View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Echo from the past

In a Dutch graveyard on-line, I discovered a reference to a name of infamy in WW2 history. The woman dubbed "the Black Widow" has her gravestone inscribed with the words "Waarheid maakt vrij". Dutch is closely related to the German language, and the German version of the above line is "Wahrheit macht frei", not far off that chilling line at Auschwitz: "Arbeit macht frei". What does it all mean? The line on the gravestone means "Truth liberates" and the Auschwitz line means "Labour liberates". However, the Black Widow, who died 9 years ago, was the wife of collaborator Rost van Tonningen, who headed up the Dutch Central Bank during WW2, assisting the occupying Nazi forces whichever way he could. After liberation, he was incarcerated in Scheveningen jail at The Hague, and jumped (his widow always maintained that he was pushed) over the parapet of a balcony, from which he fell to his death some 17 feet below. The truth that she refers to is slightly different from the commonly held view. Common parlance is not to speak ill of the dead. On the subject of the Black Widow, I shall therefore be silent henceforth.