The Gerrit Wins World War II Escape | A TRUE STORY

Gerrit hurriedly looked around his factory for the last time. As he raced from one workstation to another, he scooped up what he could manage in a few fateful minutes placing the contents into a small briefcase. All the years of work and all that had been created had to be abandoned. If he could just take a portion of the results of their labors, and drive south and away from the terror that was coming.

The French border would be closed. This was normal in wartime. The roads had to be kept clear so the defending army could maneuver. Still, the roads were packed with refugees. The small briefcase had a life saving role to play. Gerrit Wins convinced the French army to give him a safe-passage pass. This was critical. Without the pass, there would be delays that could cost them everything. The French army officer agreed that the briefcase should not fall into German hands.

Now, their fate would be determined by what might transpire on the dangerous road south. Leo suggested they drive as far as they could without stopping. The most important obstacle to cross was the Seine River. They drove all night and finally found a bridge that was open. Gas was a problem, but they finally found enough.

The day after crossing the Seine, they heard that the bridges had been blown up. They just had made it. Maybe the small village near Bordeaux would be a safe haven. Gerrit was confident the briefcase would help them when needed. It was important just feeling some degree of security in these difficult times.

All was still confusion. One day, Gerrit Wins reported to his family that they had to leave France and go to England. France had capitulated to the Germans.

There was a Dutch coastal boat under the command of the British Navy just outside the harbor. After what seemed like forever, the Dutch crew convinced the British commander to allow this small Dutch family to join the 300 refugees already crowded on board. Gerrit still carried his small briefcase, keeping it with him at all times, even when he slept. It had made their passage through France possible. Now it contained the only part of their old life he could salvage. That and the wet and dirty clothes on their backs were all they had. This briefcase had saved their lives and would now to the beginning of their new life.

What was in the briefcase that made it so important? What could be so important that the French army gave them special preferential treatment? What could be the basis for a whole new life? After all, their other possessions, their homes, offices, and factories were lost. A life's work for him, his father, and his family was reduced to this small package. Fortunately for them, they were diamond cutters!