Yes or No. Remembering WWII.

hilbertvandijkEvery year, on 4th May, we go to the ‘Eerebegraafplaats Bloemendaal’, to visit the grave of my grandfather, Hilbert van Dijk. Shot in the dunes on 16th July 1944, along with the Post boys and a number of other young men. Up until 2008, I could still call my grandmother, when standing at Opa’s grave – she lived to almost 102.
She was, just like her husband, a brave, extraordinarily brave, member of the Resistance. And when you make that silent march through the dunes to the ‘Honorary Cemetery’ and stand shivering slightly by the grave, then it’s almost as if you too are just a little bit brave. Not that our pain is anywhere near their pain or fear. Let’s face it, you jump in your car, pop on some music, bar of chocolate for the journey. Pompidom, wonder who’ll turn up this year? How very different from what Opa went through. No chocolate, despite being a confectioner in the city of Kampen. And certainly no family around; they were waiting fearfully at home, weapons concealed in his youngest son’s crib. Opa said No to fear, No to evil. July 1944. Betrayed during an attempt to free their friends at the Weteringschans, caught by the enemy, followed by execution in the dunes. He said No, right up to the end. No. Not even a yes to his own life. Yes, instead, to the lives of others.
Written on his tombstone ‘No one can snatch them from my Father’s hand.’

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