STORIES
Literary

Geertrui

by Kari from Pickerington

Nazi Soldiers occupying Holland.
Nazi Soldiers occupying Holland.

My definition of a "hero"- One who lives in honesty, one who is modest, fearless and admirable.

Is it important to have a hero?
To me, it is important that everyone has a hero. By having someone you look up to, you are given an opportunity to open your eyes to new things. Everyone can better themselves in one way or another, and by having a hero, it can broaden your outlook on life. Looking up to someone can help you strive to be a better person and become extremely selfless. It can also show you what an impact you can have on the world, although you are just one person. Anyone can be a hero, you may even be a hero yourself or for yourself.

In this book, "Postcards From No Man's Land" many heroes come in throughout the storyline. One particular person that stands out to me is Geertrui, a young girl from Holland caught in the middle of World War II. As British soldiers take shelter in her home, she is forced to feed, cloth, bathe, and nurse the wounded. Although many people would not want to be in any part of war, Geertrui faced the problem head on leaving her childhood behind. Geertui learned to become very selfless, and put others before herself. By doing this, she created a hero in herself that Jacob looked up to. (The grandson of a wounded man she nursed back to life during the war.) Now, as she lay on her death bed she is left to face Jacob wondering about his grandfather's life during this tragic and depressed time that he and Geertrui lived through together.

Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers
Postcards from No Man's Land by Aidan Chambers

Inducting Geertui into the Hero Hall of Fame would not be a mistake. Geertui put her life on the line all throughout this book, not thinking twice about it. She left the best childhood a kid could ever have behind, to help produce a better outcome for not only her family, but for her nation. Geertui lived in a mind set that she could be killed, captured, or tortured by the German Soldiers, if they ever found her housing the British. As a child she dreamed about being a nurse. While the way she became one was not part of her dream, she learned how to care for and dress the wounds of the soldiers. Geertui started out as a young and sheltered girl, and ended up realizing what horrors there are in the world. Although, she did not become frightened or run and hide. She took this war as an opportunity to save the people around her, even if they were strangers.

Q: What was your life like before World War II broke out, and Germany invaded your country?
A: My life as a child was just as any normal girl in Holland would have. My family knew everyone around us, and we were very close with our neighbors. We spend time together, as we all loved each other unconditionally. We never suspected the war would come through our town and rip us apart like it did.

Q: How did you find it in yourself to go through the war with such bravery and rational thinking?
A: Once the British soldiers came to our house, asking for help, I knew I could not deny them what they wanted. They were all so kind, and caring even though most were on the verge of dying. As my family and the soldiers were forced to take cover in our small cellar, the soldiers became not only friends, but family. Where I grew up, you do everything and anything for your family, so that was what drove me to save them; to save my family.

Q: While you were housing the soldiers, what was it about Jacob that made you want to save him? You seemed as if you were more driven to save him (a stranger) than yourself.
A: When I first met Jacob the first thing he said to me, "Thanks miss, you're an angel of mercy" after giving him a single glass of water. From that point on, I knew he was an appreciative and brave person. To me, we had a special bond. We could relate to each other in every way. We knew what each other were saying, without using words. As I nursed his deathly wounds, I found myself thinking that I had to save him. No matter what the cost.

Q: Who was your hero during the tragic event?
A: During the war I found myself looking up to everyone around me. I could not believe how instantaneous my mother's decision was to help the soldiers. I also saw how fearless and selfless my father was, as he saw our house burning down by the German bombs. He had spent all of his life in that house with his family. My brother is one I also saw as a Hero. He risked his life to save our family from the Germans by trying to lead our family into safety. The British soldiers also became people I admired, all of them.

Q: Did you find your brother's friend, Dirk, helpful and heroic during this time?
A: Yes, I believed without Dirk's help we may have not made it through. He introduced the idea that our family go to his house in the country where we would all be safe. He and his family opened their house to us. Once the British soldiers had to leave our cellar to fight, we were left alone. Jacob could barely walk: he could not fight. So, Dirk allowed him to come to his house with us. Yet again, Dirk risked his life for someone he hardly knew.

Q: Why do you think your parents chose to stay at our home in the firing zone of the war, once the soldiers left? They could have easily gone to safety at Dirk's house. Do you find this heroic?
A: I find this extremely heroic. My parents had spent all of their married life in that house, their two children were born in that house. That was where their hearts were. They could not fathom the thought of leaving what they had worked so hard for, and earned.

Q: As Hitler was taking over most of Europe, did you ever think that he was seen as a hero to his own people?
A: I believe that every few people thought he was a hero. Not even the majority of the Nazis thought he was. They were afraid of their ruler and what he was capable of. He was a terrible person. with unhuman ideas. I'm sure most of everyone that joined his army were not only forced, but they thought they might be put to death if they did not enroll. I think Hitler scared anyone that agreed with his actions into believing what he was doing was right. He was no hero in my eyes, I can tell you that.

Q: Do you think the British soldiers considered you a hero?
A: I cannot speak for them. Although, they did express to me what an impact I had on their lives before they left. I feel as if to them everyone who did a good deed for them they considered a hero. They were fighting the most powerful and cruel army at the time. So, most of everything they got, they took as a luxury.

Q: Do you then consider yourself a hero?
A: All of my life up until that point, I was quiet and had no voice. I did what I was told and that was the end of it. During this war, I stood up for myself. I made sure I was making my own choices. I wanted to decide my fate, not let someone else do it for me. Although, I do think I grew up quickly, but with good morals. I feel as if I was just doing my duty. I was doing what I thought was right. To me, I cannot say if I was a hero or not. I did what I did, because I had to.

Q: Looking back now, is there anything you would change, if you could? A: I would surely change the fact that my parents did not come with us to Dirk's house for safety. The night my brother, Henk, Dirk, Jacob and myself left our house was the last time I saw my father. I wish I could have persuaded them to come with us. Although, they might have not wanted to leave their home; I certainly know my mother and father did not want to lose one another.

Page created on 4/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 4/15/2011 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

World War II Timeline - This website gives you the events that occured during the war in order.
World War II in Holland - This site gives you a brief over view of the war in Holland.
Pictures of World War II - Nazi soldiers during World War II.