Valentine’s Day From the Archive: Did They or Didn’t They?

14 February 2012

Our Archive holds many letters from couples who speak about their life abroad or who met while living in another country. The good and the bad of expat life is reflected in their writings.

For Valentine’s Day, we found this little exchange from 1947 between a couple who had hit a rocky patch in their relationship. The letters are translated from the original Dutch.


Dear Niek,
I have reconsidered the whole situation but really Niek, it can no longer be between us as it has been lately. I do no longer care enough about you to sustain this. I now only care about you as a good friend. With Herman my relationship is also only friendship. As I mentioned to you yesterday, I will only see you as a friend but that will be all. When you do not want this I can understand it.
For now I wish you all the best,

Little girl,
For what now has happened I myself am the only one to blame! In the past few months I have treated you mean and have bickered with you, used you as a doormat. You must hate me for this! While you have always done everything for me I had the guts to tell you to be patient. I beg for forgiveness! Small wonder you feel that you no longer care about me. Now you have to decide! If you want to see Herman, who is a much nicer chap than I am, I will understand. But it will hurt. Eef, do what your heart tells you, May God help you!


You may be wondering why we selected such a sad tale for Valentine’s Day. This is because the letters do not tell the whole story.

The next document in their collection is an invitation to the wedding of Eef and Niek in December 1950. What happened in between, and what happened to the Herman mentioned in the letters? We can only speculate.

Eef and Nick were married for 36 years and had two children. Eef died in 1986 and Niek in 2005, but in their life together they lived in Turkey, Norway and Libya. Our archive holds material about their life abroad, including family film footage from Turkey in the 1950s.

The Expatriate Archive Centre collects stories of families who went abroad to work and live. If you would like to know more, please contact us at To see other Valentine’s Day stories from archives around the world, follow the #loveheritage hashtag on Twitter.