I Was There
Forced Labourer in Germany 1942–1945
Debut by a 97-year-old
In the autumn of 1942, Louis van Ravesteijn, an office clerk born in The Hague, is, like thousands of other Dutch nineteen-year-olds, forced to work in Nazi Germany.
The young man ends up in a prisoner-of-war camp where Russian and Ukrainian men and women must work under appalling conditions. He helps where he can and has to constantly weigh up who he can trust. Despite the life-threatening situation, he falls in love. Van Ravesteijn did not keep a journal and it was only much later in life that he wrote down his memories, making his debut at the age of 97. Shortly after publication he passed away. He left behind a unique document, one remarkably well-written and rich in evocative details.