The Occupied Garden is the story of a family and a nation caught in the nightmare of occupation during WWII. The den Hartogs - Gerrit, a market gardener, and his wife, Cor, a devout mother of five - fight to survive both physically and mentally in the face of Hitler’s occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 until the end of the war.
Written by the den Hartog’s granddaughters Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski, this book is a loving portrait of a family surviving unimaginable circumstances. Like many survivors of WWII, Gerrit and Cor spoke little about their lives during the war—one simply went on with life after the war, because one must.
The den Hartog’s family story played out in households throughout Europe in the 1940s: deprivation, underground work against the Nazis, bombings, and loss. It is a familiar story made far more intimate because of the authors’ closeness to the story: though their grandparents spoke little of the war, their father, aunts and uncles, and some of the family’s neighbors in Holland, contributed their memories of the time. Though the den Hartog children were quite young, some of them remember their father quietly disappearing into the attic when Nazis were going house-to-house, looking for adult men to arrest or press into forced labor for their cause.
Any reader of The Diary of Anne Frank will want to read this book. It fills in what Anne could not: how those citizens of a small, brave country, survived and fought back.