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Dutch collector turns WWII newspaper dispatches into book

New life for famed copies of U.S. Army’s ‘Stars and Stripes’

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

EINDHOVEN - Jan Hermens, a Dutchman who collected copies of ‘Stars and Stripes’, the U.S. Army newspaper, after they were discarded by U.S. soldiers, has assembled a 1,068-page book from thousands of meticulously retyped articles dated between Sept. 11, 1944, and May 8, 1945. The tome contains no analysis, interpretation or alterations of the original. Just the news, as recorded by ‘Stars and Stripes’ reporters and wire services.

Hermens was born in Amby, a village near Maastricht. In September 1944 when he was 15, his town was liberated from its German occupation by U.S. soldiers. The Germans officially surrendered on May 8, 1945.

Jan Hermens and his family lived in a brickyard that housed a field kitchen used by the troops of the U.S. 29th Infantry Division. He used to hang around the Ameri-cans, who gave his family extra food. He noticed long lines of soldiers reading newspapers while waiting to eat, and each day after the soldiers were finished with the paper, Hermens would take a copy.

Once the troops left the brickyard, Hermens had a school friend collect the newspapers.

When Hermens retired after 40 years as an engineer for Philips Research, he decided to do something with the newspapers. But despite his best efforts, he discovered he was missing a few. He called libraries, museums, the Stars and Stripes and other places to acquire the missing ones.

All retyped

Hermens then retyped thousands of articles that appear in the book, Stars and Stripes — Liberation of the Netherlands, Defeat of Germany. He used most of the stories related to the war on the Western front, entering them verbatim into a computer. It took him 2,5 years to process the stories.

The hardbound book contains no photographs, but lots of maps. Hermens hopes to publish another book that will include photos.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Bowra, an officer at Regional Headquarters Allied Forces North Europe in Brunssum, praised Hermens’ ‘extraordinary efforts’ to consolidate issues of the army newspaper into a valuable historical chronicle of World War II.

Jan Hermens can be reached by e-mail at