“THE GERMANS PROTECT US…THE ENGLISH LIBERATE US…MAY GOD PROTECT US FROM OUR LIBERATORS AND LIBERATE US FROM OUR PROTECTORS.”
This little ditty came to my mind last week when I learned that the “Allies” bombed Libya to protect the population from Muammar el-Qaddafi’s counter-revolutionary measures. This being 2011, I did not have to wait to see collapsed buildings, fire-tinged explosions, and of course scores of wounded and dead, on the television and on my computer. My heart went out to the innocent, unwilling participants of the conflict, most often generated by a lunatic fringe.
Let there be no mistake. In 1944, when the rhyme about the Germans and the British was pasted all over occupied Brussels, I was hiding from the Germans, and needed to be ‘liberated” if I was not going to be annihilated by the Nazis. I welcomed anything that would speed up the day I would again be free and out of danger. Still, as I wrote in At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust, I was concerned about the incessant bombing of military and civilian targets. On April 6, 1943, my diary records, “The sky is filled with airplanes. Where are they headed for tonight?” Another entry, a few weeks later, reads, “I have not yet gotten to the point of rejoicing when the Allies bomb German civilians, but I am no longer against the bombings. It is ‘them’ or ‘us,’ and if I am to perish, I want it to be ‘them’ and ‘us.’”
Since Brussels did not have any heavy industry we only got the occasional stray bomb. One of them hit the house of friends, killing the mother of a newborn. I remember the new grandmother asking God why he had not taken her instead of her daughter.
All that was more than half a century ago, but the world continues to produce madmen and tyrants. When, other imperfect human beings have to decide, is it justified, necessary or even wise to intervene?
Suzanne Loebl’s memoir, At the Mercy of Strangers: Growing Up on the Edge of the Holocaust, is available in hardcover and e-book from Amazon.com and bookstores near you. For signed copies see www.SuzanneLoebl.com.