pot pourri of ethnicities (Filipino, African, White, Chinese) in a way that perhaps reveals the character of Sydney.
 I was three years old in 1941 and my family was living in the precincts of the Galle Fort. Some houses in the Fort were occupied by Allied troops and the lagoon and aerodrome at Koggala, a few miles east of the town, was an important British air-base; while the HQ of the British war effort in the Indian zone was located at Peradeniya.
 See https://thuppahis.com/2018/01/27/profound-testimonies-aged-holocaust-survivors-in-their-last-testament/ …. And … https://thuppahis.com/2021/04/02/songs-and-music-from-auschwitz-and-other-concentration-camps/
 See the Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Diary_of_a_Young_Girl