Terry Paulson

Travelers sometimes stand in awe of nature's beauty or achievements in architecture or the arts. On this trip to Amsterdam, we were confronted with man's choice to do evil or to take a stand for faith and freedom. Choices often come with little warning, but they come to every man, woman, and child when liberty is attacked.

After once again walking through the pages of Anne Frank’s diary in the upper rooms where her Jewish family hid from the Germans, you realize that those who evil attacks are like you. They have dreams, loving families, and the burning desire to taste freedom again.

When you visit Corrie ten Boom’s museum in Haarlem, you wonder whether your own faith would pass the test to hide your neighbors or would you watch while your neighbors were taken away. Will there be enough evidence of your faith to convict you or would you fold in the face of true evil?

Walking through Amsterdam’s Dutch Resistance Museum provides more than a history of Netherland's war-torn experience. You're confronted with real people who took a stand in the face of enormous cost. Many lost their lives taking up arms in underground resistance or by hiding or transporting Jews and persecuted neighbors.

Some responded right away. Others took more time. The loss of liberty seldom comes in one headline. It comes in a series of events where freedoms are lost. Museum visitors are continually challenged to make their own choices--would you adjust, collaborate, or resist.

Like most countries the depression had hit the Dutch hard. Even after Germany attacked Poland, the Dutch felt safe from the Nazi menace. Would not Germany allow them to remain neutral as in World War I?

On May 14, 1940, Germany attacked. Dutch resistance was stiffer than expected until Rotterdam was devastated by Nazi bombers. Threatened with similar attacks on Amsterdam, Netherland surrendered.

At first, German occupation was not as bad as expected. As they took control, they launched a charm offensive. But after a year, everyone over 14 had to have a personal identity card. Radios were taken away. Critical media was silenced.

Jews were not allowed in parks or on public transportation. Families were isolated into Jewish districts. Jews were forced to wear a yellow Jewish star. Their IDs clearly displayed a large "J." Your son wants to invite a Jewish friend to his party, do you adapt, collaborate, or resist?

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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