Today it’s Remembrance day in the Netherlands. Traditionally this day was used to remember and honour the victims of World War II and the holocaust.. We now use this day to remember all Dutch civilians and members of the Dutch military who have died during every war or peacemissions since 1940. Every year there is a huge ceremony in Amsterdam on Dam Square, involving the Queen, veterans and lots of flowers.
I thought this would be a nice moment to speak how this day relates to me, by telling a story of one of my own family members. There are a lot of family stories to tell on this topic, but for today I choose to tell the story of my mothers grandmother, or my great grandmother, Angelique Croon.
This is by no means a story to tell you who was wrong and who not, this is simply a story of one of the many people that lived through that time and what happened to her.
Since highschool I’ve been intriqued by her, when I went throug a hard time my mother put a picture of her in my room, saying she would “help me”. The resemblance in appearance between her and my mother is striking. Propably this moment combined with the resemblance first sparked my interest in her. Later when my interest in my families history really took of, I started asking for pictures and stories, and this is what I found out.
|Angelique Vlek (born Croon)
(Pronounce “Crow -n)
Angelique Croon was born in Hasselt (Belgium) in 1900 to a relativly wealthy family. This enabled her to go to a girls boarding school, at a very young age. The picture below shows her at school in 1905 or 1906. What makes this unique is the fact that education wasn’t made compulsory for all children untill 1914.
|Angelique aged 5/6 at school.|
We can also assume the boarding school was Catholic. Although liberal governments in the 1870’s and 1880’s had tried to secularize education, by 1884 this was reverted by a confessional government with great popular support.
|At boarding school, in 1914. My greatgrandmother is the third from the left in the back row.|
Angelique was fourteen years old when the Great War broke out. Unlike the Netherlands, which remained ‘neutral’ throughout the war, Belgium bore the brunt of the German invasion and the whole trench warfare that followed. Hasselt was quickly captured after the first line of defense, the fortresses around Liège, fell.
|This is the Croon family celebrating Carnaval in the spring of 1918. Angelique is the one
on the left, middle row. The one in the middle is Andree, Angelique’s younger sister.
When she was nineteen years old, and the war ended, Angelique’s parents had arranged a wedding between her and the son of Hasselt’s(?) mayor, a boy who got crippled in the trenches. However, Angelique Croon choose otherwise, and married Koos Vlek, an independent plumber from a family that owned a liquor-brewery.
This to her parents dismay as he was much poorer then they had wanted her upcoming husband to be. However they did wed and moved to Maastricht (The Netherlands) soon after. She wasn’t the only controversial one of the Croon-daughters however: her sister Andree had an extra-marital child with an unknown father. Although this made her the ‘black sheep’ of the family, she doesn’t even seem that bad off in this 1919-picture:
|Andree Croon with her child, Monique. I do not know if Andree found a husband later in life.|
Tomorrow I’ll post about her time after the first Great War and especially during the Second World War tomorrow. On the fifth of May when we celebrate Liberation Day, to remember the liberation of most of the Netherlands by Allied forces. Some powerful war photo’s coming up.