My son B.’s ninth-grade class is learning about World War Two right now, so I offered to give a presentation about the Netherlands during WWII. Not because, in itself, the Netherlands’ history is so important in the big picture, but because I suspected that otherwise the students probably wouldn’t learn too much about how it was for Europeans to be occupied by the Germans.
The demography and geography of the different countries in Europe may vary greatly, but the stories of German occupation, resistance, and living in constant fear and uncertainty have much in common.
And, of course, the occupation of countries, the killing of Jews and the constant intimidation and terror all over Europe is what American soldiers were fighting, even though they may often not have been aware of it, since they were mainly in battle situations against other soldiers. But when they were fighting for freedom, this is what it meant.
So I gave a Powerpoint presentation (my first ever) about WWII in the Netherlands, basically talking about the same things that I mentioned in this post. Only longer, and with photos.
For their following test, the teacher had the students also write a paragraph about what part of my presentation made the biggest impression on them.
Over the next couple of days, I will post their impressions, because I think it’s pretty cool that these kids in Austin, Texas, USA now know a little about WWII from the point of view of the Dutch, and by extension, of Europeans in general.
It’s also interesting to see how these 21st-century American teenagers experience this story, how they put in in their own perspective.
So stay tuned. The next post in this series is about the beginning of the war.