Day 34 – History in a winter coat

What I love about hosting people at my home, is that you get to explore and appreciate your own home town again. It’s like a mini-stay-at-home-vacation. So today a trip to our local museum was planned in between drinking coffee with refugees, groceries and thrift store shopping. Although I’ve been there plenty of times already, one story stuck with me today. An account of a young brave woman acting in World War II, hidden in a winter coat.

Messenger J. cycles with a 11-year-old Jewish boy to the train station in Aalten to bring him to Arnhem. A few German soldiers are guarding a few prisoners. A soldier looks at her. She remembers that she saw him a week earlier at some acquaintances where he is staying. The soldier looks at the boy and looks back at her. He lets them go to the train. The Jewish boy arrives safely in Arnhem. A week later the messenger meets the same soldier again. He says: “Es war ganz gefährlich, was du getan hast!” (It was very dangerous what you did!) She asks him if he goes to church and he answers yes. The messenger dares to say: “Jesus was a Jew too”. They look each other in the eye. He wants to say something, but then he rethinks, turns around and walks away. They never saw each other again. 

Sometimes all you need to hear in a day, is one positive and inspiring story. Earlier that morning I met women from Eritrea. One of them staring telling about her children in her first learned Dutch words. Within a year, they have been thrown around from asylum seeker centre to asylum seeker centre. Now they are waiting for a house. A new life and a safe future. Some of her children are still back in Eritrea. They are about the same age as the Jewish boy.

Now you have a choice. Either you will find the woman back in the early 1940s risking her life for a Jewish boy foolish or you will find her brave and courageous. Either you will find  the Eritrean woman today risking her life for her own children foolish or you will find her brave and courageous. Do you choose stigmatization of women, of refugees, of … Or do you choose to learn about the person behind the acts of courage? Do you choose to judge or be inspired? It’s up to you.

Credits of the content of the story go to Aaltense Musea.

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