Passing on the Comfort - The War, the Quilts, and the Women Who Made a Difference

    An Keuning-Tichelaar, now 82, was a devoted anti-war protestor in today's terms. She lived in the Netherlands during WWII. Her compelling story is about the resistance movement she was involved in which helped refugees and the Jewish people during the terrible years of World War II.
    An married a Mennonite minister, Herman, in order to help these survivors as much as humanly possible. She and Herman helped thousands of women, children and men trying to escape by housing them secretly in their attic for months at a time when necessary. They provided food, clothes, bathing, and bedding. Shoes were the hardest item to provide for the refugees, so the new owners would cut out the toes to make them fit and put wooden soles on those with holes. Women wore dresses made from tablecloths and bedspreads and coats were cut down to fit others.
    There are many threads of history woven through this biographical book of two strong and giving women with huge hearts. This review focuses on quilts, but the book takes us into the experience of everyday people, including An and Herman, being under siege during WWII. Thoughts of Ann Frank's Diary entered my mind more than once while reading.
    When the War ended, the people who collaborated with the Germans were tried and sentenced, leaving thousands of children stranded in camps where they were being kept.
    It wasn't until after the War ended that An contacted the Mennonite Relief Organization or Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) to provide blankets for the people leaving her church's hiding place to re-enter the community and return to their former land. The MCC sent very thin quilts- or rag blankets - as they referred to them, as quilt was not a well known term in Holland. They were too thin for sleeping on or under in Holland's climate, so An contacted them again and was sent 50 comforters (tied, not quilted) and quilts. These additions provided enough for the people with some left over. It is those left-over, utility type quilts in description, but graphically beautiful in their visual essence, that are touring on exhibit and were the motivation behind the writing of this book.
    Lynn Kaplanian-Buller is the co-author and younger of the two women. Lynn came to Holland from Minnesota during the Vietnam War with a similar desire to An, to help the peace cause. She had attended a Mennonite church in the US. She married an Israeli man she met in Holland, and together they worked for peace between the Palestinian's and the Israelis. Lynn came upon the quilts while on a retreat of sorts, in a home where An was storing the quilts. It was years later that she met An, and even years after that when the quilts were put into her care, as a gift from An.
    The quilts came in simple block patterns of log cabin, monkey wrench, bowties and other familiar patterns. Sometimes they had cables quilted in the borders with diagonal lines across the center, while others were tied. Although the colors seem light and are probably faded from use, they still have color and reflect a hidden beauty in the photos taken of them. There are no patterns or close-ups because this is not a quilt book of that type. The authors provide a source if you would like to make the quilts or donate some to the relief effort today.
    Mennonite groups in Canada and Pennsylvania provided much of the clothing, shoes, food, quilts and blankets to aid the War effort. These groups felt a closer tie to Holland than the other countries because of their past affiliation with this small country that had helped them in their time of need. Much of what Lynn contributes to the book are quotes and facts from Mennonite and Holland archives, which add a great deal to the story.
    The old photographs and maps featured throughout the book do much to enhance the readers understanding in terms of setting the time period and the landscape, putting faces to the people, and color photos show the quilts.
    The story An writes are her personal experiences which can not be found anywhere else. I was crying and touched and on the edge of my seat much of the time. It was suspenseful as she talked about her daily work. I learned a great deal more about the European's War experience and I am left humbled by this book. It enriched my life, and I highly recommend the heartwarming non-fiction book to you.
    Author's bios:
    An Keuning-Tichelaar was born in 1922 in Makkum, a harborplace near Witmarsum, Friesland, the Netherlands. Married in 1944, she is the mother of three children. Her home, a parsonage, has always been a haven for needy children, youth, and adults.
    Lynn Kaplanian-Buller was born in 1949 in Heron Lake, Minnesota. She and her husband raised two children in three cultures while taking over and managing a bookstore company in the Netherlands ( She is active in the Dutch Mennonite Relief organization, her own church council, and Rotary.

Post Title

Passing on the Comfort - The War, the Quilts, and the Women Who Made a Difference

Post URL

Visit annsquiltingjourney for Daily Updated Wedding Dresses Collection

Popular Posts

My Blog List