Some months back, I and my wife travelled to Israel for a holiday. We stayed in a flat down-town Jerusalem. We went as a celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary. We went to see friends which we have made over the years and to see the city of Jerusalem. Although I could talk about our trip, I want to talk about one incident only which opened my eyes to a truth that I have known as true for a long time but now see with new eyes, more personal eyes. The original incident involves me only through history and genealogy. We were sitting in our friends office relating things of our lives past and present and into this conversation came the comment that my grandfather had hid Jews and Allies on his farm in WW2. For this he was betrayed and sent to the notorious concentration camp at Amersfoort. Needless to say he survived. It is my understanding that he was one of the few men to escape from the cattle cars as he was being transported to the death camp.Our friend stated a truth that I had not taken in before. He said ‘so you are the descendent of a Holocaust survivor’. This coming from a Jewish man took me aback. I couldn’t respond, wasn’t sure how to respond and yet it was true my grandfather had survived the camps. This momentous point in history became much more personal, so much nearer the heart and so much more pivotal for me.
As one walks through Yad Vashem (The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Museum) one comes across the ‘Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations’ and the ‘Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations’. I walked with my emotions raw, I am not ashamed to say that I shed a tear, but I also walked with the knowledge and strength that my grandfathers’ name would not have been out of place with the others which I read there. A man who farmed the land, lived by faith, and loved his family and his fellow man.