Monday, 4 May 2009

that's My World , Leny's Lime Tree




On 4th May the flag is flown half-mast, to honour those who died in WW II.

I told this story some years ago, but it's typical of what we endured in this country between 1940 and 1945, and therefore I tell it once more. It left it's traces everywhere in the country and most of all in our hearts and minds.

 
Posted by Picasa

Please click to enlarge to read the names.Isaiah 49:16 "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..."

On the 4th of May we commemorate the victims of WWII. On the 5th of May we celebrate our Liberation Day to commemorate the fact that the Nazis were defeated, the occupation was over and that we could start rebuilding our bombed cities. But then the survivors of the destruction camps came back and the horrible facts became known to those who never had a clou of what had been going on.
This is a story about a woman who lived in Bathmen, where my sister now lives. Her name is Leny Polak and she was born in 1919. Her father David and his brother Jacob had a drapery and a furniture shop. THey were neighbours and lived happily in Bathmen, where they were members of a drama group for which they wrote plays and played roles in them. They were respected citizens of this village and socially involved in all kind of matters concerning the village. They knew everybody and everybody knew them. Life was good to them.
In front of the house of Leny's uncle was a lime tree, which stood there before Leny was born and which is still there. This tree was very important to Leny. She confided her dreams to it and often played under its branches.
Leny grew up and became a teacher at the local elementary school. She taught needlework, sewing and knitting.
At that time there were all kind of rumours about the behaviour of the Nazis in Germany towards the Jewish people. The cruelties they had to put up with and the humiliations became known to the Dutch, but everybody thought that this couldn't happen in our country. But.....
The Netherlands were invaded on 14th May 1940 by Germany and already
in July 1940 the first of a series of anti Jewish measures was taken: Jews were not allowed to be a member of the Civil Defence. On 22 November 1940 Jewish teachers and civil servants were dismissed., Leny was one of them.In the begin of 1941 the Jews were forced to register and from 3rd May 1942 they were obliged to wear the yellow Star of David. On 10th April the little group of Jewish people in Bathmen were transferred to the Dutch concentration camp Vught. Leny and her husband Hartog de Leeuw were tranferred to Auschwitz where Hartog died. When the Russians were approaching Auschwitz the prisoners had to leave for Ravensbrück It was a long walk to the railroad and those who were too slow or too tired were shot. Leny did her utmost to keep in pace with the rest .For three days and nights they walked. When they reached the railroad they had to climb in an open freight train. There was no place to sit: they all stood squeezed together. They were hungry and the thurst was unbearable. They tried to eat icicles from the train. Leny had to face more hardships and when she finally got back in the Netherlands she found some relatives in Goor. During all that time she had thought of the lime tree, which was now a symbol of freedom, of comfort. So she went to Bathmen and was glad to learn that her old friend had survived like herself. From that time on the tree was called Leny's Lime Tree. There is a small plate on the tree with Leny's name on it.She is the only survivor of the whole family.



They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.


That's my World is hosted by Klaus,Sandy,Ivar,Wren,Fishing Guy & Louise - a Team of experienced bloggers, whom we thank for this wonderful meme. You can see more of the world of other bloggers by clicking on the logo in the side bar or on that's My World

27 comments:

erin said...

an emotional post and a story that needs to be remembered for all time. the suffering and destruction that the german nazis and their collaborators inflicted upon europe ... horrific. one of my Aunt's married a fellow whose family escaped Austria by sending he and his brother out first and following much later on.
have a good week.

TheWritersPorch said...

This was a very heart breaking story Wil, yet her will to survive is a true testament to the human spirit! Thank you for sharing Leny's story.
xoxo,
Carol

Vicki Lane said...

Thank you, Reader Wil. Let us never forget. . .

jeannette stgermain said...

Thank you Will for sharing this story of both the cruelty, but also the survival of human kind. May we learn from this and never go back to this again!
Some things or objects like a tree become so symbolic that they help us to go on and survive the unbelievable.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a story of human evil as well as human triumph.
We all know the story of six million but somethimes the story of "one" is the most powerful. This can never happen again.Thank you so much for sharing.

Miss_Yves said...

Mon fils est revenu de son voyage scolaire à Amsterdam, il a , bien sûr ,visité des lieux en rapport avec ces moments terribles de l'histoire .

SandyCarlson said...

A humbling, inspiring, powerful post. Thanks for sharing this.

fishing guy said...

Wil: What an impressive memorial to the war.

Jedediah said...

Thank you for sharing this story, it's a time we all need to remember.

Babooshka said...

This is such a powerful post. So many stories come to light about the dreadful time and the ordinary men and woman who were the real hero's. Excellent post.

Me and my puppies said...

let us not forget

VALKYRIEN said...

Thank you for this story Wil! Let us never forget!

ewok1993 said...

That is a heart-breaking and triumphant story at the same time. Thanks for sharing this.

Mary Elizabeth said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.
Mary Elizabeth @ Now and Then

jay said...

That is a very sad, tragic story, and yet in a way, inspiring too. I can't imagine what it must have been like for Leny to lose her husband like that, or to endure what she was forced to endure. But her strong and determined spirit lives on in that lime tree - may it never be cut down or pollarded.

I love lime trees, and I think trees and shrubs make excellent living memorials, whether to a life now passed, or an event in history.

Guy D said...

Its always good to honour war veterans, great posting!!!

Have a great week
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Pam said...

Wil, this post is both sad and inspiring. I can't imagin the hardships that you, your family and friends indured. The story of Leny's lime tree lives on through your post... Thanks for sharing.

Our prayers are with you and your countrymen.

Janie said...

You told the heartrending story of Leny and her lime tree so well. Such a sad time in history. Let us hope we've learned from it.

Indrani said...

A very touching story, I have never read this before.

Etje said...

Zo'n verhaal mag nooit meer vergeten worden, bedankt om dit onder onze aandacht te brengen.

Groetjes

Janice Thomson said...

The strength and courage of some is amazing. An emotional story we all need reminders of - an inspirational post Wil.

antigoni said...

Wow, Wil! That was an amazing and very touching post! This woman was so strong and brave, like you did, in difficult times.

Abe Lincoln said...

What a marvelous tree and the story behind it was fabulous the way you told it Wil.

The Nazi's were a cruel people and damaged the faith in god that many people had. The faithful could not imagine that god would permit the Nazi's to be so cruel over God's Chosen People.

Deslilas said...

Let us not forget !
Leny is the first name of one of my children but he is a boy, nowadays a man with his own children.

Dina said...

Thanks for telling about Leny and her tree.

Arija said...

It certainly is a very moving history Wil.
Our little country Latvia, had a double dose of purges, first the Germans, then, even worse, the Russians.

Glennis said...

We use the very same prayer for ANZAC services on 25th April, and use a bright blood red Poppy as the symbol.
Thanks for posting this story, it must be remembered..