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  • Memory Category

    10th Dec

    I received a message from a gentleman in Collonges-sur-Salève, who was kind enough to drive me around the Franco-Swiss border last year. Apparently he’s been reading Flee the Captor, which is a biography of John Weidner’s wartime activities written in the 1960s. My correspondent brought an historical inaccuracy in the book to my attention. Apparently […]

    21st Sep

    Wartime Mysteries

    The circumstances of the Second World War created uncertainties and mysteries that haunted survivors for decades.  This is especially true for the Resistance, where people operated under false names and could disappear from one hour to the next either to save themselves or because they’d been captured and deported under the notorious “nacht und nebel” […]

    1st Sep

    Who Pays the Hero’s Debts?

    The war left Europe in a state of poverty, financial entanglements and confusion that often blighted survivor’s lives for years while being sorted out. Take, for instance, the case of a man we’ll call Junior.  In 1924, when he was five years old, his parents divorced.  He stayed with his mother in the Netherlands while […]

    5th Apr

    He Didn’t Do It

    Favorable or otherwise, rumors have long lives. They usually creep along insidiously, showing up in quiet comments, in snubs at parties, in jobs inexplicably withheld, but sometimes cropping up in courts of law. Given the necessary lack of transparency in the Resistance and the brutal effects of its activities, it was and still is fertile […]

    9th Jan

    One of the more unexpected difficulties I’ve encountered in researching Dutch-Paris has to do with people’s names. I knew, of course, that it would be difficult to uncover the names of all the members of the line in the first place. Resisters hid their identities; so well that some of them still count as missing […]

    10th Dec

    Speculations

    One of the things that makes history so fascinating is that if ten people see the same event, they will have ten different versions or explanations of that event.  This is especially true of a catastrophic event such as arrest during the second world war, which was often only the prelude to torture, the unmitigated […]

    30th Nov

    When he was still 20 years old, R.F. Anderson took off in a B-17 named “Martha” to bomb Brunswick, Germany. The German air defenses disabled the plane but the pilot and Anderson, as the navigator, managed to nurse it far enough westward that they could bail out over the Netherlands, jumping 500 feet into a […]

    2nd Oct

    Somethings You Must Not Forget

    While some resisters struggled to forget the war, others came to feel that they had a duty to remember it publicly. This seems to have been especially true among survivors of the concentration camps. Such was the case with a Dutch woman named Anika who was a student at the Sorbonne when the war started. […]

    25th Sep

    Somethings You’d Rather Forget

    My research on Dutch-Paris constantly reminds me that wars don’t end when the fighting stops. This is most obvious in the cases of those resisters who survived the concentration camps but then died young after years of broken health. But even those who escaped deportation and made successful careers for themselves never quite got over […]

    8th May

    They Have Not Forgotten

    The Netherlands celebrates Liberation Day with an official holiday on the Fifth of May every fifth year. But the Dutch remember the war every year with two minutes of silence at 8 pm on the Fourth of May, known as Dodenherdenkening (Remembrance of the Dead). People gather at monuments across the country, with the biggest […]