Deze column gaat verder in het Engels. In de eerste plaats voor de leraar van de Amerikaanse school, die mijn vrouw en mij uitnodigde te vertellen over onze ervaringen tijdens de Sjoa. Maar het biedt meteen een mooie gelegenheid om mijn buitenlandse vrienden te laten delen in onze belevenissen alhier.
My spouse Annelien and I have been telling our stories about the Holocaust for many years now, in classrooms, in old age homes, in clubs and in private houses. We always make an impression, but I have the feeling that I tell a story, the horror of which cannot be adequately transferred to the audience
In a few days we will give our talk at a High School.
Suddenly it struck me that our approach is wrong: here we are, two white-haired, benign grandparents, who quietly and politely tell terrible stories. I should try to let the kids taste the horror of it all: put on an uniform, point at a kid and bark "Are you Jewish?", and without waiting for an answer pull him by the hair off his seat and throw him out of class, preferably through the window. Of course, this cannot be done.
There is still the impossibility to transmit an impossible story.
Then there is another, minor problem. My wife tells the story of her family hiding Jews in their house during the Shoah. It is evident and openly said that they are non-Jews. I then say that I cannot use the word goy for these people – who are Righteous among the Nations – because that word has a depreciating meaning and feeling.
This is certainly the case for people like me who have a whiff of Galut flowing in their blood. Some Israelis came up to me stating that goy is a neutral word, designating a non-Jew, period. Others have the impression that it has a somewhat insulting sound. Anyway, I will not use it for my much honored in-laws or at all in my talks for those good Dutchmen who risked their lives to save others.
The word goy will eventually get the same stigma that 'negro' has earned.