EDITORIAL: Flirting With Nazis Is Dangerous
Flirting With Nazis Is Dangerous
A Neighbor’s Nazi Experience
D. S. Mitchell
Martin Hartman is a tall slender man. His thinning white hair is brushed back, his jacket zipped against the winter wind, as he leans against his cane for support. There is a deep sadness in his eyes and a soberness in his demeanor. You can tell he has a story, and he wants to share it. Martin Hartman is my neighbor.
Martin was born in Holland in 1924. Prior to the Depression of the 1930’s, his family had owned a prosperous construction business. His family like many others had suffered during those economically depressed times, but by 1940, the 97-year-old said, the economy “had begun to turn around,” things were looking up he confirmed. The future looked promising.
There had been rumblings of war, but few took them seriously, after all WWI was a mere twenty two years in the past. No one could imagine the world once again plunging into conflict. The next few days would change his life and those of his friends and family forever. “I was 16. It was May 10, 1940. We heard bombing and saw planes. It was the German invasion, and the blitz was over in three days.” The squashing of Holland’s defenses was quick, but far from painless.
After the German invasion, they began barricading city blocks and then sweeping the apartments for young men to fill the military ranks due to troop loss. Hartman describes it, “Gradually Nazism crawled into Holland. Good people were killed, or sent to prison . . . Jews and ministers.”