When We Were Young

The pictures from When We Were Young are part of an unusual collection in the Regional History Centre in Eindhoven (RHCe), The Netherlands. They were made shortly after the Second World War by students at the St Catharina lyceum in Eindhoven, during art classes given by Karel Vermeeren. Mr Vermeeren set the girls the task of putting their wartime experiences on paper. This was an unusual assignment; drawing[1] was mainly intended as a simple hand & eye coordination exercise at that time. Children drew pictures from given examples. Some former students could still clearly remember this unusual assignment.

The pictures disappeared into storage and only re-appeared after part of Mr Vermeeren’s estate was donated to the RHCe. 30 of the former students who created the pictures were traced. They were all girls because St Catharina’s was a girl’s school. Armed with their own pictures the girls from When We Were Young talk about their personal wartime experiences. Some stories are moving, heart-warming, emotional or even funny; the war wasn’t only a misery.