© The Boston Globe 2001. Used by permission.
The Secret History of World War II
PART VI: THE RESISTANCE
by Mark Fritz / Globe Staff / August 26, 2001
Page 8 of 11
Continued from page 7
To Kraal, the resistance was simply his widowed mother's false identity papers, the Christian baptisms she arranged for her children, the act of going to a church every Sunday instead of a temple. The resistance was the rumors that rose from the underground, that the Nazi reprisal ratio for his country was 10 Dutch for every German killed by the resistance.
Kraal recalls walking to school with his sister one day when he saw 10 prone bodies, some moving "only so slightly. Somebody had shot a Nazi the night before, and they just killed the first 10 people who came by," he says.
Kraal's grandmother never came home. Not until he traveled to Jerusalem years later to look at Israeli records did he find out that his grandmother had died at Auschwitz.
To Wilhemina Hoekstra, an old friend of the Kraal family, the resistance was the orange paint -- orange being the color of the country's exiled royal family -- that somebody had slathered on the nearby house of a Nazi collaborator.
She stepped outside to watch the commotion, then turned around to go back inside. She noticed an errant smudge of orange paint on her door, and she realized that the resistance also included one of her three brothers.
"It was pretty childish in the beginning," Hoekstra said of the early resistance to Nazi occupation. "Painting a house orange. The bad things were in '42 and '43, when they started taking our brothers to Germany to work in the factory. One of my brothers never came back."
Hoekstra recalled a 13-year-old boy who was arrested and jailed for breaking the Nazis' 8 p.m. curfew. "That night, the resistance did something, so they took everyone at the jail and killed them."
To her, the resistance included the railmen who went on strike one day, even the potatoes she stole after the Nazis cut the food ration. "There were two kinds of people, the good and the bad," she said in a phone call from Holland. "You were for the Germans totally or totally against them."
For all the reprisals inflicted on Western Europeans, they were many times worse for the Slavs and Greeks, whom the Nazis considered subhuman, and sheer genocide for the Jews. The declassified files heavily document the stiff price paid by the people Hitler considered inferior. More than anything, the files name enough names to assign "perhaps even responsibility for certain reprisals," Breitman says.
Few resistance groups killed more Germans or suffered heavier reprisals than the Greeks, who fought off Italy's invasion so effectively that a humiliated Mussolini had to be bailed out by the Germans. The Greeks lost a dozen towns full of people for a lone guerrilla attack on a Nazi regiment, and more than half a million lives total for being one of the fiercest occupied countries.
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