Jennifer Holik at the National Liberation Museum 1944-1945, Groesbeek, the Netherlands
On October 28th 2015, we had the privilege of receiving Ms. Jennifer Holik in our museum for her workshop ‘The Liberators. Doing research into the lives of WWII soldiers’. The workshop was well attended by a range of historians – by hobby or profession, local history groups and people with an interest in their own family history. It was clear that Ms. Holik had her work cut out for her and she did not disappoint us.
Right from the start, Ms. Holik presented us with a wealth of information, checklists and constant reminders to be thorough and double check every fact against every other source. Wise words. She provided insider knowledge on what you could find in various archives, how to receive an answer quickly when corresponding with archives and when to spend that extra money on traveling to an archive or hiring a local researcher. Amongst all this practical information were touching examples of the lives of soldiers she had researched and the discoveries she had made during her search, which added a personal touch to all the data. A reminder that these were not mere names and numbers but very real and often dramatic human lives.
The level of her workshop might be best described as ‘intermediate’: very well suited to the student or historical hobbyist. Experts heard much that was familiar to them and a handful of valuable new tricks, while visitors who were completely new to the field of history had a hard time keeping track of the wealth of information. Luckily for them, Ms. Holik was kind enough to provide hand-outs and a lot of extra information on her website, as well as in her books.
We were very happy to have Ms. Holik’s workshop in our museum and were very satisfied with the result. There is no shortage of historians who like to talk about their own discoveries, but very few who take the time to teach others how to research history for themselves. It is fitting that this important work, opening up the field of history to those who do not have the opportunity to become professional researchers in universities, should focus on World War II. Every family has its own World War II stories that will never find a place in the official history books. Ms. Holik offers a toolbox to help those families write history books of their own.
Rense Havinga, curator at the National Liberation Museum 1944-1945, the Netherlands
24 November 2015
Crash Museum 40-45, October 24th, 2015 Aalsmeerderbrug, Netherlands
Since I was child I always was interested in hearing WWII stories from family, especially from my grandmothers. I was educated in airplane technology and I kept my interest in old WWII airplanes, especially Fokker airplanes that fought in May 1940 against the Germans. During my research I came across the Crash museum and had visited it on the old location some years ago. During the research I always was interested in all the other WWII stories. Many holidays were filled with visits to WWI and WWII locations and I still go to places when possible.
When I was older I got to see old family photo books and found the cousin of my grandmother. It took some research to know who he was and then many years of research and visits were made. My grandmothers cousin Enje Timmer died in Neuengamme concentration camp and his ashes were thrown in the SS kitchen garden. With this information I knew I had to do something with this story. I found out that half of the resistance group were executed and that the other half was murdered in camps, some weeks after they were betrayed. After some years I have a lot of information, letters, pictures, stories and even more personal things and I don’t know what to do with it. I have an old colleague Eric Bijtelaar with an enormous interest in WWII. His Facebook announcement that Jennifer Holik was having a speech at Crash 40 45 triggered me.
What drives this young woman to put almost all or her energy in WWII research and why? I had to see her, because there must be something in common.
From the beginning until the end Jennifer presented us with a lot of information, where to look for information and that you have to check your facts and information in every source you may have access to. Years of experiences made that Jennifer knows how to take the shortcuts to get her information and to make use of other people. It was also good to hear that for example the USA is still taking care of information and personal belonging of army personnel. What almost made me cry were the personal stories of soldiers. Beside the family relatives that were fighting for peace, that is what we have in common. Give the man/women a story and not just a picture or a grave. They deserve it.
Personally, the visit to Jennifer Holik in Crash 40-45 made me more motivated to write the story about this Dutch resistance group. I think I am obliged to the many young man that died.
Maybe I need the resources mentioned by Jennifer in the future to make to story complete.
Richard Hoogeveen, family genealogist and researcher of Dutch resistance group “Dirk de Geus”, Zoetermeer, Netherlands.
24 November 2015
A lecture by Jennifer Holik at the National Liberation Museum, Groesbeek, Netherlands 28 October 2015
What is a more suitable location for a lecture about our Liberators, than in a local liberation museum in Groesbeek? This is an area famous for some fierce fighting by the 101st Airborne Division in mid-September 1944.
Jennifer is unique in inspiring people to research background stories from deceased and killed liberators. She has many interesting and mind blowing stories to back up her lecture. If you need tools to learn how to research, to find out what tools are available, and how to find the information you seek, Jennifer is the person to listen to!
Jennifer also wrote a variety of books. Recently she updated one of her best, Stories from the World War II Battlefield. This is a guide and more detailed version of the lecture she gave at Groesbeek. Reading this book gave me the tools to find numerous resources for information online. I found photos of soldiers, stories in old newspapers, and documents in online archives, such as Fold3. It helps using specific search descriptions for sites like those. This is all knowledge Jennifer is willing to share.
I will end this testimonial by thanking Jennifer for the tools and knowledge she taught me. It made me feel like she is able to hear the stories directly from the departed soldiers. Letting them guide her to the rivers of information. It made me want to do more to preserve stories for the future. Jennifer is a wonderful person, always willing to help. I have a feeling we will meet again.
Bob Moolenbeek, 20 November 2015
Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
Finishing the Story Program – Niles Public Library
Jennifer’s generous presentation, Finishing the Story, at the Niles Public Library elicited uniformly excellent reviews from our patrons. Her lecture proved equal parts informational and affective, rich in genealogical insight and moving in description of departed soldiers and their families. She demonstrated the value of military records still existing, namely Morning Reports and IDPFs, to military researchers who have been at a standstill.
Niles Public Library 25 June 2015
Finishing The Story Program – Schaumburg Township District Library
As the Genealogy Coordinator at the Schaumburg Township District Library, I frequently am in contact with genealogy program speakers in our area. Jennifer is one of the speakers that I invite to present her programs at our library to our audience. Over the years Jennifer has provided multiple programs to our genealogy enthusiasts at our library. Over the years I have seen Jennifer provide top-notch deliveries of all her programs. Her visual materials are stunning. Her speaking mannerisms draw in the audience. Her knowledge of the particular genealogy subject being presented is deep.
Jennifer is a prolific author and seems to have focused her writing skills on telling the stories of her World War I and II military ancestors through her multiple published works. Jennifer recently presented to our audience one of her military topic presentations titled “Finishing the Story”. I can only say that she WOWed our audience with her personal stories of her military ancestors. Her authority on World War I and II military research and resources is so incredible at this stage that I would consider her one of the best resources in our area on this topic of research!
She has truly found a home in becoming an expert on World War I and II military research. Yet she also combines that knowledge with the ability to convey it to audiences through her warm and inviting speaking style and concise presentation material. If I am being asked to assist someone regarding World War I and II military research, I will direct the researcher to Jennifer’s web site for the valuable “Toolbox” of military resources she has there. Additionally, I direct World War I and II genealogy researchers to her recent book titled “Stories from the World War II Battlefield: Reconstructing Army, Air Corps and National Guard Service Records” that we have added to our circulating collection.
It has been such a joy to see Jennifer rise to the top among the multitude of genealogy program speakers in our area over the years. If you are in need of a genealogy program presenter on World War I and II resources and research methodology, Jennifer has got to be the first one for you to think about. Someday we may even see Jennifer on “Who Do You Think You Are?” showing her skills and knowledge on all things World War I and II military research. She is that good on her depth of World War I and II military research knowledge. I look forward to that airing!
Tony Kierna, Genealogy Coordinator, Schaumburg Township District Library
June 2, 2015
Various programs at Fountaindale Public Library
I found her to be consistently pleasant, tackling all assignments with dedication and a smile. Besides being a joy to work with, Jennifer is a take-charge person who is able to present creative ideas and communicate ideas effectively. She has successfully developed several presentations and online technology ideas for our library that have resulted in increased patronage, online visibility, and a renewed interest in library programming. Though she has been an asset to our programming efforts, Jennifer is also extraordinarily knowledgeable, helpful, and an above-the-board professional. She assumes leadership roles well and is inspiring and motivating to others.
Debra M. Dudek
Adult and Teen Services Manager, Fountaindale Public Library
© 2015 Jennifer Holik