The Paper Trail tells the story of the postal history of Holland and its colonies during World War 2 in a fresh and compelling way. The book weaves together the evidence of mail and other documents – letters, cards, diaries, cards, photographs, personal memorabilia and the like – into a distinctive narrative. The focus is on the lives and experiences of ordinary people, individually and collectively, and the impact upon them of occupation, unprovoked and accidental bombing, famine (at times), and in many cases persecution, forcible removal and, at worst, extermination in the concentration camps. A myriad of correspondence has been unearthed from family records and, through this book, brought to a wider public for the first time.
The authors' approach is broadly chronological – starting with the events leading up to war, the severing of postal connections within and beyond Europe, the entry into the war of the USA, the refugee camps and the ghettos, censorship and control over mail by the occupying powers, and later liberation and eventual adjustment to post-war conditions.
World War 2 is very personal to both authors. While Kees Adema's family lived in Arnhem during Operation "Market Garden", Jeffrey Groeneveld's was in the Dutch East Indies during the Japanese occupation. Their family backgrounds add a strong element of poignancy to their story.