Breda Germans during WW II

The Des Moines Register, May 16th 1943

Germans at Breda are Real Yanks Helping in War

"Hitler is a mean man..." — Henry Nieland

This clipping accompanied a four page article entitled "Germans at Breda are Real Yanks Helping in War" that was published in 1943. The photo shows Henry Nieland sitting in a rocking chair. Below is the full text of the article, written by Register staff writer, Geroge Shane.

Caption: Breda's oldest resident is Henry Nieland, who came to America from Germany at 17 and settled in Carroll county in 1874. "Hitler is a mean man," he said, "a very mean man. There was nothing like him in Germany when I was a boy there."  

BREDA, IA. In his world plan, Adolf Hitler had counted on depression-bred revolution to take care of America. Out of chaos was to come the new German-American order.

This order would come, Hitler was confident, because of the theory that "where there is German blood, there is German soil."

But revolution didn't come and one of the reasons it didn't--or couldn't--is because so much of America is made up of people of German descent like those living in and around Breda.

Of German Descent

The forebears of about 80 percent of the people of this community came from Germany. It was within communities of this type that Hitler counted on support for success in his grandiose dream.

In the community of Breda can be found good proof of how miserably Hitler failed in this Idea and how successfully the American social fabric—with all its racial threads—was held together.

Breda, in northwest Carroll County, has a population of 532. About 90 per cent of the population is Catholic but its trade area includes an Ostfriesland settlement four miles west of town-a Presbyterian community. In the town of Breda there live a few Hollanders, and one Irish family.

Fighting Men

The farm and town families of Breda have sent 129 men and one woman into military service, and they are scattered on fighting fronts throughout the world. Breda in 1942 led the county for towns of its size or larger in reaching war bond drive quotas.

In fact the president of the towns bank—the Breda Savings bank—has attracted wide attention by his refusal to accept any more time deposits at the bank. In a series of three large advertisements in The Breda News the bank's president, F. Van Erdewyk, has stated the bank's position.

"This money should be in war bonds," he said, "and we want to help get it here." He is telling customers to invest their time certificates in war bonds as they come due.

When the early settlers of Breda built their town they forgot European tradition. They put up the business district on a broad street and named it Main St., just as the Swedes and Irish and Yankees had done in other places.

Some Sauerkraut

The store buildings and homes are typically midwest. Perhaps sauerkraut is more apt to be a side dish on the restaurant menus and it may be that beer is featured more prominently in restaurants than in some southern Iowa communities.

Many of the older folks frequently still speak German but with that the differences just about end. The melting pot has done its work and Breda at war is one of Iowa's leading anti-Nazi communities.

Among individuals, the reaction to the war is just the same as would be found in a hard-bitten Yankee village.

Breda oldest resident 91-year-old Henry Nieland, born in Westphalia, Germany, speaks for the community. His grandson, Arthur Nieland, 24, was a soldier in the Philippines when the Japanese took over. The war department has reported him "missing in action." Five of 49 other grandchildren are in military service.

Patriarchal Wrath

When Henry Nieland speaks the Axis powers, he does it with the dignified wrath of a patriarch. For Hitler, he holds an especial hatred.

"Hitler is a mean man," he said, "a very mean man. There was nothing like him In Germany when I was a boy there."

The elder Nieland came to America when he was 17.

He was the younger son and the opportunities were not so good at home. In 1874, he came to Carroll County and has lived since that time near or in Breda. Twelve of his 16 children are living.

For a good many years, Henry Nieland had corresponded with the home folks in Westphalia. After his parents died, letters became very infrequent. When the blood bonds with the old country were broken, Henry Nieland lost all interest in Germany. The midwest allowed for great breadth in action and ideas. It was an atmosphere that Hitler's geopoliticians could not grasp.

In America there still were these many German names and German speaking communities but the soil and the blood had become American.

Nieland had married and raised his big family. Now he is grateful for the opportunities for this family life, which America offered.

He has greatly increased production in his Victory garden.

Victory Garden

The backyard garden plot which this 91-year-old horticulturalist is caring for at the home of a daughter is, nevertheless, no new experiment. He always had a garden on the farm and moving into town is no reason to stop. Every available inch of the back part of the lot is in cultivation.

"I work about five hours a day in it," Nieland said. "I've never been sick and like the exercise. I think gardening is very good for you and now, it helps so much, when we must have plenty of vegetables."

Name Is Dutch

Breda was settled largely by German immigrant farmers but it was a pioneer resident, Mrs. John Le Duc, from Holland, who named the town—established when the Chicago and North Western railway was extended from Carroll, Ia., into South Dakota.

The banker, Van Erdewyk, who came with his family 63 years ago from Linne, Holland, remembers Mrs. Le Duc. He also remembers the stories about his grandfather who fought under Napoleon at Waterloo. Even today he has two medals awarded the grandfather.

Van Erdewyk, a banker at Breda since 1906, likes to be a realist about community and national affairs. A son, Leo, is a paratrooper in the army. In his blackfaced type advertisements the father has been urging the community to do its part. The second I war bond drive quota for Breda was $81,600. It was quickly oversubscribed.

New Deal Banker

Supporting the government in the war effort isn't something new for Van Erdewyk. He supported it all through the depression and admits he is one of the few Iowa bankers with pronounced New Deal beliefs. He likes to point to the works projects administration as some thing which helped keep up America in good shape in the pre-war days.

"WPA helped hold a large part of community life together during the depression years," he said. "And it meant some wonderful improvements here which now help on the home front."

He mentioned the sewer system, curbings and water mains, put in or improved as WPA projects in Breda.

Van Erdewyk also approves of New Deal bank legislation. He thinks the federal deposit insurance plan has meant much to the bank customers. The government's notice that the deposits are insured is prominently displayed.

"And the people who come in read it, too," he said.

Red Cross Aid

Breda is proud of its progressive spirit and likes to back drives and movements it feels worthwhile. With its 532 population, the town raised $405 in the last Red Cross drive, Mrs. Ann Olerich, local Red Cross chairman, reported.

When the war began, the German language Ostfriesische Nachrichten of Breda automatically lost 350 subscribers. These were the readers In Germany to whom the paper no longer could be sent.

But the publisher of the Ostfriesische Nachrichten had other things to think about. He also farms with a son, 140 acres of highly productive Carroll county farm. Huendling also is a director in the Breda Savings bank.

The Ostfriesische Nachrichten, a four-page paper printed twice a month, now has 2,170 subscribers. Before World War I its circulation had exceeded 9,000 and was a substantial source of income for Huendling's father, the Rev. L. Huendling, now deceased.

But today, with the help problem and 440 acres to keep in full-scale operation to meet war crop goals, the Huendlings can't think too much about the Ostfriesische Nachrichten, which the elder Huendling had founded 62 years ago.

Minister Founder

A printer and editor, D. B. Aden has published the paper for the Huendlings for the last 32 years The Rev. Mr. Huendling started the paper when a professor at the University of Dubuque, Dubuque, Ia. before he became pastor at the First United Presbyterian church nearby.

The community had been settled by immigrants from the Ostfriesland region in northwest Germany. "My father continued to publish the paper," Peter Huendling said, "and it prospered. He had subscribers all over the world."

But he wasn't running it for business purposes—he wanted to print it so that people here could keep their relatives informed about themselves.

He had advertising, but he never encouraged It. And that's the way we've kept the paper—a newspaper about the subscribers and their friends."

Old Time Press

The paper is set in the old style German script. All the composition is done on a linotype. A 40-year-old Potter flat bed press—still in perfect condition--prints it.

The publisher of the paper has two sons, Carl, who lives nearby, and Vernon, now completing his army signal corps training at the war training school at West High school in Des Moines, and a daughter, Mrs. C. A. Jacobs, at home while her husband, an army major and surgeon, serves at a base hospital in China.

In addition to printing local correspondence and obituaries from communities where subscribers live, the Ostfriesische Nachrichten is urging citizens to buy war bonds.

In World War I, several residents in a nearby community talked about painting the rural print shop yellow. But the paper's patriotic content is now well known and there has been no such talk during this war.

Banker Van Erdewyk, who also is the mayor, receives many inquiries about young people of Breda who are seeking jobs in war industries. Because so many of them are of German descent he probably receives many more such inquiries than most other bankers and mayors in towns of that size. "And I don't spare any words in telling what good Americans the people of Breda are, either," Mayor Van Erdewyk declared.

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