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When Language Hides History (Or - Maybe English Leaves Us Uneducated?)
If you know me personally you will know that I object to being called "English".  This is because - even though I was born and raised in England - I was given a very strong connection to my Mum's native Rotterdam,  This was both through regular visits to my Oma (until she died when I was 22 years old) and through my Mum keeping some of the Dutch traditions alive (as well as introducing me to some of my all-time favourite foods).  I even have a GCSE in both of my "mother" tongues.

I have written before about the difference between the English view of the Second World War and the Dutch view of the same thing - along with how angry I am about how the English portray the Dutch experience of it.

A couple of days ago one of the Twittercops I follow tweeted saying he was going to be on a programme on Rijnmond TV (a TV channel for the Rotterdam area).  He didn't put a link to either the programme or the channel - "Inspector Inky" googled the channel, found the website, found the programme, watched it, and ended up wishing the programme had been broadcast in English because it was so interesting.

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen - this is a problem I often have.  English people don't generally speak Dutch (as witnessed by some of the absolutely horrific pronunciations of Dutch names in the English Media) making it impossible for Dutch TV programmes to be shown over here.

(I remember a TV programme from some years ago where one of the contributors said "If this programme had been in English it would have gone worldwide.  Seeing as it is in Dutch the only people who would understand it are in The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Suriname....that's it".)

Back to the programme the Twittercop was in.

It was a good mix of old and new - the main segment of the programme was given over to a project started by a German artist called Gunter Demnig who had the bright idea of bringing the Second World War a bit closer to the present day.

"Stolpersteine" (or "Struikelstenen" in Dutch - "Stumbling Stones" in English) is a project aimed at not forgetting those people who were deported to the Concentration Camps during the war by placing a small metal square plaque in the pavement in front of the houses where the victims lived - with their name and dates of birth and deportation.

Some of these have been placed in various cities which were occupied by the Nazis.  As you can imagine - my beloved Rotterdam got a few of them.

The programme traced the nephew of the people who lived in one of the houses in Rotterdam before they got deported - and introduced him to the lady who lives in that house now.

The nephew was a pretty well-known retired member of a Dutch orchestra.  He took some information with him so he could show the lady.  (It all seemed to be a bit like an education version of "Where Do You Think You Are?")

I must admit to having seen some of these plaques during my last visit (I was very close to the area where it was filmed) but I didn't take much notice.

The second half of the programme was a nice contrast - merging the past (with its exodus) with the present (and the new arrivals).

The area where the programme was filmed was near the "Marroccan Quarter" - a bit like Highfields or Beaumont Leys in Leicester - and the Twittercop was shown playing football with some young people before being interviewed by the presenter (the young people were also interviewed).

I don't understand why England seems to have such a blinkered view towards other countries who were the victims of the Second World War.  I am so tired of the hype about how the English rescued everybody without letting the people themselves tell their stories.

Yes - I know - it is personal for me.  I am proud to be from both England and Holland.  But I am left feeling that I have to deny my Dutch heritage to keep the English happy - Heaven help me if I dare to even bother considering dreaming about attempting to contradict the "recieved wisdom" about the Second World War and its impact on some of my relatives.

It is not just the language barrier that can sometimes make communication between different countries difficult to overcome - it is also the "attitude barrier"!

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