tempus fugit

By ceridwen

Putting the enemy to work

A pair of German military helmets up-cycled, we would say today,  for use as a strainer and a chamber pot at the end of the WW2  It was the only picture i took at the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam, so overwhelmed was I by the intensity of the experience.
The Netherlands were occupied by Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1945 and this museum has tells the story of those 5 years via eye-witness accounts and photographs, memories, memorabilia and documents. It tells of the courage and ingenuity of the citizens who employed every sort of ruse and scam to  survive starvation and bitter cold, of the incredible bravery of the resistance movement  which outwitted the occupiers over and over again with direct action often facilitated by young women couriers and by mothers who hid guns the baby's pram, and  the way communications were enabled via underground printing presses and wireless sets. Reprisals were inevitable and the penalty for discovery was usually death either immediate or after a period of imprisonment and forced labour.
The large Jewish population was rounded up and sent to the concentration camps - you can see a handful of scribbled notes flung from the trains that took them away. Some managed to find refuge in a non-Jewish household (Anne Frank was just one such): those found giving such succour paid the penalty in death. One exhibit demonstrated the sort of negative responses a desperate person might encounter when seeking succour at a closed door (no, we have no room, we are afraid of the consequences, no,no, not here, try somewhere else...) much as do the asylum seekers currently attempting to remain in Europe, (see my previous blip.)

The Netherlands, in language, culture and climate, approximates in so many ways to my own country,  that I felt this museum gives as well as its own history,  a sort of shadow story of how things might have been if Britain had been occupied. Doubtless the same stories of heroism and resilience would have emerged and  the same spirit of endurance and resourcefulness would have have triumphed,  but my own parents (one Russian, the other half-Jewish) would  have been most unlikely to survive a Nazi regime.

For anyone who is intending to visit Amsterdam, don't miss the Resistance Museum. Alternatively you can find out about it in some detail here.

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