A Lesson From Mom

Mom at about age 4 or 5 -- sorry, I don't
happen to have a picture of her 10
My Mom was 10 years old, a platinum-haired, scabby-kneed tomboy of a Dutch girl, when the Nazi tanks rolled into her home city of Rotterdam. It was spring of 1940 and the life she had known up until then ended that day.

Under Nazi occupation, the family faced starvation and terror. They witnessed heinous acts of violence, lived through a multitude of bombings, lost friends and family and neighbors. Mom was about 14 when she was smuggled out of the city to go live with strangers for a year, because she was dying of starvation. Rotterdam was being squeezed to death.

I asked her once, how she ever learned to forgive and move past all that had happened then. She told me a story.

Their apartment was along a main street of Rotterdam and only a short way from a warehouse the Nazis had been using as one of their headquarters. On Liberation Day in 1945, Canadian soldiers marched rows of captured Nazis out of the area. Mom and her older sister threw rocks at the Nazi soldiers as they were being marched away.

I think I said something about how good that must have felt, to get a little even.

But Mom said, "No. We felt ashamed of ourselves afterward."

"Why? After all they had done to you and the other people?" I asked.

"Because we had behaved just as cruelly as they had, and we should have been better than that." She replied.

It's probably been 35 or 40 years since Mom told me that, but I have never forgotten the lesson.


  1. Beautiful story, Trish. It's an important lesson many people never learn.

    1. It seems like the generation that lives through a catastrophe like war or famine or depression can pass the lessons on the their children, but the lessons become diluted for the generations after that. Maybe human beings don't learn very quickly. :-/ Then it becomes inevitable that we repeat history.

      Thanks for visiting me today Cynthia!


Thank you for taking the time to visit me! I truly appreciate your comments!