KAMLOOPS — In a time when Nazi Germany occupied his country, Jake Van Staalduinen risked his life to provide information to the citizens of The Hague, Holland.
The former underground newspaper publisher is now 97 years old and living at Kamloops Seniors Village, where he will gladly tell his story to anyone who has the desire to learn about life in the Second World War.
Van Staalduinen was part of the Dutch Resistance from 1940-1945, at which time he published the undergound newspaper Op Wacht (On Guard).
"I was the only one who could type," Van Staalduinen said, "and I had a diploma, so I got to do that."
Publishing and distributing the paper was a dangerous task, but despite a heavy Nazi presence in the city there was never a missed issue for five years.
"I can't understand it, nobody understands it," he said. "(We went) right through the Germans. The Germans were everywhere. They were everywhere, and we had the papers with us. For five years every week and never were we caught."
In addition to the paper, the Dutch Resistance hid thousands of Jews from the Nazis.
"I took a Jewish lady on my bike, went through The Hague, through the soldiers, and went out in the country, always in the country, and there I always found places where they could hide."
Van Staalduinen considers himself lucky to be alive, saying there were many times when he was in the direct line of danger.
"I always was the one who was not caught, and I was in the midst of it," he said. "We were bombed several times with the planes right over us. Others were killed ... I always was free."
All of Van Staalduinen's hard work was validated in May 1945, when the Allies liberated Holland from Nazi occupation. Later, he was honoured by the Dutch Government with medals for his efforts in the war.
Since then, every day is Remembrance Day for Jake Van Staalduinen.
"I've celebrated it all the years, and still do the same," he said, pointing to the poppy pinned to his shirt, "it means a lot."
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