I keep looking back at the photo on the front page of the Abbotsford News on Feb. 11.
I came to realize that day how far removed Canada and the U.S.A. were removed from World War II, oblivious to the hardships the European people were enduring. This has become more real to me the past two years because I am writing my mother’s family story.
These children are protesting the price of chocolate bars post-war era, whereas my family was struggling in Europe to survive day to day. They had to flee their home in Poland from the advancing Russian army and were on the run for over two and a half years. They walked from the vicinity of Warsaw to Pomerania and finally Berlin.
They ended up in a refugee camp in Berlin in the American sector, and in February of 1947, some 1,000 refugees were loaded onto a freight train to be smuggled through the Russian zone. I received a copy of a report written by Robert Kreider that was part of the operation, and in it he writes: “Each car had been provided with an army tent stove, a bale of straw to serve as a protective layer on the floor, 100 pounds of coal pellets, several lengths of stove pipe, water cans. An UNNRA crew was on the scene distributing to each car a two-day supply of army-field rations. Fresh bread was distributed and chocolate for the children.”
The last four words in that paragraph are “chocolate for the children.” Here they were protesting the price of chocolate, and my family received some chocolate as a means of keeping the children quiet so no one would know there were people in those freight cars.
Canada may believe they knew what World War II was about. They have no idea.
Johanna Friesen, Abbotsford