Laughter & Tears: Johanna's Story
by Irene Powell
Trafford Publishing

"The bond of our work with the refugees united us and we never forgot the privilege, the laughter and tears of our work in the refugee camps."

Irene Powell presents the inspiring story of her friend, Johanna, who was born June 16, 1926, in Holland. She lived in the Netherlands during World War II and endured the German occupation. This life story reveals Johanna's survival through the economic recession and war, including the Hunger Winter (1944-1945), and describes her life after the war ended. Holland faced a serious economic recession at the time of her birth. This recession was a prelude to the wartime ravages that were to come as the winds of war swept across Europe and engulfed the Netherlands.

The most difficult part of her life came during the Hunger Winter when the Nazis imposed a blockade on fuel and food to Holland. Although many residents died of starvation, Johanna worked diligently to provide food for her Hannenburg family. After the war ended, she slipped across the border into Germany without proper credentials and worked with the British in German refugee camps. Later, she settled in England and trained as a nurse and midwife.

The remembrances in this book show the bravery, resilience, and fortitude of a woman whose life at age 14 thrust her into these challenging circumstances. Yet she never let the difficult situations defeat her. Even with the death of her husband, John, and her own serious medical concerns, she continued to show her indomitable spirit and resilience, living life to the fullest. Powell addresses the family dynamics well through Johanna's feelings about her parents, five siblings, and other relatives. Johanna's in-depth remembrances also bring the Dutch culture to life. She was 80 years old when this memoir was published in 2006. She died in 2011, just before her 85th birthday. Although laughter primarily came from her husband's and patients' sense of humor, tears were also often present during Johanna's life journey.

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