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The Clandestine Operation

It's the winter of 1944 and Holland is in turmoil. There is hunger in the big cities, and there is hardly any water or electricity. The occupying soldiers are becoming nervous, knowing that they are blamed for all the misery. They also had a feeling that the war would soon be over and that they were on the losing side. In a few words, all that they had left was hope.

I myself was not in a bad location of the country. We were living in Andijk a town of about 4000 people, plus the 500 underground people, in the province of Noord-Holland. We were in a difficult and dangerous situation because of the possibility of a round up (razzia) by the Nazis and their Dutch collaborators. The most danger came from the collaborators who knew that when the war was over, they would pay for their actions. Here I was, one of the 'underground' men, I was 20 years old and in the age bracket they were looking for. I was not able to go to church ar any public meeting. The soldiers or the much-hated collaborators would easily spot me, like so many others. It was very hard to go to the town's doctor, unless you went after dark. During the day you were just hiding, but at night we came alive and tried to enjoy time with friends. In case of danger though, we knew how to avoid it.

Unfortunately, I was suffering from a very bad throat infection and the town's doctor could not do much for me, but our God was with me as he was in so many ways at that time. A few houses down the street, there lived a Jewish doctor in hiding with his wife and daughter. Dr. Stibbe was from Rotterdam, he was an ear, nose, and throat specialist. My dad spoke with him and made arrangements for him to come over and see me. My father was a shoe and saddle maker. Dr. Stibbe used one of my dad's sharply honed shoemaker's knives to operate on my throat. There was no anaesthetic, just something wedged in my mouth to keep it open while my dad kept a firm grip on my arms. That's how bad it had been. In a few minutes, I breathed freely again. Our whole family, mom, dad, 3 brothers, 3 sisters, and the 3 people in hiding were all happy to see and hear me again.

Now the time had come to pay the good doctor, but in no way would he accept anything. Andijk had been good to him and his family and he was happy that at last he could do something for the people of Andijk. About a week later, when I was up and about again, I went over to thank him. I brought him about a kilogram of homegrown tobacco. In the end... there was a happy Jewish doctor in hiding.

George Snieder



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