The Spanish Civil War (1936-39)
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How it started… I was born in Rotterdam on Christmas Day 1958, at a quarter to six in the morning. At the time, it was not uncommon for the Salvation Army to sing Christmas carols in the streets. That morning, when they stood outside our door singing 'there was a baby born on earth', my mother would have said she knew all about it. I grew up in a working-class neighborhood in South Rotterdam, opposite the Maashaven. My father was a controller in the harbor on the Holland-America line. He is said to have been Englandvaarder during the Second World War and then spent a hazy period in Indonesia during the police actions there. The Dutch navy In 1975 we moved to Spijkenisse, a place where construction was in full swing because it was a growing community. In that year I decided to join the navy and despite the doubts of others, I only had MAVO, to everyone's surprise, including actually my own, I was accepted. In February 1976 I started the EMV (First Military Training) in Hollandsche Rading, a town between Utrecht and Hilversum. Exercise, shoot and memorize all ranks and positions. You also had to show that you could swim, something that was obviously very important if you fell overboard in the middle of the sea. In the summer of that year I followed the training to become an electrician. Actually self-evident since electricity and electronics had always been my hobby until that time. After that training I came aboard the Drenthe, a submarine fighter of the Friesland class. That ship was initially still at the shipyard in Den Helder due to major maintenance. I learned a lot from helping to rebuild the ship. At the end of 1977, the Drenthe left for the west, the Antilles and Suriname for seven months. Without me, because three days before departure the doctor thought I had mononucleosis. So I was disembarked and someone else was unexpectedly ordered to replace me. After two months at the submarine barracks, I ended up on the Zeeland. Also such a hunter, but of a slightly older type. Unfortunately I had to conclude that sailing was not for me after all and after two and a half years I was allowed to resign. In the meantime my father had passed away and my mother moved from Spijkenisse to Hardenberg (OV). So that became my new home for the time being. There is now a period in which I could not find my way in terms of work. This resulted in the most diverse jobs and functions. From forklift driver to greengrocer and production employee and just about everything in between. In the meantime I got married and we went to live in De Krim, a sleepy village on the border between Overijssel and Drenthe, close to Ponypark Slagharen (whose Ferris wheel we could see from our garden). Computers and ICT In 1987 I got the opportunity to work at a small computer shop in Coevorden. I actually never thought I'd find work there, despite the fact that my hobby with computers and electronics had taken on quite serious forms by now. While the business community was only a small part of the clientele at first, it soon made up the majority. PCs and networks were on the rise and with the help of the necessary education, courses and training, I made the matter my own. Not only in the field of technology, but also logistics, financial and project management belonged to this. In 1997 I decided to turn my back on the small scale of the company and seek refuge in the large business community. That's how I ended up as a project leader at KPN in Groningen, first on contract, later as a freelancer. After a year I decided to spread my wings even further and, again as a freelancer at a communication company in Amstelveen, I reorganized the ICT organization. During the week there in a hotel, the weekends at home. That task was completed after a year and after that I ended up as an interim manager at a company in Veenendaal, among other things. I carried out various assignments for that company, also several times at KPN and at the organization that provided the ICT for the Avebe group. Burnout But reality caught up with me. When you make weeks of 60, 70 or even 80 hours for many years (and also play in a band that gives 2 or 3 performances a week), you will wake up with an obvious burnout. Later, "if I were there", I would do something about relaxation. Marriage meanwhile ruined and a departure to New Zealand seemed the only way out. Wrong of course, because you just take yourself, and therefore the problem, with you. In New Zealand I first worked as an employee in fruit cultivation and then developed and provided training for helpdesk employees as a teacher. But it was all not enough and so I returned to the Netherlands at the end of 2001. Back in the Netherlands I had to start all over again, first to get rid of the burnout. That took me about six years, with or without the help of the authorities involved. I ended up in a guest house in the village of Noordscheschut, a place that is adjacent to Hoogeveen. To keep myself busy, I decided to do volunteer work. The ICT, no, that was no longer for me. Before I knew it, I would end up in a burnout again and I wanted to avoid that at all costs. Then maybe caretaking...? That's how I ended up at an organization for which I went out with clients on Saturdays. These were children with autism and intellectual disabilities. Although this was a very different branch of sport than ICT, I soon felt at home in it - and useful again. As a result, I decided to follow a training SPW (Social Pedagogical Employee), a training that would last two years. Unfortunately, the burnout still bothered me and due to, among other things, concentration problems, I had to give up again after a year. Very unfortunate because I had already completed the necessary internship and had done holiday work in this area a number of times. And so take it easy again and start thinking about what I could and couldn't do again. A new opportunity presents itself... In 2012, a new unexpected option presented itself. It was well known in our family that my grandfather had sailed and had once experienced an adventure in Spain. No details, because Grandpa never told me about it. But that year my aunt informed me that she had found a diary of her father. That diary contained his entire adventure in Spain. It turned out that in 1937 he had helped smuggle weapons from Poland to Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). That adventure had not gone well. His ship was sunk off the coast of Spain and the crew spent two months in prison. Poor conditions and an almost daily threat of execution. While reading the diary, I got the idea to use the diary to write a historical novel. Titled "Journey to the Spanish Civil War", the first edition was published at the end of 2014. In order to write that book, I had to do the necessary research. After all, a diary of thirty pages is not a complete story. What started with reading the diary has now grown into a true passion for the Spanish Civil War and everything that has to do with it. It has also led to me giving lectures and guest lectures about Grandpa's story and that civil war. The reason was the invitation to tell Grandpa's story during a commemoration of the foundation that organizes an annual commemoration in Amsterdam. It has now been done more than sixty times throughout the Netherlands and for a wide range of audiences. In recent years I have also been involved in other subjects, such as research for the former Camp Westerbork. In addition, I was active for a year for a foundation that deals with victims of dictatorships. That foundation is a member of a European organization and for that organization I also did research for books that they publish. And how is it going now...? I have been married to Ellen for a few years now and we live together in the town of Vries in the top of Drenthe. After my first historical novel ' Journey to the Spanish Civil War ', Ellen and I wrote the second historical novel together: ' La Batuta ' and recently the third saw the light of day: ' Fernando '. Just click on the titles above or look under the 'Our novels' tab. We have now even started on the next one: ' Addy '. In short, things are going well for both of us...
HMS Drenthe
HMS Zeeland
© Cor Faber en Ellen Bijma