They cared enough about their fellow human beings in Europe risk their own lives.
In the Netherlands, we were liberated. Had we lived today, had the color of our skin been different, had we lived south of the Sahara, would anyone have cared enough to liberate us? We don't have any oil, so would the world have bothered?
Still, five years was too long for the hundreds of thousands of Jews, gypsies, gays, resistance workers and citizens who were killed: murdered, bombed or starved to death. Most of my friend Chawwa's relatives were murdered. Finding her a cousin who survived the Holocaust, when she thought everyone had been killed, will always be my proudest moment as a genealogist. Her other cousin, too young to get his picture taken, was old enough to be put on the train to the extermination camps.
Many soldiers gave their lives for our freedom. My great-aunt Riet fell in love with a Polish soldier, who promised to come back for her but never did. My aunt never knew that he had been killed in action. So many lives, cut short.
Yesterday, we commemorated the victims. Today, we celebrate our liberty.
|Allied soldier hugged by girls. Source: Collection Anefo, Nationaal Archief.|