Willys Jeeps and Our Liberation
by Ina Leidshendam
I am sure many people can tell you about exhaust systems, transmissions, horse power and suspension systems, round head lights vs square, but nothing will ever top the early Willys Jeeps.
I am from the Netherlands and was a young girl during the German occupation of World War II. We suffered and many died during this brutal time in our country’s history. My father fought and died in the resistance. Once he was caught our family was singled out and particularly brutalized by the Nazis. Two of my baby sisters died of complications due to malnutrition. My mother was beaten and tortured in front of us. My Grandfather was just pulled out of bed and shot and killed.
We never knew from day to day if that was going to be our last, never knew where we were going to get our next crust of bread from. We lived in fear. The things that we saw and had to endure should never have been seen by anyone and I still get chills down my spine thinking of that horrible time.
I cannot tell you what smiles were brought to our faces seeing that first Willys Jeep with our American saviors come rolling thru my home town liberating us. Like so many of us, I completely associate the Willys as an end of the Nazi regime and a chance of not only survival, but happiness. You cannot name a car, truck or any other vehicle that can do that!
Once I was able to afford a car I bought of course a Jeep. I have owned one ever since, currently sporting the new 4 door Wrangler which I love. My children also all drive Jeeps.
But nothing, nothing will ever beat the Willys.