05 March 2011

Audrey in the War

I've learned about World War II in the past, and read The Diary of Anne Frank, though it's been a while, but somehow the brutality of it all never ceases to catch me off guard. It was the same way with reading about Audrey Hepburn's war experiences.

It's been a while since I looked at the sequence of events, so I pulled up a WWII timeline site and added a few dates to my Book of Centuries. It's been a long while since I added anything, and it feels good to be putting another couple dates in there.

Here's a sampling:

OK, so if I continue to wait for time to put this in I'll never get my thoughts posted. I was going to post a cool WWII/Audrey mix timeline, but I'm sure you girls can imagine it.


"That autumn and winter, many people saw not much cause for concern, despite the situations in Czechoslovakia and Poland, which had already dome under Nazi hegemony. War had been declared, but it was called a phony war. Thus, at the beginning of 1940 very few Dutch people feared for their future -- until the Nazis invaded Denmark and Norway on April 9." (Page 19)

The author goes on to talk about how everyone is sort of in denial; Audrey and her family attended the ballet that evening. This makes me wonder if there is something about human nature that makes it hard to accept that something bad is happening. I wonder how often this sort of thing happens, and what kind of strategic advantage it gave to the Nazis then, and other aggressors in other places if it really is a human nature thing. The calm before the storm. Of course, the storm didn't wait long to really break.

Nazi troops and artillery then tore through Arnhem, exploiting local facilities and despoiling where they could to support the German war machine. "I saw German trucks coming in, and in five days Holland fell," Audrey remembered. "The occupation -- that's such a small word to cover the eternity of every day after the Germans came to our country, looted it, and stayed on to make slaves of us." (page 20)

Normal life soon becomes a thing of the past, and the Dutch citizens become slaves to the Nazi regime. But it's not all darkness. Though they were caught unprepared and their situation is dismal on the good days,

"The Dutch have a gift of shrewd perspicacity which no propaganda can obliterate, [and] outward resignation should not be taken for inward submission..."

I have to applaud the Baroness's ability to find bits of normal to give her daughter - an invaluable gift under this sort of circumstances. And with the ballet lessons came opportunities to help the Dutch Resistance. With the Germans rounding up all sorts of people on a variety of pretexts, or for no reason at all, this must have taken some courage!

I recently came across this, from other reading I was doing, and I think for the Baroness and her family it was much more than an academic thought:

"The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind." -New Hampshire Bill of Rights.


J. Stephen Conn said...

Self education is the best education one can get.

Linda said...

Interesting post! Thanks for this history lesson.