Lately, in the context of Remembrance Day here in the Netherlands, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the different ways in which World War II is being remembered today. For us, being occupied by Nazi Germany during the war has become a foundation myth of our identity, and most Dutch novels, films, and even musicals (Soldier of Orange, based on the book of the same name) about the war centre around the two main protagonists in that myth: the evil collaborators and the virtuous members of the resistance. You can even pretend to be a member of the underground press in an escape room in Nijmegen, racing against the clock to escape discovery by the Nazis.
A week ago I joined the two friends I’d been to Bastogne with at the place where it all began for the paratroopers of Band of Brothers: Normandy. I’d been dying to go there for ages and as I was planning a holiday in France anyway, we were happily able to meet up there just two days before the 6th of June.
Whenever I’m in Paris, I always think of Paul Verlaine, one of my favourite poets, who wrote the following lines:
“Quais de Paris! Beaux souvenirs! J’étais agile,
J’étais, sinon bien riche, à mon aise, en ces temps…
J’étais jeune et j’avais des goûts très militants,
Tel, un bon iconographobibliophile.”
As a surprise for my birthday, my sister took me to Bordeaux last week! She simply told me what to pack and to take the train to the airport at 5 a.m. – and it wasn’t until she gave me my boarding pass that I knew where we were going. It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
Continue reading “Shutterspeed: Surprise trip to Bordeaux”