When a Toy Dog Became a Wolf ... Hendrika de Vries on the Resistance and Nazis in The Netherlands
October 16, 2020
Hosted by Diane Dewey
How does a girl become an empowered woman? Born when girls were to be housewives and mothers, a Dutch “daddy’s girl” in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam learns about female empowerment when her father is deported to a POW camp in Germany and her mother joins the Resistance. Freedoms taken for granted are eroded with escalating brutality by men with swastika armbands who aim to exterminate those they deem “inferior” and those who do not obey. “Don’t let them make you afraid,” her mother says, when their city is plunged into darkness in the final months. “The warmth and the Light will return.” As mother and daughter fuse in a symbiotic bond, she absorbs her mother’s strength and faith. She learns about moral choice and forced silence. Her hidden Jewish “stepsister” is betrayed and her mother interrogated at gunpoint. Mother and daughter suffer near-starvation and narrowly escape death on the day of liberation. What happens when her family is reunited. How does Hendrika become truly herself?
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My most pressing question has always been about identity: Who am I? Growing up near Philadelphia with my adoptive family, my genetic identity was hidden. Then, my Swiss biological father, Otto, contacted me when I was age forty-seven in 2002. I’d been told by my adoptive parents that my biological parents were dead, supposedly to protect me. Meeting Otto upended my life. Through him, I met my German biological mother’s family to discover that her story too, had been changed; that she’d not wanted to surrender me and she’d searched for me all her life. Finding my truth was essential.
Based on my experience I am excited to talk to people about their own search for identity. My education includes a BA from Villanova University, a certificate from the Art Institute of Philadelphia and a Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Capella University. I’ve worked for The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The SoHo Partnership and the National Academy of Design and have studied writing through New York University’s Continuing Education program. As an entrepreneur, I founded my art appraisal business, The Realization of Art in 2006. My non-fiction writing has been published in Shared Space, a monograph, and in Artes online magazine. Writing workshops worldwide have given me the chance to learn and hone my craft. My first book, “Fixing the Fates,” was awarded the National Non-Fiction Author’s Association Silver Medal and the Living Now Award.