1. After the rape, the doctor, the juvenile court judge, we were forced to leave the house. After being kidnapped by my mother for a few weeks on an excuse, we had to keep ourselves covered in the Secret Annex. Not to be seen by those who had placed themselves in front of the house. Yet it happened. Eight policemen dressed in black entered the store and asked for the key to the house. They assumed that we, the children, were there. My mother refused. They started fighting, screaming, threatening and looking in her clothes for the key. We heard the screams and screams and panicked. We cried and prayed the same prayer several times. We held each other. It lasted. The neighbor, the baker, called us and we quickly climbed through the small window in the bakery. There we waited. The black-clad cops came to get us. We were put in a black car without saying anything. Then it went to a distant children’s home. Nobody said anything. We never saw my mother again. Nobody said anything. Not even when we arrived. I was nine years old. That kid inside of me never left.

2.We live in a district with a dark history. I wasn’t born yet but I have a strong empathy. At that time, people wore a star: man. wife, children. It didn’t seem to matter until they came. The occupying forces. They screamed. Were armed. People had to go outside with suitcases and important things. To the meeting point with hundreds of others, on their way. Crammed into a cattle truck without facilities, with the gas chamber as the final station. Can fear be felt? The cold wave creeping in, paralyzing your soul? Against his better judgement, holding the child and saying sweet words. Only nine years old. And what if you managed to escape before the transport and no one ever came back. As a survivor, you look into an unfillable depth and remain silent for lack of words. Others tell the story. Every year. That kid of you never left.

3.It’s in the middle of the night. You are startled when the door is banged on with the butt of a machine gun or something similar. When the door is opened, heavily armed soldiers rush in wearing balaclavas. The occupying forces. Mouth and eyes are visible. They don’t say what they come for. They want to know who lives there. Whether there are children. They need to be woken up. Mother tells them not to be afraid. They are terrified. The soldiers ask your name. They take pictures of you. You know from friends that they can take you. Whether you have thrown stones, whether you will be throwing stones, whether you have kites in the house, how old you are. And you don’t know what it’s about. You feel the fear in your parents, who keep telling you not to be afraid. You think of So-and-so’s brother, who has just been released from a long time in some prison with over a hundred children. They had humiliated him, beat him, solitary confinement with noise and lights that didn’t go out. Wrote some sort of signature on sheets of text he couldn’t read. After more than an hour and with names, addresses and photos to use with their facial recognition equipment, the soldiers disappear. It’s the first time that night that you wet the bed. Are 9 years old. That child inside never left.

Consequences: Nightmares, flashbacks, fear of the knock on the door. Footsteps in the hallway, fear of uniforms, angry outbursts, fear of losing control, resistance to authoritarianism. You must become a hare: sitting still in the bright light, easy prey. A shot in the knee, kicking until mild removal, internal bleeding. And they laugh. But I never break. Neither do you. Anyway, whatever. From the age of nine. Yet that child never left and never will be. Maybe that was the intention and it belongs to a criminal environment, criminal government, people who would rather see you dead than alive. Who take advantage of you.

And I repeat: they will never get me, they will lose. Nether do you.

Peter van Velzen

11mei 2020