It is a fact of life that doing the right thing is often painful, difficult, and lonely. My grandfather Tony discovered just how frightening and difficult doing the right thing can be. He had recently married my grandmother, Judith, and he had an excellent job working for the water supply department of the Dutch government. That all changed, however, when the Nazis invaded his beloved Holland. After a week of fighting, the Dutch army surrendered, and the Nazis occupied Holland.
The Dutch resistance continued to try to defend their homeland. One day as Tony walked to work, Nazi soldiers pulled ten citizens off the street and lined them up against a building. To Tony’s horror, the Nazis shot these ten people right in front of him. It turned out a Dutch resistance fighter had killed a Nazi soldier, and the Nazis retaliated by randomly choosing ten innocent Dutch citizens to execute.
When Tony arrived at work, he walked in and exclaimed, “They’re dirty murderers!” Tony’s boss, a Nazi sympathizer, warned him to immediately cease such talk. But Tony wouldn't be silenced. “I will say it again,” he replied. “They are dirty murderers!” Not only was Tony fired on the spot, but he was blacklisted by the Nazis, which meant he couldn’t get any work except as a laborer.
Times were extremely tough for Tony and Judith, and there wasn’t a lot of food. Near the end of World War II, the Allies gained control of the southern part of Holland, but north Holland (where the capital, Amsterdam, and the country’s other big cities are located) was still under Nazi occupation. Around this time, Judith learned she was pregnant with my grandparents’ first child.
In order to get food for his family, Tony would ride his bike to south Holland to trade with farmers in the country. His bike didn’t have tires (because rubber was in short supply), and the weather was cold and windy. Tony would trade a rug for two bags of wheat. He would take one bag of wheat as a down payment and put the bag over his handlebars, then ride his bike back to north Holland, where he would find a business that was happy, because of food shortages, to take the bag of wheat in exchange for a rug. Tony would put the rug over his handlebars, ride his bike back to south Holland, give the rug to the farmer, and receive his second bag of wheat. Finally, Tony would head home, where he and his wife would live off this second bag of wheat. He was away on one of these trips when my uncle Keith was born.
Later, because Tony had spoken out against the Nazis, there was real danger that he would be put into a German concentration camp, but instead he was forced to work for a German building company. It hadn’t been easy to speak out against the Nazis, but Tony had peace of conscience from standing by his values and speaking out against evil. His family members, including me, have been strengthened by his courageous example.
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Sean Kikkert was born in Adelaide, South Australia. He spent the early part of his childhood in the Netherlands before returning to Australia. As a teenager, Sean loved to stay up late reading thrillers. Sean served in the Australia Sydney South Mission before completing a law degree at the University of Adelaide. He and his wife Jaquilyn were married in Hong Kong, and he is the father of five children.
Sean works as an immigration barrister, but once the working day is over, Sean writes books to keep people up at night, just as he was kept up late all those years ago. His published nonfiction works include Home Evenings for Families, Stronger: How the Lord Can Strengthen You to Meet Any Challenge, and Last Days: How You Can Prepare for the Lord's Second Coming. Sean has also written three young-adult thrillers—Dark Past, Night of the Wolf, and The Trek—and the Regency novels The Highwayman’s Confession and Sweetheart’s Lake. Learn more about Sean and his books by visiting www.seankikkert.com.