It is one of the myths in our family history: my grandfather ‘saving’ a Jewish girl from a Nazi. It was in the 2nd World War. In villages, children from Jewish families lived as if they were part of the farmers’ family, trying to escape a certain death when the Nazis found out they were Jewish. A 14 or 15 year old ‘secretly’ Jewish girl, described as very beautiful, accidentilly fell in the village street and bumped her head against a stone right in front of the house where one of the Nazis in charge was temporarily located. He came out of the house, saw the beautiful girl and took her into the house to take care of her. All of the village worried, they were talking about it: what is he doing to that beautiful girl and also, most of all: what if he finds out that she is Jewish? They were extremely nervous!
The worries and talks in the village took a great part of the day, then at the end of the day my grandfather returned from work and heard about it. When he was told, he didn’t even think for a minute but just got angry and went to the house of the Nazi. Did he have a plan? I don’t think so. He did not talk, he did not ask questions, as he never did. He just had the impulse to act.
Did he save her? He didn’t I guess, everybody who was in this story agreed that the girl saved herself once the opening was given. As soon as my grandfather appeared at the doorstep, this ‘wounded’ girl stood up from the couch where she lied down, she ran to the door, embraced my grandfather and acted as if he was her father: ‘o dad, dad, please take me home’. The Nazi guy nodded and my grandfather took her ‘home’.
Summer 2014 we are living a period in Europe, and to my great great regret also in Amsterdam, where antisemitism is fully alive. And just like the village in the 2nd World War, everybody is talking about it. Everybody is ‘worrying’, like all of the village did in the War. But how many of us are acting?
What my grandfather did seems easy > he just went to the house. Anybody could have done that… but nobody did. So the real question is: why didn’t they do it? As the girl could save herself just upon the impulsive action of my grandfather.
I wonder about the conclusion of this story. Doing has more value, more effect than talking? Don’t spend time worrying, just act? Maybe that is true, also today…