Between a Rock and a Hard Place



A Dutch Policeman Fighting the Nazi Occupation

Johanna Van Zanten

“These are the war stories that should not be forgotten.” – The British Columbia Review

Between a Rock and a Hard Place is set in The Netherlands during World War II. Jacob van Noorden is a military policeman with a wife and two children, and a third on the way, just assigned his first job as chief of a crew in a rural town, close to the German border. When the German army invades and moves through his town, Jacob and his crew have no defense. They can only watch the tanks rumble by without stopping.

As the Queen and cabinet escaped to Britain, their last direction is for all public servants to stay at their posts, as long as it serves the Dutch nation, and the occupier follows international laws. After a pro-German who slavishly follows all idiotic Nazi laws replaces Jacob’s boss, all moral guidance must come from Jacob himself. As the Nazis open a prison camp in Jacob’s jurisdiction but hire Dutchmen to run it, the ordeal begins.

Jacob’s wife, Margaret, is German-born. His mother-in-law is an outspoken admirer of Hitler. Soon he learns that his wife’s twin brother has joined the Dutch Nazi Party. Stuck with his family of mixed German-Dutch heritage, he joins the resistance as an informer. Jacob is forced to deal with the increasingly disastrous events of the Nazi regime’s occupation. He learns that in the end that every action he takes, no matter how well-intentioned, has enormous, long-lasting consequences to those around him.

Johanna Van Zanten is an immigrant to Canada from The Netherlands (1982). As she continued her job as a social worker, she discovered the life-altering gift of writing later in life when she began writing short stories. When some of these stories made the shortlist in contests and were published, she took courage and expanded into writing novels. Now retired from her day job, she enjoys her life writing, dividing her time between Canada and Mexico. Johanna wrote Between a Rock and a Hard Place based on her family’s experiences during the German Occupation of the Netherlands (1940-1945).

Imprint: Addison & Highsmith Publishers
428 pp., 6.14 x 9.21 in. (234 x 156 mm)
Date of Publication: December 7, 2021
ISBN 978-1-59211-102-2
US$39.99; UK£29.99


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