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Behind the Fireplace: Memoirs of a girl working in the Dutch Wartime Resistance

de Andrew M. Scott

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As World War 2 progressed, the Okma family took six Jewish refugees into their house, hiding them in a secret room behind their fireplace. The youngest daughter, Kieks, joined the Resistance, delivering illegal newspapers, guiding British parachutists around The Hague and preparing safe houses for Special Forces who were dropped in from England. As the War continued, she fell in love with a Resistance commander, and worked with him to rescue wounded colleagues, steal weapons from German arms dumps, and move weapons around the country. They had a tumultuous parting and she continued her work, acting as a courier with a two hundred km bike ride to the north of Holland. When she returned home, she appreciated how much the war had changed her and her boyfriend, and prepared to try a reconciliation. She escaped a firing squad four times, and survived the war, mentally scarred by her experiences. She sought help, but the help she was offered came in a poisoned chalice, and she kept her secret to herself for almost fifty years. Her family in Holland was recognized by Yad Vashem, the Israeli organization that records those who saved Jews from the Holocaust, and she was awarded a pension for her work in the Resistance by the Dutch foundation Stichting 1940-1945.… (mais)
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Because this book relies heavily on memory, it shares many of the problems I had with The Luck of the Jews. The big difference here is that there were many people who could and did verify the information and thus validated it, not least were the people hidden by the family for 3 years and the head of her resistance unit. Although a very interesting account, it suffers from some confusion and disjointed areas. I suspect much of that was because Kieks was so reluctant to relive it all. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Aug 28, 2016 |
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As World War 2 progressed, the Okma family took six Jewish refugees into their house, hiding them in a secret room behind their fireplace. The youngest daughter, Kieks, joined the Resistance, delivering illegal newspapers, guiding British parachutists around The Hague and preparing safe houses for Special Forces who were dropped in from England. As the War continued, she fell in love with a Resistance commander, and worked with him to rescue wounded colleagues, steal weapons from German arms dumps, and move weapons around the country. They had a tumultuous parting and she continued her work, acting as a courier with a two hundred km bike ride to the north of Holland. When she returned home, she appreciated how much the war had changed her and her boyfriend, and prepared to try a reconciliation. She escaped a firing squad four times, and survived the war, mentally scarred by her experiences. She sought help, but the help she was offered came in a poisoned chalice, and she kept her secret to herself for almost fifty years. Her family in Holland was recognized by Yad Vashem, the Israeli organization that records those who saved Jews from the Holocaust, and she was awarded a pension for her work in the Resistance by the Dutch foundation Stichting 1940-1945.

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