We Escaped plunges the reader into the extraordinary World War II escapades of an ordinary couple and their children as they first escape from Nazi-occupied Holland; and then deal with the war years by leavening danger and stress with the joy and love of everyday family life. It is the song and dance of The Sound of Music seasoned with the terror of guns and blood.
The story begins in the Netherlands, a peaceful nation protected by a treaty of neutrality and kinship with Hitler's Germany. The calm is shattered by the cacophony and confusion of battle as, under the guns of panzers, German troops overrun Holland's lines.
The ter Weele family's subsequent exodus from their home is told from the points of view of the father, Lieutenant Carl ter Weele, a Dutch reservist called up to defend the Grebbeberg; his wife Margery, an American citizen raised in Boston, who delivers her third child in a hospital not far from the Grebbeberg as war threatens; their oldest son, six-year-old Jan, whose dark eyes and hair lead Nazis to suspect he is Jewish; and their second son, Alex, a blond and fair-skinned imp, who at the age of two charms a German border guard into allowing the family to cross into Switzerland.
Within weeks of Germany's conquest of Holland, the family has to flee the dragnet of the Gestapo, which is arresting all Dutch military officers. As far as Carl can see, the only way out is through Germany, and from there it's a tortuous and terrifying journey through Switzerland, Vichy France, Spain, and Portugal, with the Gestapo a threat at every turn.