Times were hard, when Janna was born in 1880. Her parents were small
farmers in the south of Drenthe.
She was number three in the row of 6
kids of Albert Jans and Hendrikje Pouwels.
Jan, born in 1976(boy)
Lukas, born in 1978(boy)
Janna, born in 1880(girl)
Jentje, born 1882(girl)
Gerhardus, born in 1886(boy)
Jan Meeuwes, born in 1889(boy)
They managed, maybe not hungry, but nevertheless poor.
So in time, Janna was sent away to work in somebody elses
household in Haarlem, one and a half days journey away. This was common
practice in poor families in these days.
After a few years, she came back, and found work in nearby Meppel. And
there she met the love of her life: the clever, rather charming Frisian
guy, named Sjouke.
They married, and ran a cafe in Meppel together.
Children came, two were stillborn, to her great despair and
grief. In 1901, Jacob was
born, in 1903 Hennie, in 1904
Klaas. And all through her
pregnancies she worked and worked and
worked. Like she always did.
Sjouke and she went to live in Steenwijk, later moved back to Meppel.
One sad event happened at her parents home, while she was already with
Sjouke. One of her brothers got mental problems and took his own life.
I could not find out who, but most likely it will have been Lukas, as I
found on Genlias that he died at
the age of 26.
Her brother Gerhardus went in the hotel business as well. He opened up
a hotel in Rijs, in Friesland, Hotel
Jans. Jacob worked there in the 1950's. It still exists today.
In Emmen, a couple was wanted to run the hotel of a certain Meijer.
They went, to forever stay in Emmen. They started up their own business
And Janna worked, and got three more kids in Emmen. Frouwkje in 1906, Joop
in 1910, and even 12 years later Bert.
She was hard for herself, always working, never giving herself rest for
the children, just coping with the job. Politics in the
1930-s, didn't interest her much, nor did she fully understand what it
was all about. Janna was no intellectual.
And thus, as times changed, she did not oppose to nazism. Even
sent her youngest Bert back to Waffen
SS-school when he ran off as he could
not cope anymore with the harsh - mental - conditions there.
Another time long before that, her other son Joop was sent from school
and came home. She simply refused to let him in, but instead
said: "You go back to school and ask for the most severe
punishment they are prepared to give to you". Joop had no other choice
than to do so.
People had respect for her, as little as she was. One time there was a
quarrel outside in Emmen, and a drunk man knifed another one. A whole
bunch of drunk young men stood around him, preventing anybody to help
the bleeding guy. They wanted to let him bleed to death. She stepped in
and saved the young mans life. Heroic.
Her husband died in 1943, she stayed in the Kolhoop
together with Frouwkje. She didn't oppose her son's political views and
acts. And to my knowledge never gave any sign of support
for the one
resisting the nazi's, Klaas. What
happened exactly we will never know,
but one time Klaas came to visit them, mother and daughter were not
there to welcome him.
To the best of my knowledge, Janna did not visit her son, when in
captivity. But mourned when he died, most certainly. Probably thinking
he had made the wrong decision.
May 1945: Freedom in Holland, but not for Janna and daughter Frouwkje.
arrested, and brought to former concentration camp Westerbork, now used
to detain people accused of collaboration. Son Hennie liberated them, he
himself being a warvictim in the Dutch Indies.
Janna kept active for almost all her life. She
ran a small tobaccoshop till 1962 at the age of 82. And died in 1964.
doing things. Not very conscious of the right or wrong of certain
The text on her grave says: "Her life was just to serve". That's what
did. Strictly obiding the rules she also imposed on
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