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The Unsung Family Hero

Gerhard Badrian, the author's mother's cousin, was, by all accounts, a gentle soul, quiet, thoughtful, artistic, compassionate. In a normal world, his passionate love affair with a beautiful young woman would have led to marriage and children, along with a successful career as an outstanding commercial photographer. The world of Nazi-occupied Holland was not a normal world. To cope with a ruthless tyranny, his first reaction was perfectly normal. Keep your head down, don't draw attention to yourself, stay out of harm's way. Gradually he came to realise that this was an inadequate response. The book traces Gerhard's transformation over a period of two years. He joined the resistance. He was part of a team that forged identity papers that helped potential Nazi victims - members of the resistance, political opponents and Jews - to hide, evade capture, even escape from the occupied country. But even this was not enough to satisfy him. When, in front of his eyes, he saw his parents captured and deported (to their deaths a few days later), a new persona developed. He discovered that he had hidden talents that he could put to use. He spoke German fluently. He was well-built. He acquired a green Opel car fitted with fake Wehrmacht number plates. He was a natural-born actor. Armed with forged papers and wearing a Gestapo uniform, he would march into a police station and peremptorily order the release of a fellow resistance member, "to be taken away for further questioning", but actually to a safe house. On one occasion he successfully led a raid of the National Printing Works in The Hague and stole thousands of blank ID cards, used to make fake identities for potential victims of the Nazis. He cared about his family. Although unable to save his parents or his sister, he intervened on several occasions to save the life of his little nephew. The book is not a script for a traditional Hollywood-style hero film with a happy ending. In 1944, the Nazis carefully planned an ambush and shot Gerhard dead in a South Amsterdam street.
Prepublication record (machine generated from publisher information)
Type
  • Boek
Collectie
  • Bibliotheek NIOD
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