About the book

At once a memoir and a social history of a time, The Occupied Garden by sisters Kristen den Hartog and Tracy Kasaboski is the story of a market gardener and his fiercely devout wife, raising their young family in Holland during the Nazi occupation. Pieced together by the couple’s granddaughters, who combed through historical research, family lore, and insights from a neighbour’s wartime diary, the book chronicles Cor and Gerrit den Hartog’s mounting challenges as heat, food, and light slowly disappeared, and their close-knit neighbourhood changed before their eyes.

A Jewish friend vanished, and German soldiers moved in across the street; trains shunted past Gerrit’s garden, loaded with food and supplies and bound for Germany. As Cor and Gerrit’s own story unfolds, so too do the many compelling historical events neatly incorporated into the narrative: the near-assassinations of Hitler, the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, the invasion of Poland, the London bombings, Kristallnacht and the Nazi genocides, Queen Wilhelmina’s Radio Oranje talks, and the US entrance into the war.

Set against the backdrop of a terrorized nation, the couple’s struggle creates a meaningful context for the atrocities of World War Two, while at the same time exploring the bonds and strains that exist among families of any era.

dike road


5 responses to “About the book

  1. john ransom

    Hi there, my oma and opa, gerard and anna remmerswaal also lived in leidschendam. They immigrated to australia in the early 50’s. They were bakers – the remmerswaal bakery – it is still there. I look forward to reading your book. John ransom

  2. Augusta.

    I was very touched by the book. I was born in The Hague in 1939 so much I learned from your book. We immigrated to Canada as a family in Feb. 1951 on the Volendam. Like Rige although I was 11 I met a young boy on the boat my first love his family were heading to Edmonton I noticed that both you gals are on face book and so am I Would you like to connect?

  3. TinaTravale nee Hilhorst

    Thoroughly enjoyed your book. I grew up in Amsterdam and, because of the hongerwinter, was sent to Friesland as a 5 year old with my 3 year old sister through the Red Cross. Have many similar memories as expressed in your book. But you also brought to life other parts of the country, its people, as well as the politics involved. We emigrated also to Canada in 1957 and know the Aylmer area a bit. Thank you for all the work it took to do the research and to write it so well!

  4. Mary Selmes Vanderhoeven)

    Thoroughly enjoyed your book. It was left by someone at the Dutch Club in London and I thought it would be an interesting read. My parents were married in 1934 and had 11 children with one dying in 1947. Very little was said by them about their years during WW11 but my father was also in the Dutch army. My family lived in DeLier until 1943 and then moved to Nibbixsoud. My father also worked in the tuin but had mostly fruit. We came to Canada in 1955 on the Groote Beer and settled in London ON. I was only 6 and was the 10th child born in 1948 but my oldest sister was 7 and remembers the war years. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Jonathan Shepherd

    Very interesting – thanks very much.

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