How ‘Dr Pol’s incredible childhood in the Netherlands shaped his career
Dr Jan Pol from The incredible Dr Pol grew up in the Netherlands. And he credits his early years to instilling in him a deep love of animals and a sensible approach to all that life brings. Learn about the amazing vet and the childhood that helped shape his destiny.
Dr Jan Pol lived under the Nazi regime in the Netherlands
Dr. Pol in his 2015 memoirs, Never turn your back on an Angus cow: my life as a country vet, revealed his family’s experience under the Nazi regime during WWII. Everything the Pol family owned was under the watchful eye of the authorities: their farm, their house, everything.
“During the war, we were not allowed to own anything; everything belonged to the occupier, ”wrote Dr Pol. “All production was for the benefit of the occupier. They weren’t TV Nazis; they were the real thing. These people were very dangerous.
“They would come to inspect your farm, and if you were caught hiding anything the best thing that would happen is they would take you to jail for a few years.” “
How his childhood made him the incredible vet he became
As a child in the Netherlands with five siblings, life might not have been easy, but Dr Pol recalled it as a happy time in which he found his calling.
“We were all supposed to do chores every day,” he wrote. “We had all the animals on the farm – we had about 20 cows that we milked by hand; we had horses and chickens, turkeys, geese. We’ve always had big dogs, and we always do. I learned from my father that if a farmer has no respect for an animal, that animal will not work for him. He used to tell us, ‘If you don’t treat an animal well, that animal won’t treat you right either.’ “
At the age of 12, “I decided I wanted to be a vet. I still remember the day. It wasn’t because I thought I could make a success of my veterinary career. I didn’t care; I became a vet because it was the only thing I wanted to do.
Dr Pol’s family risked their own safety
The family hid a calf or other cattle to make sure they would have some kind of sustenance for their own future. They would also help the most vulnerable among those in their city.
“At that time, it wasn’t just the cattle that we were hiding,” he recalls. “For a while, we housed a young Jewish boy who was between my age and my next older brother, who was seven years older than me. There was also a Jewish family that was hiding in a little shed, which was just a stag blind, in our woods. All the local people brought them food and the Nazis never knew about them. . . My parents never refused a person.
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