Hoek becomes visibly emotional when he mentions again that he was surprised that there were so many reactions to his letter. “I really hope they read it and think: that man may be 94, but he is right.”
In the letter Hoek mainly draws a comparison with his own youth. A youth that from the age of fifteen was mainly dominated by war. It led to ten lost years in which he had no freedom and had to do as he was told. “And some of the things that you experience then, even after those ten years, you will still take it with you for the rest of your life”, Hoek adds emotionally.
Hoek was only fifteen when the war broke out and when he was nineteen he thought he had to ‘just’ get away. “The raid was underway and me and my brother had to come along for a while. I said to my mother: ‘We will be back’, but that ‘right back’ was no less than six months.”
During that half year, Hoek went to Euserden, Germany, to work in a factory and despite frantic attempts to escape (“my brother had simulated illness and was able to go home, but I was not that good at acting”), he was able to not coming back sooner.
“In the end I had to go to Osnabrück in between because I was completely covered in lice. When the air raid alarm went off I had nowhere to hide, because foreigners were not allowed to. And on the train home I was grabbed by a fat German man as a living shield when the train was shot at “, Hoek continues.
For example, Hoek has many anecdotes about the wartime that took place not only in Rotterdam and Germany. After he finally returned, he had to move on to another battle scene in 1946: the Dutch East Indies. A period that Hoek does not like to think back to and where he also became very ill. “I was diagnosed with jaundice, and when the doctor later asked what I wanted most, all I could say was that I wanted to beg on my knees to be allowed back to the Netherlands.”
That return finally took place in 1949, just before Hoek’s 25th birthday. “I really want to pass that on to the young people with this letter”, Hoek continues. “That they live in a paradise for that matter. There is freedom, freedom that I would have loved to have at the time. But you still have to hold on. That way you protect the people who are fighting so hard against this virus and you can. also save your lives. ”
“Because I really hope so”, Hoek concludes. “That there are really young people who now think differently and that the writing has not been in vain. Another six months of no partying or planning outings, then you can mean a lot to others. I really hope that this could help . “