Dr. Christopher Thomas, Reynolds history professor, led a discussion on what it means to be a resistor and what it means to be a collaborator recently at the Around the World through Books program at Reynolds.
Using the context of women in the French resistance movement described in the book A Train in Winter, by Caroline Moorehead, Dr. Thomas invoked a solemn thoughtfulness among the audience as he described the death camp where 230 women were deported, the hierarchy of prisoners, and the underground activities that brought about their arrests.
|Cornelia Warmenhoeven (L)|
But it was special guest Cornelia Warmenhoeven who captivated the listeners' feelings. Mrs. Warmenhoeven, now 89 and living in Midlothian, explained with quiet but intense simplicity the duty and danger she felt as a young resistance worker in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands. She told of saving men and boys who were hunted by the Nazis, of carrying them on her bicycle to places where they could hide in safety, and of escorting Allied soldiers through dark, patrolled fields at night to waiting rescuers. She told of her grief when things went wrong, and of her great relief when word came that an escaped soldier had gotten away safely.
World War II and German concentration camps may be relegated to history, but the ethical issues of compassion, compliance, and complicity will always be worth considering.
Around the World through Books is sponsored by the Multicultural Enrichment Council.