Foto of Sjouke

Zwarte HaanThis is how the landscape looks like in the region where my grandfather was born. Though the Netherlands are densily populated, you won't notice it here. Not then, not today.
Right behind the dike lie a pub and several farms, whose owners work the newly gained land from the waddensea. That's the village of "Zwarte Haan".
If the wheater's bright, you can see the isle of Ameland in the waddensea.

Sjouke and his brothers Jacob and Klaas were born in this region, and lived here the first years of their lives. In later life, Sjouke named two of his sons after them.
Then, disaster struck the young family: Dad Jacob Jacobs Postma died, at the young age of only 38 years old.

Set aside the grief, this posed the mourning widow Frouwkje Postma-Polstra also for great economic problems, as social benefits as we know it today of course did not exist.

A few years later, she met another man called David Sluiter, who wanted her, but - alas - not the two oldest children. Problem.

Jacob and Sjouke, both about 12 years old, went to Sneek, to their grandma.

Grandma took good care of them, but sadly enough she died a few years later. Again the boys had to find new homes, and this time the boys were split up. Jacob went to his uncle in the city of Leeuwarden, who was a milk-distributor. Sjouke went to a cousin, who had a hotel- and restaurantbusiness in Meppel.
There he learned this trade too. The hard way. Scrubbing, cleaning, washing dishes. No more school for Sjouke from then. Just work, work, work, from dusk till dawn.
He met a girl, Janna Jans, from a small village nearby called Ruinerwold. They married.

 Jacob, was born in 1901 in Meppel.

SteenwijkBeing entrepreneurial people, they grabbed the chance to work in their own business, in Steenwijk, right across the trainstation. They moved there. Story goes, Sjouke helped out his cousin once a week, on the market in Meppel. After work, the men drunk a bit of booze, and often more than that.
Janna, being a stern women, quickly made him stop this weekly habit.
He did not drink a drop for the rest of his life.....

A view years later, they moved back to Meppel. Hendrik Jan - Hennie - was born, Klaas was born.

Another chance: Sjouke and Janna were offered the possibility to run the hotel of Hendrik Anthonius Meijer in Emmen, a town nearby. And Emmen was the place they both lived for the rest of their life.
After a view busy years the couple wanted a business of their own. On fallow ground, next to the newly built traintrack and -station hotel Postma arose. All on credit from the bank.
While Janna was very nervous about this, Sjouke strongly believed in themselves and his christian god. This was 1909. Frouwkje was already born in 1906.
In 1910 Johan Sjouke - Joop - came.

As business thrived, Sjouke got an interest in politics and became a member of the liberal party.  He also became chairman of the local chamber of commerce later on. Being the vain man he was, he loved having the attention posed on him. A characteristic some of his kids, like Bert and my dad Joop inherited.

He ran his business, in practical matters strongly leaning on Janna for many years in a row, while the children grew up. World war I made a lot of Belgian refugees come the hotel, and return home again in 1918.

In the afterwar years, Sjouke became a representative for the liberal party for the three northern provinces Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland in the Hague. He did well, loved his family and was a succesful man in many ways.
Little Bert was born in 1922, the elder boys all moved out and went their way. Sjouke had taken in his mother. And showed her the love and care she could not give them when he and his brother were small. To me, this shows the man had a great heart. She died, 3 weeks after Bert was born  in Emmen, in 1922.  Her grave still is on the same graveyard Sjouke and Janna were buried later.

Sjouke grew older, and finally in 1932 wanted to retire from the business, or at least slow down. The Kolhoop was built, he and Janna moved out of the hotel, but still helped out their son Jacob and his wife Frieda.

Sjouke als an old man

Nazism rose in the east, in Germany. To his great grief, Sjouke saw his son Jacob grow sympathetic to their ideology, at least the Dutch version. Sjouke did not agree, but what could he do?
Times became more and more grim. Sjouke's health declined. In 1940 the nazi's marched in, and made the hotel he founded to one of their headquarters in Emmen.
His son welcomed them, in the uniform of the Dutch national socialist movement, the NSB.
Klaas was far away in Utrecht, opposing the occupators with his resistance activities. Mother and father Postma also had to help Joop financially, who was succesful as a  Mennonite referend but got TBC and went for cure to Davos, Switserland. And Bert signed up for the Waffen SS.
It all became to much for him, he couldn't cope, couldn't stop them, couldn't help.

On the 4th of may 1943, Sjouke Postma from Zwarte Haan, at the age of 67, died of a poor condition and grief over the deep political division amongst his own children.

He was a good man, most likely not perfect, vain perhaps, and left a lot of practical work to his wife and others. The bad fate he got, was undeserved.

Grave of Sjouke
Rest in peace, dear grandpa. I would have liked to have known you.

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