Finding music is an unexpected gift. Stop-and-Smell-the-Roses moments season the day. Click here if below is black: https://vimeo.com/235023646
So many days have Moments of funfilled surprise and wonder, along with Sadness, even suffering, that sparks thought…revelation, and growth. Balance.
Is it like a balanced diet?
Sadness doesn’t have to result from learning or seeing sad things. While not the Chocolate of life, others’ sorrows nourish me with courage to LIVE well.
Because of the worlds’ history, war museums abound, and the suffering represented couldn’t be further from my own life’s dramas. Still, I choose to go. To hear their stories, and respect their lives by remembering. To look at baby shoes, wire-rimmed glasses, a silver-handled hairbrush.
Learning about them, I learn about myself, and am changed.
Driving north of Haifa, along Hwy 70, is the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum. I’d not heard of it, but the sign called to me from the highway, so with each passing I’d mentally re-add it to my list of “to-do”s. Finally, last July I visited. It was more than worthwhile; it was timely.
After an hour or so on my own, I happened upon an English speaking tour guide brilliantly leading a group of 40 or so American Jewish 16-20 year olds. I’m not sure about the etiquette of these situations, but am not too proud to tag along at a respectful distance. I was absolutely her most engaged listener, although the students were attentive, even participating.
At first opportunity, I introduced myself and complimented her skill. There was a time in my life I’d try to listen without getting “caught” and would certainly not have introduced myself, fearing it was inappropriate. Perhaps it is, but most seem to appreciate a compliment, and hopefully my low profile is not distracting. Someday, we – you and I – should compile a list of things we do now that intimidation or timidity forbade years ago. Could the earth bear such a list?
I can’t help but think how different my life would have been
Here’s the museum’s link: http://gfh.org.il/eng/?CategoryID=229
One of many take-aways from that visit was learning that Holland was not the great rescuer of Jews that I’d thought. Anne Frank’s story tells of food and supplies being provided by loyal, brave Dutch gentiles. Corrie tenBoone’s Christian family was murdered for hiding Jews. Post-war testimonies of surviving Jews told of help from good Dutch people in assorted venues. It seemed that something exemplary had occurred in the Netherlands.
However, decades of research has revealed that the voices – the lives – of disproportionately many many more Jews were silenced by the “good Dutch people’s” overwhelming cooperation with the Nazi regime. Disappointing as it is, the evidence is that Dutch citizens, police, and government cooperated with the Nazis far more than initially presumed.
I finally found the answer to a question that has nagged at me since learning of the Holocaust as a child: Why did the Jews cooperate?
Surely I missed the answer in countless movies and books and museums and lectures… But, instead of wondering what’s wrong with me that I didn’t “get” until now, I rejoice that finally the answer resonates within. “You’re learning and growing. Good job.” I tell myself, rather than chastising, “what a dummy.”
With Dutch cooperation and brilliant strategy, the Nazi leadership introduced their evil restrictions to Holland’s Jewish population. Gradually. Beginning with minor freedoms (is there such a thing?), the Jews adjusted to new laws imposed by the regime, one prohibition at a time. Each new one surely the last.
The frog doesn’t jump out of the kettle if the water is heated slowly.
Systematically, they lost their place in the life of the community until basic survival became everyday’s challenge, with humiliation on the street and betrayal by friends and neighbors. I can only imagine the hopelessness.
Finally instructed to pack supplies of diapers, clothing for several seasons, essential household items, and valuables, most Jews complied and reported to the trains as assigned. Grieving their losses of home, livelihood, liberty, and dignity, they accepted “relocation” by the German Occupiers. Little did they know they were being relocated from LIFE.
When is knowledge complicity?
When should I intervene, or look away?
A parent’s harshness seems brutal in the subway. When is it abuse, and what is my role?
Two girls pocket (ie, steal!) candy in the market. Is it right for me to speak up? To whom?
The world seemed shocked by what had happened in the camps but (too) many powerful people knew. I found this TedTalk fascinating https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2PQCNQH2lY
The unspoken truth is that much was known about the death camps years before Russian and US soldiers took the famous photographs. Who could admit they knew and did nothing, under the guise of “minding our own business”?
It was more comfortable to say they had no idea, but now we have too much evidence otherwise. Certainly not in entirety, but 10s and 100s of thousands murdered should have been enough, to do more . . . so, I recycle to WHEN should I speak up? What is my role with a stranger?
Refocusing on Holland, many wonderful Dutch people risked their lives by hiding and helping Jews, assisting escapes, taking-in children, etc. But too many Jews were betrayed by their neighbors. The Dutch police and other authorities’ participation with Nazi regime edicts resulted in a far greater percentage of Holland’s Jews being sent to camps than any other nation.
This link has more specifics: http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp412.htm
Having admired the courage of the Corrie ten Boom story since I heard her speak as a college freshman, I resisted reconfiguring my impression. I’d still rather think that the sacrifices of Corrie’s family and other good Dutch people earns the reputation for the nation. But, resist as I might, the facts prevail. Their good deeds and sacrifices are still HUGE, but they were a too-small minority.
I must be truthful with Truth, I’m doing my best to be honest, both before the mirror and God.
Assorted documentation included films of disturbing interviews. I’ll give you Only one example, lest you fear having to endure more than you can bear of this painful topic, and leave in search of clips of Robin Williams or Lucille Ball.
⇒One former Dutch police captain answered questions about conducting round-ups with a shrug, “We were following orders. . . it was a nasty job.” My heart screamed at his abdication, “Where is your humanity?!?”
Yet again, my response compels me to the mirror. “Where is YOUR humanity?” May God reveal my attitudes to me. And, make my heart tender where it’s sharp, stronger where it’s weak.
Finishing the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum, since I had a trip to Warsaw scheduled for the first week of September – working title is “September Songs – blog 44” – I soaked in as much as possible of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Here it is in a nutshell:
Team 1: Several hundred Jewish resistance fighters, mostly teens and young adults affected by years of malnutrition and deprivation, wield sticks, Molotov cocktails, and too few WW1-era guns with insufficient ammunition AGAINST
Team 2: Several thousand well-equipped and nourished troops of the German Army.
It took a month for the Germans to overcome the defenders, and that only by burning down the area, building by building.
The young Jews faced the reality of the death camps and chose to not go as lambs to the slaughter. Their courage fills my empty tank for the ridiculously incomparable tiny feats that my days sometimes require.
Had she been alive to read “ridiculously” in the above paragraph, my wise friend, Penny, who spent over half of her life as a quadriplegic, would have gently chastised me. It was she who taught me better than anyone else that each person’s sorrows are their own, very genuine sorrows and that there is no place for comparison. Even so, how can I but compare?