On a day when Dutch people reflect on the hunger, terror, and suffering their people endured in the 1940s, a Dutch immigrant living in Cape Breton is still thanking Canadian soldiers for the freedom he enjoys today.

John Eyking lived in the Nazi occupied Netherlands during the Second World War and was there 70 years ago, when the Nazis surrendered to Canadian troops and his country was liberated.

“It's, you don't need to be worried about some character running around with a gun,” reflects Eyking.

It's that type of fear Eyking and his fellow countrymen and women lived with for five years, beginning in 1944 when the Germans implemented a hunger plan, to ensure Germans were given priority to food supplies and the Dutch were left to starve.

“We use to hide our animals every night,” recalls Eyking. “The community would put their animals in one barn and a couple of young men with a pitch fork would defend them, because people would steal and they would have a right to do it.”

During the war, Eyking endured hunger and terror. He witnessed his own people being murdered in the streets and thought he too could be killed.

“We got so disappointed because several times we thought the war was over,” says Eyking. “We use to pray in church for peace, but we didn't believe it anymore.”

Following the war, life was not easy for young men trying to find work in the Netherlands. So, Eyking immigrated to Nova Scotia in 1953 to follow in his father's footsteps as a farmer. After arriving at Pier 21 in Halifax, Eyking received a call from a farmer in Cape Breton who needed help and he has spent the rest of his life on the island.

“It was clear sailing, for sure there were some hardships, but after you go through a war and that anxiety, little things don't count anymore,” says Eyking.

On the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, Eyking is proud to live in Canada and is thankful to the soldiers who risked their lives for his homeland.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore