The story of Fred Seiker and his paintings can be found at: Fred Seiker, Lest We Forget.
Comments of the Author
I could have made this story longer by including, for instance, tales of childhood in Rotterdam, hobbies, varied and interesting holidays, his daughter Melanie and grandchildren Alexis and Micha, other family members, good friends we have both made.
They would have made a more complete picture and have all been an important part of Fred's life, which he considers has been a very fulfilling one.
But I wanted to show his ability, tenacity and courage, sometimes through indescribably terrible times, and I know I have succeeded.
I love him and am very very proud of him.
Mathias Frederik Cornelius (Fred) was born in 1915 to Gertrude and Frederik Seiker in Rotterdam. He was the eldest of four children, two girls and two boys.
Theirs was an ordinary hardworking family but despite poverty and hardship Fred experienced a very happy family life with parents who worked hard to provide for their children. During the Recession Fred's father travelled the country to find employment and his mother went out getting paid housework, sometimes going without meals so that her children could eat.
Entertainment was not available but the children made their own homemade games. There were no holidays but a one-day visit to the seaside in the summer. The rest of the year there were occasional special food treats.
Fred's father was an engineer whose career began on the large powerful Rhine tugboats plying between Rotterdam and Basle. He later developed an interest in" industrial refrigeration and became known as one of the leading experts in Holland in that field.
After Fred had attended Primary School he went at age thirteen to a Technical College where he took a three-year course in engineering. This was followed by a two-year practical apprenticeship, part of which was served with Wilton shipyard in Rotterdam, part working with his father when Fred became familiar with industrial refrigeration. At the same time he attended evening school and took an advanced course in general engineering.
He succeeded in obtaining a place at the Rotterdam Marine Engineering College though because of the family finances his father had a hard time seeing his son through college. After obtaining his first sea-going diploma he was recruited by the leading shipping company at that time, Rotterdam Lloyd, who only took the best recruits, and began his career as a marine engineer. Fred remembered always the great pride of his father when he saw his son in uniform for the first time.
During his career with Rotterdam Lloyd Fred travelled the world. He took to the life and work of a seaman, felt totally suited to it and was always happiest when at sea. He progressed to the rank of Third Engineer.