THE TOWN, PART ONE

You have lived in the same town all of your life. In fact, you live in the home you were born in. The school is just around the corner, the shops are all close together and easy to get to, and the synagogue is two blocks away from your home.

The shops and houses are narrow and tall. There is a market square where you can see most of the townspeople. People know each other by name. It is a town that people stay in and sometimes live in for all their lives. Young people may dream about living somewhere else, but they really couldn’t imagine anywhere else but this small town.

Most times, in small towns and villages, life is pretty predictable and quiet. People come to expect the sameness of life. The routines are rarely disturbed and when they are, it is noticed by everyone in one way or another.

First there are little stories in the newspaper, there are rumors among families throughout the country, the radio starts reporting shocking news about a possible war. There are posters on the streets that were never there before. Women who were used to mending socks, were now sewing on yellow stars. Children were warned about where they could play outdoors and the synagogue’s doors were locked. There were whispers when there were never any before.

Fear was hanging as a dark cloud over this town and this fear became bigger and bigger. When war brutally entered this town, the people wondered if life would ever be normal again.

Every Jewish citizen was taken from this town. Men, women and children were kidnapped from their homes and businesses and most would never see their town again. They were taken to a Dutch camp run by the German army. From there they were taken to Auschwitz, Sobibor and other concentration camps. Half the people who were taken from this town were killed or died in camp. After the war, the other half moved to the new state of Israel or to another country. Only a very few came back to their hometown.

The town would never be the same. This town lost almost 200 of its Jewish citizens. The synagogue was destroyed but was still standing. The town lost not only their neighbors, but their trust in humanity. How do you move forward and how do you live a life worth living? You do it by remembering. This town not only saved the synagogue, they remembered the names of those who had died.

I want to tell you their story. I want to say thank you to a remarkable town in the eastern part of the Netherlands, near the German border. I want to tell you about the town of Borculo. The story is worthy of more than one post. More to come…

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