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Facts and Events
Cornelia Johanna Schröder, or "tante An" as we called her, was born at 4 am on the 7th of August, 1892 at 32 Oxford Street, St. Marylebone, London, England, as the twin daugher of Paul Max Wilhelm Schröder and Johanna Cornelia Wijnberge. How much of her childhood was spent in London is not known exactly, but by 1898 her parents had moved the family to Vlissingen (Flushing), Zeeland, the Netherlands. After her father built the Strandhotel (Beach Hotel) in 1912 on the Boulevard Evertse in Vlissingen, it is likely that she started working in the hotel, first with him, and after he passed away in 1919, with her mother. When her mother retired from the hotel in 1927, tante An took over running the hotel, possibly with her husband, Albert Magermans, who she had married in 1921. I have heard from my mother that tante An had actually intended to get married earlier to another man, but when he didn't show up on the wedding day, the whole thing fell through.
Around the start of the second world war, tante An seems to have left the hotel as there is no record for her in Vlissingen anymore from around that date. What exactly happened to the hotel is not entirely clear (did she sell it or was it destroyed in the bombing of Vlissingen at the start of the war?), but family tradition holds that tante An had made good money from the hotel. It is not clear where tante An spent the war years. Most likely is that she moved to Voorburg, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, where she definitely lived with her husband by 1947. Her mother also lived there and had passed away just after the liberation of Holland in 1945.
Another family legend is that her husband had been on the "wrong" side during the war and had been a member of the NSB (National Socialist Union). He died on the 3rd of January 1947 in Breda, possibly during a visit to his parents. The story goes that he committed suicide and that his suicide was related to his NSB membership. Perhaps he had been interned or prosecuted after the war. We simply do not know at this stage.
In any case, between 1945 and 1947 tante An had lost both her mother and husband in the space of two years. The only direct family member left was her twin brother, who had been sent to a mental institution in 1942. She never remarried either. It must have been a somewhat lonely life after 1947, though that doesn't seem to have stopped tante An from being a warm and friendly person. My mother has fond memories of visiting tante An, who took cruises on the Rhine River and always seemed to be cheerful and full of energy.
She probably moved to Breda, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands, soon after the death of her husband, possibly to be close to her in-laws, who also lived there. We know that she lived in Breda by around 1975, where I visited her as a child on her annual birthday party. I remember her as loving good food and drink and always being very cheerful. A particular song she often sang went as follows:
De tafel is gedekt, de gasten zijn gezeten (The table is set, the guests are seated) Waar drommel waar blijft de kok, waar drommel waar blijf het eten (Darn where is the cook, darn where is the food)
I think this song may capture the spirit of her childhood, growing up in a well-to-do family headed by what appears to be a self-made entrepreneur. Tante An spent the last years of her life in a home for the elderly in Breda and passed away simply of old age around 1985, aged 92.
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