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?

All Jews receive a summons to leave for "work camps" in Germany. Hearing fearful rumors, they ask you to hide them or help them escape. Do you close the door, report them to authorities, or resist by helping?

Then they come for all able-bodies Dutch men to go to Germany to work in the military factories. To refuse brought a ruthless response. Do you go peacefully or leave to join the resistance?

In the face of resistance attacks, any Dutch citizen found with a gun is executed on the spot. Weapons are collected. Do you adjust, collaborate, or keep your guns to use in the resistance against the Nazis and Dutch traitors?

Over time, more and more Dutch joined the resistance as their loss of liberty and the presence of Nazi atrocities became harder to deny. Others turned in resistance members and even moved into the homes of Jewish neighbors who would never return. Adjust, collaborate or resist?

As Nazi guards come on the bus to check IDs, a woman stranger sitting next to you grabs your shoulder. As you eyes meet, she says, "My ID is not like yours. They have taken my family to the camps. I'm a Jew. Can you help me?" Do you look away, report her to the guards, or find a way to help?

As the guards approached, the man began to berate the woman, "I can't believe it. You forgot your ID again. You stupid woman!" Turning to the guard, "Can you believe my wife! She's so stupid. She forgot her ID again. Here is mine." The guards laughed and let her continue on the bus. With the help of resistance, she made it to America. She never even learned the man's name who saved her life.

In Cyprus, the government considered taking money from everyone's savings account to lower government debt. Could it happen here? After all, Congress raises the taxes on some Americans to fund the benefits for others who pay nothing. Instead of helping our neighbors ourselves, local churches and synagogues expect government to fund needed entitlements.

A New York newspaper reports which county citizens own guns? Congress and the President propose limiting what weapons law-abiding citizens can own for their self-defense.

At a recent protest in Washington, a man held a sign that read--"I saw a movie where only the police and the military have guns. It was called Schindler's List." Do you adapt, collaborate, or resist the loss of your freedoms?


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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