On January 11, 1988, I was up all night at my office preparing the eulogy I would deliver the next day at the memorial service for my good friend, Jan Jürgen Petersen, who I knew as John, who had died a few days earlier. Despite the considerable effort I put into the eulogy, I now regard a photo I took of John’s family at the reception as the most useful thing I did that day. The photo includes the second of John’s four wives, Susan, to whom he was married from October 1942 to the mid-1970s; his son, Hans, from his first marriage; his children with Susan: Harald, Constance, and Onno; Ann and Phil, who started out with the family as foster children but were adopted when they aged out of care; and John Roodenburg, a boarder from 1961 or 1962 to 1965 who became like family.

January 12, 1988. Petersen family following John’s memorial service.

Figure 1. January 12, 1988. Petersen family following John’s memorial service. Left to right: John Roodenburg, Hans, Harald, Susan, Onno, Phil, Constance, and Ann, who changed her name to Kitt in the early 1990s. Author’s photo.

Harald is also the baby on John’s shoulders in the photo from early 1943 on the cover of this book. In 2002, Harald told me that when he was growing up, he thought he belonged to a highly functional family only to realize later that the truth was just the opposite. I mentally highlighted this remark; my perspective on my own family had followed a similar arc, although in less dramatic circumstances.

The Petersens—John and Susan and their children Hans, Harald, and Constance—emigrated from Hilversum in the Netherlands to Canada in July 1952. Their destination: Alberni on Vancouver Island.[1] They stayed initially with their sponsors, the Roelants family, who had arrived from Hilversum approximately two years earlier. It was thought that the two families were related, that Marie Roelants was John’s cousin. But, as Harald learned later, this turned out not to be the case.

After several months, the Petersens moved to 114 Victoria Quay, a house built on poles next to the Somass River. The rent was thirty dollars a month. Their cookstove was fuelled with bark collected from the log booms, which Hans, who turned sixteen in December 1952, accessed from a dock at the back of their house. The Overwaitea supermarket allowed John and Susan to run a tab that John repaid later. The family also received anonymous food baskets that came, Harald believes, from one or more of the local churches. He remembers being teased by his new schoolmates during the winter of 1952–53, when he turned eleven, because he wore short pants; the family had no money for new clothes.

They also had no furniture. Driven by necessity and aided by their respective skills, John and Susan rectified this in simple and practical ways. Large crates used to ship oranges from the southern United States were fixed up and hung on the walls as cupboards. Instead of doors, Susan sewed curtains that covered their fronts. Round cheese crates became the tops of stools. John also took wood from the burn pile at the sawmill to make other furniture. Some projects, including a dining room table, were completed a little later, when he had a broken arm.

“I know, because at times, I was his other arm,” Harald recalled.

During their first Canadian autumn, John found work with a roofing company, but this employment didn’t last long. On one of his first days on the job, there was an accident; he broke his left arm, the same one that had sustained two breaks in a 1946 explosion when he had been defusing bombs while interned as a German collaborator after the Second World War. As with the earlier breaks, the new one required nine months to heal. By the winter or spring of 1953, the family was in dire straits. Hans quit Grade 8 at Alberni District High School and went to work at the MacMillan Bloedel plywood plant to support the family. He regarded this as liberation rather than hardship, for he was struggling at school; his ability to read and write English was limited, which is why he’d been placed in Grade 8.

The Petersens lived in Alberni for six years. For much of this time, John worked at the plywood plant with Hans. Onno was born in August 1955. The following July, John and Susan accepted an emergency placement foster child. This was Ann, who turned thirteen the next month. During the summer of 1958, they had their first boarder, Donald Grayston, a student from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver who found John “charming” and Susan “gruff.” Foster children and boarders would become one of the family’s defining characteristics.

When the family (except Hans who was now married) moved to Victoria at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island in September 1958, John went to work for the Holland Life Insurance Company, which had previously employed him in the Netherlands. In mid-November, he and Susan took in their second foster child, Philip, who would turn five the next month and who was to be a companion for Onno, whose closest sibling was more than ten years his senior.

Over the next decade, the family home was sometimes called the “Petersen madhouse” as it was packed to the rafters with young people and kids. In addition to Harald, Constance, Onno, Ann, Phil, and their friends, there were at least another twelve foster kids and boarders who stayed at different times and for varying durations. Phil recalled that the household was more like an army unit than a family because, of necessity, there was a certain amount of regimentation and everyone had chores. The family was unusual in several other ways. On one hand, the kids were raised, according to Constance, “in a very black-or-white, good-or-bad environment.” On the other, the family was unusually open and accommodating. One friend from the neighbourhood was almost like family, Harald and Constance agreed, because he was always there, often sleeping over on the couch, taking respite from life with his father who was “an extreme alcoholic.”

Many of the foster children came through the Capital Families Association, led by Bernice Levitz Packford, who received Victoria’s Honorary Citizen Award in 1971. She thought the world of John and Susan. She told me she couldn’t speak highly enough about them as foster parents. “They were loving, kind, understanding, and they even took teenagers!” Even though Susan did most of the fostering work, Bernice primarily dealt with John. One day in the mid-1980s, I happened to mention to her that John and Susan had been divorced for a decade. I will never forget her thunderstruck and shattered reaction. As a Jew and prominent social activist, she would have been even more devastated had she known what I eventually learned about John’s wartime past.

In addition to the foster children, Bernice was important in John’s life in another way. She encouraged him to leave the insurance business and become a social worker. According to Susan, Bernice thought it would be a better use of his talents. He heeded her advice. In the autumn of 1963, during an era when specialized training and related credentials were not required, he joined the Family and Children’s Service, which became part of the British Columbia government in 1973. John worked as a social worker for sixteen and a half years until he retired at the end of March 1980, the same month he turned sixty-five.

After I met my future wife, Colleen, in early July 1973, she introduced me to her parents and to John, who she considered to be a good friend. He had become her social worker at a critical juncture in her life. They had met three years before, about a month prior to her sixteenth birthday. The catalyst for their meeting was her release from reform school during the winter of 1970. She credited him with saving her life. One wrong move on her part—by which she meant a resumption of her out-of-control ways—and she could easily have been lost forever, she told me. But John saw Colleen and heard her, which was a novel experience for someone who had felt mostly unseen and unheard. John enabled a constructive, two-way connection with Colleen, something virtually all other adults had been unable to achieve. She credited him with rare insight. He not only helped her find a degree of stability at that pivotal time, he also helped her improve her relationship with her parents. He provided grounding and safety, and she held him in high regard.

John became equally important to me. As he got to know me and learned of my interest in history and writing, he offered to tell me his story, so I might write about it. This was a privilege he bestowed on no one else. By “his story,” he largely meant the first half of his life. I revelled in the opportunity and in John’s attention.

In 1976, over nineteen evenings from early May until early December, I listened to what he told me about his life in British North Borneo, Java, and the Netherlands, and while doing so, I made 118 pages of detailed notes. This information was augmented by several follow-up sessions, principally in 1984 and 1985.

I knew John for the last fourteen and a half years of his life. Over that period, he aged from fifty-eight to almost seventy-three, while I ranged from twenty-one to thirty-six. John was of the same generation as my emotionally distant father, a doctor who had put on a psychic straitjacket to cope with the rigours of a nine-year stint at British boarding school and who was subject to manic and depressive episodes. I came to regard John as a good friend and, in due course, as my spiritual mentor rather than as a father figure, but it’s possible my judgment is clouded on this latter point. While there were a few things he told me that I held in abeyance because they engendered doubt, my predominant response and reality was to see him through rose-coloured glasses. When Colleen and I had our first child, Jamie, in 1977, John became his godfather.

Christmas 1982

Figure 2. Christmas 1982. The author standing next to John (seated) with the author’s eldest children in the foreground. Pierre Wolfe photo, now in the possession of the author.

Along with my parents, Colleen and John have been the most influential people in my life. They both rocked my reality in different ways. Each of them represented a notable step away from my parents’ world and into my own life. A case of opposites attracting, Colleen and I were well-matched. We both had personal development issues and we helped each other begin to address them. Our time as a couple, meaning our first three and a half years together and our subsequent twenty-four-year marriage, was tempestuous, difficult, and richly rewarding. Twenty years later, we remain good friends.

Colleen was born in Ireland and brought to Canada by her birth mother at nine months of age. The purpose of the trip was to relinquish Colleen for adoption. Her adoptive parents were kind and well-meaning, but out of their depth. Colleen’s abandonment issues and emotional needs were not acknowledged or addressed. As a result, she acted out, which became a central reality of their homelife. But Colleen is also a person of sparkle and vivacity, a sun around whom others can orbit. Her effect on my life during our first months together was such that I nicknamed her Sunshine. I did this having little or no appreciation of her shadow side and what John termed her “combustible” temperament. These things would repeatedly rock our relationship.

Like her parents, I was out of my depth, largely because I didn’t know myself. But it was through my relationships with Colleen and John that this slowly began to change. It was with Colleen in the latter 1970s and my daughter a decade later that I had notable encounters with the grief I carried concerning my emotional separation from my parents, especially my dad. There was also a third occasion when I met my locked-down emotional self. It was engineered and supervised by John and it, too, took place in the latter 1970s. Colleen and I were having trouble and we’d gone to see him at his home. He placed two dining room chairs facing each other in the living room and had us sit on them so our knees were touching. This didn’t faze Colleen, but I broke down. I was surprised by the torrent of emotion that had broken free. My life was being cracked open by these events. I was gaining glimmerings of subconscious issues and feelings that I needed to surface and integrate if I were to know myself better.

On some of the evenings when John first told me his story, we switched tracks to discuss reincarnation, the New Testament (which I reread at the time), and what he called “the philosophy.” These were stimulating occasions. He generally had wise answers for questions I asked, and in this way, he became my spiritual mentor. This fact and the knowing and authority he presumed were two of four sides that held the core of our relationship. The third side was my lack of self-knowledge. The fourth was a shared heritage. Like me, John missed a father figure in his life and had a contentious relationship with his mother. This, I suspect, made us particularly receptive and sympathetic to each other, which, in combination with my lack of self-knowledge, rendered me especially vulnerable to his perspective and claims.

Although I’d done well at university, obtained an MA in history, and briefly taught part time at a couple of community colleges, I had little real experience of life. More importantly, I was blind to the fact that parts of my psyche had been submerged. Despite my academic credentials and facile confidence, the person I was when I listened intently to John’s story and made my careful notes on what he said was essentially an amorphous and thirsty sponge. Unsettling as this portrait of the biographer as a young man is, I should add one more detail—John’s initial impression of me: pompous.

I learned this later from Colleen. It is doubtless additionally revealing of me and John that I never felt this judgment from him. I felt only welcomed by him.


There are two preeminent facts about John. There is a correspondence between these facts, but they have different natures. One is an external, surface reality, the other is internal and hidden. The former pertains to John’s career path. He was a social worker who had previously been a member of the SS, specifically the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the SS’s security and intelligence service.[2] The latter concerns his most defining behaviour, that he was a manipulator and liar, often a charming one; this was the case both during the war and for much of the rest of his life.

During the war, John’s life had five major components. First and most important, the SD. Second, the insurance industry (to which he made a mysterious return on a part-time basis starting in August 1941). Third, the Schutzgruppe, a semi-military organization established in the spring of 1941 to relieve the Wehrmacht of rudimentary tasks, such as guarding bridges and other infrastructure and conducting inspections at checkpoints. Consisting of German citizens ineligible for active service due to age or disability, its members wore old German army uniforms like the one John is wearing in the cover photo for this book. He joined at the start of 1943. Fourth, the Dutch resistance to which he was connected by two friends. And fifth, his marriage to Susan.

“By playing a reckless game, namely playing the German authorities against each other,” he wrote after the war, “I managed to remain free till 1944.”[3] In response to Allied troops advancing into Belgium, the Germans declared a state of emergency in the Netherlands on September 4 and John’s Schutzgruppe unit was “assigned to quarters” on the sixth.[4]

An example of John’s reckless game is that he lied on his SS application in mid-1940, claiming that he was a Dutch citizen. Thus, while the SD viewed him as Dutch, the Schutzgruppe knew he was German. Such manipulations took a toll on him, he said.

“Every day I would wish that something would happen, so I wouldn’t have to carry on this double game I was playing,” he told me.

He said, “I had an image in my mind of people holding a snake to their chest. I saw myself as that snake.”

This is a dramatic image, but it’s also subtle and potentially confusing. I see it as a negative image of a snake, one that oppressed John and inferred he was false and hidden, a snake in the grass. But how can the snake be hidden when people are holding it to their chest? The answer: People were putting their trust in him not knowing he was playing a double game, not knowing he was a snake on the heart.

One of his social-work colleagues viewed him as an outright liar. Moreover, John knew it was not uncommon for people to have doubts about his storytelling. Maybe it was a performance, but I remember him conveying hurt and chagrin when he told me of the response of some of his co-workers to his claims: “There’s no way so many things could have happened to one person.”

Having been the custodian of John’s story for forty-five years and having sought to make sense of it for much of the last two decades, I have concluded that multiple factors contributed to his habitual distortions and embellishments. Some of this was charming and enthusiastic storytelling; some of it was ego-driven, grandiose, and rooted in a well-hidden sense of inferiority; some of it was the product of self-deception and excessive romanticism to the point, I suspect, of creating alternate realities, which were salves for deep hurts, disappointment, and depression—a troubled coping mechanism that suggests he was occasionally mentally and emotionally unbalanced. And some of it was outright cover-up born of fear, stigma, and shame.

He once told me that the best lie is one that adheres as much as possible to the truth, that is minimalist, changing only a key detail here or there. I suspect he often practised this approach when he told me his story. I suspect, too, that over the years, I developed a bit of a sixth sense for detecting such instances. What I’m sometimes not sure about is when an obfuscation was intentional as opposed to the product of semiconscious or even unconscious reflexive habit, of an alternate reality he’d created. What does surprise me, given his “best lie” rule, is the frequency and fashion in which he broke it, telling me stories that I mostly swallowed hook, line, and sinker but have since learned are mind-boggling in their improbability and in relation to what actually, probably, or possibly occurred. (The wide range of potential scenarios generally reflects a lack of information and consequent inability to come to stronger conclusions.)

This learning is a measure of the distance I have travelled and an indication of the old skin I have shed. This learning also invokes other meanings for the snake in relation to my story: foremost, the ability to poison and to heal but also as a symbolic representation of the life force or kundalini power and the expansion of perspective and consciousness. I see the snake as medicine, a reminder of the caduceus I grew up viewing in my father’s medical office. Psychologist James Hillman writes in The Soul’s Code that “the snake is perhaps the most ancient and universal carrier of the genius spirit, the figure of a protective guardian, the ‘genius’ itself.”[5]

According to John, he was an unusual victim of history and war, as well as a man without a country until he came to Canada. Although there is much to support this interpretation, what I didn’t understand for a long time was how his sense of victimization was girded by trauma and emotional problems. In an aggrieved and impassioned five-page letter to his friend Hans Roelants, which he wrote during June 1951, following the family’s failed first attempt to immigrate to Canada,[6] John addressed the question of his nationality this way:

I sent a letter of appeal [in 1937] to H. M. the Queen of the Netherlands, in which I applied for naturalisation as Dutchman. This letter of appeal was also signed by the Burgomaster of Hilversum Lambooy and the Superintendent of Police, Mr. van Beusekom. It was refused [in 1939]. The reasons:

1st My naturalisation was of no special interest to the Netherlands!

2nd Because my life was not in danger!

Just think what this meant to me! I was raised in Holland by a Dutch mother. I felt Dutch for 100%. But notwithstanding all my trying to get away from my German nationality I was pushed in to it. This was the beginning of all the difficulty and trouble, which drove me in a direction that was not mine, and that would pursue me my whole life, to be ended in imprisonment after the war.…

These two reasons are in fact responsible for the failure of my life.[7]

There are files on John’s application for naturalization in the Dutch National Archives in The Hague.[8] When his application was rejected, the letter that conveyed the decision provided no reasons for it. The reasons John cites in his letter are his own invention.

As John’s letter indicates, he and his younger brother, Constant, had a German father and a Dutch mother. John believed that he and Constant were the third successive generation of the Petersen family to have had their lives fundamentally disrupted by war. He and Constant had moved from the Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands in 1922 when they were seven and five. In 1933, their mother applied to have them naturalized as Dutch citizens. For several reasons, which will be discussed, this didn’t occur. This outcome had far-reaching consequences. When the Germans invaded and occupied the Netherlands in May 1940, John and Constant felt trapped by their German citizenship and the country’s changed circumstances, causing them to follow an uncertain path and, in the latter half of June, to join a German organization that turned out to be the SS.

Constant was stationed at Rotterdam starting in 1941 and admitted being involved in the roundup of Jews in 1942 and 1943. Based on what I regard as overwhelming circumstantial evidence, I believe John was also involved at The Hague, although there is no definitive proof in his case.

John and Constant’s younger half-siblings, Wim and Miek, had a Dutch father, J. W. Kempen, and were, therefore, Dutch citizens. Despite this, Wim also served in a German organization during the war and in early 1944 became a Begunstigende Leden (BL), a supporting member of the SS. All three brothers regarded the Netherlands as home, but their loyalties were conflicted during the occupation. As a result, they were all jailed as collaborators after the war: John for 18.5 months, Wim for 20.5, and Constant for 32.5. The length of a sentence is generally indicative of the degree of perceived collaboration. The multiple statements they each provided to Dutch officials while imprisoned are another important source of information.[9]

There is also evidence that John and Wim cooperated with the Dutch resistance and assisted Jews in hiding, although it is more conclusive in Wim’s case than John’s. There is much more decisive evidence that John exempted many Dutchmen from forced labour under the Nazis. Much of this evidence is in the Dutch National Archives, which holds the files on all those who were jailed as collaborators. John’s son, Hans, gave me permission to access the files on John, which led to those on his brothers. It’s possible that John and/or one or both of his brothers are mentioned in other collaborator files, which could shed additional light on their attitudes and actions during the war. But these files are to some extent an untapped resource as they haven’t, to my knowledge, been systematically examined by historians.

John’s chronicle is much more than the fascinating, fact-is-stranger-than-fiction Second World War account that I initially thought. It is also a psychological mystery that took many years to untangle. I have finally succeeded in telling John’s story in a manner that satisfies me. I think it’s a reasonable approximation of the truth. But I must emphasize the qualified nature of some of my conclusions, for there is much about John and his story that we can never know for sure. For example, the story has a mystical dimension that is often suggestive of John’s seemingly credulous beliefs but which also features two noteworthy events, one of which involved me as well as John.

Moreover, one of my conclusions deserves to be flagged at the outset. Although John claimed he was pushed into his German nationality, that it drove him in a direction that wasn’t his and was the cause of all his difficulties and trouble, my view is that this was a convenient cover story, that the real reason for his profound sense of victimization, which pre-dated his awareness of his nationality, was his troubled childhood and adolescence.


A reasonable approximation of the truth—that, I think, is the best we can achieve about John’s history and mental health. Although it was my pursuit of the truth that drove me on through the decades to complete this project, the truth being pursued involved more than these factors. There were two others and they had more to do with me than John. One was slow self-discovery, the other was a debt I incurred through innocence and ignorance by presuming far too much.

Looking back now, it was as though a quid pro quo had to be served, that if I was going to write about how John failed to deal with his past, I first had to deal with mine. In this way, John and I remained bound together for at least fifteen years after his death. This synergistic connection is illustrated by two distinct phases: one during the first half of the 1990s, the other between 1997 and 2003.

In early 1991, three years after John’s death and just a few months after the death of Colleen’s adoptive mother, Colleen started seeing a therapist. She shared with me some of what she was learning. One time she observed that I was probably as remote a father to our children as my father had been to me and my younger brothers. The truth of this immediately hit home and I started to change my behaviour, not that this had any significant effect in the short term on family dynamics that had developed over a much longer period. But a dormant part of me woke up. This experience and another important discovery prompted me to consult a couple of therapists.

Around the same time, I wrote an early and partial version of John’s story—a document of around two hundred pages—which I lent to Onno. With my permission, he passed it on to Susan. I spent time with her in November 1995 and again the next month and got to know John through her eyes.

“Most of it is true,” Susan said about what she’d read in the manuscript. That was reassuring. But something else she said astounded me, reordered my world, and knocked off the rose-coloured glasses through which I had viewed John. Her revelation concerned the lengthy eulogy I’d given at John’s memorial service almost eight years earlier. I thought I’d done a fine job, but she disclosed that my remarks had deeply offended her and Constance and Ann—the women of the family. Indeed, Constance and Ann had sat together and supported each other by holding hands. Constance told Ann to squeeze her hand if she heard anything upsetting. Not only was Constance’s hand squeezed regularly, but Ann’s long nails drew blood, they both told me on separate occasions. Doubtless the following passage from the eulogy was among those that offended the Petersen women:

To me John’s most essential characteristic was his desire to nurture, to encourage what is best in people, to help them grow in themselves and their relationships and help them escape situations which were negative or destructive.

Always when he worked with the stuff of God’s creation, he did so with great care and love and conviction.… Simply put, John was a disciple of the gospel of love.

My failing—and it was both an elementary and a gross failing—was to have proceeded based on the private, hermetically-sealed world I had shared with John without consulting family members for their perspectives. Had I done so, it likely would have alerted me to fissures in the family and some of the women’s anger at John, and I may have trod more carefully. Despite being well-intentioned, my hagiographic words were, I retrospectively had to agree, an exercise in effrontery.

This is when I incurred the debt. It became a new motivation for my work: I would rebalance the scales by using multiple perspectives to tell John’s story as truthfully as I could. Moreover, based on an incident Onno related and Susan confirmed, I had my first inkling that my account of John’s life would not be the heroic and poignant chronicle I had once thought. It would be darker and more complicated, including odious behaviour on his part that not only flew in the face of his affability, charm, and claims of special insight but was duplicitously enabled by them.

Starting in 1997, the seven years before and after the turn of the millennium constitute the second phase of syncopation, of the synergistic two-step between the unfolding of my life and my researching and writing of John’s story. During the latter 1990s and 2000, I struggled with issues concerning my relationships with my parents and Colleen. This was a time of personal reckoning and significant change for me. I separated from Colleen in November 2000. Dad died almost exactly two years later. The years 2001 and 2002 were ones of emotional consolidation. In 2003, when I spoke at least fourteen times with John’s daughter, Constance, I was, in effect, rolling up my sleeves to pursue John’s story with new levels of focus and vigour.[10]

Through Constance, I learned more about John’s dark side and received my first insight into his peculiar and off-kilter relationship with Susan. Constance also gave me the benefit of her perspective on the rest of her immediate family in Canada, as well as the extended Petersen clan in the Netherlands. In 2004, I corresponded with John’s sister, Miek. I spent more than a dozen hours with her the following January when I travelled to Amsterdam. These were vital milestones in obtaining a more rounded view of John. I also spoke to his other children—Hans, Harald, Onno, Kitt (who changed her name from Ann in the early 1990s), and Phil—and other family members, a dozen in all. In addition, I spoke to another fourteen people who knew John. And I had the benefit of knowing Mary and Shirley, his third and fourth wives.

A few years later, I took early retirement from the British Columbia Public Service to concentrate on “the book.” It had occurred to me that there are no guarantees in life, especially as to longevity, and that if I found myself on my deathbed with John’s story unfinished, I would be more than a little upset with myself. So, I had work to do, and it included discovering how much more my story was bound up with John’s than I then knew.

  1. The cities of Port Alberni and Alberni were amalgamated as Port Alberni on October 28, 1967.
  2. Unterscharführer, or junior squad leader (Onderschaarleider in Dutch), was the most junior and most common noncommissioned officer rank of the SS and was the equivalent of an Unteroffizier in the German Wehrmacht. The rank was equivalent to a corporal in some armies and to a sergeant in others. According to his SS card, John was promoted in April 1944 to Scharführer (or Schaarleider), the equivalent of a sergeant in the British army. He maintained that he was unaware of this promotion until it was brought to his attention after the war.
  3. John’s letter of June 1951 to Hans Roelants. Although the letter is undated, three letters enclosed with it all have dates from June 1951. “As proof of my Dutch-friendly feelings, I hereby enclose three letters of people who are able to judge!” John wrote toward the end of his letter. One of the enclosed letters, from Barend van Leeuwen, is dated June 17, 1951. The other two letters, one from Jan Gerrit Siewers, the other from Johan Veltmeijer, are dated June 23, 1951. All four originals are in the possession of John’s son Harald.
  4. John’s collaborator statement of October 29, 1946 (DNA, CABR 109786).
  5. James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling (New York: Warner Books, 1996), 59.
  6. The family had been stopped from boarding the airplane because son Hans had contracted contagious ringworm, which was evident on his face.
  7. John’s letter of June 1951. See footnote 4.
  8. See Bibliography—Selected Primary Documentation for J. J. Petersen.
  9. According to researcher Dr. Maili Blauw (attachment to her email of February 14, 2007, to the author), suspected collaborators were considered “political offenders.” Their postwar statements are part of the police reports into their behaviour. The Politieke Recherche Afdelingen (PRA), or Political Investigation Departments, compiled information for the Bijzondere Gerechtshoven (Special Courts), while the Nederlands Beheersinstituut (NBI) supervised the property of “enemies and betrayers.” These organizations were created by the Dutch government to deal with these offenders and their property.
  10. Late in the day it occurred to me that there was also a third phase to the synergistic two-step between the unfolding of my life and the writing of John’s story. It was signalled by a break I took from John’s story when, in mid-2015, I quite abruptly changed course and devoted the next two years to writing a memoir and family history going back to the lives of my grandparents, which brought to light information and linkages of which I had previously been unaware. After producing a solid draft of this work, I returned to John’s story and what proved to be the long home stretch to its completion.


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