The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es – A Story of War and Family, Lost and Found. It won The Costa Book of the Year 2018. In 2014, he began to look into his family’s wartime history, as he was aware that his grandparents had been part
of the Dutch resistance. He also knew that a Jewish girl had lived in hiding with his grandparents during the German occupation. The girl, Lien, lived with his grandparents as a foster child in the 1950s.

He met Lien in 2014 and, luckily, she kept letters and documentation that helped Bart in writing this book. What I wasn’t expecting to read in the book was the horror of the Dutch wartime collaboration. The book is such an interesting read, I’ve loved it. His style of writing is interesting too.

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

Lien was handed over by her parents, as they understood the danger they faced under Nazis. They were right, as both of them died in Auschwitz, along with many other relatives. By the end of the war, Lien’s family was almost wiped out by the Nazi. She was moved from a family to another and that meant she was not always safe. She was raped by one of the persons that should have taken care of her, also deeply religious persons (Christians). I’m only saying this because it might be a trigger for someone. What I liked best about the book is that Bart doesn’t shy away from revealing aspects that don’t make his family look better.

Next I’m sharing a few data that I had no idea about, before reading the book. From 18,000 Jews in The Hague in 1940, only 2,000 survived. This death rate, at 80%, was more than double that of any other Western country, far higher than France, Belgium, Italy, and even higher than in Germany and Austria.
A financial bounty was in the Netherlands, on the head of every Jew. Policemen, informers, and civilian operators would receive cash in hand. Using this, the Dutch authorities exceeded the targets set by the Germans. In total 107,000 Jews were delivered to death camps, from the Netherlands.

I mentioned that almost all her family died during the war. Her parents died in Auschwitz, her mother died together with her mother. Her grandparents from her father’s side died, so did her father’s sister and so did her two children. Her husband died too. Her mother’s brother died in Auschwitz, another brother died in Europe, but his wife died in Auschwitz too. They had three children and two of them died, the third one survived, but killed himself. Her mother’s sister died in Auschwitz as well. It’s easy to think of numbers and ignore the real impact it had on families.

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es

Details about the picture: I have those snow bubbles from my holiday in the Netherlands a few years ago.
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Fig Tree – Penguin Random House
Year it was published: 2018
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Biography
Pages: 281

About the author: Bart van Es was born in 1972 in the Netherlands. When he was a teenager, his family moved to UK, where he went on to study English at Cambridge. In 1999, Bart won a Research Fellowship at Christ Church, University of Oxford. Now he is a Fellow of St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, Professor in Renaissance Literature.
Publications by him: Spenser’s Forms of History, A Critical Companion to Spenser Studies, Shakespeare in Company, and Shakespeare’s Comedies.
Website & Social Media Links: –



2 thoughts on “The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es”

  • What a heartbreaking story. The data is terrifying. Those were horrid times.
    I’ve won this book on Twitter, and want to read it, but have postponed so far, as I know how difficult it will be.

  • This sounds very much like a book that I would want to read and add to my collection of books related to World War II. I’d not heard of it so thank you for the recommendation, Anca, and also for your visit today and comment!
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