The following piece written by my father of blessed memory is the Foreword for the book “Jew Face: A story of love and heroism in Nazi-occupied Holland.” It is extremely appropriate for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day).
by Rabbi Nardus Groen, of blessed memory
The life that was not lived:
This is the story of two people whose experiences cannot be seen as
separated from one another. At the same time, it includes a multitude of people
whose story will never be told. We therefore consider it a privilege as well as a
duty to share with you some of the 4,380 days of our being on this earth.
Existence is more or less a state of exposure. Life, on the other hand,
is a matter of faith. If there was such a thing, my choice would be for
something in between. Some attributes may be applied to it, and others
may not fit the shoe.
We may in the course of it meet people who, for whatever it’s worth,
may be portrayed as heroes, while others are cowards, pacifists, or activists.
They are all the products of mankind. For them, there will always be a
place under the sun (with the exception of the traitor). But being as we are
a homogenous society, no one can ever be left out. And as it is by the very
inclination of the human race, the dark shadow of the wicked will play an
overpowering role in leaving behind the marks in the way of scars brought
upon them by society.
If the worst could ever be turned into good, the only lesson to be learned
of that is, never ever forget. For in the past lay the present, and in the present
the future. Without that, we will be repeating our mistakes and shortcomings,
and as a result the world will not be the place it was created to be.
In order to live, you still have to be able to somehow believe in the
goodness of mankind. In that light, we will start with our first words to
describe that which has been and never should have been.