The Insensitivity of Whoopie’s Comments Run Deep

My Precious Family

Whoopi Goldberg’s recent commentary that the Holocaust wasn’t about race, rattled me because I never thought society would become desensitized to the atrocities of World War II. Hitler surely targeted Jews and was determined to murder them all. But let’s not forget, it was an Aryan race he was establishing, so many other Europeans were also targeted and tortured during WWII.

I don’t talk about it much because many of my German friends have expressed that it is a tough legacy to have inherited. I certainly don’t blame or hold any of them responsible for atrocities that happened before they were even born. I maintain the same attitude towards my Turkish friends. I do not blame them or hold them responsible for the cruelty of the Ottoman Empire that kept Greeks as slaves for 400 years until their independence in 1832.

My heart aches for my parents and grandparents who lived through the Nazi occupation of Greece and the horror stories they have share with me. When my 84-year-old mother talks about her direct contact with soldiers, her body convulses as if the memories are imprinted in the cells of her body.

My mother remembers walking up to the village square and seeing men hanging from lamp posts. My grandmother had a goat hidden in the brush behind the family home, which was her only source of milk for her four children. The Nazis, with their high powered binoculars, spotted the goat, came to the door with rifles, and demanded it. My mother believes that they weren’t killed because my grandfather spoke English and was able to communicate with the soldiers to tell them, please take the goat.

My mother was sent to the village one morning to buy a loaf of bread. The Nazis were stealthy. You didn’t see them walking around. They just magically appeared to intimidate and terrorize. While at the market, the Nazis arrived and barricaded everyone in the street. The people of the town knew what the barricades symbolized. The soldiers were looking for someone and that person would be executed. As people were screaming with fear, a neighbor was able to pick up my mother and slide her out of sight. She ran all the way home.

My father was holding his mother’s hand as they stood in line to receive a ladle of broth. This was their only source of nourishment. Someone from a nearby home yelled, “The Germans are coming! The Germans are coming!” People were always on the lookout from their second story windows. The crowd panicked, and my grandmother lost my father. He was four-years-old and alone in the street as everyone scampered out of sight. A stranger called him to a basement window and opened it enough for my father to slide through until the commotion was over.

My grandfather’s village was decimated. All the women and girls were locked in a schoolhouse while the German soldiers shot all the men and any boy over 14-years-old. The women were released from the school in the morning to search for their loved one’s body parts that had been devoured during the night by wild animals.

I hope that people like Whoopie, who have a voice that influences the masses, realize their responsibility to gather facts before they speak, and that they should never trivialize anyone’s generational, racial or cultural trauma.

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Georgette is a self-help author and mindset coach. Her books offer simple ways to enjoy a life of love, joy and abundance. Available at: georgettevanvliet.com

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Georgette Van Vliet

Georgette Van Vliet

Georgette is a self-help author and mindset coach. Her books offer simple ways to enjoy a life of love, joy and abundance. Available at: georgettevanvliet.com

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