Stuurman #2

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From “Douwe Stuurman: A Rhoades Scholars View of Nazi Germany”

“We could start with a brief biographical sketch of your family … and their occupations when they came to this country (USA) as well as … why they decided to leave Europe.”

“My family – having come from Holland – were of course ocean-going people. . . . It was a large family. And my father. . . decided to go all the way to the west coast . . . So my grandfather ruled like a patriarch.

It was a very busy, rather happy life, and the religion had no chance to kill it or in anyway spoil it. And then on Sunday, when religion entered the picture, all it meant was that they went to church to meet their friends. They slept during the sermon because they were all tired from working all the time.  . . So the religion wasn’t a curse to them, but it was to us children, because being industrious Dutch people, they immediately became rich, especially because of the First World War. . . my brothers and sisters all went in for the money. They got the very worst of the Yankee qualities, and they repudiated their Dutch tradition. I was the only one who continued to read Dutch, and to enjoy Dutch literature, and to respect the tradition that had been there . . .”

Stuurman went to a private Dutch school where the kids were told and made to believe that they were special. His Mother told her kids “All right, go out and play, but don’t play with the Americans.” He explains that the man who rescued him from religion was one of the ministers. At fourteen this minister invited him to study Greek with him every morning early. “He never attacked religion. He just ignored it. . .”

Later that minister would leave the church saying simply “I no longer believe any of this stuff.”

Professor Douwe Stuurman.

Source: A Rhoades Scholar’s View of Nazi Germany; copyright 1984 by Douwe Stuurman and The Regent’s of the University of California.

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