This is the site where my great-grandmother Gatske de Jong lived and where she later sold flowers during and after World World II. Gatske was originally from Leeuwarden, Friesland before moving to Amsterdam and marrying my great-grandfather Frans Ludwig Broekveldt on April 27, 1904 – who died before my grandfather, Frans Ludwig Broekveldt II was born. She remarried Jan de Wit, a professional diamond cutter who lost an eye and became a flower merchant, and continued to live here until she died in 1960 of tuberculosis. Due to her illness, Gatske did not want to see me through a window – not being able to take me in her arms. I was ninth months old when she died on my first trip to Amsterdam.
During the war, a Canadian airman was shot over Leidseplein and parachuted to uncertain safety in front Gatske’s modest little stoop, which is now next door to a headshop. Ignoring Jan de Wit’s protests about getting caught by the Germans, Gatske pulled in the Canadian arm over arm, parachute and all, and cleaned his wounds with Jonge Jenever – a Dutch gin. Gatske nursed the pilot back to health – returning him to the Dutch resistance where he disappeared into obscurity.
Happy Birthday Willy Broekveldt Jump – August 2, 1936